The Last Picture Show (1971)

Cinema Classics Seminar: The Last Picture Show

So Long, Wild West
Thursday, May 30, 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm
Instructor: Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program, Temple University
Location: Multimedia Room
Cost: $25 for members, $30 for non-members; includes admission to the film
Register Now

The Last Picture Show (1971) is an evocative, bittersweet film, based on the novel by Larry McMurtry, which tells a series of interlocking stories of love and loss in small-town Texas in the early 1950s from the point-of-view of eighteen-year-old Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms). The film chronicles how changes in the world, personal rites of passage, and the closing of the forlorn town's only movie theater mark the passing-by of the economically battered community, and the passing of an earlier era.

Director Peter Bogdanovich saw the story as “a Texas version of Orson Welles's The Magnificent Ambersons, which was about the end of a way of life caused by the coming of the automobile. This [film] was about the end of a way of life caused by the coming of television.” And it is a film that is touched by both its past and present. On the one hand, the picture is elegiac, with references to John Ford and Howard Hawks; on the other hand, it embraces New Hollywood through its expressive, high-contrast cinematography by Robert Surtees (The Graduate) and the director/co-screenwriter’s personal interpretation of the source material.

Bogdanovich created an authentic small-town milieu by paying minute attention to the sense of place, and to the idiosyncrasies, dress, and hairstyles of his characters. He was equally adept at establishing complex relationships between the various troubled souls. In so doing, the director thoughtfully dramatized the lives of two generations of aimless people who cling to their dying town, looking for solace and escape in drinking, dreaming, sex, and the local movie theater. The Last Picture Show poignantly depicts loss, to be sure, but its exceptionalism lies in the film’s fleeting moments of happiness captured in small intimacies.

Sessions · Click to add to calendar
  • Thursday, May 30
    6:30pm 2019-05-30 18:30:00 2019-05-30 22:00:00 America/New_York Cinema Classics Seminar: The Last Picture Show Bryn Mawr Film Institute, Bryn Mawr, PA