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|Index||171 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Based on the 1966 novel of the same name by Larry McMurtry, this is an
excellent, often moving and occasionally depressing coming of age film.
Taking place from November 1951 to October 1952, it concerns the bleak,
desolate little town of Anarene, Texas which has been slowly dying for
years and its inhabitants' sad, unfulfilled lives of wasted potential.
What a great feel good film for the Christmas season! The film has an
extremely strong script by McMurtry and Peter Bogdanovich while
Bogdanovich's direction hits all of the right notes. The beautiful
black-and-white cinematography of Robert Surtees captures the look and
feel of an early 1950s film very effectively but the same could hardly
be said of the content as even its milder aspects would have fallen
foul of the Hays Code. The film is permeated by a heavy sense of
regret. In some respects, it reminded me of "The Third Man" in that its
grim setting reflected the damaged lives of its characters. The film is
basically an elegy to a dying town.
The film stars Timothy Bottoms in a great performance as Sonny Crawford, a high school senior and one of the better adjusted, comparatively speaking, characters. In the beginning, Sonny is listless and is simply going through the motions with his girlfriend of a year Charlene Duggs so he breaks up with her. Like many of the townspeople, he feels as if there is something missing from his life and that he has no reason to live in Anarene other than that he is already there. After his high school coach Coach Popper asks him to drive her to the hospital, he begins an affair with his wife Ruth, played in a wonderful performance by Cloris Leachman. Ruth is severely depressed because of her poor and unsatisfying relationship with her husband - who is hinted to be gay - and finds solace in the arms of the much younger Sonny. As Anarene is a town where everyone knows everyone else and, more to the point, everyone else's business, their affair becomes an open secret but it is left ambiguous whether Coach Popper knows or even cares. After six months, Sonny abandons Ruth for a girl his own age named Jacy Farrow, which leads to Ruth becomes even more depressed. At the end of the film, however, he returns to her. He does so because he is upset and has nowhere else to go but he does seem truly remorseful. Sonny makes some serious mistakes but I do think that he is a good person. In a rather upsetting scene, his friends hire a prostitute for a younger boy named Billy who suffers from intellectual disabilities, ostensibly so he can lose his virginity but really for their own amusement. Sonny initially goes along with the plan, which does not go well. However, he is the only one to take sympathy on Billy afterwards and to apologise as he is very fond and protective of him. Appropriately enough, Billy was played by Bottoms' younger brother Sam.
For his ten minute role as the local institution Sam the Lion, Ben Johnson won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar and it is easy to see why. In one of the film's best scenes which won him the Oscar, Sam recalls his failed relationship with his one true love in a beautifully written and performed speech which is imbued with loss and regret. He comments that about 80% of marriages are miserable which would be very depressing but, by Anarene standards, he is probably being a little optimistic. Ellen Burstyn gives one of the best performances as Jacy's mother Lois Farrow, a rich but unhappy housewife who has numerous affairs, most notably with her husband's employee Abilene. She deserved the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. As her daughter, Cybill Shepherd is very good. Jacy is an interesting character as she is very manipulative. When a rich boy named Bobby Sheen refuses to have sex with her because she is a virgin, she finally agrees to have sex with her longtime boyfriend Duane Jackson, only to dump him almost immediately afterwards. Things do not go according to plan, however, as Bobby has gotten married in the meantime. Out of sheer boredom, she follows in her mother's footsteps and has sex with Abilene herself but that does not work out either. She then pursues a relationship with Sonny and, after a while, proposes that they get married. While Sonny certainly has feelings for her, he does not love her but nevertheless agrees. However, it turns out after she left a note to her parents telling them of their elopement and the marriage is not even consummated. She apparently only married Sonny for the thrill of disobeying her parents. Even her mother tells Sonny that he was better off with Ruth. Jeff Bridges is very good as Duane but I am surprised that he was likewise nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar as I don't think that his performance was on that level. The film also features nice appearances from Clu Glulager as Abilene, Eileen Brennan as the world weary waitress Genevieve and Randy Quaid as the rather creepy rich boy Lester Marlow.
