The Last Picture Show appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Though not the most dynamic presentation, the Dolby Vision transfer appeared to replicate the original material well.
Sharpness was generally pretty good, with a relatively crisp picture for most of the film. A general softness tended to intrude upon the proceedings from time to time, but it usually wasn't problematic due to the stylized form of photography in use.
I saw no concerns with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes weren’t present. No worries with digital noise reduction appeared here, as the film came with all its intended grain.
No issues with print flaws materialized. Black levels looked deep, and shadow detail seemed strong.
HDR added range to whites and contrast. This became a pretty terrific presentation.
Don’t expect a lot of fireworks from the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack, but it reproduced the material with reasonable efficiency. Dialogue dominated the mix and some lines suffered from iffy fidelity. Nonetheless, speech remained intelligible and usually felt acceptably natural.
Effects played a minor part, as they stayed with ambience the majority of the time. We got nothing more involving than vehicles and wind. These elements showed decent reproduction, as they appeared acceptably clear.
No score showed up here, as all of the film’s music came from country songs played on radios or other sources. That essentially made them effects, so don’t expect much vivacity from them.
The tunes sounded like they should, given that they were intended to come across as though they emanated from low-fidelity machines. All in all, this was a competent track.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the 2010 Criterion Blu-ray? Both showed virtually identical audio.
As for the 4K’s Dolby Vision image, it boasted superior delineation, cleanliness and depth. This turned into a good upgrade over the Blu-ray.
No extras appear on the 4K disc – or discs, I should say, as the set provides two separate 4K platters. On one, we get the movie’s 1971 Theatrical Cut (1:59:42), whereas the other provides a 1999 Ultimate Director’s Cut (2:06:19).
The 1999 DVD and the 2010 Criterion BD included only the 1999 edition as well, so the 4K appears to mark the theatrical cut’s first home video appearance since the VHS/laserdisc days. It’s good to finally get a high-quality presentation for the long MIA theatrical cut.
On the included Blu-ray copy, the extras start with a 2009 audio commentary from director Peter Bogdanovich. In this running, screen-specific chat, Bogdanovich discusses sets and locations, the use of music, cinematography, cast and performances, the script and the adaptation of the source book, changes for the extended cut, and a few other production areas.
Overall, this track works well. Despite some tedious trends – like the director’s desire to tell us what got “a big laugh” during screenings – Bogdanovich nonetheless provides a fairly good look at the film.
A Look Back runs one hour, four minutes, 40 seconds. It provides notes from Bogdanovich and actors Cloris Leachman, Cybill Shepherd, Frank Marshall, Timothy Bottoms, Ellen Burstyn and Jeff Bridges.
They cover how Bogdanovich came to the project and its adaptation, the use of music, cast, characters and performances, locations and cinematography, editing and the film’s reception.
Some repetition from the commentary occurs here. Nonetheless, “Look Back” does have more than a few good moments that we don’t get elsewhere.
If you can tolerate hearing some of the same stories for a second time, you’ll enjoy this quality documentary. Really, its only sin is the fact the commentary covered so much of the same territory.
We get even more from the director in A Discussion with Filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich. A 2009 chat between Bogdanovich and documentarian Laurent Bouzereau, the 12-minute, 51-second piece involves notes about the director’s life/career pre-Last Picture Show and how he became a director, influences and what led him to the movie, casting and shooting on location, his behavior on the set, what he likes about the filmmaking process, his feelings about reviews and where Show stands in his filmography.
To the relief of many – well, me – “Discussion” largely avoids repetition with the prior programs. Thank God for that – I don’t know if I could’ve tolerated another telling of some of those stories! Bogdanovich manages to reveal a lot of good new info here.
We find six minutes, 27 seconds of Location Footage. We see more silent footage as we travel through the Texas setting.
This feature loses points because it lacks any form of commentary, but it offers some value as a way to look at the locations.
A new program, A Tribute to Peter Bogdanovich lasts 13 minutes, 55 seconds and involves biographer Peter Tonguette. As expected, we get a general look at Bogdanovich’s life and career. Tonguette delivers an efficient synopsis.
We also get a Theatrical Re-release Featurette. It spans six minutes, three seconds and gives us notes from Bogdanovich about the film. It lacks new information and feels redundant after the prior programs.
Three trailers finish the disc. These include circa 1971 teaser and theatrical promos.
Note that the Blu-ray included here remains exclusive to this 4K package as of February 2023. It differs from the Criterion Blu-ray and may someday see a solo release from Sony, but that’s just a guess.
The Last Picture Show launched some careers and capped others. More than 50 years after its release, it remains an insightful, indelible glimpse of small town American that continues to resonate. The 4K UHD provides very good picture, perfectly acceptable audio, and a fairly strong set of supplements. This becomes the best rendition to date of a fascinating movie.
Note that as of January 2023, the 4K UHD disc of Last Picture Show can be purchased only as part of a six-movie “Columbia Classics Collection Volume 3”. This set also includes 4K UHD versions of It Happened One Night, From Here to Eternity, To Sir, with Love, Annie and As Good As It Gets.
To rate this film visit the Criterion review of THE LAST PICTURE SHOW