This film screened 7th February 2010.
EXCLUSIVELY AT IFI
The pinnacle of former critic Peter Bogdanovich’s directorial career, this evocative portrait of idling lives in early 1950s’ small-town America is a far more grown-up offering than almost anything from today’s Hollywood output.
Two high-school pals trace the fine line between innocence and experience, sensitive Timothy Bottoms finding solace in ‘older woman’ Cloris Leachman, while Jeff Bridges just 22 and delivering a generous, astute, Oscar-nominated performance is the cocky stud tangling with socially ambitious blonde bombshell Cybill Shepherd. As the community’s fleapit cinema faces closure, there’s a sense of an older, kinder nation (represented by wise old-stager Ben Johnson, a John Ford regular) being lost, effectively a comment on the identity crisis facing Vietnam-era America. Bracingly austere black-and-white camerawork by Bruce Surtees imprints it all with the presence of myth, as Hank Williams tunes strike the perfect note of raw desolation. Re-released in a newly restored digital version, The Last Picture Show is a classic. (Notes by Trevor Johnston).