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Paul Verizzo | profile | all galleries >> Archer City, TX, Larry McMurtry's "Thalia" Last Picture Show tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Archer City, TX, Larry McMurtry's "Thalia" Last Picture Show

I'm not a movie buff and I never saw The Last Picture Show until Cybil Shepherd was hitting menopause. I loved the peep into rural Texas, 1950's. By the time I'd seen the DVD and read the book I had reasons to travel to and through Texas, always using the two lane as much as possible. On one of the trips in 2007 I did my research first and then visited "Thalia!" Archer City is the town where Larry McMurtry grew up in, or nearby.

There really is a Thalia, TX, about eighty miles from Archer City. Perhaps that's the Thalia of "Horseman, Pass By," and then later used the people and places in Archer City as Thalia.

Since then, I've read a lot of his books, including his pioneer fictions, his fictional biographies, but especially the five part "Duane" series that started with the Last Picture Show. While you are at it, read "Horseman, Pass By." One of his earliest books that became the movie Hud and set the stage for LPS. First appearances of Thalia.

Similarly, in the LPS movie, but not the book, the town is called Anarene. Once again drawing on Texas geography, there is a real Anarene about eight miles south of Archer City.

For the LPS buff, one will recognize in these photos the old theater that is now a sanitized touristy event destination from time to time. The weird pictures, as you might perhaps think of them, are the decorated cast iron seat sides and some of the old wooden seats. McMurtry probably sat on some of these as a kid.

The block of the theater looks pretty much the same as it did in the movie, the doors that used to be the pool hall now housing one of two McMurtry "Booked Up" businesses. He has a long book seller background in the east before returning to Thalia. Er, Archer City. I read in 2013 that he was closing up, couldn't compete online. I think the Goldwater poster was in one of them.

If you are ever near Wichita Falls, TX, have some time, get down to Archer City. Your mind will blend books, movies ("Texaville" was also made into a movie), and real life.

The fictional hotel that Sonny came to own by Texasville was obviously inspired by the still-there Spur Hotel. If you look real hard at the undulating road of PICT1759 into the distance, you can see Sonny and Duane returning from Mexico in the old Chevy pickup in the LPS. Well, I did.

Larry McMurtry is a creative treasure for America. He has given us so much pleasure!
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