The Last Picture Show – Peter Bogdanovich (1971)

The Last Picture Show (1971) is an evocative and bittersweet slice-of-life ‘picture show’ from young newcomer, 31 year-old director Peter Bogdanovich, formerly a stage actor and film writer/critic. The screenplay was based on the novel of the same name by Larry McMurtry. … This great picture, Bogdanovich’s first major film, was a gritty, authentic-looking, black and white film (considered obsolete at the time since it was the first mainstream Hollywood feature film shot in B/W since the early 60s), with expressive, high-contrast cinematography by Robert Surtees. It was widely acclaimed at the time of its release. … The episodic, bleak and mournful film was shot on location over an eleven-week period in northwestern Texas in a dusty, wind-swept, one-horse, declining small-town that was on the verge of being forgotten in the early 1950s. … The rich character study with a non-star cast dispassionately (but affectionately) depicts the contrasting, mediocre lives of two generations of aimless townspeople with frustrated, unhappy, unfulfilled, routine, despairing and shallow lives (middle-aged adults and naive adolescent teenagers) who cling to the dying and barren town, and try to find solace and escape from boredom in lost dreams, drinking, temporary and manipulative sexual encounters (adulterous and promiscuous relationships), the local movie theatre’s shows (and television), or by moving to the big city. Everyone knows everything about everyone else in the insular, claustrophobic town. The coming-of-age characters in the younger generation, and the characters in the older generation who only have their memories, include. … The time frame of the film, about a year-long period from November 1951 to the next late fall and told from the point-of-view of an 18 year old boy, chronicles how changes in the world, his own personal rites of passage, and the closing of the forlorn town’s only ‘picture show’ (due to the coming of the isolating pablum of television) that marked the economically-battered community’s death knell and the passing of an earlier era. The younger generation has little to look forward to, based on their elder’s experiences. Another film poster declared: ‘Anarene, Texas, 1951, Nothing much has changed…’, with the implication that change is inevitable and life-altering. Only nostalgia for the remembered past may bring some sense of nurturing comfort and ease from the pain of life’s experiences, lost loves and disappointments. …”
Film Site
W – The Last Picture Show
Roger Ebert: Deep in the heart of Texas
YouTube: The Last Picture Show – Trailer

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