Movie Mirrors Index

The Last Picture Show

(1971 b 126')

En: 8 Ed: 8

Adapted from Larry McMurtry’s novel and directed by Peter Bogdanovich, high school seniors explore love and sex in a small town in Texas during the Korean War.
      In a west Texas town Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) gets his truck started and picks up Billy (Sam Bottoms) and parks in town.
      Sonny and Billy go into a pool hall run by Sam the Lion (Ben Johnson) who says they have not even had a decent breakfast. He says they got a stomping last night in a football game, and he is surprised to see them. As Abilene (Clu Gulager) comes in, Sam says that Sonny doesn’t even care if it was his last game and asks about his school spirit. Abilene puts together his pool cue, and Sam pays off his bet on his home-town team to Abilene who asks Sonny if he ever heard of tackling.
      Sam goes outside, and Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges) says he nearly froze last night. They throw around a bag as if it were a football and go in cafe with a juke-box. Sam bumps into the waitress Genevieve (Eileen Brennan), and they sit in a booth. Sonny says he has to make deliveries.
      Sonny delivers fuel to a rural house and comes back to go to a movie theater. He sits next to two girls as they watch Father of the Bride with Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor. Sonny moves to the back row with his girlfriend Charlene Duggs (Sharon Taggart), and they kiss. She says it is their first anniversary of going together, and she would like a present. Jacy Farrow (Cybil Shepherd) comes in with Duane and sits near them and asks what they are doing back there in the dark. Duane kisses Jacy.
      Sam asks Jessie if she wants help putting up the next movie poster. The two couples come out and leave. Sonny parks by a lake, and Charlene tells him to keep the motor running because it is too cold. She takes off her blouse, and he helps her remove her bra. At first she tells him his hands are like ice. He rubs them together and puts one arm around her and one hand on her breast. When his hand goes below, she stops him. He says he wants to try something new on their anniversary. She puts her clothes back on, and he says they might as well break up. She tells him to return her pictures he was showing to other boys, saying how hot she is.
      Sonny is eating at the counter and is watching Genevieve. They talk, and she urges him to take something from his dad whom she says he is taking too many pills. He asks if she will be quitting soon; but she says they have to pay off $4,000, and she will be working a long time.
      In a classroom the students are talking, and the teacher tries to interest them in the poetry of John Keats. Joe Bob (Barc Doyle) says Keats should live a good Christian life to become immortal. The teacher reads lines from Keats about knowing that truth and beauty are the same.
      The coach is commenting on his basketball players running laps. He asks Sonny to do him a favor, and then he will do him one. He asks Sonny to drive his old lady to the doctor tomorrow, and he will get him out of Civics class. Sonny says he is glad to do it.
      Jacy is driving with Duane and Sonny in the front seat. They sing their alma mater song. Later they are parked with the top down at a drive-in, and she feeds a pickle to Sonny. He sees her mama coming in a car and advises her to watch it. The car pulls up next to them, and Lois Farrow (Ellen Burstyn) tells Jacy to be home for supper in fifteen minutes. Abilene comes outside and signals to Sonny who nods, but Lois shows him her third finger. They drive off.
      Lois is watching “Name That Tune” on television while her husband dozes on the couch. She gets up and goes into Jacy’s room and says she would hate to see her marry Duane. Jacy says she loves Duane and that her mother married her daddy when he was poor, and he became rich. Lois says she scared him into getting rich. Lois says Jacy is not scary enough, but Jacy says her mother is miserable and that she does not want to be like her. Lois says there is not much danger of that. Lois asks her if she has slept with him. She tells her to go to a doctor and arrange something so that she will not have to worry about babies. Jacy says it is a sin unless you are married and that she would never do that. Lois tells her not to be so mealy-mouthed. If she slept with him a few times, she would find out there is nothing magical about him. Then they could send her away to a good school where she could meet a wealthy boy. Jacy says she does not want to leave but stay in Wichita Falls. Lois says there is nothing to do there, and she borrows some perfume to use right now. She tells Jacy to leave her face like that and says goodnight. Lois says everything gets old if you do it often enough. If she wants to find out about monotony, she should marry Duane. Lois closes the door, and Jacy lies down on her bed.
