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Reviews & Ratings for
The Last Picture Show More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Wistful, sad and true (minor spoilers)

Author: Monika-5 from United States
4 March 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Timothy Bottoms kicked off a successful movie career playing the gifted everyman (Paper Chase, Other Side of the Mountain 2, East of Eden) and it all started with this one. In a small dusty town, where the old movie house is the cornerstone in a town with not much to do, three high schoolers come of age. His affair with coach's lonely, bored wife Cloris Leachman brings back memories of The Graduate, except she doesn't hide her loneliness and sadness the way Mrs. Robinson so deftly pulled off. Once Bottoms throws her over for a cute young thing, the repercussions are devastating. Cybill Shepherd, as the insecure sexpot Jacy, radiates the freshness, excitement and emotions that I detected from Kate Hudson in the recent Almost Famous. Ellen Barkin steals all her scenes as Jacy's mom, and Ben Johnson as Sam the Lion is unforgettable. Jeff Bridges also is excellent as football hero Duane. The dusty, destitute Texas scenery filmed entirely in black and white mirrors the destitution and barrenness in the lives of the townsfolk. A true classic, except for the scene where Randy Quaid strips (don't ask). A must-see!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

For me, it's one of the best of the 70s

Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
26 January 2011

The 70s is the decade of a number of wonderful movies, and The Last Picture Show is not an exception. It is a poignant, audacious, affectionate and hugely relevant film that for me has never aged or lost its significance. The cinematography and production values are simply superb. The script is beautifully written and evocative, Bogdanovich's direction is exemplary and the story draws me in and never stops. The film also has well-rounded characters that you care fully about, the nostalgic elements are lovingly realised and the re-creation of a long-lost sense of community makes the film so rewarding. The acting is superb, Jeff Bridges is wonderful in his role and so is Cybill Sheppard, but for me it is Cloris Leachman who is simply incredible. Overall, beautiful film and one of the best of its decade. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

An Extremely Powerful Story About the Loss of Innocence

Author: Supachewy from United States
6 December 2010

The drama The Last Picture Show is directed by Peter Bogdanovich and starred by Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, and Cybill Shepherd. The film takes place the small town of Anarene, Texas during the 1950s.

Sonny Crawford (Bottoms) and Duane Jackson (Bridges) live in the small Texas town of Anarene and are typical teenage boys. The film starts during their senior year of high school and both have girlfriends. The boys spend time at the local pool hall or going to the picture show with their girlfriends until Sonny loses his after the two basically got bored with each other. Duane's girlfriend Jacy (Shepherd) is the prettiest girl in town and at the start of the film she is a good girl but her mother (Burstyn) really wants her to break loose of Duane and explore the other men of the town. The film revolves around Sonny, Duane, and Jacy and how they experience sexuality in many ways from many suitors.

Larry McMurtry and Peter Bogdanovich wrote one of the most spectacular screenplays of all time for this film. Never have I seen a film flow so brilliantly throughout and it does not have an ordinary structure of a film, it just continues through the characters' experiences. I find that the majority of great screenplays throughout history are character driven rather than plot driven because if you don't know and care about the character why should you care about the plot? The three lead roles in the film were so comprehensively built it was absolutely wonderful. I loved seeing when Sonny and his father had about a ten second conversation, in those ten seconds I was able to understand Sonny's entire family life. The theme of loss of innocence in this film was also absolutely wonderful, the screenplay was just terrific.

Peter Bogdanovich's direction matched the brilliance of the screenplay that he co-wrote. There were hundreds of shots in this film that were so simply beautiful and were able to get me inside the characters mind and into a deeper level of the film. The scene with Jacy going to the naked pool party was wonderfully shot and will ironically be remembered. It just showed the curiosity of a young person trying to become an adult. Also I really loved the final scene of the film, but I will go into no detail in order to not spoil it for those who have not seen it. Sadly Bogdanovich has not directed another film as wonderful as this one.

Not only did Bogdanovich write and direct a great film, he got two Oscar winning performances from his actors. One is not from Timothy Bottoms, but I thought he gave an amazing performance as an innocent young boy trying to become a man. Some of this best acting would have to be with Cloris Leachman when they are having an affair. His simple expressions are just magnificent in showing his confusion about the world that surrounds him. Jeff Bridges was nominated for an Oscar for playing a simple teenager on the outside but a boy longing for love on the inside. Definitely one of the best performances of his very successful career. Cybill Shepherd's character Jacy was definitely one of the most interesting characters in this film in how she wanted to experience pure lovemaking and bliss, and not end up like her mother. She was absolutely stunning, like the rest of the cast. Ben Johnson won the Oscar for his role as Sam the Lion. The scene in which he showed why he deserved to win was when his son came home with a bloody nose and he told the other boys to leave him alone as a tired old man who was done fighting. That was one of the most effective scenes in the film and will also always remain in my memory. Cloris Leachman won an Oscar as well for her performance as a woman who is depressed with her marriage and has an affair with the young Sonny Crawford. The weakness in her face while performing was just enchanting, everything about her was so real. This film definitely has one of the greatest ensemble performances of all time.