Overall, this is an excellent film which explores the sad lives of people in a town that has lost all reason to exist. It was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and deservedly so. One thing that I found very interesting about the numerous sex scenes is that they are all humiliating, either during the event or afterwards. In this sense, the characters' sex lives reflect every other aspect of their lives in Anarene. Towards the end of the film, the cinema shuts down and this marks the end of the town's cultural life. When Sam the Lion died, he took the town with him. It just took a few extra months to die.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this for the first time at least 15 years after its release quite
by accident and was very pleasantly surprised. I've never seen a film
that struck so many chords of reality.
Sam's soliloquy at the tank ("Bein' a dried up old bag of bones, that's what's ridiculous - getting' old.") is as bittersweet an observation of the fruits and futilities of life as anything I have ever seen or read - from Sophocles to Shakespeare to Donne to Dickens - it doesn't get any better.
The leads all perform with a subdued expressiveness that leaves one hanging on every word they say, expecting some profundity in every statement. There are a few scenes I could do without and some of the characters are inadequately fleshed out but this is a movie I can watch over and over again, thinking to myself "Man, I wish I had said that!"
Here we have a nostalgic capture of times in a small corner of Texas
with its ramshackle poolhall, dusty roads and Texaco gas station. This
is primarily centered on kids who prodded by youth and sexuality find
themselves pushing against the limits of their world, finding it small
It's in the French vein of episodic vignettes that hope to capture playful winds as they blow through life. The town entertainer who owns the movie house is the moral voice and fatherly figure, what you'd expect from a movie by that generation who grew up in them and venerated them as a sort of ideal. Earlier this was an Italian mode of filmmaking, with the playing among ruins of war. This is set roughly in that era, we do have ruins: but they are ruins of time and abandonment seen in the tarpaper roofs and dirty walls, tied to the remembrance of an old West.
I suppose at the time, Nixon's time, a big argument against the film would be that it shies from political confrontation, opening up a romantic window to an older time instead of showing the streets now. The Czech were making films of this sort, French inspired, with a more or less covert bite against the regime, this is even softer. There is a war that eventually comes to loom over the prairie and steals one of the boys, Korea. There is adult meddling about love as the cop turns them back on the state line, adult indifference about the simpleton kid lying on the street in the end, pinning the fault on him. It may not have altogether satisfied a pressing need then, but it's all there.
The two boys swap fates, he gets married to the other's girl, it's the other who joins the army as a way out of there. The first dream doesn't pan out, what says the second will?
The film is most poignantly revealed in this kid who sweeps dusty streets in the midst of dust storms; the street is never going to be clean, but there's something beautiful and right about the perseverance.
Yet there is something quaint about the whole thing that hasn't mellowed much by time. We're meant to see that the movies playing in the cinema are a window looking out at a broader world, and yet it's Hollywood's remembrance of one; the last picture shown is Red River, a last hurrah to this prairie. And it's all adapted from a book, the writing is fine but it does feel like something written in advance.
