Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Magnolia (1999)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Magnolia (1999)

In Paul Thomas Anderson's ambitious, artful, adult-oriented human drama with an ensemble cast - and a compelling, bold and overlapping multi-strand narrative about San Fernando residents who were plagued by fractured relationships:

  • the film's prologue emphasizing the themes of chance and coincidence - and a description of three deaths and the question: Did these three cases just happen randomly by chance, or was it something less coincidental?; one of the deaths was a tale of a scuba diver in a tree - entwined with the urban legend of a son accidentally murdered (in a freakish occurrence) while trying to commit suicide by jumping off a building
  • throughout, the melancholy lyrics of singer-songwriter Aimee Mann that underscored the film's motifs
  • the scene in a San Fernando Valley hotel where sleazy motivational speaker and self-help guru/shyster Frank T.J. Mackey (Oscar-nominated Tom Cruise) led a "Seduce and Destroy" seminar for misogynistic, sexually-frustrated males
  • his lecture to his audience to "Respect the cock! And tame the cunt! Tame it! Take it on headfirst with the skills that I will teach you at work and say no!...You will not control me! No!...You will not take my soul! No!...You will not win this game! 'Cause it is a game, guys. You want to think it's not, huh? You want to think it's not? You go back to the schoolyard and you have that crush on big-titted Mary Jane. Respect the cock. You are embedding this thought. I am the one who's in charge. I am the one who says Yes!... No!... Now!... Here!... And it's universal, man. It is evolutional. It is anthropological. It is biological. It is animal.!" - and his advice: "l will not apologize for who l am. l will not apologize for what l need. l will not apologize for what l want!"
  • the scene of Frank's interview with TV reporter Gwenovier (April Grace) with probing questions about his past, and his answers about his family: ("My father was in television. My mother - this is going to sound silly to you...She was a librarian"); when asked: ("How does she feel about 'Seduce and Destroy'? What does she say?"), Frank answered: ("Well, she says, 'You go get 'em, honey'")
  • the cast's (wherever they were located) sing-along of verses to Aimee Mann's heartbreaking ballad "Wise Up" ("...But it's not going to stop / 'Til you wise up")
  • the sequence of Linda Partridge's (Julianne Moore) visit to a pharmacy to pick up a strong prescription of medications (Prozac, Dexedrine, and liquid Morphine), and the inquisitive clerk asking: ("Strong, strong stuff here, boy. Wow, what exactly you have wrong, you need all this stuff?"); she became extremely agitated: ("Motherf--ker!...You f--king asshole!...Who the f--k do you think you are? l come in here, you don't know me. You don't know who l am, what my life is, and you have the balls, the indecency, to ask me a question about my life?...l come in here, I give these things to you, you check, you make your phone calls, look suspicious, ask questions! I'm sick! l have sickness all around me, and you f--king ask me my life? What's wrong? Have you seen death in your bed? In your house? Where's your f--king decency? And then I'm asked f--king questions. What's wrong?!")
  • the scene of regret, expressed to nurse Phil Parma (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who was caring for near-death, cancer-stricken TV producer Earl Partridge (Jason Robards), about Earl's meeting up with Lily in grade 12, and then being unfaithful to her for 23 years, and abandoning his family and young son Frank when she was dying of cancer: ("And we meet. She was f--king like a doll. Yeah. A beautiful porcelain doll. And the hips, child-bearing hips, you know that? So, so beautiful. And I cheated on her, over and over and over again. Because I wanted to be a man. And I didn't want her to be a woman, you know? A smart, free person who was something! My f--king mind then. So stupid, that f--king mind! Stupid! Jesus Christ! What would I think, did I think for what I'd done? She was my wife for twenty-three years and I went behind her over and over. F--king asshole that I am. I'd go out and I'd, I'd f--k and I'd come home and get in her bed, and say 'I love you.' This is Jack's mother. His mother, Lily. These two that I had and I lost. This is the regret that you make. This is the regret that you make and the something you take and the blah, blah, blah, something, something. Gimme a cigarette. Mistakes like this, you don't make. Sometimes, you make some and OK. Not OK, sometimes, you make other ones. Yeah. Know that you should do better. I loved Lily. I cheated on her. She was my wife for twenty-three years. And I have a son. And she has cancer. And I'm not there, and he's forced to take care of her. He's fourteen years old. To, to take care of his mother and watch her die on him. A little kid, and I'm not there. And she does die. l loved her so. And she knew what l did. She knew all the f--king stupid things I'd done. But the love was stronger than anything you can think of. The god-damn regret. The god-damn regret! And I'll die. Now I'll die, and I'll tell ya what, yeah, the biggest regret of my life. l let my love go. What did l do? I'm sixty-five years old. And I'm ashamed. Million years ago. The f--king regret and guilt, these things. Don't ever let anyone ever say to you, you shouldn't regret anything. Don't do that. Don't. You regret what you f--king want. Use that. Use that. Use that regret for anything, any way you want. You can use it, OK? Oh, oh God.")
