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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Last Picture Show
The Last Picture Show
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Review by Heather Picker | posted January 12, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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Peter Bogdanovich's classic "The Last Picture Show," based upon the novel by Larry McMurtry, is commonly hailed as one of the best films to come out of the 70s, a decade that began as a revolutionary era in the rich history of cinema—the old Hollywood studio system was failing, and ended with directors such as George Lucas and Steven Spielberg resuscitating that very system that had been threatened and effectively sidelined for years by directors who had constructed critical smashes from unconventional scripts and direction. It depicts life in the 50s in small-town Texas and focuses on Duane (Jeff Bridges) and Sonny (Timothy Bottoms), two teenage friends who have opposite personalities, and the locals who are parts of their lives.

The sets, outfits and music all have an authentic feel that is only enhanced by the film having been shot in black and white. Most impressive about "The Last Picture Show" is the expansive cast, which also features Cybill Shepherd as Jacy, Duane's girlfriend, Ellen Burstyn as her mother, Ben Johnson as Sam the Lion, Cloris Leachman as Ruth, the neglected wife of Coach Popper who begins an affair with Sonny, and Eileen Brennan. Ultimately, the film received eight Academy Award nominations, among them Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and Cinematography. Four of the actors received nominations, with Johnson winning Supporting Actor and Leachman Supporting Actress. 1990 saw Bogdanovich and many of the original actors reunite for a sequel, "Texasville."

Columbia Tri-Star has released "The Last Picture Show" on DVD as a Special Edition, Definitive Director's Cut. The digitally remastered transfer, which is anamorphically enhanced, displays great contrast and sharp detail. Audio-wise, the soundtrack is Dolby Digital and presented mono. Everything, including dialogue and music, is audible and you won't be straining to hear anything though you can't help but think that the dialogue could sound better—a bit more crisp and clear.

Though unfortunately lacking a running commentary, the supplementary features are notable. Included are theatrical trailers for "The Last Picture Show," "Starman" and "Arlington Road," and a multitude of subtitles; they're available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai. Talent files, scene selections, interactive menus and production notes are also present. The main attraction, however, is the informative documentary "The Last Picture Show: A Look Back," which clocks in at slightly over an hour and features interviews with Bogdanovich and several cast members, Bridges, Shepherd, Burstyn, Leachman and Eileen Brennan among them. This nice retrospective is accompanied by a short, 1974 theatrical re-release featurette. Overall, this is another Columbia SE that warrants a place in the DVD collection of any film buff.
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