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The Last Picture Show (1971)

R | | Drama | 22 October 1971 (USA)
1:27 | Trailer
In 1951, a group of high schoolers come of age in a bleak, isolated, atrophied West Texas town that is slowly dying, both culturally and economically.


Peter Bogdanovich


Larry McMurtry (screenplay), Peter Bogdanovich (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
3,868 ( 44)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Timothy Bottoms ... Sonny Crawford
Jeff Bridges ... Duane Jackson
Cybill Shepherd ... Jacy Farrow
Ben Johnson ... Sam the Lion
Cloris Leachman ... Ruth Popper
Ellen Burstyn ... Lois Farrow
Eileen Brennan ... Genevieve
Clu Gulager ... Abilene
Sam Bottoms ... Billy
Sharon Ullrick ... Charlene Duggs (as Sharon Taggart)
Randy Quaid ... Lester Marlow
Joe Heathcock Joe Heathcock ... the Sheriff
Bill Thurman ... Coach Popper
Barc Doyle Barc Doyle ... Joe Bob Blanton
Jessie Lee Fulton ... Miss Mosey


In tiny Anarene, Texas, in the lull between World War Two and the Korean Conflict, Sonny and Duane are best friends. Enduring that awkward period of life between boyhood and manhood, the two pass their time the best way they know how -- with the movie house, football, and girls. Jacy is Duane's steady, wanted by every boy in school, and she knows it. Her daddy is rich and her mom is good looking and loose. It's the general consensus that whoever wins Jacy's heart will be set for life. But Anarene is dying a quiet death as folks head for the big cities to make their livings and raise their kids. The boys are torn between a future somewhere out there beyond the borders of town or making do with their inheritance of a run-down pool hall and a decrepit movie house -- the legacy of their friend and mentor, Sam the Lion. As high school graduation approaches, they learn some difficult lessons about love, loneliness, and jealousy. Then folks stop attending the second-run features at the movie... Written by Mark Fleetwood <mfleetwo@mail.coin.missouri.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The story of big dreams in a small town. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality, nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

22 October 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Last Picture Show See more »


Box Office


$1,300,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The glimpse of the television comedy is of Imogene Coca and Sid Caesar in Your Show of Shows (1950). See more »


When Lois Farrow makes a telephone call from her home she dials a seven digit number. In 1951 a telephone number would have been at the most five digits in the small town of Anarene, Texas. See more »


[first lines]
Radio announcer: President Truman'll be here tomorrow, so all you folks in Dallas turn out, chuh hear? This is Cowboy Rhythms on KTRN, Wichita Falls, here's Hank Williams' big hit tune, "Cold Cold Heart".
Sam the Lion: You ain't ever gonna amount to nothing. Already spent a dime this morning, ain't even had a decent breakfast. Gimme the chalk. Why don't you comb you hair Sonny, it sticks up, look like you smelled'm wolf. I'm surprised you had the nerve to show up this morning after that stomping y'all took last ...
See more »

Alternate Versions

Special edition includes seven minutes of footage not included in the original release. See more »


Referenced in Suddenly Susan: The First Picture Show (1999) See more »


Texas, Our Texas
Written by William J. Marsh
Sung by students at the graduation ceremony
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Manners, Mores, and Life in a Small Town in Texas
16 October 2004 | by madonna8888See all my reviews

Bogdanovich used the dusty, whistle stop nowheresville location of Archer City, Texas as the backdrop of this movie. The film opens with shots of the gas pedal and the cracked windshield of Sonny's truck. These imperfections seem to foreshadow the tragedies that occur in the course of this film in that they symbolize the tough lives of the characters. This is one of my favorite films for its poignancy and socially aware theme. "The Last Picture Show" employs a host of psychological themes, as exemplified in each character. The roles of the characters are played by Jeff Bridges, Cybil Sheppard, Ellen Burstyn, Clorish Leachman, and Timothy Bottoms. There are also a myriad of symbols that define the action and the dramatic effect of this film. Though we see quite a few of the characters go through their trials and tribulations in everyday life, we don't fully get a sense of who they are. The film takes place in the 1950s, at a time when going to the movies was an industry in itself, but was dwindling by the middle of the decade, what with the advent of television. The closing of the theater in this town symbolizes the social change and psychological impact on a town whose only real pastime was going to the picture show. What does one do in this nowhere town? Going to the movies in the local, broken down theater seems to be one of the only few pastimes that one can engage in in this town.

The film examines the rites of passage of the youth that call the town home. We see Duane Jackson, played by Jeff Bridges try to hold onto his girl Jacy Farrow, played by the town beauty queen (she's not really a beauty queen), the sweet and pretty Jacy, played by a very young Cybil Sheppard who bares all in two key scenes in the film. Jacy is pretty, but she's a hollow and shallow girl who is the daughter of a formerly beautiful, but still attractive mother, Ellen Burstyn. The Farrows are the well to do people in town and it seems every man in the town is chasing Jacy's innocent, yet seductive beauty, including Jacy's mother's boyfriend who tries to have an assignation with her in a pool hall.

The acting by all the major actors in this film are outstanding, the characters may be one or two dimensional, but it is just such shallowness that defines the genius and talent of the respective actors in this film. Bogdanovich's masterful directing in this film, helped to make him famous. Cloris Leachman plays the lonely, love sick wife of the local football coach. She has a brief love affair with the much younger Duane. Each of the characters is a sort of stock character and cluster of people one might find in such a real life setting.

Bodies of water seem to also take on a symbolic role in this film, one being the famous swimming pool scene and the other at the pond which precedes the pool scene. Both of these bodies of water seem to characterize or add to the personas of the characters who play in the scenes containing them. For example, when Jacy strips at the pool party with everyone watching, she then jumps off the diving board after throwing her under garment over the boy in the water's head, this suggests that she has a not so innocent streak in her and that she is just aching to get out of her shell. Later, Jacy loses her virginity in the Cactus Motel with her boyfriend, Duane. Most of the action involves subtle sexuality which to me, has tinges of Freudian symbolism.

All in all, the acting is excellent and very convincing and the characters are pretty likable. This is one of the great, underrated films of all time and if you are a Hank Williams fan, the musical scores will delight you, their lyrics suggest the action that is taking place.

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