The editing by Donn Cambern was spectacularly done, I really liked how the film was in black and white making the simple town even simpler. If this was in color I could not really see myself liking it as much and that is why this decision was extremely well executed. The film flowed seamlessly going from character to character. I was completely engaged the whole entire film and never was the rhythm broken. Many films with multiple stories don't work out well because the editing makes it like a break in the film and that takes you out of the film experience.

I really loved the country music that was used throughout the film. It added another layer of simplicity to small town and the black and white appearance. Music is key to making a film flow like the editing and this film did it wonderfully letting the songs express the language of the film.

Overall I give this film a 10/10. It is one of the greatest films of all time and is wonderful in every aspect of it. There is nothing I could say that is wrong with this film, I absolutely loved it. I recommend this film to anyone who enjoys extremely powerful dramas about the loss of innocence because this is one of the greatest ever. Ever. Go see it right now.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

a film that plays even better long after it's been seen, for its unforgettable characters and classic mode of subversion

Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
23 June 2007

Peter Bogdanovich obviously loves the old Hollywood films, Hawks, Ford, Sturges, Hitchcock to a degree, but has also claimed that "there's Renoir, and there's everybody else." This can be seen, in a sense, in how he treats the material of Larry McMurtry's source. The Last Picture Show deals frankly with sexuality, but more impressively, and with more of a lasting impact, on how not being able to deal with emotions leads to a kind of nakedness and vulnerability that is shielded away, particularly in a small Texas town such as Anarene. Not much goes on- sometimes the only thing to do is to split town and see if it'll be possible to take an aimless trip to Mexico in the middle of the night- though that is just on the surface of a tiny town such as this.

There's a sense of sexual paranoia, of loneliness, that gets tapped into very well by Bogdanovich on his two main plot-lines: one involving teens (i.e. Cybil Shepherd as Jacey, Jeff Bridges as Duane Jackson, the Bottoms brothers), and their escapism into movies, sports, and sex, and a middle-aged woman (Cloris Leachman) and her lack of companionship, mirrored in her sort of loneliness by the barren side to the town itself, as people move out in droves.

From the opening shot- one of the best of any film of the 70s- to the final scene with the screening of Red River, this is a near classic of the period, where there was an overlap between the past films with more of an emphasis on the proud and beautiful side of Americana, and the not exactly darker side but the one people usually wouldn't put on film. It's sometimes very funny (how could finally 'making it' with Jacey go wrong?), and a little surprising in how it gets explicit (pool scene is actually very steamy for a black and white movie), but there's an undercurrent that Bogdanovich doesn't play up too much into the last act, which has been building steadily through the film.

Featuring other good supporting work from Burstyn and Ben Johnson, alongside the outstanding Leachman and promising Bridges (Shepherd works best in the role when she has to quietly subvert, as Bogdanovich does more often, with the material), and a true sense for period as well as reality, the Last Picture Show has been fresh in my mind for years now, and I look forward to seeing it again like few other American films of 1971.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Good portrayal of American small-town-life of the '50's.

Author: Boba_Fett1138 from Groningen, The Netherlands
24 May 2006

It's 1951 and there isn't a lot to do in the small Texan town Anarene. Basically in the whole town, there only is a cinema and a run-down pool hall for entertainment. So basically all the characters have in the movie is each other. Which makes it all the more difficult for the outcasts and those who don't like each other in the very small town. Especially the youth is the victim of this boring place. They are torn between several issues, which all have to do with the transition between puberty and adulthood and they come to the point at which they have to make some life-changing decisions.

"The Last Picture Show" is a real character movie that is driven by its actors and subtle directing from Peter Bogdanovich. There isn't a real plot in terms of having a beginning, middle and ending. It more is a character observation of several different persons who are all forced to make several decisions and all have in common that they all live in the same small Texan town, in which they can basically only fall back on the run-down pool hall and cinema. By the time the pool hall is closed and at the cinema the last picture is shown (hench the title), all the characters have to make the choices what to do with the rest of their lives.