      Lois pours herself another drink and calls Abilene and asks if he is asleep or would like company. He says he wants to drive out and look at his well. She tells him to drill hard because he is better at oil wells anyway and hangs up. She sits on the couch to watch TV.
      Sonny parks his truck in front of a house and knocks on the door. Ruth Popper (Cloris Leachman) comes to the door, and he says the coach sent him to drive her.
      Sonny drives her car and waits for her in the car. Ruth comes out and gets in. While he is driving, she is wiping tears away. He asks if it is bad, and she says it is dreary. He drives the car into the garage and gets out and opens her door. She sits there, and he tries to give her the keys. She thanks him for driving her and gets out and offers him a soda. They go in the house.
      In the kitchen Ruth says he can go now if he wants to. Sonny asks for a Dr. Pepper, and she opens a bottle for him as they sit at the kitchen table. While he is drinking it, she starts crying and uses a paper napkin to wipe her eyes and nose. He says she may be happier after basketball season because the coach is busier then. She says he does not know a thing about it. She tells him to go to basketball practice. He thanks her for the soda and goes out.
      Lester Marlow (Randy Quaid) comes out of a Christmas party and drinks from a flask. He sees Jacy arrive in her car and says hi to her. She gets out of the car, and he asks if Duane is coming. He tells her about a midnight swimming party at Bobby Sheen’s. He asks if she would like to go there with him, but she says she can’t. He says at the last one they swam naked and that his parents are gone again. He says it will be wild and wishes she would come. Sonny arrives in his truck with Duane. She tells Lester she would like to go, but she might have trouble with Duane. She tells him not to go without her because maybe she can go. Duane comes over to her and asks what Lester wanted. She says he is a bore and kisses Duane.
      Abilene walks into the Christmas party with a young woman, and Lois comes over and kisses him and wishes him merry Christmas. He introduces Lois as his boss’s wife to Jackie Lee French who complains about him kissing her and says she should slap her face; but Lois suggests she kiss her ass. He says he did not come there to referee a fight. Lois tells him to dance with her and pulls him away as he tells Jackie Lee that he will be back. They dance as Ruth comes in. A bully takes away what a shy student is eating. Jacy is dancing with Duane and signals to Lester. She has Duane go outside with her. Sonny’s dad asks him how he is doing. Sonny says okay and that he will see him as he walks away.
      In the truck Duane gives her a watch he said he saved up for in six months. She says her mother made her promise to go to a swim party. She says she wants to stay with the man she loves, and they smooch. She puts his hand between her thighs, and he starts moving it up. She leans back but then says no and gets out of the truck. She gets into Lester’s car. Duane runs over to Lester, grabs him, and complains he asked his girl for a date. Lester tells him to turn him loose, but Duane wants to fight. An adult comes out and tells Lester to run along. He runs to his car and leaves with Jacy. She says she does not know what to do about Duane, and Lester calls him a roughneck.
      In the party Ruth asks Sonny to help her in the kitchen. He says he broke up with Charlene and helps her take the trash outside. He kisses her, and she keeps it going. She asks if he will drive her to the clinic again next week. He says he will and kisses her again. She warns him not to do that there.
      At the swim party a naked boy Bobby Sheen (Gary Brokette) and a girl get out of the pool, and Jacy says she wants to join the club. He says she has to undress on the diving board, and he tells others to get ready for the strip show. They all sit on the edge of the pool naked and watch her. Jacy takes off her dress  and her slip. She removes her stockings. She undoes her bra and takes off her panties and throws them at a boy in the pool below her. Then she jumps in the water, and they cheer. She smiles at Bobby.
      Outside the party Sonny finds some guys drinking out of a bottle in a bag. He asks Duane what happened, and he learns that Lester took Jacy to a swimming party. Duane suggests they find Billy some pussy. They call him an idiot kid, but Sonny says he just doesn’t talk. They figure he is a virgin, and one guy suggests they fix him up with Jimmy Sue for only $1.50. Duane says they could do it themselves. In the back seat of a car Jimmy Sue (Helena Humann) says she does not have all night. The guys take Billy’s pants off and lead him to the car. They back up, and she says he does not even know what to do. She says he could not even wait, and she complains about the mess. Billy comes out, and Sonny asks if he is all right.