The film itself is caught between worlds, trying to avoid actors and clear story but it's always pulled back to them. Cassavetes initialized this struggle in American film, escaping only one of the two, story. What holds this back is the nostalgia itself. Isn't this what manifests when Sonny turns back on the road? A sense of not being able to outrun that place of childhood. We have in the closing scenes a marvelous metaphor about the space of memory, empty walls with particles flying through.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Peter Bogdanovich's career as a movie-maker has had the misfortune to start brilliantly at a level there was no way he could possibly maintain. The only way was down &, unfortunately, it nose-dived spectacularly. The Last Picture Show & Paper Moon were two of the very best movies of the 70's, especially TLPS. Shot in black & white for dramatic effect it also enables the viewer to really believe it was filmed when it is set, circa 1950, in the small mid-west town of Anarene,Texas. It is a really brilliant character study of a dying community & their interaction. The two principal characters Sonny & Duane (Timothy Bottoms & Jeff Bridges) are on the edge of manhood & do what all late teenage boys do, play football, drink & chase girls.The only other recreations open to them are the local café, pool hall & cinema all owned by Sam (Ben Johnson) a somewhat dour but down-to- earth, honest, & decent man. When he dies & the picture house has to close it is a metaphor for the death of the community. The towns characters are often delineated by the use of Hank Williams country & western music which was contemporary with the films time setting. The local young, treacherous & selfish beauty Jacy (Cybil Shepherd) is dating Duane. "Cold,Cold Heart" is played in the background to her introduction. Another Hank Williams song, "Why Don't You Love Me Like You Used To Do?", is also used to imply a situation. Jacy's mother Lois is played by Ellen Burstyn. We learn later on in the film after Sam's death that as a young woman she had an affair with Sam & like him she is also a very down-to-earth type. She doesn't think much of the future prospects for the young man Duane her daughter Jacy has in tow & asks her bluntly, "Have you slept with him". Jacy tells her mother, "Oh! Momma it's a sin before marriage isn't it". Lois tells her, "Don't be so mealy-mouthed. If you slept with him a couple of times you might find there isn't anything magical about him". She ends the advice to her daughter by telling her, "Remember beautiful everything gets tired If you do it often enough & if want to find out about monotony real quick, marry Duane". Another of the movie's more interesting female characters is Geneveive (Eileen Brennan) who waitresses & runs the cafe owned by Sam. She too is a very down-to-earth, truthful, middle-aged lady with a somewhat world-weary manner. Sonny has an affair with a lonely older married woman Ruth Popper played by Chloris Leachman. Her husband is the local high school football coach but he has little time for his wife & their marriage has gone stale & loveless. Ruth Popper is also basically a good sort & when Sonny, inevitably, fails to show up one day you really do feel for her. Jacy (for her own selfish reasons) wants to lose her virginity & when Duane fails to do the business for her she decides to dump him. She then has a brief dalliance with Duane's best mate Sonny which causes an argument between them leading to Duane punching Sonny & breaking his jaw. Genevieve knows of Duane's violent streak & tells Sonny that he would be best off joining the army, which just before the movie's end he does. Sonny returns to Ruth Popper's house & in a very moving scene she vents her anger & frustration on him but takes him back because her life is so lonely & empty. To fully appreciate TLPS it simply must be seen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated director Peter Bogdanovich (What's Up, Doc?, Paper Moon, Mask), I think I tried this film once before and gave up after just a few minutes, but I saw it was book listed as one of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, so I had to give it another chance. Basically, set in 1951, the time at the end of World War II and toward the beginning of the Korean War, in the tiny town of Anarene, Texas, we follow a group of young men on the cusp of adulthood. They spend their time mostly going to the picture/movie house (cinema), playing football and hanging with girls, the main characters being senior year high school students Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms), who has and dumps unpleasant girlfriend Charlene Duggs (Sharon Ullrick/Taggart) to have an affair with middle-aged Ruth Popper (Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe winning Cloris Leachman), and Duane Jackson (Oscar nominated Jeff Bridges), who is dating pretty and wealthy Jacy Farrow (Golden Globe nominated Cybill Shepherd), daughter of Lois (Oscar and Golden Globe nominated Ellen Burstyn). As they try continue with their routines and whatever existence they have, Anarene is actually dying a slow death as many of the residents move away to the big cities to get jobs and raise families, and the boys are not sure whether to follow suit. Duane and Sonny have the choice of staying in the town where the most they can earn is the inheritance of the movie house from their legend and mentor Sam the Lion (Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe winning Ben Johnson), or of course move away as well to better their lives more significantly, and their graduation approaching makes these decisions more critical. The big blow comes when many of the remaining residents are not attending the second film in double feature showings at the movie house, meaning that it is forced to be closed down, so in the end it seems like the boys have to move on after all, leaving Anarene pretty much completely deserted. Also starring BAFTA nominated Eileen Brennan as Genevieve, Clu Gulager as Abilene, Sam Bottoms as Billy, Randy Quaid as Lester Marlow, Joe Heathcock as The Sheriff, Bill Thurman as Coach Popper and Barc Doyle as Joe Bob Blanton. Young Bridges gives a good performance, as far as I remember Johnson and Leachman are very good in their award winning performances, and the direction by Bogdanovich is pretty good, I will admit that I didn't really see any plot, in my opinion almost nothing happened, but most of it was interesting enough, a fine classic drama. It was nominated the Oscar for Best Cinematography, Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium and Best Picture, and it won the BAFTA for Best Screenplay, and it was nominated for Best Film. It was number 95 on 100 Years, 100 Greatest Movies. Very good!