  • the guilt-ridden speech of young gold-digging, drug-addicted trophy wife Linda Partridge to her husband's lawyer Alan Kligman (Michael Murphy), requesting that her sick, wealthy husband/TV producer Earl Partridge's will must be changed because she didn't deserve his money; in the scene, she confessed and admitted that she never loved Earl, and originally married him only for his money, but now really loved him as he was dying: ("I have to tell you something. I have something to tell you. I want to change his will. Can I change his will? l need to....No, you see, uhm, I never loved him. I never loved him - Earl. When I met him when I started, I met him, I f--ked him, and I married him because I wanted his money. You understand? I'm telling you this. I've never told anyone. I didn't love him, but now, you know, I know I'm in that will, I mean, we're all there together. We made that f--king thing, and all the money I'll get. And I-I don't want it, because I love him so much now. I've fallen in love with him now for real as he's dying. And, uhm, I look at him, and he's about to go, Alan. He's moments, he's - I took care of him through this, Alan. What now, then? (slightly later) I don't want him to die. I didn't love him when we met and I-I did so many bad things to him that he doesn't know. Things that I want to confess to him. But now I do. I love him...I don't want any money. I couldn't live with myself with this thing that I've done. I've done so many bad things. I f--ked around. I f--king cheated on him"); Alan suggested that her only avenue was to "renounce the will when the time comes," so the money would go to the "nearest relative" - Frank, causing her to become hysterical, suicidal and extremely agitated: ("No, that can't happen. Earl doesn't want him to have anything")
  • Frank's final and bitterly-angry confrontation with his estranged father on his deathbed, before completely breaking down: ("You don't look that bad. You prick. 'Cock sucker.' That's what you used to like to say, right? 'Cock sucker.' But you are a cock sucker, Earl. It hurts, doesn't it? Huh? You in a lot of pain? She was in a lot of pain. Right to the end, she was in a lot of pain. l know because l was there. You didn't like illness, though, do ya? l was there. She waited for your call. For you to come. l am not gonna cry. l am not gonna cry for you! You cock sucker. l know you can hear me. l want you to know that l hate your f--king guts. You can just f--king die, you f--k. And l hope it hurts. I f--king hope it hurts. I f--king hate you! God damn you, you f--king asshole! Oh God, you f--king asshole, don't go away, you f--king asshole, don't go away, you f--king asshole...")
  • the controversial and audacious ending - a literal rainstorm of frogs
  • the film's last lines, a conversation between Officer Jim Kurring (John C. Reilly) and Claudia Wilson Gator (Melora Walters) about having their relationship work out, overshadowed by Aimee Mann's song "Save Me" -- ("But can you save me come on and save me if you could save me from the ranks of the freaks who suspect they could never love anyone"): ("I just wanted to come here, to come here and say something, say something important, something that you said. You said we should say things and do things. Not lie, not keep things back, these sorts of things that tear people up. Well, I'm gonna do that. I'm gonna do what you said, Claudia. I can't let this go. I can't let you go. Now, you, you listen to me now. You're a good person. You're a good and beautiful person, and I won't let you walk out on me. And I won't let you say those things - those things about how stupid you are and this and that. I won't stand for that. You want to be with me, then you be with me. You see?" (she smiled))

Scuba Diver and Suicidal Son in Prologue

Sleazy Motivational Speaker Frank Mackey

Linda's Angry Rant at Pharmacist

Near-Death, Cancer-Stricken TV Producer Earl Partridge (Jason Robards)

Linda's Discussion With Lawyer About Changing Earl's Will

Frank's Angry Confrontation With Father on Deathbed

Frogs Raining Down

Claudia Listening to Officer Jim's Plea: "I Can't Let You Go"


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