Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Last Picture Show (1971)


Written by Tim Dirks

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Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Last Picture Show (1971)

In critic turned director Peter Bogdanovich's best and most realistic, black-and-white drama The Last Picture Show (1971), it provided a melancholy look at adultery, alcoholism and promiscuity in 1950s Texas; it was about life and rites of passage of the inhabitants of small, dying Texas town of Anarene from late 1951 until about a year later, and their many dreams and shattered loves; it was based upon Larry McMurtry's 1966 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name; most of the characters were high-schoolers who were dealing with the thoughts of their future beyond the isolated, dismal and bleak town; although the adult-themed film was nominated for eight Oscars (with two wins for supporting performers), some considered it obscene for its full frontal nudity and explicit sexual situations. See Sex in Films for uncensored version

  • the co-captains of the HS football team, Texas high-school seniors Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges) and Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms), who lived together in a boarding house, often visited with the town's aging patriarch - old-timer, ex-cowboy Sam 'The Lion' (Oscar-winning Ben Johnson), owner of the local pool hall and theatre, to ponder their uncertain futures; Sonny was tasked with taking care and watching over his mentally retarded, mute brother Billy (Sam Bottoms, Timothy's real-life brother); often, the youths would meet up with the cafe's salty-tongued waitress Genevieve (Eileen Brennan)
Two Couples

Duane with Jacy Farrow (Cybil Shepherd)

Sonny with Charlene Duggs (Sharon Taggart)
  • in various sexcapades in Duane's and Sonny's shared pickup truck (after attending the town's "picture show" on Saturday date night with their girlfriends), Duane was dating rich, self-centered, and pretty town tease Jacy Farrow (Cybill Shepherd in her film debut), whose alcoholic mother Lois (Ellen Burstyn), while providing her with a poor role model, was having an affair with attractive but dissolute oil driller Abilene (Clu Gulager)

Lois Farrow (Ellen Burstyn) - Jacy's Mother

Oil Driller Abilene (Clu Galager)