      The guys go in a car to the pool hall. Sam comes out and looks at Billy before he goes in. He asks which one of the guys bloodied his nose. He says he told them not to fight with him. Sonny says they did not do it, and the leader says it was Jimmy Sue. Sam asks how he got messed up with her, and the leader says they chipped in and bought him a piece of ass. He says she got mad at him. Sam tells them to get out of there because he does not want to have anything to do with them after they scared an innocent creature just for laughs. He is tired of putting up with that trashy behavior and tells them to stay out of his pool hall, café, and picture show. Sonny says they did not mean for anything bad to happen to him. Sam says they did not even wash his face. Sam turns and walks back in the pool hall. The leader says they are his best customers and asks if he can run them off.
      Sonny goes into her house with Ruth and asks if she is sure that he won’t come. She says he has basketball practice, and they kiss. In the bedroom they start taking off their clothes, and he closes the door. She has trouble getting her slip over her head. They keep their underwear on and get in the bed. Under the covers he removes his shorts. He turns to her, and she says it is all right. He lies on top of her, and the bed squeaks. She cries, and he gets off her. She says she is sorry she cried. He says her husband won’t come now. She is scared she could never do this. She wonders how he could like her. He says he likes her and kisses her.
      Sonny is driving his truck past the movie theater and the cafe while he listens to the radio. He stops outside of town and eats a treat.
      During the day Sonny goes into the cafe, and Genevieve says she will not throw things at him. He asks for a cheeseburger, and she says she won’t tell Sam. She says it is a small town for carrying on, and she warns him that some people have guns. She tells him to play a record as she cooks the burger. Sam and Billy come in, and Billy runs over to Sonny who turns his cap around. Sonny says he just came in to say hello to Genevieve. Sam tells him his food is getting cold, and Sonny sits down. Sam asks her why she is grinning. Sam sits down with him and says he heard about the game 121-14 which must be a record. Sonny apologizes. Sam says they all need glasses.
      Ruth and Sonny are sitting on the floor in her bedroom talking while she brushes his hair. He asks her why she married him, and she says she liked a coach. He asks what he would do if he found them, and she says he would probably shoot them.
      By the lake Sam asks Billy and Sonny to watch their fishing lines. Sam rolls a cigarette and lets Sonny have one. He says the country has changed in the last forty years. He says he is sentimental about old times. He once brought a young lady out there to swim after his wife had lost her mind, and his boys were dead. He says she was wild, and they would swim without bathing suits. One day she had the horses swim across. Sonny asked what happened to her, and Sam says she grew up. He did not marry her because she was already married. He says she and her husband were miserable. He thinks about 80% of marriages are miserable. He says if she was still there, he would be crazy again in five minutes. He says being crazy about a woman is always a good thing to do. He says getting old is ridiculous.
      Couples are necking at a party. Lester is trying to undo the buttons on Jacy’s dress. She says he is too slow and goes into the kitchen. She sees Bobby, and he kisses her. He asks if she is a virgin, and she says yes; but she does not want to be. He does not blame her and invites her to come see him when she is not.
      Sonny and Duane are drinking sodas at the counter. Duane suggests they go to Mexico. They have $70 between them and decide to go. They tell Genevieve and go out. They stop and tell Sam where they are going. Sam gives them some more money and warns them not to drink the buggy water. He warns them about catching the clap. He says he will see them, and they take off.
      Sonny is driving while Duane in a sombrero says he does not feel well. They stop, and Sonny says they are closed. Duane says Sam may have something. They find the pool hall closed too and wonder if it is a holiday. They walk over to a car and ask Andy where everyone is. He gets out of his car and says Sam died yesterday morning. Andy says he had his own way of doing things. His will is crazy. He left the pool hall to Sonny and the café to Genevieve. He left the picture show to old Miss Mosey. He left $1,000 to the son of the preacher. Andy says he deserved it as much as that little bastard. He says they are burying him tomorrow.
      At the funeral Sonny removes Billy’s cap, but he puts it back on. As they stand silently, Sonny looks at Ruth. As they lower the casket, Lois cries and runs off.
