The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences celebrates the 40th anniversary of The Last Picture Show with a digitally restored “Definitive Director’s Cut” on Thursday, November 17, at 7:30 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. After the screening the Academy is hosting a cast and crew reunion including director (and indieWIRE blogger) Peter Bogdanovich, his one-time romantic muse Cybill Shepherd and Cloris Leachman. Sadly, Ben Johnson as well as Bogdanovich’s ex-wife, the film’s production designer Polly Platt, are no longer with us. And where are Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottoms and Ellen Burstyn?
The Last Picture Show, based on the 1966 Larry McMurtry novel, ended Bogdanovich and Platt’s marriage, as the director famously fell for his star, Shepherd. Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer were inspired by that breakup when they wrote their 1984 comedy Irreconcilable Differences. McMurtry dedicated his novel Somebody’s Darling to Platt and Bogdanovich. More details and trailer are below.
“The Last Picture Show” is an atmospheric character study that launched the careers of a remarkable group of young actors (including Shepherd, Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottoms and Randy Quaid) and greatly influenced a generation of prominent directors.
Set in the fading West Texas town of Anarene in the early 1950s, the film combines a poignant coming-of-age tale with a bittersweet appraisal of Anarene’s discontented adults. As the only movie theater in town goes out of business, Anarene’s high school seniors grapple with conflicting feelings about sex, friendship and responsibility, and the adults reflect on their unfulfilled lives.
The film’s nostalgic appeal is heightened by Robert Surtees’ black-and-white cinematography, Polly Platt’s production design and an innovative use of period music. The picture garnered eight Oscar® nominations, including Actor in a Supporting Role (Ben Johnson, Bridges), Actress in a Supporting Role (Leachman, Ellen Burstyn), Cinematography (Surtees), Directing (Bogdanovich), Best Picture (Stephen J. Friedman, producer), and Writing – Screenplay based on material from another medium (McMurtry, Bogdanovich), with Johnson and Leachman earning statuettes for their performances.
The “Definitive Director’s Cut” includes scenes reinstated or re-edited by Bogdanovich for the 2000 DVD and theatrical re-release. This digital version is courtesy of Sony Pictures and the Academy Film Archive.