The Last Picture Show is one of the key films of the American cinema renaissance of the seventies. Set during the early fifties, in the loneliest Texas nowheresville to ever dust up a movie screen, this aching portrait of a dying West, adapted from Larry McMurtry’s novel, focuses on the daily shuffles of three futureless teens—the enigmatic Sonny (Timothy Bottoms), the wayward jock Duane (Jeff Bridges), and the desperate-to-be-adored rich girl Jacy (Cybil Shepherd)—and the aging lost souls who bump up against them in the night like drifting tumbleweeds, including Cloris Leachman’s lonely housewife and Ben Johnson’s grizzled movie-house proprietor. Featuring evocative black-and-white imagery and profoundly felt performances, this hushed depiction of crumbling American values remains the pivotal film in the career of the invaluable director and film historian Peter Bogdanovich. –The Criterion Collection
The son of immigrants fleeing the Nazis—his father was a Serbian painter and pianist and his mother was descended from a rich Jewish Austrian family—Peter Bogdanovich was conceived in Europe but born in America. He originally was an actor in the 1950s, studying his craft with legendary acting teacher Stella Adler and appearing on television and in summer stock. In the early 1960s he achieved notoriety for programming movies at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. An obsessive cinema-goer, sometimes seeing up to 400 movies a year in his youth, Bogdanovich prominently showcased the work of American directors such as John Ford, about whom he subsequently wrote a book based on the notes he had produced for the MOMA retrospective of the director, and the then-underappreciated Howard Hawks. Bogdanovich also brought attention to such forgotten pioneers of American cinema as Allan Dwan.
Bogdanovich was influenced by the French critics of the 1950s who wrote for Cahiers du Cinema… read more
Johnson and Leachman are well deserving of all the accolades thrown in their direction for this film, but when Sam passed and the town began to fall apart, the film did a little too, and that credit goes to Bogdanovich, he made his film another character. The film lost its center, just as the town had. Well done.
With his partner Bob Rafelson, Schneider played a major role in launching the “New Hollywood” in the 70s.
Also: Miriam Bale’s new film journal, Wavelength in LA and more.
Mirroring the Nouvelle Vague path of film critic to director, Peter Bogdanovich was a precocious member of the film brat generation that went on to re-shape Hollywood into it’s image during an era… read review
The Last Picture Show is one of the most different and the most essential teenage dramas I’ve ever seen. It is a film which makes all those regular teen films with parties and hungovers… read review
It’s peculiar how much of an affinity I felt for The Last Picture Show. It has cousins that touched me in the same way – The Heart is a Lonely Hunter; Paris, Texas, Days of Heaven and the… read review