The Last Picture Show


See more details, packaging, or compare


One of the key films of the American seventies cinema renaissance, The Last Picture Show is set in the early fifties, in the loneliest Texas nowheresville to ever dust up a movie screen. This aching portrait of a dying West, adapted from Larry McMurtry’s novel, focuses on the daily shuffles of three futureless teens—enigmatic Sonny (Timothy Bottoms), wayward jock Duane (Jeff Bridges), and desperate-to-be-adored rich girl Jacy (Cybill Shepherd)—and the aging lost souls who bump up against them in the night like drifting tumbleweeds, including Cloris Leachman’s lonely housewife and Ben Johnson’s grizzled movie-house proprietor. Featuring evocative black-and-white imagery and profoundly felt performances, this hushed depiction of crumbling American values remains the pivotal work in the career of invaluable film historian and director Peter Bogdanovich.

Picture 10/10

Previously only available in their box set America Lost and Found: The BBS Story, The Criterion Collection upgrades their Blu-ray edition for the Director’s Cut of Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show to 4K UHD, presenting the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on a triple-layer disc. Presented with Dolby Vision, the 2160p/24hz ultra high-definition presentation comes from a recent 4K restoration performed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, scanned from the 35mm original camera negative. The release also includes a standard dual-layer Blu-ray disc featuring a 1080p film presentation alongside all of the release’s special features. This disc replicates the 2010 disc found in the box set, which uses the older restoration, taken from a 35mm fine-grain master positive. As a bonus, the release includes another standard Blu-ray disc, which features two versions of the sequel, Texasville.

I was reasonably happy with Criterion’s previous presentation for the film, and I still think it looks fine. Still, the differences between these new and old presentations are very much night and day. The older presentation has a more prominent “dupey” quality, with finer details and textures getting lost. With this presentation coming from the negative, a substantial amount of detail has been added, and the image comes off far sharper and cleaner. Finer patterns on clothing and details in the landscape look better defined now, while film grain comes off finer and more pristine. The encode also handles this aspect incredibly well, with grain remaining natural in appearance throughout.

Grayscale is also far wider, allowing for better shadows and depth. Black levels are richer and deeper, and the wider range afforded by HDR and Dolby Vision helps pull out details in some of the darker sequences. There are bright pops scattered about involving lights and reflective services, and details are still evident in the highlights. This also makes the final presentation more of a projected, film-like look.

The restoration has been more thorough this time, and I don’t recall any blemish ever popping up. It’s immaculate, and the encode looks spot-on. It’s a lovely-looking presentation.

Audio 7/10

The Last Picture Show also features a newly restored monaural soundtrack on the 4K disc in lossless single-channel PCM. The soundtrack was sharper, with a broader range and fidelity than the older Blu-ray. Dialogue sounds crisp and sharp, and it doesn’t sound like excessive filtering has been applied.

Extras 10/10

All features have been ported over since the included Blu-ray replicates the one found in the BBS set. Things start again with a group audio commentary initially recorded for Criterion’s laserdisc edition in 1991. Director Peter Bogdanovich and actors Cybill Shepherd, Randy Quaid, Cloris Leachman, and Frank Marshall contribute to this discussion. Bogdanovich takes the lead, sharing insights on filming challenges, notable scenes, and the advantages of shooting in black and white. Bogdanovich does contribute most of the material to the track, but the contributions from the others, even if they're all mostly focused on their respective roles, still prove fascinating.

The second individual audio commentary by Bogdanovich in 2009 doesn't add much more, mostly reiterating information from the first track. Despite minor additional details, it duplicates content already covered in the group commentary. Listeners might find either commentary sufficient, but I’d push everyone toward the more comprehensive group track.

Both commentaries are found on both the UHD and Blu-ray discs. The remaining video features are spread across two dual-layer Blu-rays.

On the first Blu-ray disc is a 13-minute 2009 interview with Bogdanovich, featuring the director talking about his pre-Last Picture Show career and directing style. It’s okay but doesn’t add much to the proceedings. Much better is the 1999 64-minute documentary The Last Picture Show: A Look Back, delving into the adaptation process from the novel to casting choices, on-set controversies, and the film's release. It provides an engaging behind-the-scenes examination with interviews featuring key cast and crew members.

However, as solid as that documentary proves, the highlight remains excerpts from George Hickenlooper's 1990 documentary, Picture This: The Times of Peter Bogdanovich in Archer City, Texas. This 42-minute feature offers a unique perspective, exploring the film's impact on the town of Archer City, featuring interviews with locals and cast members. It intricately delves into the affair between Bogdanovich and Cybill Shepherd during the film's production, offering a captivating narrative intertwined with personal accounts and industry insights.

