Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Last Picture Show

It seems everyone who blogs dips into their day, whether at work or home, for inspiration. Since I've been housebound for quite some time now, the things that stand out are kinda few and far between. It snowed last night and this afternoon, so going outside to play (shoot .22s) is right out.

After I got out of the hospital, I popped for the DirecTV upgrade to HDTV. I noticed HDNet wasn't included in my HD package, so I went ahead and ordered it later. Today I got my money's worth.

The Last Picture Show played on one of the HDNet channels today. Hadn't seen it in years. It was from the book of the same name by Larry McMurtry, who you might remember as the author of several Westerns, notably Lonesome Dove (which I'm rereading right now). Peter Bogdanovitch directed Cybill Shepherd's film debut, with plenty of high quality actors - Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Ellen Burstyn, Eileen Brennan and Randy Quaid all performed well. Ben Johnson (one of my favorite character actors) originally turned his role down because he didn't care for the language in the script. John Ford finally talked him into the role if the character Sam the Lion didn't have to curse. Ben won one of the two Oscars this picture was awarded.

Cloris Leachman won the other Oscar (Best Supporting Actress) mostly on the strength of the last scene. For those of you who haven't seen the movie, or it's been a few years, she portrayed Ruth Popper the coach's wife. She and Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) had an affair, and Sonny pretty well screwed her over, dumping her for his shot at Jacy (Shepherd). Sonny had just come from the street where his childhood friend, the simple minded Billy (Sam Bottoms) had been killed by a passing car. He'd been out sweeping the street - sweeping being one activity he was good at. The men standing around his body gossiping about the poor kid got to Sonny, and he found himself at Ruth's house.

Quoting IMDB:

Cloris Leachman's last scene in the movie was printed on the first take without any previous rehearsals. She wanted to rehearse the scene but director Peter Bogdanovich thought it would ruin the scene if it was rehearsed. Ultimately his sense of direction paid off, as Leachman won the Academy Award for her performance.

Timothy Bottoms' performance isn't anything to sneeze at here - his raw need is evident. But the range of emotions both subtle and dramatic that Cloris displayed is simply powerful. The Academy did this one right. Ellen Burstyn was also nominated for this picture and category, but I'm for thinking Cloris blew her away.


IHeartQuilting said...

Cloris Leachman is one of my favorite actresses. I just love her.

You have very good taste in movies, sir.

Mo K said...

That's one movie I've certainly heard of, but never have seen. I'll keep my eyes open for it. I usually find "gems" by casually channel surfing on a weekend morning.
I've only seen Leachman's later works. I think "Young Frankenstein" is the youngest version I've seen of her.
The clip and IMDB write-up has peaked my interest!

Angiegrl said...

I didn't see the movie, but I did read the book. The book was great so I think I may rent the movie and give it a try! I love Larry McMurty's writing and have read most all of his books. Lonesome Dove is my favorite.