EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|LAST PICTURE SHOW, THE (director/writer: Peter Bogdanovich; screenwriter: Larry McMurtry/based on the novel by Larry McMurtry; cinematographer: Robert Surtees; editor: Donn Camern; music: Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys; cast: Timothy Bottoms (Sonny Crawford), Jeff Bridges (Duane Jackson), Cybill Shepherd (Jacy Farrow), Ben Johnson (Sam the Lion), Cloris Leachman (Ruth Popper), Ellen Burstyn (Lois Farrow ), Eileen Brennan (Genevieve), Sam Bottoms (Billy), Sharon Ullrick (Charlene Duggs), Randy Quaid (Lester Marlow), Joe Heathcock (The Sheriff), Bill Thurman (Coach Popper), Barc Doyle (Joe Bob Blanton), Jessie Lee Fulton (Miss Mosey), Gary Brockette (Bobby Sheen), Clu Galager (Abilene), Robert Glenn (Gene Farrow); Runtime: 127; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Stephen J. Freidman/Bert Schneider/Harold Schneider; Columbia Tri-Star Home Video; 1971)|
most important film."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The 31-year-old former
critic, Peter Bogdanovich
("Targets"/"What's Up Doc?"/"Paper Moon"), sets his
coming-of-age drama in 1951, in the dusty small-town
of Anarene, Texas.
It's based on the 1966 novel
McMurtry and is written by the author
brilliantly conceived pic, the director's
most important film, is filled
with great detail of life back then - from TV taking
hold, high school
football being the most exciting thing in the rural
Texas town, the
agony of being a teen, the effects of sexual
repression and all kinds
intrigues. The well-acted and superbly detailed film
flavor of a dying town trying to live up to its
macho cowboy image,
even though its glory days have passed. It
symbolizes in a natural way
the town's dying culture by the death of some of its
and the closing of its only movie theater - the only
place of culture
Bottoms) and Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges),
boys from the
wrong side of the tracks, are best friends and
of the disappointing high school football team in
Anarene. Sam the Lion (Ben Johnson)
is the former
cowboy and aging widow, who
the small town's café, pool hall and movie theater.
mute, simple-minded adolescent Billy (Sam Bottoms)
is Sam's ward; while
Sonny, who comes from a broken home and lives in a
looks upon Sam as his surrogate father.
Sonny breaks up with his dull girlfriend Charlene (Sharon Ullrick),
experiments with sex by having an affair with his
coach's lonely forty-year-old wife Ruth Popper (Cloris Leachman).
suddenly dies, he leaves the café
to the fast-talking and
soft-hearted Genevieve (Eileen Brennan), the pool room to Sonny
and the movie
house to the elderly kind-hearted Miss Mosey (Jessie Lee Fulton).
is dating the virgin Jacy Farrow (Cybill Shepherd), the manipulative pretty
girl whose dad
hit it rich when one of his oil wells came in. Jacy's
jaded mom, Lois (Ellen Burstyn), locked into a loveless
marriage, disapproves of Duane and wants Jacy to date
one of the rich
boys from the country club. Lois keeps from being
bored by having an
affair with one of hubby's hunky rig workers (Clu
The bitchy Jacy
give herself to Duane in a motel room, after rejected
by rich boy Bobby Sheen (Gary Brockette),
giving nude swimming parties for his country club
friends. But the lad can't perform and
she dumps him,
crushing his fragile ego. Jacy now sets her sights on
Sonny, and he spurns Ruth to be with her. But when
they elope, running
off to Oklahoma for a honeymoon, her dad has the
marriage annulled and
Jacy's sent to college in Dallas. The film concludes
with Duane joining
the army after graduation and going off to fight in
the Korean War,
Sonny stuck in the dead-end nearby town of Wichita
Falls running the
struggling pool-hall, and the town's only picture show
showing as its last show John Wayne in Howard Hawks'
Red River (1948).
The psychological drama punches holes in the glorification of the vanishing West, and offers a frank look at the rampant sordid sex of the small-town so the viewer can see its backward reactions towards culture, gender, class differences, and to those who are vulnerable.
REVIEWED ON 1/14/2011 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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