"The Last Picture Show" is a coming of age story set in Texas in the
early 50's. It deals with sexuality in a frank manner with much of the
plot revolving around the romantic entanglements of the main
The acting is excellent, with four cast members receiving Oscar nominations in supporting roles (Jeff Bridges, Ellen Burstyn, Ben Johnson & Cloris Leachman). Johnson & Leachman both won and in my opinion Leachman's performance in particular was nothing short of awe-inspiring. I also feel that Timothy Bottoms was worthy of a nomination.
Peter Bogdanovich's direction is well-handled throughout but it's the subtle touches that impress me the most. For instance, shooting in black & white was an inspired choice. Also, several times I was struck by the way that he focused on body language rather than dialogue to convey a character's emotions. Additionally, the authentic country & pop soundtrack (rather than a score) really adds to the atmosphere.
In the end, what we have is an admirably directed, impressively acted film with a story that will captivate you for two hours and haunt your thoughts long after the screen has faded to black. Do not miss this film.
"The Last Picture Show" is melodramatic and almost soap opera like at
moments. This is fine though, because even if it is a soap opera, it
remains a powerful film. Its incredibly depressing with no real likable
characters. All the characters find themselves in highly dysfunctional
relationships, sexual or otherwise. Fortunately, the films characters
are so well developed and the storyline constantly engrossing that this
is set leagues above your average day time soap. The film exists as a
character study, one which fleshes out its naive and arrogant but oddly
sympathetic protagonists. This is a film without clear cut good guys or
bad guys, which adds to its power.
Another strong point of the film is its damning of traditional American mores and its presentation of small-town values as being a cesspool of hypocrisy. The characters in the film need to cover up their desires for fear of what the neighbors may think, despite the fact the neighbors are probably doing the same. Few films have presented the fact that on top of every seemingly ideal surface, corruption lurks underneath as well as this one does.
On a technical level, this is terrific as well. The direction by Peter Bogdanovich and the cinematography by Robert Surtees create a truly evocative atmosphere of the time period in which the film is set. The film truly captures 50s small town life. The wonderful soundtrack of country oldies is also a major plus. The acting is mostly good - Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, and Cybil Sheppard are only okay, but they were very young at this point in their careers. The adult stars, especially Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman, turn in powerfully tragic performances. "The Last Picture Show" is a classic film that is mandatory viewing by any fan of powerful character dramas. (9/10)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
one thing about this remarkable film i can't explain is how Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman won Oscars for supporting performances,instead of perhaps Timothy Bottoms or even Cybill Shepherd.but Hollywood has never been known to be very rational.director Peter Bogdanovich takes a stark but moving screenplay by famed author Larry McMurtry(Hud,Lonesome Dove) and makes a cinematic treasure.like his earlier novel Hud this one profoundly showed the life he knew as a boy in rural Texas complete with the aging movie theater(where the last picture show is shown)and virtual ghost town where it is located.great ensemble acting is the movie's greatest strength,and in addition to the aforementioned Oscar winners Ellen Burstyn and Jeff Bridges stand out.i took the scenes of the mute boy(Sam Bottoms)sweeping the street as a metaphor for the town vainly trying to get rid of it's own "dirt".Anarene is portrayed as a place from which most of the townspeople simply want to get away,but can't conceive of a future anywhere else.a masterpiece.
