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The Catalyst of The Last Picture Show

Posted on: July 6th 2020

Having just finished Larry McMurtry's Thalia Trilogy I wanted to reflect back on what got me started on it in the first place some months ago as it's a unique story to me.

There are various intersections in my hobbies of reading literature and watching films and this was certainly one of them. What made this occurrence different was how I was coming out of a fever dream of watching the Criterion compilation of Dekalog films lent to me by a good friend and was craving more. Around this time I had received a newsletter email from Criterion about new films they were showing through their Channel service. One film caught my eye: The Last Picture Show.

The image that caught my attention was of a young Jeff Bridges, an actor I've only known from his modern renaissance of movies like The Big Lebowski and Tron: Legacy

Young Jeff Bridges and Timothy Bottoms in The Last Picture Show

I read more about the film only to learn it was based on the third novel of author Larry McMurtry's Thalia Trilogy. The trio of books center around a small town called Thalia which happens to be a real town though McMurtry's writing is more inspired by his personal experience in Archer City, Texas.

The first two books, Horseman, Pass By and Leaving Cheyenne, heavily involve cowboy main characters whose jobs center around farms in the region of Thalia, making me realize these may have been the first books I've read with that backdrop, and were intriguing considering my suburban upbringing. The third book, in which this blog post partly has a namesake of, turns out to be more familiar including senior high schoolers dealing with adult issues while their small town is figuratively falling apart around them.

While I've finished the novel I have yet to watch the movie for The Last Picture Show, and Criterion's showing seemed to have been temporary. I'll have to track it down one of these days to finally see it.

I highly recommend the trilogy to anyone and am grateful to McMurtry for these fantastic novels. I'll be queuing more of his work for future reading!