Cincinnati Babyhead

Speaks his mind on music & movies!

Movie : The Last Picture Show

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We open up on a wind blown deserted street in small town Texas. It’s early in the morning  A young man/teenager in an old beat up pickup truck is the only vehicle on the street.  He pulls over to pick up a younger boy who is sweeping.  We have Hank Williams on the radio.  They head over to the pool-hall.  We meet the owner, Sam who comments on how badly the older boy, Sonny and his football team lost the night before. Billy, the younger boy heads out the door and Sam tells Sonny to keep an eye on him.  Outside  we meet Duane, Sonny’s friend and the two head over to the cafe to get some breakfast.  Everyone they meet gives them a hard time about how badly they played the night before.  The two boys plan to meet at the picture show later that night which they do.  They couple up with their girlfriends at the show.

We meet some more of the townspeople, girlfriends, teachers, parents etc.  Everyone knows everybody’s business, “You can’t sneeze in this town without someone finding out about it”.  We follow Sonny and Duane as they get ready to leave high school and move onto the next stage of their lives.  Sex seems to be their prominent focus.  They try to work through these encounters as they happen.  Duane trying to get it on with his girlfriend, Jacey, Sonny starting up an affair with the football coach’s depressed wife.  Setting young Billy up with Jimmie Sue with disastrous results.  The town or a lot of what we see of it is full of sexual tension, sexual frustration, infidelity and missed opportunities.

Sam the Lion who owns the pool-hall, cafe and the movie house seems to be the anchor for this dying town. When he dies the town is thrown out of kilter.  We stay with the characters as they try to deal with this loss and move on with life.   Things just aren’t the same without Sam the Lion.

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From the opening sequences CB was drawn into this film (I guess coming from a similar place helped).  It just captures that feel.  From the visuals to the small town talk, “You guys ever heard of tackling?”.  Peter Bogdanovich brings what life there is in this town to the screen.  His cinematographer Bruce Surtees captures it all in glorious black and white.  They work off the Larry McMurtry novel.  The film certainly has it’s own pace and delivery which worked for CB.  Under- played and quiet, like the town.  You feel that you’re there.

The performances were what sealed the deal.  From top to bottom.  New young actors combined with older solid pros and it meshes.  Timothy  Bottoms,  Jeff Bridges,  Cybill Sheppard as the younger leads all do a great job but it was the older actors that really anchored the film.  Could you cast three better actresses than Eileen Brennan,  Ellen Burstyn and Cloris Leachman?  They made Bogdanovich’s job easy.  Not one false moment by any one of them.  Brilliant.  Ben Johnson as Sam is casting at it’s best.  Johnson brings so much life experience to the role.  It’s just all there.  Ben is in CB’s hall of fame for performances and Sam the Lion is an all time favorite film character.   Burstyn’s character near the end of the film talks about Sam.  Real good stuff.

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So pick yourself up and head down to the Royal for ‘The Last Picture Show’, maybe slap some Hank Williams on the Jukebox and drop into the pool-hall and say howdy to the Lion for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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21 comments on “Movie : The Last Picture Show

  1. Jim S.
    May 14, 2017

    You hit the nail on the head here, CB. A terrific picture that I have not forgotten about but which I have not seen in many a year. This was no “small picture” but in fact a bona fide hit. It’s not necessarily that they don’t make movies like this anymore. But if they do, they’re shunted off to the “art theaters” so that the megaplex has enough theaters for “Guardians of the Galaxy meet Mad Max,” or whatever. Today those fine actors you mention would be stuck playing superheroes or villains or something, all the while wondering exactly why they bothered studying Shakespeare. Or for that matter, studying acting. End of rant. Thanks for the reminder.

