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Last Picture Show, The (1971)

Right, 'simplicity' in the poster too... I'm not buyin' it.
Right, 'simplicity' in the poster too... I'm not buyin' it.

Genre: American Drama

Starring: Timothy Bottoms (Johnny's Got His GunInvaders from Mars), Jeff Bridges (TRONArlington Road)

Directed By: Peter Bogdanovich (Paper Moon The Thing Called Love)

Overview: This small Texas town may look boring on the surface, but it's roiling with young lust. Seems like everyone's coming of age at the same time.

When I was young and my dad suggested that we go see a movie, I absolutely needed to know what it was about first. I have a particularly fond memory of going down to the Parkdale Theater, now the Cornerstone House of Refuge Apostolic Church (?) to see Stand By Me. I was 11 years old and I thought, "Great. Dad wants to see a movie I've never even heard of. This is gonna suck." Of course I loved it and was so completely surprised that my dad would pick it out, and since that day he's still consistently impressing me with his picks. And, since then, very little has changed in my skeptic and judgmental outlook, but if it's one thing I've learned along the way, it's my glorious hatred for the spoiler. When I walk into a movie I've committed to, I don't need to learn anything else. Sometimes that commitment requires a trailer, sometimes it's just knowing the director's name, and in the case of 1001 Movies, all I need to know is that 'it's on the list.' I feel that my judgement is sounder that way. Sometimes a plot doesn't happen until well into the film, and had I know even a brief synopsis of Ink, the mystery would have been just a little more shattered than I'd have liked.

All this to say that I knew absolutely nothing when I popped The Last Picture Show in the player. When I finished it I realized that this whole movie was about 1951 Texas Sex... and I'm really not all that inspired to say anything else about it, but I guess I'll give it the good old College Try... I suppose.

With an all-star cast of young actors like Jeff Bridges, Ellen Burnstyn, "introducing" Randy Quain and Cybill Shepherd, The Last Picture Show is the sort of movie that 'takes you back'... even if you've never known such a time. As I began to watch, I knew immediately that the theme of this film would be the retrospective of a year. This would be the kind of film that would attempt a Killer Of Sheep honesty with an American Graffiti slickness to it. Sadly, The Last Picture Show is the sort of film, that although I got into well enough, I found … lacking somehow. It's a sexual coming of age drama that explores the (unhappy?) lives of people in a small Texas town and for as much as the stories in and of themselves are entertaining, the whole thing seems a little forced, the relationships contrived, the drama too conveniently timed, and the climactic 'more drama than the drama that came before' had absolutely no grand effect on me, and came nowhere near delivering what I had hoped.

You must absolutely give them this though - Wow youth
You must absolutely give them this though - Wow youth

Performance: 8 Cinematography: 7 Script: 7 Plot: 7 Mood: 7

Overall Rating: 72% (And Certainly Not The Most Memorable)

All in all The Last Picture Show was, to me, one of those run of the mill standard solid fare films that had, as a most memorable moment, Cybill Shepherd's slow strip tease on a diving board, and the main character played by Timothy Bottoms, an actor I recently discovered from his role in Dalton Trumbo's Johnny's Got His Gun. Aside from that, The Last Picture Show is the type of film I would never review, mainly because, for as much as it may be considered a national treasure, it's still in one ear and out the other to me.

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Sorry to hear you weren't all that crazy about it. For me it was one of those movies that sticks in your craw and makes you think back on it days and weeks later. Perhaps you'll give it another watch sometime?

I totally agree with you though - watching a movie you know precious little about is an amazing experience. Helped me enjoy recent flicks like JUNO, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, and PONTYPOOL a whole lot more.

Oh - and nice to find another Canadian blogger! I'm down the road from you a bit in Toronto. I just started following your blog and am looking forward to reading more of your stuff.

Yeah, we're pretty much in agreement on this one.  There are a number of low-key "classics" from the 70s that I have watched and just never came close to appreciating.  It can be hard to nostalgic if they never show you what the movie is looking back fondly on.

I did think that Sam the Lion's speech by the lake was the best bit in the film, though.  Cybill's strip-tease was kind of weird and that group of characters felt like they belonged in another movie to me.

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