We’re talking PTA, DDL and a whole lot more as we dive into a 21st century classic in our There Will Be Blood podcast.

Written by , 2nd June 2023

I. Drink. Your. Milkshake.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood was released in 2007 as an instant classic. The story of an oil tycoon’s rise to power in 1900s America, the film was a critical smash, awards darling and is now acclaimed as one of the great films this century.

All The Right Movies are the Third Revelation, and we’re talking a 21st century classic. There might be milkshake. There’ll probably be oil. There Will Be Blood…

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Episode transcription

Hello and welcome to All The Right Movies – Oil The Right Movies, in this case, isn’t it? – the podcast on classic and hit films.

Today, we’ve slithered out of our mother’s filth to talk one of the most acclaimed films of recent years. It’s Paul Thomas Anderson and the two Daniels – Day-Lewis and Plainview – as we talk There Will Be Blood.

We’re here to deliver some good old fashioned plain speaking, right?

Before we do that, though, should we mention Patreon, do you think? If you’re a fan of what we do and would like us to keep doing it, please help support that by becoming an All The Right Movies patron. Patrons gain access to Patreon-only podcast shows and access to our full archive of classic episodes, like this one. The archive is pretty huge and, right now, there are about 200 hours worth of podcasts to listen to in there and growing. So if you like PTA, Boogie Nights is in there. And lots of classics. Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark,, The Godfather, Alien. All in there. And more.

If you sign up for that, then you will have struck oil. And if enough of you sign up, so will we. So win-win. So to find out more and sign up, please visit patreon.com/alltherightmovies.

For now though, it’s back to the crazy oil prospector…

It’s There Will Be Blood, and you put this one up Matt, so why was that?

I don’t remember this coming out on its release. Slipped under the radar a bit for me at the time and I think I only really became aware of it when we got to awards season, because it was up for so many different awards in so many different categories: the direction, the writing, the acting, the cinematography, the music. All acclaimed in this movie, and we’re going to be talking about all of those aspects of the film.

Some big names in there – Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the big writer-directors of the last 20 or so years and Daniel Day-Lewis one of the biggest acting talents of the last 20 or so years. Some great – and hilarious – behind the scenes stories too. So stick around as this should be a good un.

Also, bloody love milkshakes me. I will drink your milkshake. And I’m not speaking figuratively.

And Westy, why There Will Be Blood?

So, There Will Be Blood was produced by Ghoulardi Film Company and Scott Rudin Productions, distributed by Paramount and Miramax, and released on December 26th 2007. Filmed in Marfa, Texas, and Los Angeles, it was written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview, Paul Dano as Paul & Eli Sunday, Kevin J. O’Connor as Henry, Ciaran Hinds as Fletcher Hamilton and Dillon Freasier and Russell Harvard as H.W. Plainview.

No women. Ridiculous. Okay, crank up the oil derrick. Up next we’re talking the beginning of… There Will Be Blood.

The Beginning

The opening act of There Will Be Blood introduces us to our main characters, the world of turn of the century oil prospecting, and sets the story in motion and we have two big moments to talk about. Daniel Plainview buying the land from the Sunday family that will become the setting for most of the film is coming up. First though, it’s the opening and the introduction to Daniel.

Isn’t it?

So TherWill Be Blood opens in late 19th century America. 1898 New Mexico to be precise, as Daniel Plainview discovers gold. In a near wordless opening 14 minutes we’re introduced to Daniel, see him getting involved in the oil business and adopt an orphaned boy, H.W.

A very visual opening Westy. How is it as a way to start the film?

It’s a great opening sequence. And first few seconds. If you stopped the film after 10 seconds and asked what genre I thought we were watching I’d have probably said a horror. We’ll talk about the music from Johnny Greenwood a bit later, but the visuals too are just stunning

The opening shot of those huge, vast Texas mountains – influenced by The Shining? Reminds me of it anyway. No yellow VW beetle though.

And it’s masterful visual storytelling. With pretty much no dialogue, Anderson feeds us the start of the narrative – Daniel discovers silver, makes a lot of money. Takes on H.W. as his adopted son. And we understand Daniel is a driven, sociopathic… nutter. That shot… after he breaks his leg when he falls and we see him crawling on his back, the camera pans up and we see he’s got to crawl miles. I mean most people aren’t making that. But Daniel does.

So, great set up of the characters, incredible cinematography already, and a brilliant way to open the film.

And Matt, how’s the opening sequence for you? – how it differs from PTA’s previous opening scenes

The opening scene where we see Daniel mining for silver and gold was shot at a real mine. It’s called the Presidio mine in a town called Shafter, Texas. Shafter was a booming mining town in the early 1900s but by the time they came to film there was only 11 people lived there.

Only 11 people? You’d love that Westy wouldn’t you?

The first line in the film is Daniel saying “No” then “There she is” after 4 minutes 55 seconds. The next line of dialogue doesn’t come until almost 15 minutes in. PTA did an interview with EW later and said: “

“I always had a dream about making a movie that had no dialogue in it – just music and pictures. The closest I got was the beginning of There Will Be Blood.”

Imagine that?! Go to see PTA’s new film and nobody says a word for the whole thing.

I’m surprised his firs line wasn’t “I’m an oil man!” He says it often enough.

I saw an interview with Daniel Day-Lewis where he said that the original script – the one he signed up to do – had no dialogue for the first 30 minutes. Kubrick.

So, he doesn’t have a lot to say in the opening to There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson. But he has plenty to show us, doesn’t he?

Having been introduced to Daniel and his adopted son, H.W. the story starts to move. Albeit still not exactly at breakneck pace.

