Last Picture Show, The (1971): Director Bogdanovich Reflects on the Film, Chloris Leachman, the Oscar

Director Peter Bogdanovich reflected on The Last Picture Show, his second (and still best) picture he made, back in 1971.

Actors

We had such a bunch of good actors in that film. The scene in which Cloris Leachman  (who won the best supporting actress Oscar for her role) throws that coffee pot and yells at Timothy Bottoms — Cloris did it brilliantly. She wanted to rehearse it and I kept saying, “I don’t want to rehearse it; I want to see it for the first time when we actually roll.” I had learned that idea — to not let the actors show you an emotional scene before they shot it — from John Ford through Henry Fonda. It was Hank Fonda who told me that for the big climactic scene with the mother in The Grapes of Wrath, Ford wouldn’t let the actors play it for him — he wanted it to be fresh when they did it and of course he used the first take. So I said, “Action!” and she was extraordinary. But she said, “I can do it better.” I said, “No, you can’t; you just won the Oscar.” And to this day — Jeff Bridges told me that he recently ran into Cloris and that she said, “Oh, I’m so angry at Peter. That was the first take. I could have done it better.” And Jeff said: “Oh, Cloris. You won the Oscar!”