The Last Picture Show
is a 1971 American drama film directed by Peter Bogdanovich, adapted from a semi-autobiographical 1966 novel of the same name by Larry McMurtry.
Set in a small town in north Texas during the year November 1951 – October 1952, it is about the coming of age of Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) and his friend Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges
). The cast includes Cybill Shepherd in her film debut, Ben Johnson, Eileen Brennan, Ellen Burstyn, Cloris Leachman, Clu Gulager, Randy Quaid in his film debut and John Hillerman. For aesthetic and technical reasons it was shot in black and white, which was unusual for its time.
The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and four nominations for acting: Ben Johnson and Jeff Bridges for Best Supporting Actor, and Ellen Burstyn and Cloris Leachman for Best Supporting Actress. It won two: Johnson and Leachman.
This film provides examples of:
- Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Sonny often shows his affection towards Billy by taking his cap off and putting it back on.
- Book Ends: The film opens and closes with the same shot.
- Coming-of-Age Story
- Cool Old Guy / The Obi-Wan: Sam the Lion.
- Credits Montage: All main characters are shown with face and name in the closing credits.
- Downer Ending
- "Never you mind, honey...never you mind."
- Deliberately Monochrome
- Dying Town: Anarene, Texas; changed from Thalia, Texas from the autobiography.
- The Fifties
- The Film of the Book
- Fourth Date Marriage: Almost the case with Jacy and Sonny. Seemed to be the right thing to do in The Fifties.
- Making Love in All the Wrong Places: On a snooker table.
- Mrs. Robinson: Sonny and Ruth Popper.
- New Old West: Though the film doesn't deal with a lot of the classic themes and plot elements of The Western, it was clearly influenced by the films of Howard Hawks and John Ford.
- Sequel: Texasville, McMurtry's sequel to the original novel, was itself adapted for the screen by Bogdanovich in 1990. Bridges, Shepherd, Leachman, Bottoms, Quaid, and Brennan all reprise their roles.
- Sex Is Liberation: Heavily deconstructed.
- Shout-Out: The two main characters watch Red River during the titular "last picture show" at the town's soon-to-be-closing cinema.