The remaining supplements are brief and concise but round the disc off decently. These include over 2 minutes of silent screen tests for minor roles, showcasing potential cast members; 6 minutes of location footage capturing Archer City, Texas; and an excerpt from the 1972 French television program Vive le cinema, featuring François Truffaut discussing the emergence of new storytelling in American cinema, with a focus on The Last Picture Show. The disc concludes with theatrical and re-release trailers for the director's cut.

New to this edition is a second dual-layer disc featuring the most significant and surprising inclusion, the film’s sequel, Texasville. And though that in and of itself would be enough, Criterion includes both the color theatrical version and the black-and-white director’s cut. Revisiting the characters in the early eighties during an economic decline in their hometown (due to a drastic drop in oil prices), the film shifts its focus from Bottoms’ Sonny (relegated to a background character) to Bridges’ Duane, now a wealthy oil man, though filled with numerous regrets from his youth. One of those regrets is about the path his relationship took with his high school sweetheart, Shpeherd’s Jacy. As chance would have it, though, she’s back in town, bringing back all those old feelings and regrets.

I recall not being fond of the film initially, but revisiting it here proved far more enjoyable than anticipated. It ends up being rather fun revisiting these characters and seeing where their paths have gone, with a few new ones thrown in, from William McNamara as Duane’s son (who is juggling multiple affairs with local wives) and Annie Potts as Duane’s wife, stealing every scene she’s in. The film also gets most of the cast back, including Randy Quaid, Cloris Leachman, and Eileen Brennan (though Brennan only pops up in a few scenes). The theatrical cut is good, funny even (I forgot how absurd the film could get). Still, the director’s cut does flesh the characters out better, featuring more direct references to the first film (it turns out the studio wanted it to be self-contained). And though I don’t know if having it in black-and-white was necessary, it does help keep it in the same world.

Considering the film’s history on home video, the director’s cut only receiving a LaserDisc release, and the theatrical receiving a DVD before this, I wasn’t holding out much hope for the 1080p presentations, but both versions look decent if unspectacular. Criterion is using older masters, and though the detail levels are admirable, there is still a bit of a waxy, digital appearance. The encodes are also not great, with some obvious macroblocking and noise in places. I wish it was better or that Criterion could have even given the film its release, but I guess I should at least be thankful they could license it for this edition.

Criterion also throws in a couple of extras around the film, including a 4-minute introduction created for the LaserDisc edition featuring interviews with Bogdanovich, Shpeherd, and Bridges, the latter explaining how he acquired the look for his character. Criterion also includes the last 16 minutes of Hickenlooper’s documentary (cut from the portion shown on the previous disc), which focuses entirely on the production of Texasville, even getting interviews with locals who are not all that impressed with the crew returning to their small town (though their reactions feel a little ungenuine). These features are nice little add-ons, as is getting the film itself, but it feels like an incredible missed opportunity not to get some critical or academic perspective on the film 33 years later.

The booklet then features Graham Fuller’s essay on the film, which was included in the BBS Story box set booklet, followed by a reprint of a discussion between Peter Tonguette and Bogdanovich about the sequel’s legacy.

Criterion's special edition still packs on a good amount of material, including a superb making-of and an excellent group commentary. Still, the addition of Texasville makes this a worthwhile upgrade all on its own.


With its sharp 4K presentation of the original film and high-definition presentations of two versions of the sequel, this edition stands out as a significant and worthwhile upgrade.


Directed by: Peter Bogdanovich
Year: 1971
Time: 126 min.
Series: The Criterion Collection
Edition #: 549
Licensor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: November 14 2023
MSRP: $49.95
4K UHD Blu-ray/Blu-ray
3 Discs | BD-50/UHD-100
1.85:1 ratio
English 1.0 PCM Mono
Subtitles: English
Regions A/None
HDR: HDR10Dolby Vision
 Texasville (1990), the sequel to The Last Picture Show, presented in both the original theatrical version and a black-and-white version of Peter Bogdanovich’s director’s cut, produced in collaboration with cinematographer Nicholas von Sternberg   Audio commentary from 1991, featuring Peter Bogdanovich and actors Cybil Shepherd, Randy Quaid, Cloris Leachman, and Frank Marshall   Audio commentary from 2009 featuring Peter Bogdanovich   “The Last Picture Show”: A Look Back, (1999) and Picture This (1990), documentaries about the making of the film   A Discussion with Filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich, a 2009 Q&A   Screen tests and location footage   Introduction to Texasville featuring Peter Bogdanovich, Cybil Shepherd, and actor Jeff Bridges   Excerpts from a 1972 television interview with director François Truffaut about the New Hollywood   An essay by film critic Graham Fuller and excerpts from an interview with Peter Bogdanovich about Texasville, with a new introduction by Bogdanovich biographer Peter Tonguette