Saturday, 19 April 2014

The Last Picture Show (1971) 70's Marathon 2#

Directed by Peter Bogdanovich
121 Minutes

Based on a novel of the same name (which at first, the director did not like the sound of) The Last Picture Show stands now as an important film in American cinema history. As a coming-of-age tale, this black and white drama telling the story of a group of teenagers in a small Texas town, this is definitely an essential viewing of the 1970’s. It is a film of love, friendship, adolescence, relationships and moving on- themes that continue to be explored in coming-of-age movies.

The choice of black-and-white seems fitting, as it adds that sense of 50’s nostalgia to the entire film. Along with the classic-country music used, you really get the feel of the vintage setting. Director Peter Boganovich is certainly one who enjoys looking at the past, with another one of his films in the 70’s being Paper Moon; which is set in the early 1930’s. Although I will not get a nostalgic feeling for the film like many in the US due to the fact I was born in the 90’s (and rose in the United Kingdom) I can understand how the film began to gain its status. It captures the 1950’s period, when drive-in movies and midnight-matinees where popular in America- but also a period of change for several places in South America.

The characters in the film are really great, and the film follows each of their stories with a degree of focus. The film primarily focuses on Duane (Jeff Bridges) and Sonny (Timothy Bottoms), two high-school seniors who are friends in a simplistic and changing town in Texas. Throughout the film, we see the somewhat young love triangle between Duane, Sonny and the girl of interest, Jacy (Cybill Sheperd), whom Sonny is the boyfriend of. However, early in the film they break up, and that is when we enter a complexity of relationships amongst the characters.

I loved how the film captured the relationships, and I must say there is quite a lot of sex/foreplay in the film- which to me reminds me of how all those 50’s/60’s movies are spoofed in other films like Back to the Future, Cry-baby and Grease; the stereotypes of teenagers, that still float around today, not just in America but globally. I thought the way it captured it felt real, emotional and tender. The best friends fighting over a girl, the movie house (Picture Show) and going separate ways. Like in the Perks of Being a Wall Flower, the film shows friends going different ways and that is something I think a lot of people can relate to no matter what generation.

My favourite character was Sonny, and that was because of Bottoms performance. He seemed nervous, but sweet and his facial expressions say so much (especially in one of the final scenes); A fine performance indeed. Overall, I think this is a classic film that has not aged and contains excellent performances from Bridges, Sheperd and Bottoms. 


From left to right, Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges and Cybill Sheperd.


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