With Dancer, Texas Pop. 81 our made in Texas series ends almost where we started. This movie, which was released in May, 1998, depicts four graduating high school students in a small Texas town. Unlike the principals in The Last Picture Show, who are slow to realize that their little town is dying and will have no place for them, these boys all know they need to move on. For them, the place to go is L.A.
The film was written and directed by Tim McCanlies. The four boys are played by Breckin Meyer, Peter Facinelli, Eddie Mills and Ethan Embry. The performance of Patricia Wettig, late of TV’s thirtysomething, as the mother of one of the boys, certainly seems influenced by Ellen Burstyn’s performance as a mother in The Last Picture Show. The cinematography is by Andrew Dintenfass, and the music is by Steve Dorff. It was filmed around Alpine and Fort Davis in the trans-Pecos region of west Texas. That area is spectacularly beautiful and you will see that in this movie.
The Austin Chronicle’s Hollis Chacona wrote about this picture, back in the day, “There are so many captivating characters, so many funny moments, and so much sweet affection in this movie, its ending comes as a sorrowful leave-taking. You're tempted to wave goodbye to it (if you have a hankie to wave, so much the better) and linger in your seat long after the lights have come up.” I remember the film well, and I hope you enjoy watching Dancer, Texas Pop. 81 with me tonight.