Peter Bogdanovich’s Texasville, Italian horror maestro Dario Argento interviewed,
European Film Awards winners.
INDEX: 19 LISTINGS: WEEK ONE 29 WEEK TWO 31
Eighteen years after The Last Picture Show, the same writer, director and actors have created a sequel, Texasville, set thirty-three years later. Andrew Burnet charts the troubled career ofdirector Peter Bogdanovich, and compares the new with the old.
As the fourth ofJohn Updike‘s Rabbit novels hits British bookshelves, concluding a forty-year chronicle of East Coast urban America, the sequel of an altogether different kind of story is about to arrive on our screens. Peter Bogdanovich‘s Texasville. with its small-town setting in the almost-desert ofthe far South. could not offer a greater contrast in social and geographical milieu. but the comparison is not entirely spurious.
Like each part of Updike‘s tetralogy. Bogdanovich‘s film of Larry McMurtry‘s The Last Picture Show ( 1971 ) was an attempt to lay the social and individual ghosts of a specific period to rest. An archetypal ‘rites of passage’ movie. its detailed evocation ofperiod (1951) and ‘ elegaic atmosphere lent it a unique strength, and it won the youthful Bogdanovich enormous acclaim. as well as the love of its star Cybill Shepherd.
Nearly twenty years have passed since then. and despite the success of What’s Up Doc? (1972) and Paper Moon (1973). few of them have been good years for the director. Shepherd left him in
ragic affair with Dorothy Stratten (raped and murdered by her ex-husband Paul Snider in 1980) scarred him deeply and permanently. But his career went into decline well before then. and despite his attempts at Hollywood homages (Howard Hawks in Daisy Miller. made in 1974: silent movie makers in 1976‘s Nickelodeon). 'I‘inseltown quickly grew to loathe him. None of his later films have come close to matching his early promise. and Texast'ille has been widely seen as his last chance.
Returning to the setting and characters of
Anarene. Texas, Bogdanoyich has re-enlisted most of the cast that served The Last Picture Show so well. including. ofcourse. Shepherd as Jacy and Jeff Bridges as her sparring partner Duane, whose tantalisingly unfulfilled relationship is still the central focus. Also back are Cloris Leachman‘s Ruth Popper, now employed in Duane‘s once-prosperous oil business, Timothy Bottoms as Sonny. gradually succumbing to schizophrenia. and Randy Quaid as Lester Marlow, ever the fall guy. whose position as president ofthe local bank is in severe
jeopardy, not least because of Duane‘s multi-million unpaid debts. The characters have aged over three decades. while the cast are less then twenty years older: all have gallantly undergone unﬂattering treatment from lights, make-up and camera.
Anarene in 1984 is a tough, unstable environment. to which none of the characters seem able to adjust, seeking solace instead in escapism. adultery, or shopping malls. It‘s almost as though their hearts are back in 1951 . when life was simpler and slower, if no less confusing. And it‘s this sense of bewilderment — political and social as well as personal — which characterises
Texrts‘ville. On a personal level, the return ofJacy
elicits an uncomfortable emotional response
5 from Duane. exacerbated by her burgeoning relationship with his wife Karla (Annie Potts).
whose lesbian overtones cannot be ignored. Collectively, Anarene is preparing for the chaotically ambitious Old Texasville Centennial. a focus for the film‘s ambivalence about wealth. community and genuine intimacy.
Texasville concludes on a melancholic note of unresolved peace — perhaps that of middle-age. to contrast with The Last Picture Shaw's depiction of restless youth. The smiles. the gestures, the colours feel warm and gentle. but shghdysad.
Texasville fared poorly at the box office in America. and could hardly be expected to receive the wholehearted attention of the Hollywood hype machine over here. But it‘s a movie that is worth seeing, not just because it could well be the last Bogdanovich film to enjoy major studio backing, and not just because it‘s interesting to see a failing artist’s nostalgic return to the material of happier days. but also because by current Hollywood standards it‘s an extremely subtle. absorbing and well acted piece ofcinema. Texusville opens at the Cameo, Edinburgh on
i Friday 7 December.
_ Nascent * Video
Despite the major league prestige oi the European Film Awards coming to Glasgow, would-be Scottish iilmmakers still suffer a dearth oi provision tor low-budget work. However, a rare window at opportunity has been opened by Glasgow Film and Video Workshop, which has received tunding irom the city’s Festivals Unit to subsidise the making of around thirteen short iilms and videos irom an open submission.
Applicants for the scheme must present an outline or script for a iilm,
which can be drama, narrative, documentary or experimental in term. Outlines, to be submitted by 21 December, should take account at the technical iormat to be used; VHS, Super-8, U-Matic and 16mm lilm are i
all available. Participants will have to contribute between £36 and £131 towards the work, depending on the format chosen, although those who are ' unwaged can pay in eight weekly
, Deborah Hyatt, the training worker at
GFVW, explains the project's
importance. ‘At the moment no one gives out small grants to make iilms in Scotland. People go on training
courses, learn how to use the
equipment, then step into a void,
basically—you can't go from nothing to
making a £50,000 lilm. With this
project, we’re trying to plug that gap,
provide a small stepping-stone so at
9 least people will have something tor a
portfolio to get money tor other i
Films will be selected by a panel at i
representatives from GFVW, the Festivals Unit and the Scottish Film Council. Production is to be completed by the end at March next year, and GFVW hope to arrange screenings at the work at the Glasgow Film Theatre. Another related event is the ‘New Scottish Films/Training Forum‘ at the GFT, 6pm on Monday 10 December, with new works by young Scottish lilmmakers on show and a discussion on the provision of film training in Scotland. Probable speakers include someone lrom GFVW, members oi the production team for Silent Scream, and ? the directors at the Scottish Film Council and the Scottish Film Production Unit. (Sue Wilson) For more details on these events, ‘ phone GFVW on (041) 554 6502 or the GFT on (041) 332 6535.
The List 7 — 20 December 199017