THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (1971) B/W widescreen 118m dir: Peter Bogdanovich

w/Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn, Eileen Brennan, Clu Gulager, Sam Bottoms, Bill Thurman, Sharon Taggart, John Hillerman

From The Movie Guide: "Bogdanovich's finest effort; bleak and beguiling. None of his other films ranks with THE LAST PICTURE SHOW when it comes to dramatic flair and authenticity. He seems comfortable doing period pieces, but, in this, his second feature (preceded by TARGETS), he captures the era so accurately that the viewer can feel the hopelessness of living in a dying Texas town. Bridges and Timothy Bottoms are the stars of the lackluster local high school football team. Bridges is the aggressive one, and Timothy Bottoms provides the contrasting sensitivity; they are best friends. The story unfolds seamlessly, detailing relationships in a small town. Sam Bottoms is a retarded boy (he got the part after he showed up to watch brother Tim's first day of shooting) who is the butt of cruel jokes by the denizens of the cafe-pool hall-theater owned by Johnson, a one-time cowboy who seems to be every boy's idol and surrogate father. Tim Bottoms takes up the cudgel as Sam Bottoms's protector and is soon befriended, and then bedded by Leachman, the lonely wife of the school's basketball coach, Thurman. The affair continues for most of the picture, heating up and cooling down a few times. To keep it up, Tim Bottoms ceases dating his regular girlfriend, Taggart. Bridges continues dating his girl, Shepherd, but is not happy about her self-centered behavior. ...

"THE LAST PICTURE SHOW is a refreshing look backward. While others were outfoxing themselves with multiscreen techniques, Bogdanovich made a movie that could have been shot years before and the result was critically and financially rewarding. The director is an admirer of [directors John] Ford and [Howard] Hawks and this is a homage to their styles, as opposed to the kind of ripoffs Colin Higgins and Brian De Palma have done with Hitchcock. The only element that separates this from an early film is the use of frontal nudity and the frank treatment accorded the adult themes. Bogdanovich was hailed as another Orson Welles (another of the director's mentors and friends). This episodic, human story lives and breathes with more power than any Darth Vader or Rocky. There was a time when Bogdanovich considered Jimmy Stewart, among others, for a part in the film. However, he wisely opted against using established stars. Johnson and Leachman each won Oscars, and the entire cast is quite fine (especially Ellen Burstyn, seen here like she's never been, before or since). Look for 'Magnum's' John Hillerman in a small role as a teacher. THE LAST PICTURE SHOW could have been a tawdry, sleazy soap opera, but the 31-year-old former film critic kept a light, compassionate touch that elevated the story and presented it as a slice of a life that has all but disappeared."

THE LAST PICTURE SHOW won two Oscars: Best Supporting Actor (Johnson) and Supporting Actress (Leachman). It was also nominated for Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor (Bridges), Supporting Actress (Burstyn), Adapted Screenplay (Larry McMurtry, Bogdanovich; based on the novel by McMurtry), and Cinematography (Robert Surtees).