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The Last Picture Show (1971)

R | | Drama | 22 October 1971 (USA)
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In 1951, a group of high schoolers come of age in a bleak, isolated, atrophied West Texas town that is slowly dying, both culturally and economically.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
2,467 ( 820)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 16 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Charlene Duggs (as Sharon Taggart)
Joe Heathcock ...
the Sheriff
Barc Doyle ...
Joe Bob Blanton
Miss Mosey


In tiny Anarene, Texas, in the lull between World War Two and the Korean Conflict, Sonny and Duane are best friends. Enduring that awkward period of life between boyhood and manhood, the two pass their time the best way they know how -- with the movie house, football, and girls. Jacey is Duane's steady, wanted by every boy in school, and she knows it. Her daddy is rich and her mom is good looking and loose. It's the general consensus that whoever wins Jacey's heart will be set for life. But Anarene is dying a quiet death as folks head for the big cities to make their livings and raise their kids. The boys are torn between a future somewhere out there beyond the borders of town or making do with their inheritance of a run-down pool hall and a decrepit movie house -- the legacy of their friend and mentor, Sam the Lion. As high school graduation approaches, they learn some difficult lessons about love, loneliness, and jealousy. Then folks stop attending the second-run features at the ... Written by Mark Fleetwood <mfleetwo@mail.coin.missouri.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Anarene, Texas, 1951. Nothing much has changed... See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality, nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 October 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die letzte Vorstellung  »


Box Office


$1,300,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Tex Ritter auditioned for the role of Sam the Lion as his son John was considered for the role of Sonny. See more »


The scene where Jacy and Bobby meet in the kitchen during the pool party is wildly out of sync with the chronology of the story, seeming to be cut into the film weeks after the event. Plot-wise it should come just after Sam bans the boys from his establishments, and Sonny's first tryst with Ruth at her home. See more »


[first lines]
Radio announcer: President Truman'll be here tomorrow, so all you folks in Dallas turn out, chuh hear? This is Cowboy Rhythms on KTRN, Wichita Falls, here's Hank Williams' big hit tune, "Cold Cold Heart".
Sam the Lion: You ain't ever gonna amount to nothing. Already spent a dime this morning, ain't even had a decent breakfast. Gimme the chalk. Why don't you comb you hair Sonny, it sticks up, look like you smelled'm wolf. I'm surprised you had the nerve to show up this morning after that stomping y'all took last ...
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Featured in These Amazing Shadows (2011) See more »


I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You)
Written by Hank Williams
Performed by Hank Williams
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

23 April 2002 | by See all my reviews

Peter Bogdonovich's great love of film, combined with Larry McMurtry's superior storytelling (he wrote the novel and both collaborated on the script), is in glorious evidence in this elegiac study of life in a small Texas town in the early Fifties. Bogdonovich pays a heartfelt tribute to the America of John Ford and Howard Hawks but the subject matter is contemporary, anguished, appropriate for the time in which it was made. Filmed by the great Robert Surtees in a flat black and white that perfectly evokes the bleakness of rural Texas life and peppered with a fine soundtrack of the popular country hits of the time, Bogdonovich creates a mise en scene understated and keenly observant of the details. It's also filled with McMurtry's trademark mix of humor and pathos. The cast (including Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottoms, Cybill Shepherd, Ellen Burstyn and Cloris Leachman) is letter-perfect but it's Ben Johnson as Sam the Lion who gives the film its center: in an overwhelming (yet masterfully restrained) performance, Johnson unforgettably absorbs the town's despair, loneliness and regret; his short monologue about lost love is delivered with such deceptive simplicity that its power sneaks up on you unawares. One of the great performances and one of the groundbreaking films of the Seventies.

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