Having been visited by Paul Sunday, informing of his family’s oil-rich farm in California, Daniel heads west with H.W. There he visits the Sundays to negotiate a deal for the land with family head Abel and his other son, Eli.

Daniel tries to screw them right over! How’s this scene, Matt?

Excellent again. Like good filmmakers often do, PTA doesn’t waste a line of dialogue. He’s always pushing the narrative, or revealing character or giving us exposition. And there’s lots here. Daniel tells Abel he wants the land to go quiali hunting – so we know he’s very comfortable lying out of his arse to get what he wants. And there’s a couple of moments I like. When Eli asks Daniel what church he belongs to and he says “I like them all.” Absolute bollocks. And then when Eli wants to pray and he takes Daniel’s hand – Daniel pulls it away like he’s raging inside.

Sets up thew baptism scene later on and this scene also sets up the scene between Eli and Abel later on as well when Eli’s telling Abel he’s a stupid man for letting Daniel walk all over them. To be fair though, Eli doesn’t do much better.

And Westy? –

And that is the first act of There Will Be Blood. No blood – yet. Or milkshake – yet. But we have met all of our main characters and, engaging from the off, isn’t it?

The Director

There Will Be Blood was directed by PAul Thomas Anderson – not to be confused with Paul W. S. Anderson – different styles, I’d say. And There Will Be Blood was PTA’s 5th film after Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Punch Drunk Love.

There Will Be Blood though, Westy? How’s PTA’s work here as director?

Westy to end his answer with: While they were editing There Will Be Blood, Robert Altman died. And that’s why There Will Be Blood is dedicated to Robert Altman.

Yeah, just watch Boogie Nights or Magnolia and I think Altman’s influence on Anderson is pretty obvious.

He’d already made some really good films before this, but I think his skill as a director seems to jump quite a lot with There Will Be Blood.

Apparently they’d often shoot scenes in different locations and then decide which worked best, so there was a fluidity to the process but one of my favourite scenes that PTA is all over is where Daniel literally rubs Eli’s face in the mud.

It starts with that great shot of Eli setting out to meet Daniel. He walks past the huge oil basin – the filthy capitalism that he hates and then we get a point of view from Eli as he walks towards Daniel. The shots are all low angled, putting Daniel in control. And then when Daniel shoves Eli into the mud its shot from ground level so we’re down there with Eli. Classic stuff but it works.

Also, it’s really funny, like after this scene where we cut to the Sundays having dinner and Eli’s sitting there caked in mud. Really funny.

But yeah, great direction. PTA’s best film for me, no question.

Matt to end his answer with: During editing, PTA and his editors would have one night where they would have steak and straight vodka for dinner. The idea was that it would keep them in the mentality of Daniel Plainview.

No milkshake? I mean, is Daniel Plainview’s mentality one that you want to be in? He’s a madman.

Since the film came out it’s been reported a few times that PTA watched a certain film every night before filming. You know what the film was?

It was The Treasure of the Sierra Madre – a 1948 western directed by John Huston. Anderson has since said that how many times he watched it has been massively exaggerated but he was inspired by some of the visuals and the storytelling. So theres your next Sunday film day, Westy. Treasure of Sierra Madre, steak and vodka and you’re set.

PTA wanted to film in California in the area where the film’s set. HE and the location scouts drove all over the state but couldn’t find anywhere there that looked like California in the early 1900s as its changed so much.. So they ended up filming most of the film in Marfa Texas.

There was more than 11 people lived there though, I think.

Before we sign off on PAul tHomas Anderson as the director, we have one final question. So, a benefit of being an All The Right Movies patron is that we’ll answer your questions on the show. And we have one of those now from Jacob Perry. Hello, Jacob. With a name like that he could be in There Will Be Blood – Jacob Sunday.

So, Jacob has asked:

It’s implied at one point in the film that Plainview pioneered the development of the first American oil rig when he sketches out a mock draft. What other origin stories of significant inventions would you like to see on the big screen?

Interesting question there from Jacob. For context, the point where we see Daniel do his sketch is in the largely word-free opening sequence we talked about.

What do you think, Matt?

I mean, if the filmmaking is on a level like it is here, any of the world-changing inventions would potentially make a great movie. The printing press, the lightbulb, the telephone, penicillin could all be great. I’ve thought about this though, and I’d like to see a movie about the guy who invents compost. So we could have Daniel Plainview in there walking round going “I’m a soil man!” That could work. And we’d call it There Will Be Mud. So studios, form an orderly queue.

And Westy, what invention would you make a film out of?

At the Oscars that year, There Will Be Blood was nominated for several, including Best Picture and Best Director for PTA. Lost out for both though to the Coen brothers for No Country For Old Men. The right choice?
No Country is a great film but it’s There Will Be Blood all day for me.
But, despite missing out at the Oscars, There Will Be Blood has gone down as one of the great films so far this century and for us, right up among PTA’s best?

The Cast

Paul Thomas Anderson’s fingerprints are all over There Will Be Blood, of course, but the same can also be said of the cast. There’s a wider cast in the film but two main characters – and we’re talking about them both. That’s Paul Dano as the Sunday twins – Paul and Eli – and we’re starting with the main character, aren’t we?

Daniel Day-Lewis – Daniel Plainview

So Daniel Day-Lewis is Daniel Caldecot Plainview. An oil prospector from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, we follow Daniel’s journey from the end of the 19th to early part of the 20th century – finding oil, then a son, growing a company, committing murder, and generally being a lunatic.

How is he, and Daniel Day-Lewis playing him, Westy?

Westy to mention: there were rumours that Day-Lewis went to method for the role that he constructed an oil derrick at his home in Ireland to get into character.

Yeah, DDL said he didn’t do it, but you wouldn’t be surprised would you? Probably stole someone’s baby. Made him deaf.

