There Will Be Blood (2007)

R | 158-159 mins | Drama | 11 January 2007

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
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HISTORY

The action begins directly after the company logos and the main title card, with all cast and crew credits appearing at the end of the film. Major credits appear first in the end credits, followed by a repetition of the film's title and the remaining credits. Paul Thomas Anderson's credit reads: "Written for the screen and directed by." The five principal actors were first listed in order of importance, with their names and character names. In that list, Paul Dano's credit reads: "Paul Dano as Eli and Paul Sunday." The complete cast, which is presented further on, is listed in order of appearance, with Dano included first as Paul Sunday, then later as Eli Sunday. While in the first cast list the character played by Dillon Freasier is called "H.W." the cast in order of appearance lists him as "HW."
       There is a written statement in the end credits that reads: "Dedicated to Robert Altman (1925--2006).” Anderson has been quoted in interviews as saying that director Altman had been an inspiration and mentor to him. Another onscreen statement reads "With love to Maya, Pearl, Roman and Francesca." The end credits also acknowledge a number of persons, museums, companies and towns that were helpful during the film's productions, among them, Marfa, Alpine and Fort Davis, TX, the Petroleum Museum of Midland, TX and the Kern County Museum of Bakersfield, CA.
       The film's title was taken from a quotation from the Bible , Exodus 7:19, which some versions of the Bible translate as "there may be blood." Although the onscreen literary source credit reads "Based on ... More Less

The action begins directly after the company logos and the main title card, with all cast and crew credits appearing at the end of the film. Major credits appear first in the end credits, followed by a repetition of the film's title and the remaining credits. Paul Thomas Anderson's credit reads: "Written for the screen and directed by." The five principal actors were first listed in order of importance, with their names and character names. In that list, Paul Dano's credit reads: "Paul Dano as Eli and Paul Sunday." The complete cast, which is presented further on, is listed in order of appearance, with Dano included first as Paul Sunday, then later as Eli Sunday. While in the first cast list the character played by Dillon Freasier is called "H.W." the cast in order of appearance lists him as "HW."
       There is a written statement in the end credits that reads: "Dedicated to Robert Altman (1925--2006).” Anderson has been quoted in interviews as saying that director Altman had been an inspiration and mentor to him. Another onscreen statement reads "With love to Maya, Pearl, Roman and Francesca." The end credits also acknowledge a number of persons, museums, companies and towns that were helpful during the film's productions, among them, Marfa, Alpine and Fort Davis, TX, the Petroleum Museum of Midland, TX and the Kern County Museum of Bakersfield, CA.
       The film's title was taken from a quotation from the Bible , Exodus 7:19, which some versions of the Bible translate as "there may be blood." Although the onscreen literary source credit reads "Based on Oil! by Upton Sinclair," the film bears only a passing resemblance to the first sections of Sinclair's 1927 novel, in which the central characters are J. Arnold "Joe" Ross and his son, J. Arnold Ross, Jr., respectively called "Dad" and "Bunny," and "Paul Watkins” and his brother "Eli." The novel presents Dad as a greedy, ruthless California oilman who deceives, bribes and bends the law to become an extremely powerful and wealthy man but is also loving to his son and frequently sentimental. In the novel, the son is illegitimate rather than adopted, and does not go deaf.
       Although close to his father, Bunny embraces the tenants of socialism and bolshevism. Bunny becomes a friend of Paul, a political and labor activist, who is a minor character in the film. Eli, like the character in the film, is a charismatic preacher in the fictitious Church of the Third Revelation, but also a greedy womanizer. In both the novel and the film, Eli is presented as an amalgam of popular 1920s evangelists such as Aimee Semple McPherson (1890--1944) and Billy Sunday (1862--1935). Near the end of the novel, Dad dies of natural causes while living in Europe with his new wife, a prominent spiritualist, and Bunny continues in the oil business.
       According to many literary sources, Sinclair's novel was inspired by the actual events of the Teapot Dome and Elk Hills oil lease scandals during the administration of Warren G. Harding, who died in office in 1923. Some sources have speculated that the characters of Dad and Bunny, respectively "Daniel Plainview" and HW Plainview in the film, were inspired by noted Southern California oil millionaire Edward L. Doheny and his son, Edward L. Doheny, Jr., whose Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, CA was used as the location for Daniel's mansion at the end of the film. According to a LAT article on the location, the bowling alley, which was featured in the film's climactic final scenes, was restored by the production company in exchange for permission to film there and in the den and hallway of the mansion.
