The Last Picture Show (1971) Poster

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  • Three 1950s high school students -- Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms), Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges), and Jacy Farrow (Cybill Shepherd) -- face adulthood in the small, dying town of Anarene, Texas.

  • The Last Picture Show is a 1966 semi-autobiographical novel by American novelist Larry McMurtry who, along with American director Peter Bogdanovich, also wrote the screenplay. A sequel, Texasville (1990), was released in 1990.

  • The novel is actually set in the fictional Texas town of Thalia but was renamed Anarene in the screenplay. Both were based on the real Texas town of Archer City, where McMurtry grew up. The movie was made on location there.

  • The movie never fully explains what lies at the heart of the Coach (Bill Thurman) and Ruth (Cloris Leachman) Poppers' marriage problems, but McMurtry's novel reveals that Coach Popper is a homosexual and has interfered with male students. He gives Ruth no affection, and the little sexual contact they have is hasty and perfunctory. He appears very misogynistic and disgusted by intimacy with Ruth. The film also depicts Coach Popper as a homosexual, i.e., when he grab-asses the young man in the gymnasium when they go to the showers.

  • It is never clearly explained. In the novel there is a reference to a time when Sam (Ben Johnson) accidentally threw a bucket of urine all over Joe Bob (Barc Doyle), suggesting that leaving the money was a way of making amends. Some have speculated that perhaps Sam, who had a history of drinking and having affairs with married women after the deaths of his sons, was in fact Joe Bob's biological father and left the money as a result, but this is purely speculation. Joe Bob clearly had problems with sex, possibly repressed by his father (a fire and brimstone preacher) and possibly latent homosexuality. Sam may have left him the money "to get out of town" and away from the backward thinking, small town gossips.

  • Billy (Sam Bottoms) was no relation to Sam the Lion. Sam simply took Billy under his wing, as he had a natural fatherly tendency towards the boys in the town. (No impropriety is hinted at in the book or film.)

  • In both the film and the novel, Joe Bob does not rape the girl. She pulls her underpants down in exchange for an ice cream. It is assumed that very little else took place. The novel offers a lengthy explanation for Joe Bob's behavior, that he is sexually repressed and tormented for his entire adolescence by his desire to masturbate but suffers under the weight of guilt.

  • One by one, Sonny sees his friends leave him. Jacy moves to Dallas. Sam dies of a stroke while Sonny and Duane are in Mexico for the weekend. Duane joins the military, and he and Sonny attend the last picture show being played at the Royal before it closes down. In the morning, Sonny sees Duane off on the Trailways bus headed for Korea and goes inside the pool hall to warm himself. He notices a crowd standing around a cattle truck and sees that Billy has been run over and killed while sweeping the streets. After moving Billy's body out of the street, Sonny jumps in his truck and drives out of town, tears running down his cheeks. Suddenly, he turns the truck around and heads for the only place left where he can seek some comfort...Ruth Popper. At first, Ruth vents her anger over Sonny leaving her to go off with Jacy but, as Sonny sits wordlessly in her kitchen, Ruth slowly begins to calm down. Sonny reaches for her folded hands and, after silently caressing each others' hands, Ruth says, "Never you mind...never you mind." The final scene is a long shot down the deserted main street of Anarene, ending up focused on the Royal.

  • The Director's Cut of this classic features 17 new scenes that can't be found in the Theatrical Version. Most of these new scenes are pure story sequences that were added. Sometimes these scenes consist of only a couple of frames.

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