The Last Picture Show

The Last Picture Show with Joshua Ray

Directed by Peter Bogdanovich
/ 1971
118 minutes

“The Last Picture Show” is one of the key films of the American cinema renaissance of the 1970s. Set during the early ’50s, in the loneliest Texas nowheresville to ever dust up a movie screen, this aching portrait of a dying West, adapted from Larry McMurtry’s novel, focuses on the daily shuffles of three futureless teens — the enigmatic Sonny (Timothy Bottoms), the wayward jock Duane (Jeff Bridges), and the desperate-to-be-adored rich girl Jacy (Cybil Shepherd) — and the aging lost souls who bump up against them in the night like drifting tumbleweeds, including Cloris Leachman’s lonely housewife and Ben Johnson’s grizzled movie-house proprietor (with both of those performers winning Oscars in their supporting roles). Featuring evocative black-and-white imagery and profoundly felt performances, this hushed depiction of crumbling American values remains the pivotal film in the career of director and film historian Peter Bogdanovich.

Intro and discussion by Joshua Ray, regular contributor to Cinema St. Louis’ The Lens film blog, co-programmer for QFest St. Louis, and member of the selection committee for the St. Louis International Film Festival.