As an acting performance, Daniel Day-Lewis has received loads of praise for this film, and rightly so. He’s so well written as a character, too, though.

Daniel is clearly a high-end narcissist and sociopath. His whole life is about power, control, and dominance over others. That scene where we see him talking to Mary Sunday about her dad beating her and he’s saying he’ll look after her, then the camera pans and we see Abel was sitting there the whole time. Such a great moment cos we think “oh, maybe he’s alright actually” then we see “no, he doesn’t care about Mary, it was about dominating Abel.”

It’s there throughout the narrative. The scene I mentioned before when Daniel wrestles Eli to the ground. He does it because Eli demands his money. And its exactly the same when he tells Tilford from Standard Oil he’s going to cut his throat cos he thinks Tilford’s advising him about H.W. It’s like “How dare you tell me what to do!”

We talked about Dniel’s disdain for religion. Being a non-believer back then was much more rare than it is today. And again, I think it’s because he’s such a high end narcissist that he can’t accept anybody having superiority over him – not even God.
That’s what it’s all about. He goes after oil, so he can get rich, so he has control. When he flies into a rage it’s because somebody else tries to take control. His narcissism drives almost every decision he makes. Such a great portrayal of a narcissist, one of cinema’s best. Outstanding stuff from both Day-Lewis in the performance and PTA in the writing, for me.

Amd Matt, the two Daniels?

I think it’s probably hard for us to imagine anybody but DDL playing Daniel Plainview, and it seems that was true for Paul Thomas Anderson too as he wrote the part specifically for Daniel Day-Lewis. The producer JoAnn Sellar said that if Day-Lewis had said no, the film might not have been made. Anderson was so keen to get Day-Lewis that he sent him the script before it was even finished. A hint of desperation about that, maybe. Pleeease Daniel.

Day-Lewis had been a massive fan of Punch Drunk Love by PTA and always wanted to work with him. He read the script and liked it. He said he was drawn to the film because he thought he could explore the dark recesses of his psyche with Daniel Plainview and it was appealing to play a character who was so unlike himself.

Well, that’s a relief, thathe’s not like Plainview. Nobody’s going to admit to being like Daniel Plainview though, surely? I took the role because Daniel Plainview is just like me.

Day-Lewis loved PTA’s writing, but he did do some improvising too. The speech that Daniel gives to the people of Little Boston where he talks about building schools and bringing bread to the town – that was improvised by Day-Lewis.

Yes, and PTA loved it. He said: “it was delicious. It was Plainview on a platter.”

He’s got a pretty distinctive voice, hasn’t he, Danny boy? Apparently, Day-Lewis worked on the part for over a year. And before they started filming, PTA sent Day-Lewis some old documentaries about the period to inspire him. And DDL also read letters written by men who really worked in the oilfields at that time. He said the letters were “full of sentimentality, love and loss.” Heartbroken guys, these oil workers.

And, another link to Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Day-Lewis listened to recordings of its director, John Huston, and took some inspiration from his voice.

Also, Daniel is based on a real person. There was a well-known oil tycoon called Edward Doheny and Daniel is based loosely on him:

  • They were from the same place – Fond du Lac in Wisconsin.
  • Both worked for Geological Survey in Kansas and were miners before going into oil.
  • We see Daniel in his mansion at the end of the film. These scenes were filmed at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. That house was built by Doheny for his son, Edward Doheny, Jr.
  • And Daniel’s famous ‘milkshake’ speech at the end of the film is loosely based on transcripts from hearings of the Teapot Dome Scandal, which involved Edward Doheny.

Wouldn’t fancy meeting Edward Doheny then. Not going for a pint with him. Daniel’s based on a real person, and also, apparently, a hugely iconic fictional person. You know who I’m talking about?

Yeah, it’s been said that Anderson based Daniel on Count Dracula, in some ways. Sounds mad, but there are some examples:

  • The first time we see Daniel in the mineshaft he’s bathed in darkness, protected from sunlight.
  • Daniel thirsts for oil, which is the blood of the land.
  • Daniel’s nemesis is a preacher – a man of God.
  • And by the end of the film he’s living all alone in a huge castle-like mansion. Might as well be in Transylvania.

The costume designer on the film, Mark Bridges, said that working with Daniel Day-Lewis was a learning experience. He said that DDL made Daniel’s clothes very important to his character – specifically his hats.

Bridges showed Day-Lewis three hats and asked him which one he wanted to wear as Daniel. Day-Lewis took them all home for three days and picked the one he wanted. And Bridges said you knew when Day-Lewis was in character because he’d have the hat one.

So if he’s wearing the hat, stay away from him. Definitely don’t go bowling with him.

After they finished filming, when Paul Dano was asked what it was like to work with Day-Lewis, he said “I’d read the script but hearing it come out of him is another level. I was just going holy shit… he’s so powerful.”

He is massive, isn’t he. Enormous performance.

And to finish on the two Daniels, we have another patreon question – this time from James Osypiw. Hello there, James.
So James has asked:

“How do you guys rate DDL’s performance here compared to other great performances over the years?” Specifically, James says, his two all-time favourite performances, which are Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Gene Hackman in The French Connection?

Couple of massive ones there. What do you think, Westy? How does DDL here compare to those?

And Matt, Day-Lewis vs Nicholson vs Hackman?

For his work on There Will Be Blood, Daniel Day-Lewis won his second Oscar. Much-deserved, and now I think we might call it one of the great lead performances this century?

Paul Dano – Eli and Paul Sunday

The second cast member we’re going to talk about is Paul Dano. Playing dual roles in the film, we first see him as Paul Sunday, but it’s as Paul’s evil twin Eli, where we see Dano most.