      Cars are going to the senior picnic. Sonny looks out the window at the lake and cries.
      Duane knocks at a room at the Cactus Motel. Jacy says to come in. He goes in and hugs her. He removes her blouse, and she tells him to hurry. He undresses quickly. She lies on her back, and he is over her. She asks what is the matter and complains he is tickling her. She tells him to do it and asks what is the problem. He does not know, and she tells him to get off her. She says it must be Mexico. He says he does not know what happened. She says she hates him and tells him to put his clothes on. She says everybody will know that she is still a virgin. She thinks he is the meanest boy. She tells him not to go out yet so that they won’t think they did not do it. She tells him to pretend it was wonderful. He goes out.
      Outside he sees two girls in a car and swaggers as he walks. He sees Sonny in another car. The two girls come in and ask Jacy what it was like. She says she can’t describe it in words.
      At graduation students in caps and gowns sing.  Duane tells Jacy that he knows he can do it now.
      Jacy and Duane come out of a room at the Cactus Motel, and she tells him she does not think he did it right anyway.
      Sonny kisses Ruth in her kitchen, and she takes him into the bedroom and hands him a graduation present. He sees it is a wallet with “Sonny” on it.
      Jacy is at her make-up table and answers the phone. Duane says he wants to do it one more time, and she tells him to go back to Mexico. She says she has a new boyfriend, Bobby Sheen. She says she liked him all along but never realized it. She says she may see him in Wichita sometime and hangs up.
      Duane is angry in the pool hall, throws things, and goes out. Sonny is behind the counter.
      Duane says goodbye to Sonny and Billy and leaves with a suitcase in a tow-truck. He says if they bust up, to let him know.
      Jacy is watching TV, and Abilene comes in. She says her parents went to the club. He asks why she is home on a Saturday night. She says Bobby ran off and got married. She offers to turn the TV off. He says he is going to play pool and to tell her father that the well came in all right. She wishes she could go to the pool hall and resents that girls are not allowed there. He offers to take her and says he has his own key.
      Abilene unlocks the door, and Jacy goes into the dark place with him. She picks up a cue, and he walks over to her. He takes the cue and chalks it. He puts it behind her and pulls her to him for a long kiss. He puts the cue down, picks up a cloth, and moves the balls. He starts undressing her and has her lie on the table. He pulls her panties down to her ankles and spreads her legs. He lies on her as she holds on to the pool-table’s pockets.
      Abilene stops the car, and she says she never thought this would happen. He tells her to hop out, and he leaves.
      Lois sees Jacy come in and says he is awful. She asks why she fools with him and asks if daddy is a nicer man. Lois says he sure is. Jacy says that Bobby was the last one, and she is afraid she may be an old maid. Lois says what she has done did not work out too well. She says they had better figure out something better for her. Lois says that Ruth Popper has a good set-up with Sonny Crawford. Jacy is surprised, but Lois says that has been going on for six months. Jacy says that Ruth is forty years old, but Lois says she is too; it is an itchy age. Jacy says that Sonny always wanted to go with her.
      In the pool hall Monroe comes in and tells the sheriff that Johnny Clarg’s little girl has been kidnapped. The sheriff says that maybe Joe Bob just gave her a ride home. Monroe says they were seen heading out of town. He says Mrs. Clarg is afraid that Joe Bob may molest her. The sheriff goes out with him.
      Three cars park by another car on a country road. Mrs. Clarg gets her little girl out of the car and tells the sheriff to get him. He and Monroe open the door and drag Joe Bob while others keep Mrs. Clarg from hitting him. The sheriff says they are taking him to jail.
      Outside the jailhouse word is that the doctor said he did nothing. Sonny tells Jacy, who is sitting in her car, that Joe Bob did not do anything. She says she is lonesome and asks him to drive around with her for a while. He says he is supposed to be someplace. She says she is still scared and asks him to go with her.
      Ruth is finishing the new wallpaper in the bedroom and looks at her watch. Her nightgown is hanging up ready.
      Sonny is driving and says he got a postcard from Duane. Jacy says she will always be a little bit in love with Duane. She says it was not easy to break up with him. Sonny parks by the lake and leaves the radio playing “Blue Velvet.” He kisses her. Later a car door is open, and he has his hand on her breasts as he lies on her. They have their clothes on, and he suggests they go to Wichita and get a motel room. She says her folks are watching her, and she is afraid they might think they will run off and get married. She says they will do it when it is safe because they have all summer.
