The Last Picture Show: Special Edition

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Ever been to a really small town? There’s usually a large percentage of people in them who have always lived there, always been content with what was there. But, there are also people in them who want out, but sometimes fate and opportunity force them to stay there. The smallest details in these towns is a big deal, and everyone seems to know everyone else. The events that occur over a year’s time in a small Texas town are chronicled in this movie. The parts of this movie make up the whole, so I’ll give a couple of the pieces, some short inner workings of the town. Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) and Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges) are football players, just like so many residents in the town used to be. Duane’s girlfriend Jacy Farrow (Cybill Shepherd) who happens to be the prettiest and richest girl in town, fitting that she should date the head football player, right? Anyway, we watch these three, and the choices they make, as they “come of age” so to speak. The movie deal with the interactions of these young people with the town, which is filled with older people who were just like these three, when they young as well. Can they escape the town and it’s youth-sucking ways, or will they too end up as fixtures in the town, their lost youth being their only escape?

The Last Picture Show is highly praised, for it’s unflinching look at small town life, and what effect it has on people. The film is shot in black and white, which gives it a very appropriate raw and grainy image. This is not a happy movie, in any way shape or form. It is based on the idea that people are born, do nothing, then die. And for most of the people in this Texas town, that’s exactly the truth. We watch these people live their dull, uneventful life, and in doing so, we don’t get so much entertainment, as thought provoking subject matter. A film does not have to be upbeat to be good, and this is a prime example of that idea. This is a slow moving, with a very deliberate pace, so if you have a short attention span, this might not be the movie for you. If you crave inspiration, I’d pick up something else, because most people I know are depressed by this film, and although it does not depress me, it sure as hell isn’t a pick me up. It’s a great movie though, if you can enjoy movies based on great writing, and heartfelt performances. Instead of going deeply into the plot or analyze it, which I feel is better left to your viewing to unfold, I’ll skip right to the talented cast.

Cybill Shepherd (Texasville, Taxi Driver) gives her best performance here, at least I think so. In fact, her work here is one of my favorite dramatic performances ever, with Shepherd really bringing this character to life, with total believability. For those of you interested in skin, she bares more than her fair share in this movie, so you get the best of all sides with Shepherd here. Jeff Bridges (Tron, Starman) also turns in one of his best acting jobs here, as does Ben Johnson (Cherry 2000!!!). Rounding out this great cast are Cloris Leachman (Scavenger Hunt, The Iron Giant), Timothy Bottoms (Uncle Sam), Randy Quaid (Vacation, Kingpin), Ellen Burstyn (The Spitfire Grill), and John Hillerman (Chinatown, Blazing Saddles). The majority of the cast and the director, Peter Bogdanovich (Mask) reunited to make a sequel, Texasville, in 1990, which deals with the primary characters in their adult lives. Again, this is a down beat movie, so if you don’t like low energy movies, this ain’t your ticket. But fans of the genre will love this one, and fans of this movie will be very pleased with this disc.

Video: How does it look?

The Last Picture Show is given the deluxe treatment, with a beautiful 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Given the age of the print, you couldn’t ask for a better looking image, with the contrast levels perfect and no compression errors lurking about. Very clean and sharp, much better than I expected to see.

Audio: How does it sound?

In all honesty, audio is non existent here, aside from dialogue. As the movie is slow and somewhat dull in nature, no audio explosions occur. The audio level seems a tad low, I had to fiddle back and forth with the volume button to always hear the speakers. Mono is used, and that could be the culprit here. It’s not bad enough to scare people away, but it could have been much better.

Supplements: What are the extras?

You get talent files, production notes, and trailers, as well as a couple featurettes. The first is a shorter one for the movie’s theatrical re-release, the other an extensive behind the scenes look. The extensive one is just that, clocking in at over an hour, and giving a great deal of interviews, focusing on Cybill Shepherd. You might also want to know that this DVD version features the definitive director’s cut, adding about eight minutes of footage back into the picture. While short in number, the documentary is over an hour long, and brings the score up a lot in this area.

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