The movie is shot entirely in black & white and made in the same style as movies from the 40's/early '50's. It's quite risqué to make a movie in a totally different style and 'old' style of movie-making but in this particular case it suits the story and movie well. It perfectly captures the mood of the depressing, boring '50's. There are some awkward unusual moments in the movie because of this style (especially in its editing) but I just took those moments for granted, since the style suited the story and the movie so well. Also the cinematography from Robert Surtees, who perhaps in my opinion was the best cinematographer of the '40's/50's and early '60's, is quite perfect.

The movie is however a bit too slow at times, even for my taste. Perhaps not really slow in terms of pace but more slow in terms of story-flow and consistency. Not everything that happens in the movie seems to serve a purpose for the movie but then again, life is filled with moments that don't seem to serve a purpose. So you can say that the movie is realistic, just not always interesting.

This movie really launched the career of several actors, such as the still very young Jeff Bridges and Randy Quaid. Also Ellen Burstyn is present as well as many other well known and respected actors of that time period.

It's a cliché but they don't make them like this anymore. This movie is a monumental one that is realistic and powerful but unfortunately not always totally interesting to follow, which regretfully prevents me from rating this movie any higher, even though this multiple Oscar nominated movie certainly deserves to be seen.


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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Not my cup 'o tea

Author: MBunge from Waterloo, Iowa
3 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A tale of emotional desolation in a one horse Texas town, The Last Picture Show is extremely well made but did nothing for me. I don't know if it's my age, the age I live in or that I grew up in a small town, but my reaction to this story and filmmaking is "That's all?" While I can admire the well drawn themes and characters here, I need more structure than this to really get involved in a movie. Not everything has to be Die Hard or Memento. I just prefer something more than people desultorily floating through an amorphous, narrative cloud.

In the early 1950s, Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) is a teenager in a small town so barren, many of the residents seem more like ghosts than living human beings. His life is dominated by his oil rig roughneck friend Dwayne (Jeff Bridges), the imposing local pool hall owner Sam the Lion (Ben Johnson), Sam's slow witted son Billy (Sam Bottoms) and Genevieve (Eileen Brennan), the quietly defiant waitress at the local diner. The story basically follows Sonny as he drifts along through Dwayne's troubles with his country club girlfriend, the flighty drama queen Jacy (Cybill Shepherd), and into a relationship with Ruth (Cloris Leachman), the wife of Sonny's high school football and basketball coach. There's also Lois (Ellen Burstyn), Jacy's frustrated mother who hopes her daughter can avoid following in her empty footsteps.

It's hard to get too much more than that into The Last Picture Show because this is one of those films when time passes and stuff sorta happens. Sometimes you can't tell if days, weeks or months have elapsed between scenes. This is also one of those films where you wait, wait, wait, wait around for one of the characters to have a big emotional explosion. I only managed to wait and wait before losing my interest in seeing that happen. The acting is very good, especially Jeff Bridges, Ellen Burstyn and Cloris Leachman, and I could appreciate the depiction of people trapped in lives of regret. After about 45 minutes of that, though, I was in the mood for something more. While legitimately artistic, this motion picture isn't all that entertaining.

Compounding matters is the passive nature of both the character of Sonny and the performance of Timothy Bottoms. It's easy to see why Bridges and Cybill Shepherd emerged from this as stars and Bottoms didn't, but he wasn't done any favors by being given a role that mostly asked him to cycle through a series of expressions that went from mournful to plaintive and back again with little else involved. You can see the problems with the role clearly in how Sonny engages in a month's long affair with the coach's wife, yet the physical and emotional intimacy with her has no discernible effect on anything about Sonny. If nothing else, the sexual experience should meant something when things turn to Jacy enticing Sonny into a furtive relationship.

If you've enjoyed other work by Bogdanovich, you'll probably love The Last Picture Show. If you're just young enough to identify with the kids but still old enough to be intrigued with the humanity shown by their elders, you also might get more out of this than me. I'm not sure there's enough here to elevate it over more recent work with a similar style and temperament. And yes, that includes Shepherd's nude scene.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Gets me every time

Author: Pamsanalyst from New Jersey
28 September 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This collection of snippets of life in Anarene keeps building to something, but like most of life, nothing really happens and all we can do is go on. How perfect this is. No grand farewell as the inspiring teacher rides into the sunlight, a la "Mona Lisa Smile." Jeff Bridges has gone into the Army, Cybill Shepherd has left town and Timothy Bottoms has nothing to do but take up with the coach's wife and hold the chains at the football games. Sam the Lion is dead already, and we don't even get to see him die, but we know he was the lost love of Shepherd's mother, as they rode their horses across the tank many years ago. If you can watch Ellen Burstyn recounting this to Bottoms and not get a chill, then I don't want you in my house. "I'm the one who gave him the name, 'Sam the Lion." The thought goes through the mind that perhaps Sam rode off to help Captain Brittles with a little scouting.