Involved in the negotiation for the sale of the Sunday farm, Eli is a preacher who is always looking to get a bit extra for his church. We see him fight with Daniel, then baptise Daniel, before being murdered by Daniel in the brutal final scene.

He’s a false prophet, Matt. What do we think of Eli/Paul Sunday, and Paul Dano?


He is excellent. I think the best compliment I can give him is to say that he’s playing opposite one of the great actors here in Day-Lewis, giving arguably his best performance and PAul Dano definitely holds his own. And Eli – loves hamming it up in church, doesn’t he. During the exorcism scene – that thing he does with his voice. You know the bit I mean? [GET RECORDING] Sounds like Donald Duck.

Some great subtle character moments too. I like it when Daniel opens the well in front of the townfolk. Eli has asked Daniel if he can bless the well and Daniel says yes, but then does it himself. Eli can’t complain as the well has been blessed, but you can tell he’s raging that he hasn’t had his moment. Like Daniel, he’s all about himself. And I think that’s a big reason why Daniel dislikes him so much. They’re both very selfish but Eli, in Daniel’s eyes I think, is very dishonest about his self-centredness. Daniel says it all when he sees the exorcism and he says “It was a good show.”
And Dano – he was only 23 at the time as well, so he does amazingly well.

Westy, Dano for you?

Dano was originally only cast as Paul Sunday and an actor called Kel O’Neill was cast as Eli. AFter a few weeks of shooting, Anderson decided it wasn’t working with him as Eli so O’Neill was fired. And Anderson asked Paul Dano if he could play both Paul and Eli if they changed them to be twins. There were rumours at the time that Kel O’Neill left the production because he was so intimidated by Daniel Day-Lewis, but that’s not true.

Yeah, Kel O’Neill said it just wasn’t clicking between him and Paul Thomas Anderson. And he doesn’t act any more, retired from it entirely now. So Day Lewis ruined his life. And that means whereas Day Lewis took over a year to prepare the part of Daniel, Dano had 4 days to prepare for Eli. His best performance, you think?

There Will Be Blood catapulted Paul Dano’s career. HE was nominated for a BAFTA and has since starred in some big and successful films. Looper, 12 Years A Slave, Prisoners, The Fabelmans. And he played The Riddler. No Jim Carrey though, was he?

There is a wider supporting cast in There Will Be Blood. Kevin J. O’Connor as Henry, and Ciaran Hinds as Fletcher Hamilton are both good, and we’ll talk a bit more about Daniel’s son, H.W. later, but our main two there, Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano – two great lead performances?

The Middle

Into the second act of There Will Be Blood, we’re well into the narrative, and a couple of big sequences. Eli’s baptism of Daniel – well, it’s crazy- and it’s coming up. First, though, we’ve got a highly explosive moment to talk about, don’t we?

The well explosion – H.W. deafened

So with the drilling around the Sunday’s land well under way, things take a turn for the worse for Daniel. After a gas pocket at the derrick blows, the drilling infrastructure is destroyed, and H.W. left permanently deaf.

The big set piece of the film. How’s this sequence, Matt?

Explosions and fire balls left and right in this sequence. It’s like Die Hard. Just need Plainview running round in a vest. Loads of wise cracks.

I know that the inspiration for the oil derrick explosion – it wasn’t Die Hard, believe it or not – it came from Giant, 1956 film with James Dean and Liz Taylor. That’s one of PTA’s favourite films apparently, and there’s an oil geyser blows in that.

We see another example of Daniel’s narcissism here too that I was talking about. After H.W. has been rescued and taken away to safety, Fletcher asks Daniel if H.W. is okay. DAniel says “No, he’s not” and just carries on staring at the fire. And it’s Fletcher who goes to check on H.W. – awful that. Father of the year Plainview, there.

But a huge sequence – really well executed as a set piece.

The Director of Photography was Robert Elswit and he said filming this scenes was “a nightmare.” It was planned out with military precision. It was the only scene that was storyboarded in full and it was meant to be shot over two nights. But at the end of the first night they couldn’t put the fire out because the wood was too dry. The special effects supervisor was called Steve Cremin and he said to Anderson, ‘it’s going to collapse before it burns out so you need to get everything you need now’ and it was a mad rush to get every shot before the derrick collapsed. The only shot they didn’t get that PTA wanted was a shot looking down from the top of the derrick at Daniel 200ft below.

That does sound a great shot. Steve Cremin – the effects supervisor you mentioned there – he was also the effects supervisor on Jarhead so handled the giant flaming wells on there. In that scene on Jarhead they mention Jimmy Dean from Giant, too.

The film was mostly shot in Marfa, Texas, like we said. And No Country For Old Men was shooting there at the same time. There was one day when the There Will Be Blood crew were testing the pyrotechnic effects they’d use during the oil derrick explosion scene. It caused a huge billowing smoke cloud that you could see for miles around and it meant that the Coens had to shut down production for a day on No Country.

Yeah, apparently when they found out both films were shooting in Marfa, the Coens booked up all the rooms in the biggest motel in town. PTA called them “Sneaky bastards.”

Big moment in the film there then. Devastating consequences for H.W. Daniel though – not a care in the world.

Eli baptises Daniel

Moving on a few weeks and by this time in the film, things have changed a lot for Daniel. H.W. has been sent to a school for the deaf. Henry Plainview has turned up claiming to be Danny Boy’s long lost brother and, after it turns out he’s not, Daniel murders him. As you do.

As a result, Daniel must repent for his sins and there’s only one man can help. Eli baptises Daniel, slaps him round a bit, and humiliates him in front of his congregation.

Eli’s favourite scene this one. How’s it for you, Westy?