      Ruth is sitting on her bed waiting.
      Sonny drives his truck alone.
      In town a truck drops off Sonny who has on a hard hat. He sees Duane in his new car. Duane offers him a beer, but Sonny says no. Duane says it is his breakfast and opens one. Duane says he washes his car every week. Sonny asks if he heard about Joe Bob; he only took her underpants off and is out of jail. Duane says he heard that Sonny and Jacy are going together. Duane is angry and says he thought they were best friends. Sonny says he is not screwing her and that she is not Duane’s girl anymore because he does not live there now. Duane says he is getting her back, and she will marry him. Sonny says she is going to college and will never marry him. Duane says she will never let Sonny screw her. Duane says Sonny is not that good a cocks-man; he never even screwed Charlene. Sonny admits he didn’t because Duane had the pickup all the time. Sonny says the only reason why Jacy went with Duane was because he was in the backfield while Sonny was only in the line. Duane says he was in love with her, and Sonny says she likes him just as much as she liked Duane. Sonny says he will stay with her all night because she promised. Duane says he won’t, but Sonny says that Duane couldn’t even do it that time in Wichita Falls. Duane breaks the bottle over Sonny’s eye and hits him several times. Sonny tries to fight back, and Duane throws him to the ground. Genevieve and men run to them.
      Sonny is in a hospital bed and has a bandage over his eye and head. A nurse comes in and gives him a note from Ruth who wants to see him. He asks the nurse to tell her that he is asleep, and she agrees.
      Ruth comes out of the hospital.
      Sonny still has a patch over his eye and is sitting in the pool hall eating a burger. He tells Genevieve he heard that Duane joined the army, and she says it is a good place for him. Sonny says he did not mean to hit him with the bottle, but she says he was always mean. She says Jacy is the kind of girl who brings out the meanness in men like her grandmother did. She says they were all good friends once. She remembers when Lois was poor, and she always had a soft spot for her. She says her Dan had the same chance her husband got but did not take it. Sonny asks if she wishes she had made it, and she says yes. Sonny says the army would not take him with only one good eye. She asks if he wants to go to Korea and asks if he has got his senses back yet. She has to get back to the café, and he pays her for the cheeseburger she brought him.
      Genevieve comes outside and sees that Jacy has arrived. Jacy comes in and Sonny kisses her. She says she was worried, and he says he missed her. She says they have become famous and says she wants him to marry her. He says he wants to and asks if she is going to college. She says no, and what is more important, she loves him. She says he was dear to fight for her and says they can run off. He says her parents will kill them. She says they will get over it, and he is working for her daddy now. Soon they will love him as much as she does, and she kisses him. He says he can’t see to drive, but she says she can drive.
      Jacy is driving her car with Sonny on an Oklahoma highway. She takes his hand off her thigh, and he says they are married now. She does not want to have a wreck. He kisses her cheek. She asks if it will be awful if her parents get the police after them. He says they don’t know where they are; but she says she left them a note so that they would not be worried. He says she shouldn’t have done that. She says they have to find out some time. He says they have a right to get married, and she agrees. She says his eye patch is creepy, and he hopes he can take it off soon. He says they will be in Lake Texoma in two hours and will have a room to themselves. She complains he is so close she can hardly drive. They see a highway patrol car go by and then turn around and pull them over. The officer asks where they are from and realizes they are the newlyweds people are looking for. He says they have to go with him, and Sonny asks how he can arrest them for that. He says he is not arresting them.
      Two cars are parked on grass by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol building, and her father Gene Farrow asks if he worked hard all his life so that his daughter could end up in a pool hall. Sonny says they can get another apartment. Gene asks for her car keys and has Jacy go with him. He tells Lois to take Jacy’s car and let Sonny walk. Jacy looks back at Sonny and gets in the Cadillac with her father. Lois tells Sonny it is not much of a wedding night and gives him some bourbon. She says he is lucky they got him clear of her and says he would have been better off staying with Ruth Popper. He asks if everyone knows about that, and she says of course. Lois says he shouldn’t have let Jacy turn his head, and he says she is prettier. He admits he treated her badly, and Lois agrees.
