It deserves to be watched and appreciated by a worldwide audience but sadly, it's trapped by cultural stereotypes and the majority will not bother to peel away the surface to discover that it's emotionally deeper than many critically acclaimed 'foreign' films. I recently got hold of 'Last Night at the Alamo' and can only hope that it's half as good as this.
Couple of hapless Texan friends try and make ends meet while pursuing ill-fated plans to finally become rich. Painfully involving tale of broken dreams and (mostly) quiet desperation unfolds in long, largely improvised dialogues getting increasingly dark as it goes on. Besides launching director Pennell's brief career, this became a true manifesto for US' Indie filmmaking movement.
There's so much to like about this film. The cast performances are, from top to bottom, outstanding and memorable.
Were it not for a bit of clunky narrative handling in places, especially after the kitchen mop scheme goes awry, and the musical score -- which, pleasant and well-played as it is, I could have mostly done without -- this would have been five-star for me.
The main characters are let to lead on the movie freely, which they do with cheer. I really liked the drive-in theater scene, it was honest about its sole purpose being to give a portrait of Frank's family, and this resulted in a refreshing feeling of arbitrariness. What was amazing though is that the fleeting change from bums to successful men did not disrupt the pace, it all happened quite naturally.
Hard to divorce the film from the experience of seeing it - that happens sometimes, no? I caught it at the Alamo Roadhouse in Austin when they were showing a remastered release. Local boy makes good and is celebrated while I get to drink beer - hard to beat that. Although in the end I found the movie's shaggy dog story to be a bit thin, the character study and regional flavor made it engaging.
What a gem! And a damn fine first movie by any stretch of the imagination. It's honest and truthful right up to the end, just like Roy Rogers' horse...
Delicate, moving performance by Lou Perryman as Loyd. And that sound track - where can you get a copy?