The Last Picture Show [1971]

“The Last Picture Show” is a wonderful accomplishment and worthy of its place in the list of great films of the 70’s. It’s a coming of age tale set in a small, dusty Texas town in the 50’s. The story centers around two best friends, Sonny (Timothy Bottoms) and Duane (a very young Jeff Bridges) as they pass from being highschool seniors into adult life. Director Peter Bogdanovich’s vision is risqué but honest, as he captures the moments when innocence lurches into experience. His movie makes you think about transitions in your own life. How do you handle this critical time from being on the highschool football team one year to being on your own without much safety net the next? Yet in a wider context, the film bids farewell to a bygone era, capturing the nation’s shifting interests (it was a time when Cinema was replaced by Television entertainment). Robert Surtee’s stark, yet attractive black and white cinematography brilliantly captures that era. We get a sense of the North Texas wind blowing through this isolated town where there is nothing much to do and a whole lot of time to do it. Boredom, depression, and a lot of dust. Middle-aged women bored with their lives, old men dying, and the young ones discovering life. It all leaves a feeling of emptiness and despair, a feeling that was not uncommon, especially in small towns in the 50’s.

Rating: 3.5/4

Categories: MUST-SEES, The 70's

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