-> If you're going to live in a whorehouse, there's only one thing you can do: be the best damn whore around.
-->-- '''Peter Fallow'''

''The Bonfire of the Vanities'', written by Tom Wolfe, was originally serialized in ''Rolling Stone'' in 27 installments starting in 1984. It was published in novel form in 1987.

New York City. Sherman [=McCoy=] is a married investment banker and self-proclaimed "Master of the Universe" who carries on an affair with socialite Maria Ruskin. One night, they take a wrong turn in the Bronx and encounter two (supposedly) threatening black youths. In their confusion Ruskin, who was driving, accidentally runs over one of them; he is left in a coma. When word of this breaks out, all hell breaks loose for [=McCoy=]. Meanwhile, an AmoralAttorney, a tabloid reporter, a [[StrawCharacter Strawman Political]] religious leader from the Bronx, an ambitious district attorney, and... well, the bulk of characters that the book follows decide to use the racially and socially-charged case to further their own agendas.

In 1990 the book was filmed. Directed by Creator/BrianDePalma and starring Creator/TomHanks, Creator/BruceWillis, and Melanie Griffith, it was a critical and commercial disaster. Writer Julie Salamon was granted full access during the TroubledProduction and her book, ''The Devil's Candy'', explains what went wrong.
!!The novel and film feature examples of:

* BigApplesauce
* TheBigRottenApple: 1980s New York at its most dysfunctional on ''every'' level of society.
* ClusterFBomb: The way Kramer and his fellow prosecutors talk in the novel, which Wolfe allows to infect the narrative after one run of salty dialogue after he gets to work one morning: "''Another fucking day at the Bronix Fucking District Attorney's Office was off to a fucking start.''"
* DoorStopper
* TheEighties
* EpicMovie: The movie was intended as this -- huge budget, A-list cast and director, based on a bestselling ''and'' award-winning book, lots of characters, some posh settings.
* HiddenWire: Sherman wears one and tries to get Maria to admit that she was actually driving the hit-and-run vehicle. Things don't go as planned in the book.
* IrishmanAndAJew: Detective Martin and his partner Detective Goldberg; like most of the homicide bureau, Goldberg has assimilated to the prevailing Irish-American cultural ethos.
* ItTastesLikeFeet: A character says that Chinese wine tastes like "Dead Feet," which is the nickname for his boss.
* {{Jerkass}}: Most of the characters in the book aren't supposed to be likable.
** They're [[AdaptationalVillainy even less likable in the movie]] where the few sympathetic characters such as Sherman [=McCoy's=] wife and the victim's mother are presented as completely self-serving.
* TheMistress: Maria to Sherman, and the juror with brown lipstick to Assistant District Attorney Kramer.
* {{Narrator}}: Fallow in the film adaptation.
* TheOner: The opening sequence of the film, tracking Peter Fallow as he arrives for an awards presentation, takes the viewer from a parking garage to a hotel ballroom in one long shot.
* NiceToTheWaiter: Averted with Sherman [=McCoy=] who snubs the parking garage attendant the night of the accident and comes to regret it when the police start asking questions.
* PrettyInMink: Maria in the movie wears a long sable coat.
* QuoteMine: Fallow successfully paints the victim of the accident as an honor student based on an interview with one of his teachers, who explains that anyone who shows up to classes and doesn't cause trouble at that particular school might as well be one.
* RaceLift: Alan Arkin was originally cast as the Judge, but when the producers decided to change the character from Jewish to African-American, he was replaced by MorganFreeman. The change was due to complaints led by Creator/SpikeLee that, as it was, the story was racist.
* ScaryBlackMan: Played with. This is how Sherman and Maria see the victim and his friend when they approach them after they have car trouble. The friend had merely asked them if they needed helped but later admits that he and the victim were going to rob them.
* ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney!: Very much Sherman [=McCoy's=] attitude until he's arrested.
* ShaggyDogStory: The film version attempts this by changing the ending.
* TabloidMelodrama: What the hit-and-run becomes.
* UpperClassTwit: Most of the [=McCoys'=] friends and acquaintances.
* WritingAroundTrademarks: In the novel, while the characters ride in real car brands like Mercedes and [=BMW=], they also eat at "Texas Fried Chicken" and use their "Global Express" card to buy things.
* YourCheatingHeart: Sherman [=McCoy=] and ADA Kramer. It is more or less taken for granted that a man will stray once his wife gains weight or ages.