The Last Picture Show

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The Last Picture Show is a 1971 American drama film directed by Peter Bogdanovich, adapted from a semi-autobiographical 1966 novel of the same name by Larry McMurtry.

Set in a small town in north Texas during the year November 1951 – October 1952, it is about the coming of age of two friends, Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) and Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges). The ensemble cast includes Cybill Shepherd in her film debut, Ben Johnson, Eileen Brennan, Ellen Burstyn, Cloris Leachman, Clu Gulager, Randy Quaid in his film debut and John Hillerman. It was one of the first films to have used a contemporary music soundtrack and, for aesthetic and technical reasons, was shot in black and white, unusual for its time.

Contents

Plot

Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) and Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges) are high-school seniors, co-captains of Anarene High's football team and share a rooming house home and a battered old pickup truck. Duane is good-looking, amusing, and popular, and is dating Jacy Farrow (Cybill Shepherd), the prettiest (and wealthiest) girl in town. Sonny is sensitive and caring, with a dumpy, unpleasant girlfriend, Charlene Duggs (Sharon Taggart), whom he does not love; she shares his indifference, and they decide to call it quits.

At Christmastime, Sonny stumbles into an affair with Ruth Popper (Cloris Leachman), the depressed middle-aged wife of his high-school basketball coach, Coach Popper (Bill Thurman). At the sad little town Christmas dance, Jacy is invited by unsavory Lester Marlow (Randy Quaid) to a naked indoor pool party at the home of Bobby Sheen (Gary Brockette), a boy with wealthy parents, who seems to offer better prospects than Duane. The trouble is that Bobby is not interested in her as long as she is a virgin, so she has to get someone to deflower her first. Duane and Sonny go on a road trip to Mexico — which happens entirely off-screen — and return to discover that Sam the Lion (Ben Johnson), their mentor and father-figure in town, has died, leaving a will that bequeaths the town's movie theater to the woman who ran the concession stand, the café to its waitress, Genevieve (Eileen Brennan), and the pool hall to Sonny.

Jacy invites Duane to a motel for what he imagines is some lovemaking, but he is unable to perform; it takes a second attempt to alter her virginity status. Having got what she wants from Duane, she breaks up with him by phone, and he eventually joins the Army. When Bobby elopes with another girl, Jacy is alone again, and out of boredom has sex with Abilene (Clu Gulager), her mother's lover. When Jacy hears of Sonny's affair with Ruth, she sets her sights on him and Ruth gets cut out very quickly. Sonny gets injured with a broken bottle in a fight with Duane, who still considers Jacy "his" girl. Jacy pretends to be impressed that Sonny would fight over her and suggests they elope. On their way to their honeymoon, they are stopped by Oklahoma state troopers — it turns out that Jacy left a note telling her parents all about their plan. The couple is fetched back to Anarene by her father and mother (Ellen Burstyn) — in separate automobiles. On the trip back, Lois Farrow admits to Sonny she was Sam the Lion's erstwhile paramour and tells him he was much better off with Ruth Popper than with Jacy.

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