The Last Picture Show – review

Peter Bogdanovich's masterpiece still looks magnificent, writes Philip French

I was teaching at the University of Texas when this movie appeared, and the fact that virtually every one of my students told me that their small home town was exactly like the film's dying Texas township is testimony to its truthfulness. Bogdanovich's masterpiece, it's an elegy for a vanishing America, set in 1951 and using the local cinema to great effect as a metaphor for the community in which blue-collar teenagers Timothy Bottoms and Jeff Bridges are about to graduate from high school on their way to nowhere. Ben Johnson won an Oscar as the movie house's owner (a man of probity rather like Melvyn Douglas in Hud, also based on a novel by Texan writer Larry McMurtry), as did Cloris Leachman as the sad wife of a high school basketball coach. All the music comes from radio sets or a jukebox, and Robert Surtees's monochrome photography is magnificent.


Philip French

The GuardianTramp

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