Wednesday, September 2, 2015

539. The Last Picture Show (1971)

Running Time: 118 minutes
Directed By: Peter Bogdanovich
Written By: Peter Bogdanovich, James Lee Barrett, from novel by Larry McMurtry
Main Cast: Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn
Click here to view the trailer

NOTES: Couple things...

Sorry for the delay in reviews. I actually found myself in the emergency room on Sunday night, after having a bit of an episode. It turns out I was on unneeded blood pressure medicine and my pressure was running way too low, causing me to get little blackouts and bouts of dizziness. I wanted to be down to having only forty films left before August ended, but I didn't make it. Oh well, I'll just have to make up a couple in September, so that we can get done by Halloween.

In other news, I contacted Barron's about getting a review copy of the newest 1001 edition, due out next month. I received a reply saying that they already had me on the list and to expect THE NEW BOOK to be delivered sometime in mid-October. I did happen to see the cover, which isn't just one film this time, but a bunch of movie posters and noticed that "Birdman" and "Boyhood" are two of the films that made the new edition. I'll, as usual, be reviewing the new edition and looking at the ins and outs.

Now then...


I ended up having to order this one through my OnDemand service, as Netflix had it listed as a "very long wait" and I'm trying to make sure I get all of my loose ends tied up before it comes down to nut cuttin' time. I'd only seen The Last Picture Show one other time, many years ago, as I used to consider Jeff Bridges to be my favorite actor and there was a period where I was scarfing up all of his movies I could get my hands on.

When considering the plot of The Last Picture Show, think a more serious version of American Graffiti, that takes place over a more extensive time period. While Graffiti takes place over one night, The Last Picture Show takes place over the course of a couple of years and happens to use country music as it's soundtrack, as opposed to rock 'n' roll. Timothy Bottoms can be considered the star of the picture, playing Sonny Crawfoed, who, when the film begins, is nearing his high school graduation, a member of his school's football team. He has a girlfriend who refuses to put out and when his coach asks him to take his "old lady" to an afternoon doctor's appointment, in exchange for the coach getting him out of his civics class, Sonny accepts. The coach's wife is Ruth (Leachman) and the two bond when she gets bad news from the doctor and ultimately begin an affair. Meanwhile, Sonny's best friend, Duane (Bridges), is dating popular high school senior, Jacy Farrow (Shepherd) and focusing on being a typical American teen - attending the local picture show, shooting pool at Sam the Lion's pool hall and copping a feel in front of his pickup. When Jacy becomes promiscuous, she tires of Duane and spends the end of her youth in a constant state of sexual exploration, attending nudist parties, making eyes at her daddy's friends and getting married - only to get divorced soon after. The lives of the residents of this small Texas town intertwine, as the fifties come to a close annd before the hippie era that would soon follow. Men contemplate going to war, women contemplate marriage - it's a coming of age tale and a pretty good one at that.

Yes, "pretty good", as I can't go "great" or even "very good". I liked it enough and it's another one of those movies where I can see myself liking it more and more every time I watch it, until it becomes a favorite. That's actually what I did with Taxi Driver, as I watched it once - hated it and then, for some reason, kept re-watching it and liking it a little more each time. Today, Taxi Driver is a favorite movie of mine and every time I watched it, I picked up something new, something different, more appealing attributes, more to like. Anyway, I initially had The Last Picture Show pegged at around the '5' mark, when I watched it years ago. This go around, I'd call it closer to '7', so it's growing on me, for sure.

I thought all of the actors here were superb and loved the characters to the point where I'd kind of like to check out the novel, just to see if I could gain more insight into them. These were not characters who just existed on the surface, for the sake of filling in roles in a motion picture, but rather, they more resembled real life people. While this was a slice of life of a small Texas town, it reminded me of a slice of life of any American town that may have existed in the 50s and when I think of the world that my mom & dad grew up in, I don't think this is too far off of my perception. It just seemed so perfectly right on. I must say too, that I loved the country music soundtrack and found myself searching Spotify after the film was over, re-listening to some of the old, whiney (in a good way) tunes. I feel like it was the voices of Hank Williams and company who added a little seasoning to this otherwise perfectly tasty, yet just slightly bland dish.

RATING: 7/10  Was going to go '6.5' right up until the end there and then I just decided to say "screw it" and go to '7'. Sorry for the short & sweet review, but it's nearly dinner time here and I feel like I've said what I needed to say.


September 2, 2015  5:45pm

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