Based on the novel by Larry McMurty The Last Picture Show is a more bitter than bittersweet drama about growing up and winding down in the dusty nowhere town of Anarene, Texas, during 1951-52. Unusually shot in black and white while the rest of Hollywood was going psychedelic in 1971, it's an interesting contrast with the rock 'n' roll nostalgia of American Graffiti (the films share a key moment in which the boy who is leaving town gives a precious car to his stay-at-home friend and both make oblique references to Vietnam). It visits a recent past already nostalgic... for a heroic Western era and discovers that whatever was wonderful has already gone by the time of these teenagers. Introspective Timothy Bottoms and outgoing Jeff Bridges are best friends and stalwarts of the school's losing football team. Cybill Shepherd is the blonde teen queen who innocently spreads chaos, ditching long-time boyfriend Bridges to run with a richer, faster set. She steals Bottoms away from an older married woman (Cloris Leachman) which prompts a vicious falling-out between Bottoms and Bridges. As the kids run around heedless, the town's older generation remember their own wilder days and wonder how they came to be so unhappy. Ben Johnson, in Academy Award-winning form, is "Sam the Lion", the wise old cowboy who runs the movie house and pool hall. He muses about his long-ago affair with Shepherd's feisty mother (Ellen Burstyn), who is currently throwing herself at a callous oilman stud (Clu Gulager). A soap in essence but director Peter Bogdanovich plays it as a John Ford-style "closing of the frontier" Western, with ugly-beautiful images of a West that has swapped cattle for oil but failed to strike it rich. He layers in evocative snatches of Hank Williams among the whistling winds and the whining locals. It perhaps has a tragedy too many in its last act and can't quite work up the tears with an actual martyrdom, but it does deliver a signature line of wistful regret, "nothing's been right since Sam the Lion died".On the DVD: this is an anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1 version of the 121-minute 1974 re-release, with one additional scene for Eileen Brennan's waitress, now labelled "the director's cut". It boasts a great sounding mono track, with alternate soundtracks and subtitles in a bunch of languages; a tiny promo piece from 1974 with a Bogdanovich interview; a solid hour-long retrospective documentary with interviews from a lot of the cast and crew (including future director Frank Marshall, an assistant and bit-player) and some trailers. Oddly, Bogdanovich has done a full-length commentary for Orson Welles' Citizen Kane but not for his own best film. --Kim Newman [show more]
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Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play A group of 50&39;s high schoolers come of age in a bleak isolated atrophied West Texas town that is slowly dying both economically and culturally
Classic tale of small town adolescence and sexual intrigue from director Peter Bogdanovich. Set in 1950s Texas, the film follows the exploits of high school football stars Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) and Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges) as they take their first steps into adulthood - Sonny drifting into an affair with an older woman (Cloris Leachman), and Duane experiencing problems with his self-centred, social-climbing girlfriend Jacy Farrow (Cybill Shepherd). Meanwhile, the local cinema so dear to the friends and so evocative of the innocence of their childhood years, is faced with closure.