The Last Picture Show (Bogdanovich, 1971) will break your heart in a million different ways, all of them Texan. As an expatriate from a town very much like this, it hits me where I live. I’ve seen those fights on Main Street between guys who were best friends and will be again. I’ve heard those whispers going around when someone’s truck is parked in a front yard that’s not theirs for too long. I know the bad things that happen when mean guys get bored. Those things, and people, never change much. This movie captures all of that in amber. We arrive in Anarene, Texas to find youth on the threshold facing the one big question we all must face at some point – do we move out or just move on?
The Last Picture Show isn’t just a stock exercise in nostalgia, though. In fact, it may be the opposite. No one here is exactly looking back to a time when their happiness was looked after. I am left with the notion that it’s often just as well to forget all that. Maybe it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be in the first place. You take refuge in the old movie theater one last time, for old time’s sake, and then get out while the getting’s good. Like Abilene says, it wouldn’t hurt if you had a better home town. Watch this and feel that all over again.
What you’ll find in this episode: small town life, romance over a garbage can, the folly of youth, and the ghost of Hank Williams.
Links and Recommendations:
Check out The Last Picture Show on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of Terms of Endearment.
Cole’s further viewing pick of The Paper Chase.
Travel to Ten Small Towns in Texas That Time Forgot.
A great oral history of The Last Picture Show.