Lois' Flirtations With Abilene at Town's Xmas Party
  • meanwhile, Sonny was in a short term relationship with his unattractive girlfriend of one year Charlene Duggs (Sharon Taggart, aka Sharon Ullrick); they customarily drove to a lover's lane area and listened to the radio, for awkward petting in the pickup truck; this Saturday night, she methodically removed her own sweater (he unhooked her pointed bra and hung it on the rear-view mirror), and as usual, she routinely permitted him to cup her full right breast (with his cold left hand) while they kissed; however, this time, she angrily asked: "What's the matter with you? You act plain bored" - and he decided to break up with her
  • over a period of time, Sonny became acquainted with depressed, middle-aged, low-self-esteemed Ruth Popper (Oscar-winning Cloris Leachman), the wife of his basketball coach Coach Popper (Bill Thurman); after a few visits to her place, he proceeded to get involved in a lengthy affair (and lose his virginity) with her; they embarrassingly kissed standing up and then hurriedly and self-consciously undressed (without looking at each other) in separate areas of the bedroom; once in bed and under the covers, she permitted Sonny to proceed with having sex: "It's all right"; during furtive love-making, the bed's squeaky springs poignantly reflected Ruth's inner anguish and pain as she cried and gave her heart to him
  • in a high school classroom, the English teacher (John Hillerman) read a Keats poem to his disinterested class of teens: ("When old age shall this generation waste Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe Than ours, a friend to man To whom thou sayest, 'Beauty is truth, Truth Beauty' That is all ye know on Earth And all ye need to know")
  • at the town's annual Xmas dance attended by some of Jacy's country-club friends, she was invited by Lester Marlow (Randy Quaid) to attend a private, teenaged midnight skinny-dipping indoor pool party taking place in nearby Wichita Falls, TX; to end her date with boyfriend Duane who had just given her an expensive watch as a Christmas present, the conniving Jacy told Duane that her mother had ordered her to attend Lester's swimming party
  • after driving off with Lester, in the film's most controversial scene, the sexually-adventurous neophyte Jacy arrived at the party held at the home of wealthy Bobby Sheen (Gary Brockette), without Duane's knowledge; at the party, she was greeted as a 'new victim' by the stark naked host with his nude girlfriend Annie-Annie Martin (Kimberly Hyde), who asked: "Wanna join the club?"
  • Jacy was challenged to get undressed out on the diving board as part of her initiation rites ("So everybody gets to watch"); expectantly, the whole naked group of teenaged boys and girls eagerly sat by the edge of the pool to watch "the strip show" - she nervously and gingerly removed many articles of clothing, almost fell off the diving board, and then with one dramatic gesture, yanked off her bra top and flung it on top of her pile of clothes; finally, she was cheered as she hopped into the water - completely naked; she had succeeded in attracting the attention of the rich kids - and in particular, the wealthy young playboy
  • Duane and some of the other town boys unwisely sought to help Billy lose his virginity by setting him up with a local waitress Jimmie Sue (Helena Humann); the experience went poorly with the confused and disabled young boy in the back seat of a car, and he ended up with a bloody nose; the incident caused a brief falling-out between Sam and the town's youth, who denounced their "trashy behavior" and refused to have them enter his businesses (pool hall, cafe, and theater) for awhile
  • at the old tank dam on an overcast New Years' Eve day, in the film's most memorable single sequence, while Sam was fishing with Sonny and Billy, he delivered a monologue about his recollection of the idyllic "old times" and his one true love; he remembered a "crazy" youthful romance with a girl who swam nude with him in the water: ("You wouldn't believe how this country's changed. First time I seen it, there wasn't a mesquite tree on it, or a prickly pear neither. I used to own this land, you know. First time I watered a horse at this tank was more than forty years ago. I reckon the reason why I always drag you out here is probably I'm just as sentimental as the next fella when it comes to old times. Old times. I brought a young lady swimmin' out here once, more than 20 years ago. Was after my wife had lost her mind and my boys was dead. Me and this young lady was pretty wild, I guess. In pretty deep. We used to come out here on horseback and go swimmin' without no bathing suits. One day, she wanted to swim the horses across this tank. Kind of a crazy thing to do, but we done it anyway. She bet me a silver dollar she could beat me across. She did. This old horse I was ridin' didn't want to take the water. But she was always lookin' for somethin' to do like that. Somethin' wild. I'll bet she's still got that silver dollar....Oh, she growed up. She was just a girl then, really")
  • at the end of the monologue, he explained why he didn't marry her - she was already attached: ("She was already married. Her and her husband was young and miserable with one another like so many young married folks are. I thought they'd change with some age, but it didn't turn out that way"); he concluded that marriages were often miserable and failed ("About eighty percent of the time, I guess"); he also lamented the coming of old age: ("If she was here, I'd probably be just as crazy now as I was then in about five minutes. Ain't that ridiculous? Naw, it ain't really. 'Cause bein' crazy 'bout a woman like her's always the right thing to do. Bein' a decrepit old bag of bones - that's what's ridiculous - gettin' old")
  • in order to work her way into Bobby's group of friends in Wichita Falls, Jacy approached Bobby privately, although he arrogantly rejected her after learning that she was still a virgin: ("Come and see me when you're not")
  • following a New Years' weekend trip to Mexico by Duane and Sonny, the hung-over and exhausted teens returned to town two days later after wild partying; they were stunned to learn that in their absence, Sam had suddenly died from a stroke; he had willed to pool hall to Sonny, and the theatre to concession stand worker Miss Jessie Mosey, and the cafe to Genevieve; later, there was a cascade of misfortunes that followed in the wake of his death (i.e., the closing of the local movie house and the pool hall)
  • by the spring during the senior class picnic, the town's ravishingly beautiful, calculating, fortune-hunting Jacy had decided to give up her virginity to Duane in the Cactus Motel, so that she could advance onto Bobby; during their pre-arranged rendezvous and sexual encounter - she laid back on the motel bed and half-closed her eyes as she encouraged him to take her virginity: "Oh Duane, hurry"; but then asked annoyingly: ("Aren't you gonna do it?...What do you mean? How could anything be wrong? Just go on and do it"); aggravated by the aborted love-making when he became limp and impotent and was unable to perform, she blamed his Mexico trip for his inability ("No telling what you got down there. I just hate you. I don't know why I ever went with you"), and ordered him to dress: ("You think I wanna sit around here and look at you nekkid?")
  • Jacy feared that she might "never get to not be a virgin" - and thereby win Bobby Sheen's heart; she was also worried that classmates might ridicule them when they found out about their unsuccessful and clumsy encounter, and she confirmed what her mother had forecast: "I think you're the meanest boy I ever saw. My mother was dead right about you"; she instructed him to "not tell one soul - you just pretend it was wonderful," and then threw her panties at his face; afterwards she gushed to her admiring girlfriend-classmates: "I just can't describe it in words"
  • after graduation ceremonies for the Senior Class of 1952, Duane assured Jacy that he was now ready ("But I can do it now, I know I can"); at the same motel, Jacy gave Duane a second chance to deflower her - using him to provide an entree to dating Bobby Sheen; this time, Duane succeeded without an audience outside to witness the post-rites of passage; soon after, Jacy coldly broke up with Duane (who left town with furious frustration to take a wildcat oil rigging job), and further pursued her plan to snare Bobby, but she ultimately failed when he abruptly dropped her and married his girlfriend
  • disappointed with herself, and late on a Saturday night, the provocative, over-sexed Jacy enticed her father's older business partner Abilene, her mother's sex partner, to let her join him inside the town's dark and closed-up pool-hall; he removed her shorts and underwear and had sex with her on a pool table - while her hands grasped the two corner pockets behind her; after he drove her home, he coldly refused to kiss her: "How about hoppin' out?"
Sex with Abilene on Top of Pool Table With Arms Outstretched to Two Corner Pockets
  • later after returning home, Jacy's mother Lois had a look of pained shock and disappointment realizing that her daughter had slept with Abilene; to break them up, Lois encouraged Jacy to set her sights on Sonny (who always had a secret infatuation for her) - and end his well-known affair with 40 year-old Mrs. Popper

