Monday, September 13, 2010

The Last Picture Show

It's 1952, Texas. We follow a group of kids in the senior year of high school in a small town where everybody knows everybody. There's not much to do except listening to Hank Williams on the radio, driving around in cars and fooling around.

It's Peter Bogdanovich's masterpiece, shot in timeless black and white. All the actors are great. There are young actors just starting out, like Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottoms, Cybill Sheperd and Randy Quaid, there's the veteran actor Ben Johnson as Sam the Lion, sort of a father figure for the kids. There's also Eileen Brennan as a waitress, another one of those great 70s faces. It's a sad film, even more so when you know how Bogdanovich squandered his early promise. He didn't get the long career of his idols John Ford and Howard Hawks, more like that of Orson Welles.

I'm not sure if it's correct to call Jeff Bridges underrated. He's been nominated for the Oscar and he won one for Crazy Heart, but he's never done the sort of showy overacting that usually is necessary for winning awards. Usually you don't notice him acting at all. I ordered his 79 film Winter Kills, but it hasn't arrived yet, so I'll have to get back to that one later.

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