AFI Top 100: No. 95 The Last Picture Show

Small town living is supposed to be the simple life right? Small towns are supposed to produce very few scandals with families living in harmony, right? Well, not according to The Last Picture Show. The early 70s flick featured an all-star class including a young Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepard’s film debut and plethora of scandal in a small North Texas town. The black and white tone and lack of background music created the image of a rural, mid-century community.

The film details the senior year of two high school boys, Sonny and Duane, in the 1950s. Both seemed to be lower class, but fairly well respected by the town. Their lives are entwined with various characters around the town: Duane’s beautiful and self-centered girlfriend Jacy, Sonny’s mentor Sam the Lion, a slower boy who idolizes Sonny Billy, Jacy’s vixen mother, the lonely coach’s wife, amongst other minor characters.

Sonny and Duane both fall in love with various women. Duane struggles in his relationship with Jacy, who is more interested in pursuing other relationships and following her mother’s promiscuous footsteps. Sonny begins an affair with his coach’s wife, who is lonely due to her husband’s lack of interest in women. Past relationships between the town folk are revealed creating a web of affairs and scandals. The teenage angst and inability to control hormones made the movie relatable to all.

There were several back stories that were touched upon but never fully developed. This did not matter as enough detail was given to understand where each character came from and why they made the choices they made. The acting was very well done, Academy Awards were given to Ben Johnson (Sam the Lion) and Cloris Leachman (Ruth, the coach’s wife).

It is as scandalous as a soap opera but features terrific acting and a dramatic tone. There are many different directions the film goes and even the most minor characters are given depth yet it never loses focus and keeps the audience interested. TC and I truly enjoyed this feature.

Next Up: No. 94 The French Connection

One comment

  1. Shelley · · Reply

    Hi Jennifer – The Last Picture Show is an oldie but goodie! 🙂

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