Sonny Enticed Away From Mrs. Popper by Jacy
  • the opportunistic Jacy proceeded to quickly seduce Sonny into leaving Mrs. Popper (after six months together); the older woman soon sensed that Sonny had moved on from her; the relationship between Sonny and Duane also deteriorated when he learned that Sonny had been "goin' together" with Jacy that summer during his absence; they quarrelled and physically scuffled together over Jacy's allegiance, and Sonny was briefly hospitalized after being hit with a beer bottle in the face and nearly blinded; Duane decided to join the US Army
Split in Relationship Between Duane and Sonny: Sonny Injuried in Fight
  • double-crossing Jacy's runaway plan worked (and she even alerted her parents) - she would elope with Sonny and head toward their honeymoon at Lake Texoma on the Oklahoma/Texas border; she predicted her parents and state officers would apprehend them, thwart the marriage and annul it before consummation - and Jacy would be sent away to college in Dallas; Sonny was returned to Anarene with Lois in Jacy's convertible; once back in Anarene, Lois confessed to Sonny that she was Sam's old flame, and that she fondly recollected their time at the tank together
  • meanwhile by the fall of 1952, Duane had briefly returned home for a short military leave; Sonny and Duane reconciled as strong friends with each other and attended the 'last picture show' in the soon-to-close theatre in town - Howard Hawks' western Red River (1948) before Duane's deployment to fight in the Korean War; Sonny said goodbye to Duane as he boarded a bus early the next morning
The Sequence of The Senseless Death of Sonny's Brother Billy
  • afterwards, as Sonny was in the pool hall, he heard a loud truck horn and the screeching of brakes; outside, Sonny's mentally retarded brother Billy senselessly died when he was hit by a truck in a hit-and-run accident -- Sonny gave an anguished cry: ("He was sweepin', ya sons of bitches. He was sweepin'!") - before covering Billy's body with his letter jacket; Sonny was numb with horror, grief and shock
  • deeply depressed, everything in Sonny's life seemed to have now disintegrated: Duane's departure, Billy's death, and Jacy's permanent move to Dallas for school; for consolation, he drove to Ruth Popper's house to make amends after many months; the abandoned and long-suffering Ruth - surprised by his visit - delivered an explosive tirade at Sonny for abandoning her when he returned to her after Billy's death: ("I'm sorry, I'm still in my bathrobe. What am I doing apologizing to you? Why am I always apologizing to you, you little bastard?! Three months I've been apologizing to you without you even bein' here! I haven't done anything wrong. Why can't I quit apologizin'?! You're the one oughta be sorry! I wouldn't still be in my bathrobe if it hadn't been for you. I'd have had my clothes on hours ago. You're the one made me quit caring if I got dressed or not! I think it's just because your friend got killed, you want me to forget what you did and make it all right? I'm not sorry for you. You'd have left Billy too, just like you left me. I bet you left him plenty of nights whenever Jacy whistled. I wouldn't treat a dog that way. I guess you thought I was so old and ugly, you didn't owe me any explanation. You didn't need to be careful of me. There wasn't anything I could do, so why should you be careful of me? You didn't love me. Look at me. Can't you even look at me? See? Shouldn't have come here. I'm around that corner now. You've ruined it. It's lost completely. Just your needin' me won't make it come back")
Ruth's Tirade Against Sonny
  • in the final moments of the film, Ruth empathically realized Sonny's pain, forgot her anger, and realized that he was begging for forgiveness - she bravely and hopefully took him back and comforted him: ("Never you mind, honey, never you mind...")

(l to r): Duane (Jeff Bridges), Mute Billy Crawford and Sonny Crawford

Cafe Waitress Genevieve (Eileen Brennan)

Vain Jacy Farrow (Cybil Shepherd)

Threesome: Sonny, Duane, and Jacy

Ruth Popper (Cloris Leachman) - Coach's Wife

Sonny's Passionate First Kiss with Ruth After Xmas Dance

Sonny's Affair with Ruth Popper

Lester and Jacy Arriving at the Nude Pool Party

Host Bobby Sheen with Girlfriend Annie-Annie Martin (Kimberly Hyde): "Wanna join the club?"

Jacy Nervously Undressing on the Diving Board

Billy With Bloody Nose After Forced to Make Out with Local Waitress in Car

Sam's Denouncement of the Boys' "Trashy Behavior"

Sam's Eloquent Monologue at the Old Tank Dam to Sonny About a Long-Lost Love

Duane's and Sonny's Reaction to Sam's Sudden Death During Their Mexico Trip

Jacy and Duane's Failed First Sexual Encounter in Motel Room

Jacy to Her Girlfriends: "I just can't describe it in words"

After Jacy and Duane's 2nd Successful Attempt at Sex After Graduation

After Jacy's Sexual Experience with Abilene in Pool Hall: "How about hoppin' out?"

Jacy Persuaded By Her Mother to Seduce Sonny

Jacy's Contrived Elopement Plan

Lois' Tearful Confession to Sonny that Sam Was Her Lover 20 Years Earlier

Sonny and Duane Reconciled - They Watched the "Last Picture Show" (Red River)

Last Line - Ruth to Sonny: "Never you mind, honey, never you mind"


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