       According to an article in HR on 5 Dec 2007, Anderson wrote There Will Be Blood with actor Daniel Day-Lewis in mind, and sent the script to the actor before it was completed. A 4 Jan 2008 LAT article reported that production had been delayed almost two years because of the difficulties of obtaining financing. The HR article related that Anderson initially tried to work out a joint deal with Universal Pictures and Focus Features for a $50,000,000 production budget but the project ultimately went to Paramount Vantage after Anderson's agent, John Lesher, became president of that company and brought in Miramax as a partner on the production, which would be shot on a budget in excess of $25,000,000. Some other contemporary sources have estimated the budget at $35,000,000.
       The character of “Paul Sunday” appears only in one scene, early in the film, when he visits Daniel to tell him about the oil on his family's goat ranch. According to a 2 Jan 2008 article in "The Envelope" supplement to LAT , Dano, the twenty-two-year-old actor who appeared in the dual roles of Paul and Eli, initially had tested for the role of Eli but instead was cast as Paul. The LAT article stated that another, unnamed actor had been cast as Eli, but when the filming of Eli’s scenes was about to begin, Anderson decided to cast Dano, who already had completed his scene as Paul. Some audience members and critics reportedly found the dual casting confusing, and although it is never explicitly stated within the story, in the bowling alley sequence, when Daniel disdainfully compares Eli to Paul, he calls Eli an "afterbirth," implying that the brothers were twins. The LAT article also noted that Dano and Day-Lewis never spoke to each other on the set unless they were actually acting in a scene together.
       After the character of HW becomes deaf, there are two short sequences in which there is no dialogue or ambient sound, emulating the child's deafness. The picture's score, which was unusual for a period piece, featured modernistic music by Jonny Greenwood, lead guitarist with the rock group Radiohead, with some classical strains within various sections of the soundtrack. As noted in press materials and news articles, many of the “Little Boston” scenes were shot on location in and around Marfa, TX, which also served as the location site for George Stevens’ 1955 film Giant , as well the 2007 Joel and Ethan Coen picture No Country for Old Men (see entries above). In addition to Greystone, southern California locations included the Santa Clarita area and a closed oil refinery in Long Beach . Other contemporary sources have added Albuquerque, NM as another location.
       Anderson was quoted in an Entertainment Weekly article as saying that the substance used to simulate oil in the film included "the stuff they put in chocolate milkshakes at McDonald's." According to a LAT article in Jan 2008, the gusher that resulted in HW’s hearing loss and the subsequent oil fire that had to be capped were accomplished through environmentally safe materials. The production’s ecological impact was noted in the film’s end credits, which included a sentence stating that it was "a carbon neutral production: 100% of carbon emissions offset with Native Energy.”
       The film has a number of characters and subplots that were not completely developed. For example, there are several mentions of beatings administered by the pious “Abel Sunday” to his youngest daughter, "Mary,” for whom Daniel expresses paternal affection. A LAT item on 12 Dec 2007 and a DV item on 17 Dec quoted Anderson as saying that the scene in which Daniel asks Mary if her father had stopped hitting her and assures her that there would be "no more hitting" was the first he wrote that was not based on the Sinclair novel. Another subplot of the film concerns Daniel's chronic drinking and his addition of alcohol to HW's baby bottle and later nightly glass of milk.
       Only alluded to in the film is the rivalry between the powerful oil companies Standard Oil and Union Oil (called by fictitious names in Sinclair’s novel), and the control that Standard had over the oil industry. The year in which most of the film's action takes place, 1911, was pivotal in Standard’s history. In May of that year, the Supreme Court confirmed that the company was a monopoly and in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, thereby forcing it to be divested of many its subsidiaries.
       There Will Be Blood was Anderson's first film since Punch-Drunk Love (2002) and Day-Lewis' first since The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005), which also featured Dano. According to Paramount Vantage credit information as of Apr 2007, among the actors whose roles were eliminated from There Will Be Blood were Steve Sawhill, Mary Elizabeth Barrett, David Little, April Corrao, Gregory Schwab, Robert Wooster, Chris Childers, Pat Abbott, Lucas Bevan, Bill Waggoner, J. R. Robertson, Leslea Charlesworth, Michael Purcell, John Kerry, Jane Walker and Melissa Hurt.
