Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1971. Columbia Pictures Corporation, BBS Productions, Last Picture Show Productions. Screenplay by Larry McMurtry, Peter Bogdanovich, based on the novel by Larry McMurtry. Cinematography by Robert Surtees. Produced by Stephen J. Friedman. Production Design by Polly Platt. Costume Design by Polly Platt. Film Editing by Donn Cambern.
Growing pains in a dusty Texas town are the focus of this beautiful comedy-drama. A group of youngsters find their development towards maturity stunted by the bleakness of their town, mostly because people have been leaving their tinier hamlet to go raise children and find success in the big cities. Timothy Bottoms has an affair with much older, bored housewife Cloris Leachman, while his best friend Jeff Bridges struggles in his relationship with rich and pretty Cybill Shepherd. Ellen Burstyn also turns in a terrific supporting role as Shepherd’s worn-out society mother, and Ben Johnson lends excellent support as the aging town cowboy who is something of a mentor to all the youngsters. It features many typical cinematic staples of coming-of-age films, including awkward sexual encounters and boy-meets-girl pranks, but it was the film that started them all and did them so well. Director Peter Bogdanovich imbues so much warmth and intelligence to the characters that the moments all feel honest and true. Until Schindler’s List came out this was the last Academy Award nominee for Best Picture to be shot in black-and-white.
Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor (Ben Johnson); Best Supporting Actress (Cloris Leachman)
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Supporting Actor (Jeff Bridges); Best Supporting Actress (Ellen Burstyn); Best Director (Peter Bogdanovich); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Cinematography
Golden Globe Award: Best Supporting Actor (Ben Johnson)
Nominations: Best Picture-Drama; Best Supporting Actress (Ellen Burstyn); Best Supporting Actress (Cloris Leachman); Best Director (Peter Bogdanovich)