The Last Picture Show

Consciously, or subconsciously every now and then a film comes back into your life. I remember watching The Last Picture Show in the mid to late 1970s and had not seen it until this week. The film was directed and co-written by Peter Bogdanovich, adapted from a semi-autobiographical 1966 novel by Larry McMurtry.

Poignantly filmed in black and white and set in a small town in North Texas between November 1951 to October 1952. The plot focusses on the coming of age of Sonny Crawford played by Timothy Bottoms and his friend Duane Jackson played by Jeff Bridges. The cast also includes Cybill Shepherd (in her film debut). The film features a stellar soundtrack with Peter Bogdanovich insisting that all the music had to originate from the period the film was set in. Featuring many songs by Hank Williams Sr. and other recording artists the music provides an authentic backdrop to the unwinding stories, which collide throughout the 2 hours of the movie. The film was nominated for 8 Oscars, (including Best Picture, Best Director) and won 2.

In 1992, Bogdanovich re-edited the film to create a “director’s cut”. This version restores seven minutes of footage that Bogdanovich trimmed from 1971 release, including the infamous sex scene in the pool hall after the hall close for the night.  A visual and audio treat the film is one of those classics that can be forgotten in the faded memories of my younger years, but when reviewed again leave a lasting impression. Filmmaking at its finest.

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