       The picture was first publicly screened at the Austin, TX Fantastic Fest 3 as a “secret” closing night feature on 27 Sep 2007. Although many reviews highly praised the film, with several calling it a "masterpiece" and comparing it, as the Var review did, to Orson Welles's Citizen Kane (1941, see above), some felt the film was not a completely realized success. Timothy Noah of the online magazine Slate.com coined the word "halfterpiece” to describe it, and critic David Ansen of Newsweek wrote that the picture was “ferocious, and it will be championed and attacked with equal ferocity. When the dust settles, we may look back on it as some kind of obsessed classic.”
       The acting of Day-Lewis as Daniel was heralded by almost all reviews. As noted in several reviews and feature articles, his voice assumed a cadence and tone that is very similar to that of director-actor John Huston. Some critics also speculated that Plainview was similar to the character "Noah Cross," whom Huston portrayed in the 1974 film Chinatown . Other sources compared his characterization to that of Humphrey Bogart’s “Fred C. Dobbs” in Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948, see below). In the wake of the film's release, the line bombastically uttered by Day-Lewis to Dano in the bowling alley sequence: "I drink your milkshake!," became a popular, often parodied quotation. Anderson stated in interviews that the words, which refer to the siphoning of oil deposits by drilling adjacent wells, were taken directly from 1924 congressional hearings on the Teapot Dome scandal during the Warren G. Harding administration. Some sources have traced the origin of the line to similar wording used by Harding's Secretary of the Interior, Albert B. Fall, during his testimony.
       In addition to being named one of AFI’s Movies of the Year for 2007, There Will Be Blood was named Best Picture of the year by the Los Angeles and New York Film Critics Associations, Day-Lewis was selected as the Best Actor of the year and Anderson was named Best Director by those associations as well as many other local and national film critics’ organizations. The picture received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture—Drama, and Day-Lewis received the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture—Drama. He also received a Screen Actors Guild Award for Male Actor in a leading role. Anderson received a nomination from the Directors Guild of America for directorial achievement in a feature film, and was nominated by the Writers Guild of America for his adapted screenplay. The film also was nominated by the Producers Guild of America for its Darryl Zanuck Producer of the Year Award.
       Day-Lewis won the Academy Award for Best Actor for There Will Be Blood , and the picture received nominations in the following categories: Best Picture, Best Directing, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay, and . In addition, Day-Lewis won a BAFTA for Leading Actor, and the film was nominated in the categories of Best Film, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Dano), Music, Cinematography, Production Design and Sound. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
18 Jan 2006
p. 1, 21.
Daily Variety
2 Nov 2007
p. 6, 36.
Daily Variety
16 Nov 2007.
---
Daily Variety
17 Dec 2007.
---
Entertainment Weekly
24 Aug 2007
p. 101.
Entertainment Weekly
11 Jan 2008
pp. 56-57.
Entertainment Weekly
15 Feb 2008
pp. 22-23.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jan 2008
p. 1, 64.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 2006
p. 1, 20.
Hollywood Reporter
12-18 Sep 2006
p. 30.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 2007
p. 7, 10.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 2007.
---
Long Beach Press-Telegram
10 Aug 2006.
---
Los Angeles Times
12 Dec 2007.
---
Los Angeles Times
26 Dec 2007
Calendar, p. 1, 8.
Los Angeles Times
27 Dec 2007
Home, p. 1, 4.
Los Angeles Times
2 Jan 2008
The Envelope, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
4 Jan 2008
Calendar, p. 20.
New York Times
26 Dec 2007.
---
Newsweek
17 Dec 2007
p. 74.
