Boogie Nights is celebrating its 25th birthday this autumn. Paul Thomas Anderson‘s 1997 classic is loaded with memorable characters, scenes, and one infamous prosthetic. It also bears an often overlooked connection to Transformers. Here’s what you may have missed.
The Musical Career Of Dirk Diggler
An ode to the golden age of pornography, Boogie Nights is Anderson doing what he does best. The film interweaves dozens of characters through multiple eras. He exhibits the skills he’d perfect in the likes of Magnolia and There Will Be Blood. Mark Wahlberg stars as Dirk Diggler, a young man blessed with the skills to succeed in the industry.
As Diggler grows up, he starts getting into drugs and burning bridges. When he has a major falling out with director Jack Horner—played by Burt Reynolds in what would be his comeback role and ultimately earn him an Academy Award nomination—Diggler attempts to start a music career. Alongside his friend Reed Rothchild, played by John C. Reilly, and boom operator Scotty, portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Diggler records a demo of “You Got the Touch.”
It does not go well. Diggler is radically unqualified to make music and his yesmen won’t be honest with him. It ends badly as so much does in Boogie Nights, but it’s hardly rock bottom.
What’s That Sound?
Little did you know, that was actually a bit of a crossover with the world of Transformers. “The Touch” was written and recorded by Stan Bush for the soundtrack of The Transformers: The Movie. It was a double A-side alongside Weird Al Yankovic’s “Dare to Be Stupid.”
“The Touch” has maintained a connection to Transformers ever since. Bush rerecorded versions for Michael Bay’s Transformers and Revenge of the Fallen, though neither were included. It appeared in a 1987 episode of the animated series. Even in 2018, the song popped up as something of an easter egg in the underrated spin-off Bumblebee.
What’s With The Crossover?
The legacy of “The Touch” helps explain why it’s in Boogie Nights. It’s one of the most over-the-top power ballads in an era chock full of them. It now exists almost as a beloved parody of itself. Anderson probably chose it cause it fit the exact tone he was going for.
Something of a paradox is at work here. Boogie Nights depict Diggler playing the song in 1983, yet it wasn’t released until 1986. This brings to light a few startling questions: Does Bush exist in the world of Boogie Nights? What about Transformers? The answers we may never know.