Arts & Culture News

Film Series in Fort Worth Spotlights the Cinematic Career of Larry McMurtry

Larry McMurtry sits back in his Archer City bookstore. A new series at the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art spotlights the films of the acclaimed Texas author.
Larry McMurtry sits back in his Archer City bookstore. A new series at the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art spotlights the films of the acclaimed Texas author. Daniel Rodrigue
In theaters this past weekend was the biographical tear-jerker Joe Bell, which tells the true story of a heartbroken father who walked across the nation to raise awareness about bullying and discrimination following the death of his teenage son. It’s a heartfelt story of loss and grief that aims to shatter misconceptions about masculinity. It's also the last film penned by the late Texas writer Larry McMurtry.

Hailing from Archer City, McMurtry was one of the signature authors of modern Westerns for over six decades. Characterized by his sensitivity and mastery for bringing introspective characters to life, McMurtry was one of the most influential American authors of his time. His death in March sparked tributes, memorials and retrospectives.

McMurtry remained in Texas for most of his career and frequently appeared before local audiences to discuss his writing. Some who never had the good fortune of seeing McMurtry in person found his touching stories and memorable characters frequently on the big screen.

In 1963, an adaptation of McMurtry’s novel Horseman, Pass By was retitled Hud and became one of Paul Newman’s most iconic film roles. McMurtry himself penned the screenplay for The Last Picture Show based on his own novel, and Peter Bogdonavich’s acclaimed 1971 film became a landmark moment in American independent cinema.


McMurtry’s great writing frequently courted the attention of Hollywood awards bodies; Terms of Endearment (based on McMurtry’s novel) even took home the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1984. However, McMurtry himself didn’t get to step up to the stage until 2006, when he humbly accepted the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Brokeback Mountain, based on a short story by Annie Proulx. The masterful Western romance became a breakthrough in LGBTQ+ representation, and the win helped honor the empathetic work of McMurtry’s entire career.

Films either written by McMurtry or adapted from his novels are a great entry point for Dallasites looking to explore his larger body of work, and the Lone Star Film Society is offering the chance to experience them in the format they were intended to be seen: the big screen. The series A Tribute to Larry McMurtry will run in August at the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art (at 3200 Darnell St.), with accompanying commentary from Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy and virtual call-ins from SXSW co-founder Louis Black.

Hud screens on Sunday, Aug. 7 at 2 p.m. and The Last Picture Show on Sunday, Aug. 14 at 2 p.m. The series concludes with Texasville on Sunday, Aug. 15 at 4:30 pm. Tickets are $7-10 per screening and can be purchased at TheModern.org.
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Liam Gaughan has been covering film and television since before he had a driver's license, and in addition to the Observer has been published in About.com, Schmoes Know, Taste of Cinema and The Dallas Morning News. He enjoys checking classic films off of his watchlist and working on spec scripts.