Paul Thomas Anderson Melds Slapstick with Noir for His Pynchon Adaptation

The first to brave adapting a Thomas Pynchon novel, 'Inherent Vice' writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson took influences from two unlikely sources.
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The first to brave adapting a Thomas Pynchon novel, Inherent Vice writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson took influences from two unlikely sources: noir and Zucker brothers’ slapstick.

Police Squad! and Top Secret! are what I clued into,” Anderson tells The New York Times. “We tried hard to imitate or rip off the Zucker brothers’ style of gags so the film can feel like the book feels: just packed with stuff. And fun.”

Anderson also rewatched classic noir films like The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye to get inspired for his own deconstructed detective tale. “Chandler or Hammett or one of those guys… said the point of a plot in a detective movie is to get your hero to the next girl to flirt with,” he says of what he learned. “North by Northwest?” he adds of another influence. “Tell me again how he gets to the middle of the field with a plane after him? I can’t. How does he get to Mount Rushmore? I don’t know, but it’s great.”

The Boogie Nights director is also well aware that he’s revisiting the same time period. “I thought, I don’t need to make a movie about California in the late ’60s, early ’70s! Didn’t I already do that?” he says. “Well, I didn’t. Like gravity, it didn’t pull in any but one direction. And I just couldn’t help myself.”

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