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12 JANUARY 2013

The Last Picture Show: ode to a Texan small town

"It's hard to overestimate the influence of Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show (1971) ... on all those other elegiac movies about lost youth and crumbling dreams in small American towns that followed it in such huge numbers. We know the storylines, which never vary much. Boy meets girl. They fall in love and think their relationship will last forever but war/adulthood/pregnancy intervenes. Old school friends spend a last summer of high jinks together. They vow eternal loyalty to one another but then the autumn rolls in and their lives drag them off in very different directions. The visual clichés are familiar, too: by the final reel, the once teeming street is empty, with wind blowing the dust, or the old café where the friends used to meet is boarded up. ...

When Bogdanovich revisited Thalia with a belated sequel, Texasville, in 1990, the results were mixed at best. What had made the original so distinctive was the youth of the characters played by Shepherd, Bottoms and Bridges – their curiosity, innocence and their sense of yearning. Witnessing their travails in middle age simply didn't have the same impact. The real follow–up to The Last Picture Show wasn't Texasville but the films that were made – and are still being made today – in its mould."

(The Independent, 18 March 2011)

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TAGS

1971adolescence • American Graffiti (1973) • Archer City • arthouse cinema • Big Wednesday (1978) • black and white • broken dreams • Cloris Leachman • coming of age • crumbling dreams • Cybill Shepherd • Diner (1982) • Easy Rider (1969) • Eileen Brennan • femme fatale • football coach • Hank Williams • high school • illicit relationship • innocenceintrospectionJeff Bridges • juvenile • Korean War • Larry McMurtry • lost youth • nakedPeter Bogdanovich • pool hall • provincial town • rites of passage • roughhouse • Rumble Fish (1983) • Sam Bottoms • self-conscious • sense of yearning • sexsmall townsmall town America • sombre • soulful • Stand By Me (1986) • swimming • teenage temptress • teenagersTexas • Texasville (1990) • Thalia • The Last Picture Show (1971) • The Outsiders (1983) • Timothy Bottoms • would-be rebel • youth

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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