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The Whole Shootin' Match

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The beginning of a beautiful friendship Feb. 13 2010
By Keris Nine - Published on
Format: DVD
Made in 1978 on a very limited budget, raised by the filmmakers themselves, Eagle Pennell's Texan buddy comedy was instrumental in demonstrating what could be done outside the Hollywood studio system by a director of vision and talent, inspiring Robert Redford to set up the Sundance Institute to support and encourage other filmmakers with a more intimate, personal vision more closely related to how real people live, the film thus leading the way towards the modern US independent movie scene. Almost forgotten and up until now virtually impossible to see, Watchmaker's laudable efforts to restore the film, releasing it in a lavish 3-disc DVD package with numerous supporting features and commentaries, show however that the film is more than of just historical interest, and that despite the limitations of the production, the weaknesses in the non-professional acting and the rough-and-ready direction, there's a heart-warming honesty to its depiction of the people of the American South that a more polished film could never match.

Appropriately in a way then, the film is about two Texan men, Frank and Loyd, small-timers operating off the beaten track, working with imperfect equipment, knowing they can't compete with big business and unwilling to work within its rules. Their small-time business ventures inevitably founder, and they as often find themselves out of work and out of pocket, but they have an unshakable belief in their abilities and a determination to succeed, and are convinced that one day the invention of the right product or service is going to make them rich men. In the meantime, failures are shrugged off with a night-out on the town enjoying the music, companionship and the women that the local bars have to offer. The men's carefree outlook however isn't shared by Frank's wife Paulette or their son, who are increasingly finding Frank's lack of responsibility difficult to endure, but will the two men wake up to reality before it's too late, or will they continue to cling to their dreams?

In a way then, the situation of characters with talent and ability to succeed but with the capability of throwing it all away reflects the reality known by the director, and mirror the sad decline that would follow in his own personal life. It's this truthful honesty about the character flaws in these Texan men that make The Whole Shootin' Match compelling, entertaining and heartbreaking viewing, drawn directly from reality rather than trying to soften the approach to appeal to a wider mainstream audience. The characters may be flawed certainly, and act against their own best interests out of stupidity or pride, but what shines through it all and redeems their faults is the strength of the friendship between Frank and Loyd that is mutually supportive, completely trusting, enduring and ultimately touching. It's one of the greatest friendships ever depicted on the screen. The truth and sincerity of that vision - assisted in no small part from a gorgeous country-inflected guitar score by the director's brother Chuck Pennell - shines through and helps the film overcome the limitations of the budget and sometimes primitive shooting and acting techniques.

This is what independent cinema is all about and The Whole Shootin' Match consequently comes across as a kind of missing link between early Cassavetes and the more modern US indie of Kelly Reichardt (Old Joy), informing the slacker ethos of fellow Texans Richard Linklater (Slacker) or the Kentucker Audley (Team Picture), with a genuine feel for characters living outside the mainstream, trying to find their place in the world. More than a historical curiosity then, the personal commitment and uncompromising stance of all those involved in making The Whole Shootin' Match ensures that the qualities that made it inspirational to a whole new generation of filmmakers are still evident and still very much relevant. The outstanding presentation of the restored 16mm film elements is supported with a full set of extra features that include Pennell's first short film, a feature length documentary on the director, a CD of the soundtrack, and additional interviews, articles and commentaries.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding Restoration of Long Lost Regional Cinema Classic May 7 2009
By Trace V. Ordiway - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Kudos to Watchmaker Films for their better-than-Criterion-quality restoration. They have treated this little picture with the reverence usually reserved for lost classics and, indeed, after watching it again after 30 years, I have to agree that it is a lost classic.

The packaging is great, the doc is great, all the extras are great, everything about the product is great. Can't tell you how much I enjoyed it. Thanks for giving "Shootin' Match" the place in history that it deserves.

"The Whole Shootin' Match" is an affectionate and funny look at two hapless blue collar losers who refuse to give up on their dreams of striking it rich. Pennell and cast worked for free and shot on weekends using short ends b&w film stock and borrowed equipment. The film was a sensation on the festival circuit, and by all accounts was the inspiration for Robert Redford to found The Sundance Institute.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
RIP Lou Perryman April 26 2009
By Robert Morgan - Published on
Format: DVD
Directed by the late Eagle Pennell, THE WHOLE SHOOTIN' MATCH is more than a independent film landmark. It's a great, low-key character study featuring wonderfully naturalistic acting from Lou Perryman (best known as LG in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and who was recently murdered in Austin, Texas) and Sonny Carl Davis (the irate customer who gets Judge Reinhold fired from his burger bitch job in FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH) as a pair of working class stiffs in Texas with big dreams and empty pockets. Pennell would go on to direct one more notable film, LAST NIGHT AT THE ALAMO, and a few forgettable films before passing away in 2002. THE WHOLE SHOOTIN' MATCH is a minor masterwork to be sought out and treasured.
Eagle Pennell died too young. Aug. 14 2012
By M. Manning - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Eagle Pennell was a young independent film maker in the late '70s in Austin Texas. He died young, but left some great promise behind This is a nicely done package of his films and accompanying music. The films aren't great, but they're fun to watch, and you can imagine what Eagle could have done with a little money and professional support. Lou Perryman and Sonny Carl Davis just can't help themselves, and you can't help smiling as they bring these Texas goofballs to life.
The Whole Shootin' Match May 11 2011
By Jamie - Published on
Format: DVD
The Whole Shootin' Match by filmmaker Eagle Pennell is a movie that is both lighthearted and insightful at the same time. Being a movie filmed in Texas and about Texans, I was interested to see how the characters would be portrayed. The characters Frank and Lloyd are not the stereotypical "cowboy" prevalent in most films about Texas. They are just "good ol' boys." I really enjoyed the humor in this film because it was like the characters were just joking around. Because the film had a lot of improvised lines, it was very lighthearted and fun. However, there were parts of the film that were heartbreaking. The way that Frank treated his wife was very sad. He was not a good husband to her and watching him cheat on her was difficult. However, I do like that this film seemed authentic. People's lives are not perfect, so seeing a film that had the main characters be lovably funny as well as inconsiderate of others was good. I really liked the character of Frank because he was so funny. When he and Lloyd got together, they really made me laugh. Even when they were just doing things like working for a woman trying to fix her windows, the way that they interacted with one another was really funny. I also liked Frank's wife. She seemed to be the glue that held the film together. Without her, we may not have seen the other side of Frank. She brought a seriousness to the film that made it worth watching. By the end of the film, I was unsure how it would turn out for the characters. I love that it ended somewhat simply. After a failed attempt at finding treasure and at suicide, Frank joins Lloyd on their trek back to their normal lives.

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