In this week’s Big Directors Small Films, we take a look at Paul Thomas Anderson‘s first film, a 1988 short fictional documentary titled The Dirk Diggler Story. You might recognize the name in the title as the character that Mark Wahlberg played nine years later in Boogie Nights. The Dirk Diggler Story was very much like a first draft of that film. Some of the major characters in Anderson’s later second feature make appearances, including Reed Rothchild, Dirks best friend and sidekick, and director Jack Horner.
The film was shot on video and edited from tape to tape using two VCRs. Paul’s father, a professional announcer and “The Voice of ABC” in the 1970’s and 1980’s, provided the deadpan narration. This is clearly the work of a teenage PTA. I’m more impressed at the performances Anderson was able to get out of the non professional cast, and the amount of story Paul crammed into 30 minutes.
Michael Stein, who played Dirk in the documentary short, was given a cameo in Boogie Nights at a stereo customer. Robert Ridgley, who was Jack Horner in the short, also appeared in Boogie Nights, as the Colonel.
Actor James Franco, already being anointed the “new” Heath Ledger thanks to his pop-cult crossover in Pineapple Express, will likely draw comparisons to Dirk Diggler come this December. With a supporting role in Gus Van Sant‘s Oscar-buzzing Milk, Franco will join the magical club of major actors who have rocked fake dicks on screen. Here’s a classy story from the set via Flawed Hollywood…
“This scene went on for a long time, like half the day, and it’s getting old… and I go over to Sean and I guess he didn’t know that I was wearing a prosthetic. I go, `Sean, you’re such a great actor but you wouldn’t do a scene like this if they asked you; you wouldn’t dive into a pool naked.’ And he said… `Well James, if I was built like you, I would.’ A couple of weeks later we did this scene, where we’re both dancing and we’re naked, and we both have prosthetic penises. He finally put it together that I’m wearing, like, the Boogie Nights prosthetic.”
Funny. Someone will recall that he does the reverse of this gag in Pineapple. In Milk, Franco plays Scott Smith, the lover and supporter of the nation’s first openly gay politician, San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk, played by Sean Penn. Milk was assassinated in 1978 by a man who had previously held his city office. Prior to Milk‘s release, Franco will be seen this September playing the son of Richard Gear’s character in the family drama Nights of Rodanthe, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, tissue sales).
Discuss: What is the bear thinking in the above photo? Who else is in the “hey, look” club? Before certain limp imps throw food below, let me add that this item was recommended by Peter.