Thursday, November 3, 2011

Larry McMurtry

I brought a young lady swimmin' out here once, more than 20 years ago. Was after my wife had lost her mind and my boys was dead.  Me and this young lady was pretty wild, I guess.  In pretty deep.  We used to come out here on horseback and go swimmin' without no bathing suits. . . . 

Aw, too late to think about things like that too much.  If she was here [today], I'd probably be just as crazy now as I was then in about five minutes.  Ain't that ridiculous?  Naw, it ain't really.  'Cause bein' crazy 'bout a woman like her's always the right thing to do.  Bein' a decrepit old bag of bones -- that's what's ridiculous -- gettin' old.

From the screenplay for the 1971 film, The Last Picture Show, which he adapted from his semi-autobiographical 1966 novel of the same name.  The book was great, but the movie was even better.  It is remarkable not only for its script and the fact that it was shot in black-and-white, but also for its cast -- which included Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, Jeff Bridges, Ellen Burstyn, Timothy Bottoms, Randy Quaid, Clu Gulager, Eileen Brennan, and Cybill Shepherd.  (Johnson won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, beating out fellow nominee Bridges.  The quote above is spoken by his character about the character played by Burstyn, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, but lost out to Leachman.) 

Larry McMurtry taught English and creative writing at Rice University, where I was a sophomore when the movie was released.  He has written about 30 novels and a dozen or so volumes of nonfiction.  

A number of his books have been turned into successful movies, including 1983's "Best Picture," Terms of Endearment.  He is most well-known for his novel Lonesome Dove, which won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.  It was turned into a very successful television miniseries starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones.  Lonesome Dove was originally a screenplay that McMurtry wrote for Peter Bogdanovich (the director of The Last Picture Show), who wanted James Stewart and John Wayne to play the Duvall and Jones roles.

It is hard to say whether the 843-page novel or the 384-minute TV miniseries is better.  I would have been happier if both of them had been twice as long. 

No comments:

Post a Comment