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The Last Picture Show Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 17+

Classic American film has heavy themes and sex.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Last Picture Show is one of the greatest American films ever made. The emotional depth and strong sexual content throughout the film make this one best for mature teens and adults only. Characters speak freely and frankly about sex, losing their virginity, and prostitution, and there's some full-frontal female nudity and bare male bottoms. Several characters have sex, though the main act is mostly offscreen. Characters smoke and underage characters drink.

  • Families can talk about how this film captures a year of life in a small Texas town in the early 1950s. How do we understand that time is passing? How is the sense that this town has seen better days conveyed in the film?
  • Why do you think this film was black and white?
  • While set in a very specific time and place -- a small town in Texas in 1951-1952 -- what are some of the more universal problems and desires the characters experience?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: This is not so much a film with a feel-good message to convey as it is an honest reflection of a year in the early 1950's in which two boys grow into manhood amidst a dying small town in Texas.

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: Sam the Lion is a stern but decent mentor to Sonny and Duane.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Two teenage boys get in a fight over a girl, resulting in one smashing a beer bottle into the other's face. The boy has to go to the hospital and wears an eyepatch until his damaged eye fully heals. A young boy is shown dead on the road after being hit by a truck.

  • sex false4

    Sex: Sexual content throughout the film: One of the older teen characters has an affair with a married woman. During a skinny-dipping scene in a swimming pool, there is full-frontal nudity of women, and backside nudity of men. In a car, a boyfriend and girlfriend make out; the girlfriend removes her top and bra. A group of older teen boys chip in to pay for a prostitute to have sex with their friend, a mute boy who is a virgin. They watch as the boy climbs into a car with the prostitute, who berates him over his performance the entire time, slaps in the face, and leaves him with a bloody nose. Two of the main characters attempt to have sex in a motel room. The woman's top is removed and her breasts are exposed. Some sexual noises during another encounter with shots of the woman's hands tensing. A high school basketball coach makes reference to masturbation as to why his players lack vitality at practice.

  • language false3

    Language: "Sons-a-bitches," "pussy," "pissants," and "bastard." Characters use the middle finger gesture.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: As a reflection of life in a small Texas town in the early 1950s, several of the characters smoke cigarettes and a high school coach uses chewing tobacco. Characters who are underage by today's standards (and not necessarily those of the early 1950s) drink beer and whiskey. Driving a teen boy home from an unpleasant altercation, an older woman gives the boy a flask of whiskey to drink during the long ride.