The Criterion Voyages (Spine #549): THE LAST PICTURE SHOW -- Bogdanovich's Gem of American Cinema Restored in Beautiful 4K
By Sean Boelman
When thinking of the great American filmmakers, there are a few who go under the radar, including the late, great Peter Bogdanovich. Although Bogdonavich’s first film, Targets, was recently added to the Criterion Collection, his latest movie to get the treatment — in a 4K upgrade — is his acclaimed masterpiece, The Last Picture Show.
The film tells the story of a group of teenagers living in a small, dying Texas town as they come of age in a world of shifting values. Based on the novel of the same name by iconic American author Larry McMurtry, the movie was one of the most important in the New Hollywood movement, offering an uncommonly empathetic portrait of rural America.
Fans will likely recognize many of the faces who make up the film’s ensemble, including such future stars as Jeff Bridges, Ellen Burstyn, Randy Quaid, and Cybill Shepherd. However, it is arguably Timothy Bottoms’s performance in the lead role that shines the brightest, as it is crushingly powerful in its quiet nuance.
One of the reasons why The Last Picture Show remains such an important facet of American cinema to this day is the timelessness of its themes. Although the movie was made in the early ‘70s, and set in the early ‘50s, its tale of teenage angst continues to resonate to this day. There are few films about the teenage experience that feel as bluntly honest as this semi-autobiographical tale from McMurtry.
This timelessness is further aided by the gorgeous 4K restoration on the new Criterion edition of the movie. The Last Picture Show is the latest in the line of upgrades the boutique label has issued, releasing films that were already in the collection in 4K UHD. And the black-and-white visuals of the movie look as stunning as you could possibly hope for in this release.
In terms of bonus features, this edition doesn’t offer anything that the previous Criterion release — in the “America Lost and Found” box set — didn’t have. It’s mostly the standard audio commentaries, making of documentaries, and some other things like Q&As, introductions, and the like.
That being said, one thing that sets this particular edition out is that it also features Bogdanovich’s less acclaimed follow-up to The Last Picture Show, Texasville, in both its original theatrical version and a black-and-white version. In effect, this serves as a two-set and allows fans to look at the films as companion pieces.
The Last Picture Show remains an essential pillar of American cinema. This Criterion Collection edition of the movie is sure to be a must-add to any cinephile’s collection — particularly with the 50% off sale ongoing — as it offers a beautiful 4K version of this undeniably moving and brilliant film.
The Criterion Collection edition of The Last Picture Show is now available.
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