“A group of 1950s high schoolers come of age in a bleak, isolated, atrophied West Texas town that is slowly dying, both economically and culturally.”
Honestly, I’ve been really trying to figure out why this film is on AFI’s 100 best films list. Now, I’m not saying that this is a bad film because it’s not. But, frankly, I just don’t see what’s all that special about it.
The sets are wonderful. They are what give the viewer a real sense of this town and the kind of place it is. There are just little things thrown about on the set that really convinces the viewer that this place is real.
The lighting was damn near perfect. Every scene was lit in such a way that flattered the actors within the frame. Same goes for the town. The lighting flattered the buildings, making the unappealing seem, well, appealing. The way the film was lit is what made the fact that it was shot in black and white actually work.
Cloris Leachman’s performance in this film was incredible. Mind you, I’m used to watching Cloris Leachman in such things as Young Frankenstein and various sitcoms that she has guest starred on, so this performance really stands out for me. I would also like to add that I’m not used to seeing Cloris Leachman, well, not old. She was gorgeous when she was younger. And she is gorgeous in this film. Her character is one of the only characters in this whole entire film that I actually cared about. Well, her character and Ben Johnson’s character (Sam the Lion). Oddly enough, they are the only two who won academy awards for this film. They both deserved it.
Other than those two characters, though, I didn’t really find myself emotionally attached to any of the main characters. I didn’t dislike them, but I guess I just kind of found their lives boring. All the little things that happened to them that each character felt was a big deal just weren’t to me. For goodness sake, most of the character’s only problem was that they weren’t getting laid. As I stated in my notes while watching the film “if you want to watch a film about sex-crazed teenagers, this is the one”. I mean, I get that there is nothing to do but go see a film in this rinky-dink town, but all Cybill Shepherd’s character Jacy Farrow cared about was losing her virginity and then creating unnecessary drama. Although, I guess I can’t really blame her for that last part. If I lived in a town as dull as that one, I’d probably create drama, too.
One of my other problems with this film is how time moved. It moves quickly, which is fine, but that made it hard to tell exactly how much time had actually passed from the beginning of the film till the end.
I also feel the need to mention Randy Quaid has not changed that much since 1971. Neither has Jeff Bridges, really.
Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have much else to say about this film. I didn’t enjoy it, but I did not hate it. So, I guess that means that I’m indifferent towards it? Like I stated before: the sets and the lighting are great. It’s the plot (if you can call it that) and the characters that I didn’t really like.