Time
3 Dec 2007.
---
Variety
27 Sep 2007.
---
Variety
5 Nov 2007
p. 32, 41.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
[In order of appearance:]
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Joanne Seller Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
Wrt for the screen by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam/Steadicam op
"A" cam 1st asst
"A" cam 2d asst
"B" cam 1st asst
"B" cam 2d asst
Film loader
[Photog dept] prod asst
[Photog dept] prod asst, Los Angeles unit
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Best boy elec
Elec
Elec, Los Angeles unit
Elec, Los Angeles unit
Elec, Los Angeles unit
Addl elec, Los Angeles unit
Addl elec, Los Angeles unit
Rigging gaffer
Rigging gaffer, Los Angeles unit
Rigging elec best boy, Los Angeles unit
Rigging elec, Los Angeles unit
Rigging elec, Los Angeles unit
Rigging elec, Los Angeles unit
Key grip
Best boy grip
Grip
Grip, Los Angeles unit
Key rigging grip
Key rigging grip, Los Angeles unit
Rigging grip best boy, Los Angeles unit
Rigging grip, Los Angeles unit
Rigging grip, Los Angeles unit
Rigging grip, Los Angeles unit
Dollies and cranes provided by
Dollies provided by
Cranes provided by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept coord
Storyboard artist
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
1st asst ed
Dailies asst ed
2d asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Asst set dec, Los Angeles unit
Set des
Set des, Los Angeles unit
Leadperson
Leadperson, Los Angeles unit
On-set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser, Los Angeles unit
Set dresser, Los Angeles unit
Set dresser, Los Angeles unit
Set dresser, Los Angeles unit
Set dresser, Los Angeles unit
Set dresser, Los Angeles unit
Set dresser, Los Angeles unit
Set dresser, Los Angeles unit
Prop master
Asst prop master
Addl asst prop master
Prop asst
Const coord
Const foreperson
Propmaker foreperson
Propmaker foreperson
Propmaker foreperson
Propmaker foreperson
Propmaker supv
Propmaker supv
Propmaker supv
Propmaker supv
Propmaker supv
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Laborer
Laborer
Laborer
Laborer
Paint supv
Gen paint foreperson
Paint foreperson
Paint foreperson
Paint coord
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Painter
Painter
Paint laborer
Paint laborer
Standby painter
Standby painter, Los Angeles unit
Greens foreperson
1st greens
Greens
Standby greens
[Set dec] prod asst
[Set dec] prod asst
[Set dec] prod asst, Los Angeles unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Asst cost des, Los Angeles unit
Cost supv
Key cost
On-set cost
On-set cost
On-set cost, Los Angeles unit
Cutter/Fitter
Seamstress
[Cost] prod asst
[Cost] prod asst
[Cost] prod asst
[Cost] intern
MUSIC
Orig mus by
Mus supv
Mus ed
Mus scored at
Rec by
Mixed by
Asst eng
Performed by
Addl score rec and mixed at
Rec, mixed and eng by
[Mus] performed by
Violin
Viola
Piano trios performed by [Violin]
Piano trios performed by [Cello]
Piano trios performed by [Piano]
SOUND
Sd mixer
Utility sd tech
Video assist
Video assist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Supv sd ed
Addl sd supv
Sd consultant
Asst re-rec mixer
1st asst sd ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Foley ed
Foley mixer
Foley artist
Foley artist
ADR rec
Sd asst
Digital transfer
Digital transfer
Digital transfer
Recordist
Video services
Video services
Engineering services
Engineering services
Engineering services
Digital editorial services
Digital editorial services
Client services
Client services
Client services
Dolby sd consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff foreperson
Spec eff set foreperson
Spec eff rigging foreperson
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
[Spec eff] prod asst
Visual eff
Visual eff des, Digital Backlot
Visual eff supv, Digital Backlot
Visual eff supv, ILM
CG supv, Digital Backlot
Visual eff prod, Digital Backlot
Visual eff prod, ILM
Visual eff prod, ILM
Visual eff prod mgr, Digital Backlot
Visual eff coord, ILM
Compositor, Digital Backlot
Compositor, Digital Backlot
Lead 3D artist, Digital Backlot
3D artist, Digital Backlot
Digital artist, Digital Backlot
Digital artist, ILM
Digital artist, ILM
Digital artist, ILM
Digital artist, ILM
CG support, Digital Backlot
Support, Digital Backlot
Title des
Typographer, M & H Type
Titles and opticals by
Prod, Pacific Title and Art Studio
Assoc prod, Pacific Title and Art Studio
Title coord
Digital optical coord
MAKEUP