Tell you what? Powerful, isn’t it? Massive. A couple of top actors on top of their game, and it is some sight.

Day-Lewis’ delivery when he’s going “I’ve abandoned my child, I’ve abandoned my boy!” is incredible Looks like his face is going to burst.

And I think this is one of the two times in the film where we see what Daniel – deep down – really wants, and that’s companionship, or family. We see it here when he talks about abandoning H.W. and his face explodes. And the other time we see it is when he finds out his brother, Henry, is an imposter and Daniel kills him then cries. Cries for what he’s lost, or rather, never had in the first place.

Also, why I like “I’ve abandoned my child!” Does it remind anybody else of Billy Zane shouting “I have a child!” in Titanic? Different choices on the delivery obviously. Zane’s much better. But Day-Lewis is alright too.

Something else I like about this scene is how PTA shot it – or rather when he shot it. When he was putting together the shooting schedule with JoAnne Sellar, Anderson made sure to shoot this scene the day after they filmed the one where Daniel wrestles Eli to the ground so getting roughed up was fresh in Paul Dano’s memory.

Mud in his eye.

There was a scene in the screenplay that PTA later deleted. It’s still referenced in this scene though. So there was a scene where Daniel told his fake brother Henry “my cock doesn’t work,” and then there’d be a scene where we see them both with prostitutes. And this is what Eli is referring to in the baptism when he says Daniel has “lusted after women.”

Well, I’m glad that scene was deleted. Far too much information for my liking.

The middle of There Will Be Blood, the big scenes start to come thick and fast and in those couple we just discussed there, two of the biggest?

The Crew

Paul Thomas Anderson is a director who likes to work collaboratively, so his key crew members are always worth talking about, and that’s what we’re going to do now. Johnny Greenwood as the composer and Robert Elswitt as Director of Photography are coming up but we’re going to start off with the writing, aren’t we?

Paul Thomas Anderson – writer

So There Will Be Blood wasn’t just directed by Paul Thomas Anderson – it was written by him too. Collaborated with himself. This was his fifth credit as screenwriter after Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love.

There Will Be Blood though, Westy – how’s the writing here?

The writing is top notch. Really strong narrative, and it has a lot of themes. I think the strongest ones are probably greed and control – they’re both personified by Daniel, which I talked about before, but I see some other themes too:

There’s a recurring theme of family – rather the lack of one. The point that Daniel is how he is partly because of a lack of family or friends is obvious and hammered home by the fact that both of his family connections – H.W. and Henry – are based on lies.

Capitalism v religion is a pretty strong theme, shown in the struggles between the self made millionaire in Daniel and the man of faith in Eli. Capitalism wins out in the film, as I think it did around this time in America in real life.

I think my favourite though is the critique of the American Dream. Daniel basically is the American Dream. He drags himself up from nothing by his bootstraps with his own blood, sweat and tears. And he ends up a rich man. But he achieves this at the expense of others – he steals, he hurts and loses his son, he’s a murderer. And he ends up a hateful, lonely man. So how good is the American Dream really? Not very according to this.

You could talk about a lot in the writing – narrative, character, dialogue. It’s all there. And strong themes in the subtext too.

So in about 2004, PTA was working on a new screenplay. It was a drama about two warring families, but he was struggling with it. Then he came across a book that he loved and it became the basis of There Will Be Blood. Do you know the title and author?

The film was based on Oil, by Upton Sinclair, which was published in 1926. PTA said that it felt like he was collaborating with Sinclair rather than adapting him because he only used the first 150 pages of the novel. So there are a lot of differences between the book and the film.

The character names are different. In the book the main character is called J. Arnold Ross – that became Daniel Plainview.
In the book, his son is called J. Arnold Ross, jr, so he names him after himself. Which I think would’ve been a good character detail as Daniel is such a narcissist.

The time period changes too. Sinclair’s novel is set in the 1920s, but PTA moved it to about 20-30 years earlier.
Yes, that was the beginning of the oil boom in the US – which I think is a great change.

We mentioned Edward Doheny earlier as an inspiration for Daniel, but some of the other characters in the film are based on real life figures too:

Daniel’s business partner is H.B. Ailman, played by Barry Del Sherman. There was a real oil man at the time called H.B. Ailman.
Yeah, H.B. Ailman worked with Edward Doheny too. So, full circle. The circle of life.

Two supporting characters are the Standard Oil guys H. M. Tilford played by David Warshofsky and and J. J. Carter played by Tom Doyle. They were real prospectors who worked for Standard Oil around that time.
Those scenes with Tilford. Daniel threatens to cut his throat which is outrageous. “I’ll make you a millionaire” – “I’ll cut your throat.”

For writing There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson was again nominated for an Oscar. But again he lost out. Again, to the Coens for No Country For Old Men. Sneaky bastards.

Still though, some great writing here from PTA?

Johnny Greenwood – Composer

Moving on from the writing to the music and the composer on There Will Be Blood was Johnny Greenwood. Westy’s boy, right?

Known mainly at that point as the lead guitarist in the miserable British rock outfit Radiohead, Johnny Greenwood made his debut in feature films with There Will Be Blood.

Westy you love Radiohead. So I’m guessing you like the music here?

The music is superb and I think Johnny Greenwood is kind of the unsung hero of the film. I mean, not so much here with Westy singing from the rooftops.

One word I would use to describe the score is unsettling. At times it’s very string-heavy and beautiful. At times – like during the oil derrick set piece – it’s percussion-driven and chaotic. The music plays a huge part in driving the intensity of that explosion sequence.

