The Last Picture Show (1971)



Critic Consensus: Making excellent use of its period and setting, Peter Bogdanovich's small town coming-of-age story is a sad but moving classic filled with impressive performances.

Movie Info

This film is set in a Texas border town during the 1950s. High schoolers Sonny and Duane are best friends who spend much of their time hanging out at the movie house owned by one-time cowboy Sam the Lion. Sam plays the role of surrogate father to the boys.

Rating: R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Genre: Drama, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Larry McMurtry, Peter Bogdanovich
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 30, 1999
Columbia Pictures


as Sonny Crawford

as Duane Jackson

as Jacy Farrow

as Ruth Popper

as Genevieve

as Joe Bob Blanton

as Mrs. Jackson

as Abilene

as Charlene Duggs

as Lester Marlow

as Coach Popper

as Joe Bob Blanton

as Singer (uncredited)

as Bobby Sheen

as Abilene

as Jimmie Sue

as Gene Farrow

as Teacher

as Mrs. Clarg

as Oklahoma Patrolman

as Annie-Annie Martin

as Winnie Snips

as Mrs. Jackson

as Jackie Lee French

as Andy Fanner

as Mr. Crawford

as Cowboy in Cafe

as Truck Driver

as Oil Pumper

as Brother Blanton

as Tommy Logan

as Mechanic

as Roughneck Driver

as Cowboy in the Cafe

as Gas Station Man
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Last Picture Show

All Critics (51) | Top Critics (10)

At first glance, the movie is a faithful and skillful adaptation of the source, but a second look at both the film and the book reveals some interesting divergences.

Full Review… | March 2, 2015
Village Voice
Top Critic

It's plain and uncondescending in its re-creation of what it means to be a high-school athlete, of what a country dance hall is like, of the necking in cars and movie houses, and of the desolation that follows high-school graduation.

Full Review… | March 2, 2015
New Yorker
Top Critic

The scene where Sam imparts his wisdom to young buck Bottoms may be the saddest, loveliest moment in 1970s American cinema. And that's saying something.

Full Review… | March 2, 2015
Time Out
Top Critic

It's meant to make you feel sad for what's lost, but a vitality throbs through it.

Full Review… | September 27, 2011
Time Out
Top Critic

Director Peter Bogdanovich has seen Anarene, Texas, in the cinematic terms of 1951 -- the langorous dissolves, the strong chiaroscuro, the dialogue that starts with bickering and ends at confessional.

Full Review… | April 27, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

It is difficult to know where to stop in listing the really outstanding performances -- Cloris Leachman, Ben Johnson, Timothy Bottoms, Eileen Brennan, et al.

Full Review… | March 2, 2015
Monthly Film Bulletin

Audience Reviews for The Last Picture Show

From my local magazine review that i wrote:

"Director Peter Bogdanovich has seen Anarene, Texas, in the cinematic terms of 1951 -- the languorous dissolves, the strong chiaroscuro, the dialogue that starts with bickering and ends with confessional."

Coxxie Mild Sauce

Super Reviewer


This is, by all accounts, supposed to be Peter Bogdanovich's masterpiece. Since this is the only film of his I've seen, I can't verify that statement for sure, but I did really like it.

The story is that of a coming of age tale set in small town Texas during the 1950s. The town is a boring and isolated place, where there's really not a whole lot to do, and, even though everyone knows (or seems to know) everyone else's business, there's a lot of iffy stuff going on. The people (especially the youth) are bored, preoccupied with sex, and dying to get the Hell out of town and to some place better ASAP.

The film was shot like, and has the look of a film from the 1950s. Aside from some of the content (mostly nudity), this could pass for a 1950s film as well. The landscape are suitably bleak, and everything looks simultaneously stark and beautiful thansk to being shot in black and white. The music is made up entirely of popular stuff, almost all country, and that's just fine.

The performances are areally good. Jeff Bridges is fun to watch, and Cybil Shepherd, despite being an angsty tart (hell, everyone is angsty, dissatisfied, and messed up) gives a decent performance as well, and looks quite stunning (naked or otherwise) in just about every scene. Leachman and Bustyn are also quite good. Bottoms is the lead, and he's good, but it was hard for me to get into him as much as the others.

For a film about boredom, and the slow rotting effects of it, maybe it's not a surprise that this is also itself a little boring and tedious at times. Not so much so that it truly takes away from things, but it is something to note. Maybe they just need to slightly tighten thigns up here and there. I was watching the Director's Cut though, so maybe that has something to do with it.

Though this film is not a part of the time period it depicts, it fits in perfectly with the time period it was made. Maybe that's one of the many reasons I liked it. I love that era of cinema, so I'm automatically sorta biased. Despite that though, I still really dig this. It's not something I wanna watch all the time, but it looks great, the style and formal elements are cool and well done, and I can relate in some ways to the characters and story. Hats off.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer


A tender yet melancholy coming of age film that looks at the erosion of the American ideal. Set in 1951 and presented in black and white, this film provided viewers with a nostalgic look back into the recent past. A time that was supposed to be wholly unlike the early 1970s of America, which was still digesting the uncivil wars of the late 1960s and the subsequent final push of the Vietnam war. Yet, rather than provide viewers with an escape, Bogdanovich strips away the veneer of the tranquil & genteel past and shows viewers instead that, as the tagline suggests, "nothing much has changed."
The film shows that even in the 1950s, when America was held together (albeit forcefully) by the spectre of Communism, people felt lost. Some dealt with it through sexual experimentation, escapism, and even going off to fight in an unpopular war. Bogdanovich brilliantly captures this stigma of a wayward national identity.
The director also gets brilliant performances out of this young but adroit cast. His camera is seldom invasive and mostly sits back and lets the bucolic pandemonium unfold in the characters eyes. It is a subtle film, but it has a lot to say and says it well. My only regret is that I was not alive to see the premiere of this film.

Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

The Last Picture Show Quotes

– Submitted by Joe A (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Bob O (4 years ago)

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