THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (1971)
This movie was considered to be risky and scandalous when it was released. It has scenes with full frontal nudity plus sex between high school students and married adults. How times have changed!
The Last Picture Show takes place in a small Texas town called Anarene in 1951. Sonny (Timothy Bottoms) and Duane (Jeff Bridges) are best friends who play football, go to the movies at the old movie house and hang out at the local pool hall. Sam The Lion (Ben Johnson), who owns both places, has a close relationship with Sonny. Both boys lust after rich Jacy Farrow (Cybill Shepherd), whose mother Lois (Ellen Burstyn) had an affair with Sam. Jacy is going steady with Duane and Sonny has an affair with the football coach’s wife Ruth Popper (Cloris Leachman). After Sam the Lion’s death the pool hall is left to Sonny, who is determined to honour Sam’s legacy while Jacy and Duane head away from Anarene. Sonny and Duane make one last trip to the closing movie house.
The Last Picture Show is based on a book by Larry McMurtry and it was filmed in McMurtry’s home town, Archer City – the same town that the book is based on. It was directed by Peter Bogdanovich (The Mask and The Thing Called Love) and went to win 2 Oscars (Johnson and Leachman).
The whole movie is shot in black and white, which was originally suggested to Bogdanovich by Orson Welles who thought that the depth of that period could only be captured in B&W.
The Last Picture Show has no shortage of great powerful scenes which concentrate on emotions – like when Sonny drives Ruth to the clinic and back. So much is left unsaid and the viewer can himself decide what is wrong with Ruth.
Another scene, which shows off Bogdanovich’s great talent to concentrate in expressions and emotion instead of dialogue, is when Lois realises that her daughter has been with her own lover. Eight different emotions run through her face while she walks from the living room sofa to the kitchen.
Brilliant acting and directing – bit too depressing for my taste