"Texasville" finally opened in Salt Lake theaters Friday, and you may be asking yourself, "Why isn't `The Last Picture Show' on video?"
After all, while there are many fans who remember "The Last Picture Show" as a wonderful movie, even the most rabid film buffs haven't been able to see it in quite a while. It simply hasn't been available - on video, TV or in revival theaters.So how can any of us be expected to fully appreciate the impact of "Texasville" when we can't remember well enough all the detail of "The Last Picture Show," a 1971 black-and-white classic that made stars of Cybill Shepherd, Jeff Bridges and director Peter Bogdanovich and won Oscars for Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman?
Bogdanovich, who reunited most of his cast for "Texasville," told Variety recently that "Last Picture Show" needed its master negative restored before new prints could be struck. Surprisingly, it was in such bad shape the process took much longer than anticipated.
Of course, it's a painstaking process to mass-dub videocassettes, and when the negative was finally restored there just wasn't time. Columbia Pictures now says the "Picture Show" video will probably be released, along with the "Texasville" cassette, in the spring.
If any prints of "Picture Show" were made, however, why was the film not released theatrically in major cities a few weeks before "Texasville," as Columbia had said would happen? No answer to that one.
At any rate, "Texasville" opened in major urban centers more than a month ago and began raking in lukewarm national reviews and sinking at the box office.
Apparently the names of Shepherd and Bridges were not enough to bring in moviegoers. Or perhaps the problem is simply that making a sequel so long after the original makes audiences reluctant to go, fearing they won't get it if they haven't seen or don't remember the first film.
Remember the summer flop "The Two Jakes," Jack Nicholson's sequel to "Chinatown"? "Chinatown," after all, is considered by critics one of the best movies ever, and it's on video for those who had not seen it or who wanted to see it again. Still, audiences stayed away.
This has been a year for late sequels that have flopped - "The Exorcist III" came 15 years after "The Exorcist"; "Two Jakes" came 17 years after "Chinatown"; and now "Texasville" comes 19 years after "The Last Picture Show." And each was less than impressive at the box office.
One has to wonder what that might mean for "The Godfather, Part III," which comes 16 years after "The Godfather, Part II."
On the other hand, for some reason the "Godfather" movies are probably more memorable and respected in the moviegoing psyche than any of those listed above.
When "Two Jakes" was released a lot of younger moviegoers I spoke to not only hadn't seen "Chinatown," they didn't know anything about it - including the fact that Jack Nicholson starred in it.
Let's remember that the vast majority of the moviegoing audience is well under 30, and these kids simply weren't old enough to have seen any of these R-rated pictures.
It's true that the "Godfather" movies are among the biggest moneymakers of all time - but so is "The Exorcist."
And it's true that the "Godfathers" have Oscars, incredible after-the-fact acclaim, stars who are still stars (Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Diane Keaton, Marlon Brando) and are readily available on tape (in two forms, separately in their original flashback style and chronologically as "The Godfather Saga," which combines the films and includes extra footage as a TV miniseries).
But all of that is also true of "Chinatown."
Will "The Godfather, Part III" fare better than "The Two Jakes," "The Exorcist III" and "Texasville"?
We'll find out after it opens on Christmas Day.
- WHO ARE THE 50 most powerful women in America? The popular magazine Ladies Home Journal thinks it knows, and in the November issue has published a "collector's edition" with "America's 50 Most Powerful Women" as its cover story.
The First Lady, Barbara Bush, is No. 1. But No. 2 is an Oscar-winning entertainer - Cher!
Madonna is next. Then Barbara Walters.
Many other "powerful women" follow from the worlds of business, public affairs, publishing, etc. But there are several more entertainment types.
Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, creator of the TV programs "Designing Women" and "Evening Shade," is next among them, with Jane Fonda a little farther down the list. Toward the end are Jane Pauley, gossip columnist Liz Smith, Elizabeth Taylor and, finally, at No. 50, Oprah Winfrey.
According to Ladies Home Journal, these are women with "real power, not just the figurehead kind."
Cher is the second most powerful woman in the country? And Madonna is the third?
I hate to say this, but I found more credible the same issue's "Great Faces" article, which had large color photos of Jessica Tandy, Isabella Rosselini, Phylicia Rashad, Lauren Hutton, Jane Seymour, Raquel Welch as women who have "smart, strong, individual appeal. And best of all, not one is under 35."
- TO STEAL A PAIR OF phrases from TV Guide, both "Jeers" and "Cheers" are in order for Rhino Home Video, with regard to its release of bizarre horror movies in the "Elvira's Midnight Madness" series.
"Jeers" because it released several films with Elvira, the buxom vamp played by Cassandra Peterson, doing more than merely introducing and tagging each movie. Her comments were edited into the middle of six flicks, breaking up their continuity and irritating film buffs to no end. Even bad movies deserve better treatment than this.
"Cheers" because Rhino, acknowledging the error of its ways, is promising to correct that for future tapes in the series and will issue new copies of the movies that are already on shelves with the segments deleted.
As for those first six films in the series, however, two versions will be out there for rent, so you might want to check it out on a store VCR before paying your rental fee.
- LOS ANGELES CRITIC Gary Franklin, who reviews movies for KABC-TV using a one-to-10 rating scale, seems a bit odd in his enthusiasm sometimes, but there's no faulting the intentions behind his recent decision to add a "UV" rating to films he feels have "unnecessary violence."
He's quoted as telling Michael Fleming for Variety's "Buzz" column that he will do so even when he likes the movie. "When I think a movie is unnecessarily violent, even if it is a terrific movie, as in the case of `Miller's Crossing' or `GoodFellas,' I call these movies `UV' . . . and I'm asking people to boycott the movie entirely."
That may seem rash in some corners, but personally I admire someone who lives among the filmmakers in Southern California taking a stand to let them know there are those among us who, despite our respect for well-made movies, tire of the excessive violence so prevalent today.
Bravo, Mr. Franklin!