The Last Picture Show (1971)
With the picture house set to close there’ll be no more big screen westerns for the kids to make out in front of. So just as Ford and Hawks painted the pioneer spirit into Monument Valley skylines, Peter Bogdanovich spied in Larry McMurtry’s novel a vision of the downside…the American dream flatlined in a prairie-land cow-town with no reason to exist anymore. Where the wind kicks up dust down the main street and a Hank WIlliams pop tune yodels mournfully from the radio of every pick-up truck. Where to leave school is to step into a hard-bitten world and the only redemption is to be found in illicit fumblings on the edge of town.
Wide-eyed Sonny (Timothy Bottoms) squires the wife of the football coach just as best friend Duane (Jeff Bridges) moons after rich girl Jaycee (Cybill Shepherd) whose Mom (Ellen Bursyn) swirls her solace around a whisky tumbler. The young cast were all new to cinemagoers in 1971, as was the jukebox soundtrack and the idea of going back to black and white. Robert Surtees’ lenses reach for the horizon, landscapes collected in a slow horizontal pan. On its release Newsweek called it “the most impressive work by a young director since Citizen Kane.”