Makeup dept head
Makeup artist
Makeup artist, Los Angeles unit
Hair dept head
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Key hairstylist, Los Angeles unit
PRODUCTION MISC
Voice casting
Background casting
Background casting
Background casting
Addl background casting
Addl Texas casting
Unit prod mgr
Prod supv
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod coord
Prod coord, Los Angeles unit
Asst prod coord
Prod secy
Prod secy, Los Angeles unit
Travel coord
Post-prod supv
Post-prod supv
Post prod asst
As himself
Asst to Ms. Sellar
Asst to Mr. Day-Lewis
Asst to Mr. Rudin, Los Angeles unit
Asst to Mr. Rudin, Los Angeles unit
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst, Los Angeles unit
Office/post-prod asst
Key set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst, Los Angeles unit
Set prod asst, Los Angeles unit
Scr supv
Prod accountant
1st asst accountant
2d asst accountant
2d asst accountant
Payroll accountant
Post prod sd accountant
Accounting clerk
Const accountant
Post prod accountant
Loc mgr, Los Angeles unit
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr, Los Angeles unit
Loc scout, Los Angeles unit
MacGuire Ranch liaison
Mitchell Ranch liaison
Mitchell Ranch liaison
[Loc dept] prod asst
[Loc dept] prod asst
[Loc dept] prod asst, Los Angeles unit
[Loc dept] intern
Projectionist
Projectionist asst
Security guard
Medic, Los Angeles unit
Medic, Los Angeles unit
Medic, Los Angeles unit
Catering by
Chef's asst
Chef's asst
Chef's asst
Craft service
Craft service, Los Angeles unit
Craft service asst
Craft service asst
Craft service asst, Los Angeles unit
Transportation coord
Transportation coord, Los Angeles unit
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Transportation capt, Los Angeles unit
Train coord
Picture vehicle coord, Los Angeles unit
Picture vehicle mechanic
[Transportation] prod asst
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Marine coord, Los Angeles unit
Livestock coord
Livestock coord, Los Angeles unit
Animal wrangler foreperson
Wrangler foreperson, Los Angeles unit
Animal wrangler
Animal wrangler
Animal wrangler
Snake wrangler
Rights and clearances
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Oil! by Upton Sinclair (Long Beach, CA and New York, 1927).
MUSIC
“Popcorn Superhet Receiver” composed by Jonny Greenwood, performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Robert Ziegler
“Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77:3. Vivace non troppo” composed by Johannes Brahms, performed by Berliner Philharmoniker, conducted by Herbert Von Karajan, solos by Anne-Sophie Mutter & António Meneses, courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
“Smear” composed by Jonny Greenwood, performed by the London Sinfonietta, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, Ondes Martenot, solos by Valérie Hartmann-Claverie & Bruno Perrault, recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 25th June 2005, licensed courtesy of BBC Worldwide
+
MUSIC
“Popcorn Superhet Receiver” composed by Jonny Greenwood, performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Robert Ziegler
“Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77:3. Vivace non troppo” composed by Johannes Brahms, performed by Berliner Philharmoniker, conducted by Herbert Von Karajan, solos by Anne-Sophie Mutter & António Meneses, courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
“Smear” composed by Jonny Greenwood, performed by the London Sinfonietta, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, Ondes Martenot, solos by Valérie Hartmann-Claverie & Bruno Perrault, recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 25th June 2005, licensed courtesy of BBC Worldwide
“Pärt: Fratres for Cello and Piano” composed by Arvo Pärt, performed by I Fiamminghi, The Orchestra of Flanders, conducted by Rudolf Werthen, courtesy of Telarc International Corporation.
+
SONGS
“What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” written by Joseph Scriven & Charles Converse, performed by Church of the Third Revelation
“There Is Power in the Blood,” written by Lewis E. Jones, performed by Church of the Third Revelation.
DETAILS
Release Date:
11 January 2007
Premiere Information:
Austin, TX Fantastic Fest screening: 27 September 2007
New York and Los Angeles openings: 26 December 2007
Production Date:
5 June--25 August 2006 in Marchfa, TX and Los Angeles
Copyright Claimants:
Paramount Vantage Miramax Film Corp.