Some of the standout pieces for me are a track called Open Spaces which is really spooky. A piece called Future Markets plays when Daniel buys Abel’s land. Sounds very Bernard Hermann-esque to me. More uptempo but still spooky. And a piece called Henry Plainview. That music is terrifying. It absolutely sounds like a horror movie soundtrack – mirrors some of the themes we talk about: greed, death, the dark side of religion.

The music’s not John Williams or Jerry Goldsmith – it’s not catchy hooks and bombastic melodies for the most part. But it’s stunning music.

And Matt, how’s the music for you here?

Greenwood’s music was performed largely by the BBC Concert Orchestra and he said the creative process was that he wrote hours and hours of music and he and Anderson then stripped it all back to 33 minutes together.

And Greenwood said “I tried to write to the scenery, and the story rather than creating specific theme tunes for characters. It’s not the kind of narrative that would suit that.”

Nice. It would’ve been good to have a Daniel Plainview theme though. As well as Johnny Greenwood’s music there’s some traditional music in there too. Two Christian hymns are heard, sung by Eli’s congregation. One is called There Is Power In The Blood – which links back to the title and possibly the Dracula connection? And also one called What A Friend We Have In Jesus. Should’ve had the congregation singing Paranoid Android. That would’ve fit, right?

Well, even though Jonny Greenwood’s score was very well-received it was not eligible for Best Original Score at the Oscars. This was because it used parts of some music he’d written previously for a documentary called Bodysong.

It won Best Score at the Westys that year though, right?

Robert Elswitt – Director of Photography

Onto how the film looks, and we’re talking the cinematography on There Will Be Blood. The DP on the film was Robert Elswit. In a movie career going back to the early 1980s, he had an eclectic filmography, shall we say? The Sure Thing, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, The River Wild, and Return of the Living Dead Part II were some of the biggest.

Then Paul THomas Anderson came along, and he and Elswit worked together on Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love and then… There Will Be Blood.

What a transformation! How’s Elswit’s work on Return of the Living Dead Part II, Matt?

I love the cinematography here. I love the colour palette. Lots of Earthy tones that come from the landscapes, production design and lighting to give a very realistic period feel. That kind of palette can sometimes give films too much of a muted look I think, but not here. It’s all still very striking in how it looks.

Bit of a PTA trademark I think that his shot length is way above average, and this film exemplifies that. There’s a great shot when we first get to Little Boston where we start on the train tracks then pan and follow Daniel’s car as it comes into town. Superb that.

I know that Robert Elwit insisted on shooting on film and not digital because he thinks digital offers none of the texture or grain that he wanted here. Which is for the best. And I think there’s a Kubrick influence here too. Theres a moment after the oil derrick explosion where the camera is behind Daniel and we watch him sitting observing the fire for quite a while which always reminds me of Kubrick. Stunning work all the way through.

Tying in with the setting of the film, PTA used a very specific camera for the film. He owned a vintage 1910 Pathe camera. He used the lens from this camera to shoot some scenes in There Will Be Blood with it. One of those scenes was a shot on the train where we see Daniel sleeping with H.W. as an infant.

Yes, you can tell if you look because that lens has a slightly lower resolution, and it removes some colour from the corners of the frame. Gives it that old world kind of look.

Elswit played a part in some of the colours used as well. We see a bowling alley in Daniel’s house at the end of the film. PTA’s original plan was for the bowling alley to be painted entirely white to make it striking. Elsweit said that would limit what he could do with the lighting and convinced him to change his mind so they could make it look more menacing and dramatic.

Yeah, a change for the best, by sounds of it?

For his work on There Will Be Blood, Robert Elswit won an Oscar for Best Cinematography. They finally beat the Coens. Deserved win, I think?

And that’s the crew section. PTA and DDL get most of the plaudits on There Will Be Blood – perhaps rightly – but clearly those names we just talked about – Johnny Greenwood and Robert Elswit – played huge parts too?

The End

The final act of There Will Be Blood and we’re transported forward in time. It’s 1927, and there are two huge character scenes that wrap things up. Obviously we’re talking about the climactic showdown between Daniel and Eli but, before that comes the final confrontation between Daniel and H.W.

“Bastard in a basket”

So years have passed, and Daniel is now an alcoholic, alone, in his huge mansion. Alone, except for his butler, that is. H.W., now married to Mary Sunday, visits Daniel to tell him he’s moving to Mexico to start his own oil business, and Daniel takes it terribly – he disowns H.W, tells him he’s not his real son and calls him “a bastard in a basket”

He’s a nice fella, Daniel, isn’t he? What do you think of this scene, Westy?

All that great character work, that excellent writing we’ve had up to this point now starts to pay off in the final act because the character moments are just massive. Daniel’s behaviour is just off the charts here but because we’ve seen his journey, we’ve seen his descent, we’re here for it and we buy it.

There’s two moments here that always strike me. First is that by this point in the film, H.W, Daniel’s only son, has been deaf for what, 15 years by this point? And Daniel still hasn’t bothered to learn sign language. I just find that vile to be honest. And… really lazy.

And then when H.W. says he wanted to speak to Daniel and Daniel says “you can’t speak, why don’t you just flap your hands about?” That is unbelievable behaviour.

The cruelty is almost cartoonish but like I say, we’ve seen the fall so it works perfectly.

But, tell you what it is? H.W. is a good man. Daniel – by hook or by crook – raised a good man. H.W, is the best thing he’s ever done. What he wants is right there in front of him and he can’t see it. Daniel thinks he’s strong – but he’s not. He’s one of those guys you see on Twitter who call themselves an Alpha Male but most people just think they’re pathetic.

But, brilliant scene. Best scene in the film, for me.

Speaking of H.W. we never actually find out what his real name is, or what HW stands for do we? Think it’s Harvey Weinstein – that’s why they don’t tell us?

