Archer City was transported into the cinematic town of Anarene. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema's Rolling Road Tour made one last picture showing of the year, saving the best for last. The Last Picture Show was screened outside the Royal Theater. The 1971 coming of age classic was adapted from a novel of the same name by Archer City native, Larry McMurtry.
The film is set in fictional Anarene, TX - based on Archer City. It chronicles the lives of small town teens Sonny Crawford and Duane Jackson between the winter of 1951 and the fall of 1952. The classic deals with coming of age issues under the frustrating pressure of small town life.
40 years after the release of the film, it still rings well with cinephiles. "It really captures that feeling sort of the strangulation of growing up and high school and you want to leave but you are sort of drawn to the comfort that is home," said Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Production Manager Josh Jacobs.
The 2-hour film was shot in black and white on locations in and around Archer City. It gave a start to many of the film's actors – none of whom were big names before the film.
For the Alamo Drafthouse crew, the stop winds down a summer tour with a bang. "Its always a pleasure to get to pull into these towns and show these movies where they were filmed," said Jacobs.
McMurtry is a prolific Western writer, essayist and antiquarian bookseller. He spoke of his novel and the film adaptation before a crowd of about 1000. Folks gathered from as far away as Connecticut to celebrate the Texoma cultural icon.
Before the screening, there was a hamburger dinner, and live music from a Jazz band led by Archer City Mayor – and renowned musician – David Levy. Outside the Royal - in front of a 20x40' inflatable projection screen, those in attendance enjoyed music from James McMurtry's records. James is an Austin-based Folk/Americana singer/songwriter and the son of Larry.
For those who put the event on, it was a way to celebrate Archer City's own – and share the town with others. "Not very many towns can say they have a famous author, a famous movie and it was filmed right here in town," said Kelly Coleman, Archer City Economic Coordinator of Development.
Coleman says Archer City has a lot to offer those in from out of town. "Most of them are coming from big cities. So, the small town life is different for them and they love that. They love to see cowboys walking the street or eating in the cafe'. That's something they all share and they share that with the movie so they enjoy coming to a small town," she said.
Many people stopped and took pictures with some of the local working cowboys, who appeared happy with the attention. The Royal's marquee read "Welcome to Anarene, He was sweepin'" – both film references and quite the photo op draw.
Coleman attributes much of the town's success to TLPS. "I think Archer City is known and put on the map because of the movie," she said. While much has changed since the celluloid capturing of Anarene, Coleman is glad to see many visitors enjoying the town she calls home. "Its amazing," she said.