Copyright Dates:
28 December 2007 28 December 2007
Copyright Numbers:
PA1590610 PA1590610
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Digital; SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound; dts Digital Sound in selected theatres
Color
DeLuxe
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Panavision
Lenses/Prints
Kodak motion picture film
Duration(in mins):
158-159
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In 1898 California, taciturn prospector Daniel Plainview strikes a small vein of silver in a pit mine but badly injures his leg in a fall. Four years later, as Daniel oversees construction of an oil well in Coyote Hills, an accident results in the death of one of his workers. Daniel adopts and lavishes affection on the man’s orphaned baby, whom he names HW. By 1911, Daniel has become prosperous from his Coyote Hills oil strike but desires to enrich himself further by buying oil leases from small communities. Bringing HW, whom he calls his partner, with him, he proclaims himself an oilman and a family man, who will give the local landowners one-sixth of the profits from the wells. One night, while overseeing a new oil field in Signal Hill, Daniel and his right-hand man, Fletcher Hamilton, are approached by teenager Paul Sunday, who offers to reveal the whereabouts of a rich, untapped oilfield for a $500 finder's fee. After Daniel reluctantly agrees to the terms, Paul shows him a map of an area surrounding his family's goat ranch in Little Boston, near Central California land parcels being bought by Standard Oil. A short time later, Daniel and HW travel to Little Boston and tell Paul's father Abel that they are hunting quail and would like permission to camp on his land. Later, when HW steps in some seeping oil, he rushes to show his father, who laughs with his son over the find. That night, as Daniel and HW eat dinner with the Sunday family, Daniel offers Abel $3,700 for his land. The fervently religious Abel thanks God for the offer, but ... +


In 1898 California, taciturn prospector Daniel Plainview strikes a small vein of silver in a pit mine but badly injures his leg in a fall. Four years later, as Daniel oversees construction of an oil well in Coyote Hills, an accident results in the death of one of his workers. Daniel adopts and lavishes affection on the man’s orphaned baby, whom he names HW. By 1911, Daniel has become prosperous from his Coyote Hills oil strike but desires to enrich himself further by buying oil leases from small communities. Bringing HW, whom he calls his partner, with him, he proclaims himself an oilman and a family man, who will give the local landowners one-sixth of the profits from the wells. One night, while overseeing a new oil field in Signal Hill, Daniel and his right-hand man, Fletcher Hamilton, are approached by teenager Paul Sunday, who offers to reveal the whereabouts of a rich, untapped oilfield for a $500 finder's fee. After Daniel reluctantly agrees to the terms, Paul shows him a map of an area surrounding his family's goat ranch in Little Boston, near Central California land parcels being bought by Standard Oil. A short time later, Daniel and HW travel to Little Boston and tell Paul's father Abel that they are hunting quail and would like permission to camp on his land. Later, when HW steps in some seeping oil, he rushes to show his father, who laughs with his son over the find. That night, as Daniel and HW eat dinner with the Sunday family, Daniel offers Abel $3,700 for his land. The fervently religious Abel thanks God for the offer, but his son Eli, a preacher, accuses Daniel of deception and demands a $10,000 bonus and a new road to his church. Daniel warily agrees to Eli's terms and soon, with the assistance of Al Rose, the local real estate agent, he is buying up as much local land as possible. Hoping to outmaneuver Standard Oil and avoid railroad transportation fees set by the company, Daniel plans to build a pipeline to the nearby coast and strike a deal with their competitor, Union Oil. As men begin to pour into the burgeoning oilfield, Eli, a charismatic faith healer, tries to convert some of the men to his Church of the Third Revelation. The day before the first derrick is to be dedicated, Eli goes to Daniel to say that he should be allowed to bless the well at a small ceremony marking the occasion. Daniel agrees, but the next day, after naming the well for Eli’s sister Mary, Daniel himself recites a blessing, leaving Eli stunned and angry. One night, after workman Joe Gunda dies in an accident, Daniel asks Eli to oversee the religious Gunda's funeral. Eli tells Daniel that Gunda died because the well was not blessed, but Daniel simply laughs, saying that Eli's faith-healing, which he witnessed at the church, was "a goddamn hell of a show." Some time later, as the third oil well is being drilled, a gusher bursts up, causing HW, who had been watching from above, to lose his hearing from the force of the eruption. A distraught Daniel rushes to his son and carries him back to their cabin, but quickly leaves to cap the well. One day, when Eli goes to Daniel to demand his $10,000, Daniel becomes enraged, screaming that Eli is a faith healer, yet his son cannot hear. He then beats and humiliates Eli, throwing him onto the ground and smearing