But Russell Harvard, the actor who plays older H.W, in this scene, he’s deaf in real life so that’s one of the reasons it all just feels so authentic.

Young H.W. is played by Dillon Freasier. When they were casting, the casting director – Cassandra Kulukundis – contacted schools around Marfa, Texas, to find some potential child actors. She was recommended Dillon Freasier, met with him and did some improv with him. She was impressed so recommended him to Paul Thomas Anderson.

On the night she went to meet Dillon, she got pulled over for speeding. The state trooper asked where she was headed and said “That’s my place.” Turned out it was Dillon’s mother. She let Kulukundis off with a warning.

Yeah, Dillon Freasier was only 11 so when the production was trying to convince Dillon’s mother to let him be in the movie, his mother wanted to figure out who Daniel Day-Lewis was, so she rented a copy of Gangs of New York. Obviously she was terrified at the thought of her child knocking about with Bill The Butcher so Cassandra Kulukundis quickly had a copy of Age of Innocence sent over where he’s far more of a gentleman.

We also see Daniel’s butler in this scene. His character doesn’t have a name but he’s played by either Phil Shelly or Vince Froio – they’re both credited in IMDb. During filming, a photographer sneaked on set and took a picture of whichever actor plays the butler and they ran an article saying how Daniel Day-Lewis had completely transformed himself for this new role alongside a picture of the butler.

That would be some serious method acting that, wouldn’t it. Like Face/Off. I’m playing John Travolta.

Big scene there then. Some huge character drama, the last time we see H.W. in the film, and Daniel – what a bastard? Alpha Male.

Daniel kills Eli

Moving into the final scene of the film now then, and it’s probably the most famous scene in the film, isn’t it?

So still alone in his huge mansion – still with the butler, though – Daniel is then visited by a second blast from the past. It’s only Eli Sunday, wanting more money. The two talk, and argue. One thing leads to another, and Daniel bludgeons Eli to death with a bowling pin. As you do.

He’s finished, is Daniel. How’s this as a way to wrap it all up, Matt?

Just when I thought there wasn’t going to be any blood, boom! Anderson delivers.

But, whenever I hear somebody use the phrase ‘powerhouse performance’ I always think of Daniel Day-Lewis – specifically in this film and even more specifically, in this scene. He’s huge. That Dano manages not be swallowed alive is an achievement in itself. But what a finale.

By this point in his life, Daniel is barely human anymore – he’s just a big ball of greed. It’s not enough that Eli is there to beg him for money. He wants to hear him renounce his faith. And after he does, Daniel just goes “those areas have been drilled.” He then brings up Paul and hammers home how he’s the better brother. Eli is destroyed and it’s still not enough for Daniel. He beats him to death. With a bowling pin, which isn’t the most dignified death I’ve ever seen.

And Daniel’s final line – the final line of the film is “I’m finished.” That’s great. He is finished, but the thing is: Daniel’s achieved everything he tried to achieve: he’s found oil, built a business, became rich, defeated -in his way Eli. He’s achieved everything he tried to achieve. But nothing he wanted to achieve. He’s still where he didn’t want to be – alone, except for the butler – only now he’s got a bigger house.

Also, when we first get to this scene and Daniel’s asleep with his head on the bowling lane. Most uncomfortable sleeping position ever, surely.

The film was always meant to end with Daniel killing Eli. But originally, he killed him with a silver tumbler, instead of a bowling pin. PTA changed it to be less graphic, though.

I mean, it’s still pretty graphic. And that original ending. Apparently after he’d killed Eli, Daniel then threw his body through the bowling pins. Got a strike.

We mentioned how the mansion where the finale was filmed was built by Edward Doheny for his son, Ned Doheny, but that’s not the only link with the film. In 1929, Ned Doheny and his assistant, Hugh Plunkett, were found dead by Doheny’s wife. Apparently it was murder-suicide by Plunkett – the rumour was they were lovers.

Yeah he shot Ned Doheny then himself. Difficult to beat yourself to death with a bowling pin to be fair.

But also, this mansion – Greystone Mansion it’s called – has been in many other films too. Did you know that?

So it’s also Wayne Manor in Batman & Robin. It’s Jeffrey Lebowski’s mansion in The Big Lebowski. It’s in The Bodyguard. Ghostbusters II. Indecent Proposal. The Prestige, The Social Network, X-Men, and all three Sam Raimi Spider-Man films.
So I mean, people mention Daniel’s similarities to Dracula but he lives in Wayne Manor. He’s got a butler. Worst Batman ever?

The most famous line in the film comes in this scene – “I drink your milkshake.” It’s sort of a real quote. PTA said he found it in transcripts from the 1920s Teapot Dome Scandal – which was a controversy around oil companies bribing officials for land – where “milkshake” had been used as an analogy for oil. But its been speculated since that it came from a a senator called Pete Domenici in 2003, who said that drilling oil was like a child drinking milkshake in the kitchen from their bedroom.

Either way, it’s a superb line to be fair. I wonder if those transcripts also included someone going “Draaaaiiiiinnnaaaggge!!”

But staying on the milkshake theme – which I want to for as long as possible, obviously, also, the fake oil that they use throughout the movie. That solution apparently included the same stuff that McDonald’s put in their chocolate milkshake.

And, to get us across the line here, we have our third and final question from our patrons. It’s on the milkshake line, and it’s from Derek Noonan – hi, Derek.

“I drink your milkshake” is one of the great FU lines ever in cinema. I use it all the time (kiddingly of course). What are some other examples of characters screwing over another character with a great line?

So Westy, you love a movie quote. Any good “F you” lines you’ve got?

