The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry

The outstanding 1970 movie was based on this engaging, well-written novel. McMurtry used Archer City, Texas, where he grew up, as the model for the fictional town of Thalia, located exactly where Archer City is, about 25 miles south of Wichita Falls in the northeastern part of the state.

The book relates a year in the lives of three high school seniors, three married women and a man who owns the local movie theater, cafe and pool hall. It’s an absorbing story, partly because the main characters tend to be preoccupied with sex, either thinking about it, looking for it, or remembering it. It’s hard to believe that there was that much sexual activity going on in a small town in Texas in 1952, but maybe there wasn’t much else to do around there. Especially after the picture show closed down, soon after the arrival of television.

The movie, which was filmed in Archer City, is very faithful to the book, using a lot of the novel’s dialog. The key incidents are all included in the movie, although some of the sex was eliminated or toned down, including the scene with the cow.  (3/6/11)