Peter Bogdanovich's Last Picture show is the best of is erratic directorial career. This was his first major film and he hit big with it. He would go on to make only two other films of any note, Paper Moon in '73 and Mask in '85. Veteran cinematographer Robert Surtees brought a lot of experience and talent to Picture Show. He had done cinematography for many big films in his career including The Graduate, The Summer of 42, Ben Hur, Quo Vadis, Oklahoma, Doctor Doolittle, King Soloman's Mines and many more. Bogdanovich uses his cinematography wisely in this production and he also did a fine job directing this large ensemble cast including veterans and newcomers in Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn, Clu Gulagar, Eileen Brennan, Jeff Bridge, Cybil shepherd, Timothy Bottoms and Randy Quaid. An astounding four actors from this film received Academy Award Nominations in Ben Johnson and Jeff Bridges for Best Supporting Actor and Cloris Leachman and Ellen Burstyn for Best Supporting Actress. Johnson and Leachman both won in their only nominations and wins in their careers of an Oscar. This film also received nominations for Picture, Director, Cinematography, and Screenplay. Based on the novel by Larry McMurty and adapted for screen by McMurty and Bogdanovich this is a great coming of age story while paying tribute to small town Americana of days gone by. Great music from the late 40's early 50's era and a great look to this film with fine acting and an interesting story shot in black and white I would give this an 8.5 out of 10 and recommend it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Based on the novel by Larry McMurtry, The Last Picture Show tells the
story of a small mythical town in Texas. Sonny and Duane are two boys
that are trying to survive the best they can with what they have been
given in life as their world crumbles around them. For them the world
is this small town, Anarene, which is trying to adjust to the changing
times. There are many images of decay and destruction in this film, as
well as a theme of longing for the past.
When the movie first opens we see a deserted street with empty storefronts. The wind is howling and dirt is flying everywhere. The buildings appear to be rundown and abandoned but later we learn that this is not entirely the case. There is life behind the walls, struggling to survive. Part of the decay and destruction in this film comes from the colliding of the generations. It seems as though there are two main age groups dealt with, the young adult and the middle aged adult. Sonny seems to have a Mrs. Robinson like complex and sleeps with his basketball coaches wife. An interesting scene that displays this is the first time they have sex. They show both of them in the frame undressing. Sonny is stumbling and pulling of his boots as he throws his jacket carelessly on the nearby chair. Simultaneously Ruth is undressing and hanging up her jackets and shirts. It isn't until she is almost completely undressed that she begins to falter and gets stuck in her slip. She is tearing away layers of her past and giving in to Sonny's youth. Nick is an older man that is a force in the small town. He seems to own and control everything that goes on in the tow. He is the epitome of longing. Nick looks at Sonny and Duane as if he wishes he could be young again and swimming with Lois. He talks about how the town was completely different when he was young and how there were mosquito trees back then. The generations collide as Sonny and Duane head off to Mexico. They are carefree and just want to escape and have a good time. As they pull away they say to Nick, "Think the town can get along without us till Monday?" Upon returning they see that the pool hall is closed, and the town is abandoned. Nick has died while they were away and nothing is the same after that moment. Sonny realizes that he can't waste his life anymore.
Several times throughout the film we see Billy sweeping. There is also a scene where Nick is using a brush to clean off the pool table. They are both trying to restore things to the way they used to be. Billy's muteness may be the result of many factors, but he is the only neutral character in the movie. He symbolizes both the past and the future. When he dies they seem to collide. The second to last scene also struck me as I was watching it. Sonny has returned to Ruth, seemingly for comfort and out of guilt more then anything else. They are sitting at the table clutching hands, and as the camera fades away there is a gun on the wall pointing towards Sonny's head. It seemed like a very foreboding image as I was watching it, and made me unsure of Sonny's future. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders, unlike many people in the town though. Then the scene fades into an image very much like how it began. The town is desolate once again and the wind is howling through it.
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