I think the king has to be Clark Gable to Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind – “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn.” Potty mouth.

Also though, and equally as high brow, I’m a big fan of of Arnold to his landlord in The Terminator: “Fuck you, asshole” . Hard to choose between them isn’t it, Arnold and Gable. So I’m not going to. Joint winners.

This scene though. I’m struggling to think of any other final scene that’s as famous since this one?

And that’s the end of the film. H.W. heads to Mexico with Mary, Eli is dead, and Daniel is finished. Intense enough for you?

Reception and Awards

Paul Thomas Anderson isn’t exactly a box-office busting filmmaker, but There Will Be Blood did do very well. On a budget of $25m it took $76.2m – Anderson’s most profitable film at the time.

And critics-wise, probably not a surprise to know that There Will Be Blood received mostly favourable reviews:

Our man Roger Ebert gave the film 3 and a half out of four stars – very specific score that. And he said: “There Will Be Blood is the kind of film that is easily called great. But I am not sure of its greatness… its lack of women or any reflection of ordinary society… may see its reach exceeding its grasp.

I’m not sure what the 3 and a half stars were for then. Slammed it.

The lack of women, though. That is an issue, surely?

Empire Magazine gave the film 5 stars out of 5 and said:
“Uncompromising, intelligent and searing cinema. Along with The Assassination Of Jesse James… and No Country For Old Men, this is the best batch of Western-set dramas in decades. John Huston would have been proud.”

You’ll be liking the Jesse James reference in there, Westy? That would make a good classic episode you think? Yeah I’ll let Luke do that one. Don’t want to fight over it do we?

And Andrew Sarris called the film: “An impressive achievement in rendering the simulated realities of a bygone time and place, largely with an inspired use of regional extras with all the right moves and sounds.”

All the right movies and sounds?! That’s us when we branch out into music.

At the Oscars, There Will Be Blood was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound Editing.

And it won Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis and Best Cinematography for Robert Elswit. Nothing specifically for PTA seems a little harsh, I think?

So, There Will Be Blood is regarded as one of PTA’s most popular films today, and it was that way very quickly after its release. Success at the box office, lots of critical acclaim, figured heavily at the awards and now, a 21st century classic?

Sequels and Influence

No sequels to There Will Be Blood obviously. Imagine? There Will Be Blood II? Daniel Plainview in prison for killing Eli. No words for the whole film. Just him hacking away at the walls with a pickaxe.

It was a notable film on its release though, the first There Will Be Blood. How do you think we’ve seen its influence since it was released?

So no sequels For There Will Be Blood – not yet anyway. Its legacy though, pretty much sealed as one of Paul Thomas Anderson’s great fims?

The ATRM ranking

So we’re at the end of our There Will Be Blood episode. We’ve been through it all and now is the time when we rate the film out of 10.

So Matt, do you want to start the ball rolling? Your summary and score for There Will Be Blood please…

As we’ve said, it’s regarded as one of the great films this century by many, and I definitely go along with that. It’s beautiful to look at, beautiful to listen to and as a character study piece of one man – it really excels. The writing of Daniel Plainview I think is extraordinary. A man who wants the thing he never had – closeness of friends and family. He has no idea, though, how to get it so allows narcissism to take over. He allows his anger and hate to grow and grow until he’s entirely consumed by it.

And in realising that character from page to screen, DAniel DAy-Lewis gives one of the great Hollywood performances I think.

I would say it is a touch drier than I would like at some points, and the complete lack of women in the main cast is just ridiculous, to be honest.

But, PTA’s best film, one of the best films this century and for me it gets a big ol 9.5 out of 10.

And Westy? Your summary and score for There Will Be Blood?

We opened it up to our Twitter followers too. And some comments from them on There Will Be Blood:

LilyRose, @waveorwater said:
“One of the best I have seen. And I keep my 10/10 for the very best. Storyline is clear yet sophisticated. All acting is fab. The score is progressive. And Daniel Day-Lewis as Plainview is stunningly good.”

I think we agree with LilyRose, don’t we?

BP, @bpsquaredhead said:
“A hesitant 10. There are movies I like more, but the distance between them and this seems rather small, plus I know how large its reputation is among the film community. So fine, 10.”

Really reluctant. A begrudging 10 from bpsquaredhead there.

And Ronak Kamat, @Ronak_Kamat said:
“A straight 10 with very little debate. A masterpiece in every sense of the word. DDL is out of this World and Dano drops a stellar performance. It’s just a perfect film.”

And, as a counterpoint to all the gushing praise. Paul Macca, @PaulMacca20. Not the Paul Macca – McCartney – I don’t think. Though, who knows.

Macca gave a short review. He said “There will be boredom.”
Not so hot at the film reviews, Macca, bloody good songwriter, though.

And altogether, our Twitter followers ranked the film as… what would you guess? It was 9.5/10.

So, that gives There Will Be Blood a score of XX OUT OF 40 in total. You can check our website at alltherightmovies.com for the leaderboard to see where it sits, if you’d like. Or don’t.

That’s a wrap on There Will Blood, though. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed it, and not been building your hatreds piece by piece while listening.

If you have liked it, please share us on your social channels as that helps a lot. And, if you really liked it, you can support us on Patreon. So to find out more about accessing our podcast archive, bonus episodes, and supporting us in what we do, please visit patreon.com/alltherightmovies

Next time, Luke, Westy and Matt are following the money as they talk the 70s political thriller All The President’s Men. That somehow won our Twitter poll. Luke surely fixed that, right? Vote rigging. I’m off to storm the capitol, me.

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We’re all off now to see if Westy’s garden’s hiding any oil. Probably not, I’d imagine. Come back next time, though, for All The President’s Men…