    Liked by 2 people

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      May 14, 2017

      Solid comment. The films (music also) are still out there but they get buried in that stuff you mentioned. I’d be repeating myself about all the things that work for me in this film. Casting is a make or break and on this film it nails it. Top to Bottom. Being music guys, the Hank and other songs coming from the car/truck radios and jukeboxes didn’t hurt

      Like

  2. yeahanotherblogger
    May 14, 2017

    I’m with you! A great flick.
    i suppose it’s the best one that Bogdanovich directed. I hope that he is still with us, but I’m not sure.
    See you, CB.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      May 14, 2017

      This is the only film I’ve seen of his work. I think he’s still around. I really get lost in this movie. Talk about taking a person to a time and place, ‘The Last Picture Show’ does that. I still think “Sam the Lion” is a real person. Always look forward to your input. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. 1537
    May 14, 2017

    A beautiful film with a real sense of space and emotion about it. i own it but I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it again. Poor Sam the lion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      May 14, 2017

      Yup! The whole opening where town folk are giving the boys the gears about how bad they played the football game. IT’s so small town. Great writing. We need more Sam’s. Burstyn talking about him at the end is brilliant. I’m starting to tear up 1537.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. catchgroove
    May 15, 2017

    This movie was my introduction to Hank. That alone makes it a classic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      May 15, 2017

      The songs even sound good coming out of the old-school car/truck radios. In fact that is the best way to listen to Hank. Thanks for chiming in.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. greenpete58
    May 15, 2017

    I wish they’d show this on Turner Classic Movies. I haven’t seen it in years. One of those small-town, adolescent angst, coming-of-age pics, ala “Hud,” “Summer of ’42,” “Breaking Away,” “American Graffiti.” Like “Hud,” the B&W effect enhances the mood. And Jim’s right, these simmering dramas aren’t appreciated any more like they should be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jim S.
      May 15, 2017

      Pete, the good news is that this (and other movies) are on YouTube, iTunes, and Vudu. Yeah, they’ll cost you a couple of bucks to rent. But, no commercials, no cutting out scenes, etc. Plus I’ve found that there is a YouTube channel on my cable network. So I can call it up there, rent a flick, and watch it on TV. I always check YouTube before I rent something. Some movies are in public domain. (I’m assuming, anyway.) The great ‘Stalag 17’ is up on YouTube, full movie, for free.

      Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        May 15, 2017

        You are my go to guy on so many things. “Turner Classics” sneaks these films in once in a while. But you have to keep an eye out. We have a couple channels up in the frozen north that run good films but it’s like going to a garage sale, you have to get through a lot of junk to find a treasure. Good films and music are always worth the effort. For CB anyways. One real good source is Falda, Earl and Moon Boy, they take care of dear old dad.

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      • Jim S.
        May 15, 2017

        Sounds like your naming conventions were heavily influenced by Frank Zappa. :-O

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        May 15, 2017

        That’s because of the “Moon” in the name. And yes Frank was a big influence in my life along with Alfred E. Newman, Howdy Doody, Fred Flinstone, Jethro Bodean, Bugs Bunny, Arnold Ziffle……… and you think I’m joking.

        Liked by 2 people

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      May 15, 2017

      The B&W was a great choice for this film. This kind of movie just can’t compete with what the machine pumps out today. They are out there but you have to dig (Winters Bone, Mud…). As far as “appreciated” Pete, I hear you. I think they are but not on a huge scale. If you revisit it I would be curious on how it effects you. With me I’m absolutely blown away by all aspects of the film-making. In a lot of cases it is like a good wine, they get better. For CB this film is in that category. I “appreciate” your time to comment on this great film!

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      • dcw0731
        May 16, 2017

        Arnold Ziffle wow that name is a blast from the past. Isn’t he the greatest pig actor of all time? Green Acres? or was that his owners name?

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        May 16, 2017

        I’ll have to do a take on Arnold (Did he cut an Album?). Yup the Ziffles were his owners. ‘The Last Picture Show’ has turned into the ‘Arnold Ziffle Show’. I like it! Now I have the Green Acres theme music in my head.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. dcw0731
    May 16, 2017

    CB let me help you with that theme “Green Acres is the place to be…”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thom Hickey
    May 18, 2017

    Top stuff. Long term favourite. Don’t forget the lonesome tones of Hank Williams throughout.

    Regards Thom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      May 18, 2017

      Hank’s music coming out of the radios was a great choice. I was so focused on the performances that I didn’t give the music the credit it deserved. It certainly enhanced the time and place of the story. I mentioned it at the end of my take. It was a perfect example of how music in film should work. Great point Thom!

      Liked by 1 person

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