211980_1020_AFellow Film Club Members & Movie Buffs:

Another heat wave endured, and now for a tiny moment we are enjoying cooler weather. August is here already, and this Friday we are proud to restart our screenings at CSL—after a summer recess. The film will be THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (1971). This is truly one of the finest films ever released, and it represents the best film Peter Bogdanovich ever directed. He started out as an actor in the 1950’s, studying under Stella Adler. Then he built a reputation programming classic movies at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He became a film critic and journalist writing for Esquire Magazine, and he wrote film biographies of Orson Welles, John Ford, and Howard Hawks. He began directing movies in 1968. THE LAST PICTURE SHOW established him as an “A” director, being nominated for (8) Oscars, and winning (2) of them. Unfortunately his directing career never revisited the success of this movie. Some of the later films I enjoyed were PAPER MOON (1973), SAINT JACK (1979, and MASK (1985). He turned down directing jobs on both THE GODFATHER, and CHINATOWN. It has been written of him, “Bogdanovich will remain a foot note in cinema history, more valuable for his contribution to the literature of film than to the medium itself.”

It was Sal Mineo who brought him the McMurtry novel. It was Orson Welles who talked him into shooting the film in black and white, evoking John Ford and Howard Hawks. Ben Johnson was talked into playing Sam the Lion by his friend John Ford. Tex Ritter auditioned for the part of Sam, and John Ritter auditioned for the part of Sonny. The movie was filmed in Archer City, TX, the home town of author Larry McMurtry; renaming it Anarene. The last film shown in the Royal Theater before it closed was RED RIVER, a Howard Hawks classic.  THE LAST PICTURE SHOW had the film debuts of both Cybill Shepherd and Randy Quaid. Roger Ebert wrote, “Using period songs and décor to create nostalgia is familiar enough, but to tunnel down to the visual level and to get that right too, and in a way that will affect audiences, even if they are not aware of how, is one hell of a directing accomplishment.”

THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (1971) Directed by Peter Bogdanovich @ 118 minutes.

The film stars Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn, Cybill Shepherd, Eileen Brennan, Clu Gulager, Sam Bottoms, Randy Quaid, John Hillerman, and Noble Willingham. Synopsis: This is a brilliant study of life in a small Texas town during the 1950’s, providing a new perspective on how multiple characters can interact and intertwine. It is based on the prize-winning novel by Larry McMurtry. Oscars went to Ben Johnson, and Cloris Leachman for their sensitive performances—but the entire cast worked at the same level, capturing the melancholy mood of a ghost town in the making; creating an unforgettable portrait of lost innocence and small town Americana.  Roger Ebert called the movie, “the best film of 1951”. It was beautifully shot in black and white by Robert Surtees.

So mark your calendars and join us on Friday, August 7, 2009 at the Center for Spiritual Learning, at 206 North J Street in Tacoma, on the corner of Division and J. Remember to show up early if you want to enjoy some fine food that will be prepared by the Phantom Director & Farishta. The socialization and food will be occurring downstairs in the kitchen. The food will be served at 6:15pm. For those who wish, there will be a raffle for cash and/or a DVD; tickets selling for a buck. There will be a short film shown promptly at 7 pm, and THE LAST PICTURE SHOW will screen immediately afterward. See you at the Movies!!



2 thoughts on “LAST PICTURE SHOW @ CSL

  1. I just wanted to comment about a childhood memory that was evoked by the last scene in the film when Sonny is talking to Ruth in the kitchen. In the background we can hear a comedy record playing on the radio in the next room. Most film viewers will probably not recognize this recorded comedy routine from 1952 about Little Bo Peep. But for those of us who were young children in the pre-television year of 1952, the recording evokes strong nostalgia. If you have never heard it, and would like to, here is a link:

    [audio src="http://www.turoks.net/Cabana/sounds/ItsInTheBook.mp3" /]


  2. Very astute, Ron. Bogdanovich mostly used pre-recorded songs and radio bits to create the nostalgia–and in your case he hit bang on. Folks seemed to zero in on the strange power of this film, one of those that emerges great for many
    mysterious reasons; like a great work of art, it had just the right ingredients.


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