his face with muddy oil. That night, Eli lashes out at Abel, calling him and the absent Paul lazy and stupid, then mercilessly beats him. Some time later, a man approaches Daniel’s cabin and says that he is his brother from another mother. Daniel is wary at first, but when the man, whose name is Henry, reveals details about Daniel’s family in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Daniel accepts him. Henry says that he is not interested in wealth, but merely hopes to have a job, at which he will work hard. That night, HW, who has sunk into depression over his hearing loss and his father's coldness, sets fire to the cabin, but Henry awakens in time to save Daniel. Knowing that HW is responsible, he chases after the fleeing boy and brings him back to the cabin. Some time later, after finding a school for HW, Daniel takes the boy onto the train and gently holds him, then leaves and sends in Fletcher. The boy screams for his father, but Daniel walks away as the train leaves the station. Weeks later, Daniel takes Henry with him to a meeting with Standard Oil executive H. M. Tilford and others who offer to buy Daniel's Coyote Hills property. Although he readily agrees to sell Coyote Hills, he refuses their offer of $1,000,000 for the Little Boston field and erupts into a violent rage, threatening to cut Tilford’s throat for suggesting that he should take the money and spend time with his boy. Soon Daniel learns from Al that his pipeline cannot go through the shortest route to the sea because Daniel never acquired the rights from Bandy, the one holdout among the local landowners. With Henry, Daniel travels to the Bandy farm, but is told by William Bandy that his grandfather is away. Daniel and Henry then take a swim in the ocean and relax on the shore. When a casual remark about their hometown does not elicit the expected response from Henry, Daniel deduces that he is a fraud. That night at their campsite, Daniel confronts Henry, who reveals that he became a close friend of Daniel’s real half-brother, who died of tuberculosis some months before. Henry adds that he acquired enough knowledge to impersonate the brother by reading through his diary. Daniel, who has told Henry that he learned to hate little-by-little and finds nothing to like in humanity, then places his gun to Henry's temple and shoots him. After burying Henry's body, Daniel weeps while reading through the diary and finding a baby picture within the pages. The next morning, Daniel is awakened by Bandy, who calmly tells him that he may use his land for the pipeline, but only if he is washed in the blood of Jesus to atone for his sins. Daniel laughs, but when Bandy shows him the gun used to kill Henry, he agrees. At the church, Daniel reluctantly comes forward to be baptized by Eli, who shouts of casting out the devil as he repeatedly slaps Daniel. Although emotionally overwrought during the baptism, Daniel calmly leaves the church to finish his pipeline. Some time later, as Eli departs on the train to start a new ministry in other oilfields, HW returns with a signing interpreter. Daniel embraces the still deaf boy and whispers “I love you” into his ear, then shows him the pipeline. That evening, sitting in a restaurant waiting for their meal, Daniel seethes when Tilford and his colleagues are seated at the next table. Although the men try to ignore Daniel's loud comments about his deal with Union Oil, he makes a scene. As the months pass, HW becomes more proficient in signing, as does Mary, his close companion. In 1927, a now grown HW and Mary wed in a Catholic Church. When HW goes to his father's palatial mansion to tell him that he loves him but wants to go to Mexico to start his own, small oil company, Daniel lashes out, cruelly referring to him and his interpreter as "hand flappers" and revealing that HW is not his real son. After he calls HW nothing more than a "bastard in a basket" who has nothing of himself in him, HW leaves, saying that he is glad he has nothing of Daniel in him. One night, Eli goes to see Daniel, who has fallen into a drunken stupor in the mansion's bowling alley. Well-dressed and sporting a jewel-encrusted cross, Eli cheerfully drinks with Daniel. Relating that old Bandy has died and that William, who desires to be an actor in Hollywood, wants to sell his land, Eli asks for a $100,000 broker's fee for the sale. After forcing Eli to proclaim that he is a false prophet and that God is a superstition, Daniel loudly boasts that he no longer needs Bandy's land because he has drained its oil from his own properties, which surround it. Now unnerved, Eli breaks down and admits that he needs the money because of losses in the stock market and the costs of his vices. Daniel then gleefully reveals that Paul received the $10,000 finder's fee, enabling him to start his own small oil business, which brings him $5,000 a week. As Eli becomes increasingly hysterical over Daniel's rebukes, Daniel starts to throw bowling balls at him. Then, when Eli falls, Daniel beats him to death with a bowling pin. Having been awakened by loud noises emanating from the bowling alley, one of the servants calls after Daniel, who shouts "I'm finished." +

Legend
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Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.