I’ve re-watched this scene 20 or 30 times, and could watch it another 20 or 30. Hell, make it 50 or 100.
I love the seven-second delay between the first mention of “old times” and the second, and especially Ben Johnson‘s decision to pick up a stick in the interim…perfect. The camera begins to track forward at the 54-second mark (“More than 20 years ago”) and begins its retreat to the original position at 1:53 (“I bet she’s still got that silver dollar”).
The Last Picture Show was shot in the small northern Texas town of Archer City, sometime in late ’70 or early ’71. Almost a half-century ago.
It may sound cruel to say this, but director Peter Bogdanovich never delivered a sequence as good as this over the rest of his career. It’s arguably the finest shot ever captured by dp Robert Surtees, although some would say his work on Mike Nichols‘ The Graduate was just as noteworthy.