      Lois parks the car in town, and Sonny says it is different since Sam the Lion died. She agrees and feels sad. She says he had beautiful hands. He says she liked him, and Lois admits that she loved him and that he loved her. Sonny asks if she was the one he took swimming, and she says she was. She says she gave Sam the name “the Lion,” and he was pleased. She was 22 years old then. She says it is terrible to meet only one man in your life who knows what you are worth. He says he knew Sam liked her. She sees why Sam liked him too. She tells him to get out and says she will go home. He, gets out, takes another drink, and gives her the flask.
      Sonny is holding the first down standard and talks with his partner about the football team. Coach Popper comes over and says a man never should cheat unless it is for a good cause. They sing the alma mater.
      Sonny parks his truck and goes into an old house where Duane’s car is parked. Mrs. Jackson tells him that Duane is there. Duane comes out in his army uniform. Sonny says he heard he is going to Korea and wanted to see him before he left. Duane says he is leaving in the morning. Sonny says they could go to the picture show.
      In the theater Sonny, Duane, and Billy are watching the end of Red River with John Wayne and Montgomery Clift. They are the only ones in the theater, and Sonny suggests they go to Wichita and drink beer. They say goodbye to Miss Mosey who says no one wants to come there anymore with baseball in the summer. She says Sam could have kept it going, but she does not have the know-how. Duane says there won’t be much to do in town if the picture show closes. As they are leaving, she tells Duane to watch out overseas.
      In the car Sonny rolls a cigarette while Duane drinks beer. Duane says the next piece of ass he gets will be yellow. Sonny says he wishes he were going with him. Duane asks him to take care of his car while he is gone. Sonny asks if his ma needs it. Duane says he does not want her driving it. He tells Sonny he can help her with the groceries if he has the time. They get out of the car. Duane asks if he ever hears from Jacy; but Sonny says not much because she stays in Dallas. Duane says he is not over her yet. He says that is the only reason they fought. Sonny says maybe Duane and she would have got it straightened out if he hadn’t butted in. Duane says no and that they would have annulled him too if they had. Sonny admits they never even got into the motel. They run over to the bus, and Duane gives Sonny the keys. Duane says he will see him in a year or two if he doesn’t get shot and gets on the bus.
      Sonny comes into the pool hall and lights the heater. He hears a horn and sees a truck. He goes outside and sees a broom in the street. He runs over and sees Billy lying unconscious on the street. Men wonder what he was doing and say he was a dumb kid. Sonny says he was sweeping and picks up his body and carries him to the sidewalk. He takes off his own coat and puts it over the body. Sonny goes back to the empty pool hall as the wind bangs the door. He gets in his truck and leaves town. He drives on the highway and then pulls over and turns around. He parks his truck in front of the Popper house and gets out. He knocks on the front door, and Ruth opens it. Sonny asks if he can have a cup of coffee with her.
      Ruth lets him in and apologizes for being in a bathrobe. She nervously pours the coffee and throws the pot and cup against the wall. She shouts asking why she is apologizing to him. She yells at him and says she has been apologizing to him for three months while he has not even been there. She says she has not done anything. She says he is the one who should apologize and is the reason why she no longer cares to even get dressed. She says she is not sorry for him because his friend Billy got killed. She says he would have left him too. She says he didn’t feel he owed her any explanations because she is so old and ugly. There was nothing she could do. Why should he be careful of her when he didn’t love her. She asks him to look at her. He turns his head slowly. She says he should not have come there. She says they lost it completely. His needing her will not make it come back. He puts his hand on hers and clasps it. She touches his hand with both of hers and puts it to her face for a kiss. They look at each other and listen to the church service on the radio. She reaches out to touch his chest and tells him to never mind.
      This drama portrays two friends who fight over beautiful Jacy, but she has not learned to love yet. Her mother had an affair with the respected elder Sam while Sonny has an affair with a married woman her age too. The friendship of the two young men survives; but Sonny finds more love with the older woman even though the situation is dangerous.

Copyright © 2012 by Sanderson Beck

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