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1001 Movie Club: The Last Picture Show (1971)

Stephen Jay Schneider chose this movie as one of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.” He compiled a massive list from the classic to the obscure for his anthology. The most worthy movies are chosen to be on this list. Every year, there is a revision to include the most essential movies to be on the minds of film buffs everywhere.

I personally picked The Last Picture Show as one of the selections on the 1001 Movie Club for this month. I don’t know why. I guess I have a love of Cloris Leachman and that Jeff Bridges in getting so much Oscar attention now that I would go back to the beginning of his career where he received an Oscar nomination with this movie. It was nominated for nine Oscars and won two Supporting Oscars for Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman. People might not get into a story about a small town, but I kinda did.

Based on the book by Larry McMurtry, the movie is set in the small town of Anarene, Texas in the early 1950s, taking a look at the year in the lives of the inhabitants this particular town. You might think that nothing happens in the town, but the small actions can be the newest town gossip.

The movie lays out the coming of age story of the meek Sonny Crawford (Timothy Buttons) and his life long friend with the gruff Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges). They both are captains of the Sonny is in a relationship with the pudgy Charlene (Susan Taggart) that he doesn’t love, but he is in love with Duane’s girlfriend, the privileged Jacy Farrow (Cybill Shepard). On their anniversary, Sonny breaks up with Charlene.

Jacy’s mother, Lois (Ellen Burstyn) wonders why Jacy could associate herself with a roughneck that is not suitable. Jacy rebels against her mother to spend more time with Duane. Sonny’s gym teacher, Mr. Popper (Bill Thurman) asks him to be a driver for his wife, Ruth (Cloris Leachman) to her various appointments to the local clinic in favor to skip out his civics class. He takes Ruth to her appointment and they have a connection.

At town social, Sonny and Ruth begin to start an illicit affair. Duane lets his feelings known to JAcy, who doesn’t love him leaves with another privileged kid, Lester Marlow (Randy Quaid) to naked pool party about Bobby Sheen’s (Gary Brockette) house. Jacy is infatuated with Bobby, but he cannot have sex with her until after she loses her virginity. Jacy is on a quest to break her hymen quickly.

Sonny has run-ins with the locals like waitress, Genevieve (Eileen Brennan), Silent Billy (Sam Buttons) who is the son of Sam the Lion (Ben Johnson) who owns the pool hall the youth hangs out at, the movie theater and diner that Sonny frequents.

Before the two buddies graduate and go off their separate ways, Sonny and Duane take a overnight trip to Mexico and back. When they come back, they realized that their world is crumbling down before them when there is a sudden death in their absence.

These people are stuck in a different time and place. When you are bored, you would do stupid, dangerous things. Have some sort of excitement in their ho-hum little lives. The crazy shit I’ve ever done with when I was bored out of my mind. I understood why the people did what they did. It might be morally wrong in a conservative, but they need to have some excitement in their lives. I don’t blame them.

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

1001 Movie Club Approved

Judgment: This is an accurate portrait of small town life.

Rating: ***1/2

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