Detailing one Friday in the day-at-a-time existence of three friends in Austin, Texas, the first short by Eagle Pennell is unmistakably the work of an instinctive filmmaker. Eschewing visual precociousness or narrative bravura, the film displays something much rarer: an assured grasp of tone and rhythm, a sense of story-telling through small talk and detail and an honest, unsentimental affection for the world in front of the lens. —Watchmaker Films
Eagle Pennell, an independent film director and inspiration for the Sundance Film Institute, was born Glenn Irwin Pinnell on July 28, 1952, in Andrews, Texas. As an adult he changed his last name to honor film director Arthur Penn and Lt. Ross Pennell, a character in the movie She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). He grew up in College Station where his father Charles taught civil engineering at Texas A&M University. His mother June recalled him as a child filming skits performed by his sisters with a Super 8 camera. After graduating from Texas A&M Consolidated High School Pennell attended the University of Texas in Austin where he majored in radio-television-film before dropping out in his junior year. He worked for a company that produced highlights of Southwest Conference football games and as a crew member on the cult film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).
Determined to direct films himself, Pennell began shooting a short feature entitled Hell of a Note which premiered… read more
A hell of a debut. Lou Perryman and Sonny Carl Davis are both excellent as two regular joes just trying to get by in late 70s Texas. The dialogue here is as natural as can be while still being engaging, which is a problem with most short film debuts; also worth of praise is the crisp cinematography and assured direction, revealing Eagle Pennell as a major talent (as well as a sadly underrated one).
James Blue saw this short film and told Eagle to make a feature. Eagle did, he made THE WHOLE SHOOTIN' MATCH. James Blue has helped establish the American Film Institution and he edited FILM COMMENT for its first three years. This film is in some weird way a a testament to Blue's support for Texas filmmakers. He didn't encourage its making. He encouraged the filmmaker. Good for him.