Brick by brick Bogdanovich builds his house until the end result is a monument of Seventies movie making.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Fascinating but VERY depressing

Author: preppy-3 from United States
9 March 2004

Film depicts life in the small Texas town of Anarene in the early 1950s. It follows three high school teenagers--Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms), Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges) and Jacy Farrow (Cybill Shepherd)--from their senior year to a few years after.

Some people said this is like a soap opera. That is true, but it's a GOOD realistic soap opera. The script is just wonderful (Larry McMurty adapted from his book along with director Peter Bogdanovich) and the characters are like real people. It deals with all three of them coming of age, their first sexual encounters (all of which are played awkwardly--as they should) and dealing with a dying town. It's (appropriately) filmed in beautiful black and white--the cinematography by Robert Surtees is exceptional--it brings the whole film to life. This would never have worked in color.

The acting varies. Bottoms, Bridges and Shepherd are just OK--but that's understandable. It was one of Bridges' first films, it was Bottoms' second and Shepherds' first! They were all still learning. Everyone else though is great. Ben Johnson as Sam the Lion is just wonderful and won a Best Supporting Actor for this. Cloris Leachman is heart-breaking in her role and won Best Supporting Actress. Ellen Burstyn has the best lines and is also very good (and was nominated for Best Supporting Actress also) as Cybill's mother. And Timothy Bottoms' brother (Sam Bottoms) has a small part as Billy. It works in the films favor--Sonny and Billy are supposed to be best friends and the affection the two brothers had for each other comes through on the screen.

I'm giving this a 10. It's just great--I didn't want it to end. But it is VERY depressing. You probably won't notice until the film is over. A must-see.

Avoid the commercial TV print--it's cut to ribbons.

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8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Not a Picture Show

Author: tedg ( from Virginia Beach
20 August 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoilers herein.

In the world of film, or I suppose any art, there are four levels of competence.

--You've got the incompetent. They're clear enough to recognize

--You've got the folks that have mastered the ordinary vocabulary, established by others. These folks can produce amusing and moving films but unless you have a particularly empty life usually aren't worth the time.

--Add to that the ability to coherently project your own personal vision, only your vision isn't interesting

--And finally you have the masters who have something interesting to say, know how to say it and innovate when they need to, or whenever they please

That fourth category are the ones worth watching. Only among them, can you start to sort out which of them are worth using to invent yourselves. To even reach the third level is rare, and if by a youngster, usually generates a hullaballo.

I think for the very brief period of this film, Bogdonovich raised himself to the third level. He clearly taps the actors' natural tendencies to project and in a few cases to interact. But that is all we have: emotionally committed performances to no end. There's no underlying intelligence here, even in (actually, especially in) the source book.

Many of the filmmakers he says he admires eschew `meaning' but that notion is not only deliberate, but reflected in what they do instead. There's no `instead' here -- and I have to report that this simply is not worth your time unless you study actors.

I had the remarkable good luck to see this and `Elephant Man' in the same day. They are both exuberant, actor-centric, back and white films that evoke a sense of place and specific mores. They are both by young talents that were for the the first time being `sponsored' and working to find how to work within the system. `Elephant' employed professional actors who, while relatively unknown were highly, highly accomplished. `Picture' uses amateurs and newcomers for the boys and relatively ordinary actresses for the women.

I walked away from `Elephant' with images, some of which are worth keeping (as if I had any choice). `Picture' leaves me with recall of a few tightly crafted situations, but this will fade -- flowers versus trees.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 4: Has some interesting elements.

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Gets Better the More I Think About It

Author: Christopher Shobris from United States
26 October 2015

This is a very well directed and realistic take on what young-lings go through in the stages of life. Dealing with the ups and downs of adolescence and the struggle as well. Starring a young star stunned cast including a young Jeff Bridges and Randy Quaid. Along with many more celebrities who would have an effect on cinema in the coming years. But the best performance is Tim Bottoms he is amazing. However I would advise for kids to steer clear as this has many nude scenes, profanity, and violence. But anyone above the age of 15, have at it. Now to grade this classic. Acting: A Story: B+ Characters: B Visuals: B+ Overall: A-

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