Review: The King of Texas (2008)

Directed by René Pinnell & Claire Huie

Starring: Eagle Pennell, Chuck Pinnell, Lin Sutherland, Lou Perryman, Richard Linklater

The restoration of Austin movie classic The Whole Shootin’ Match for last year’s SXSW reintroduced the world to the work of mercurial director Glenn Irwin “Eagle” Pennell: The King of Texas is his nephew René’s attempt to explain the man. Through interviews with those that knew, loved, and sometimes fought with him (including his family, collaborators, and the Chronicle‘s own Louis Black), René portrays an artist who was both role model and cautionary tale. Just as Willie Nelson proved a successful country musician didn’t have to go Nashville, Pennell proved the power and artistry of regional cinema.

But his chronic alcoholism destroyed him, and René concentrates on this loss and the pain it caused others, rather than canonizing him. Eagle comes across as a Velvet Underground of late Seventies film: Not many people saw his work at the time, but the people he influenced, like Richard Linklater and Robert Redford, have shaped contemporary indie cinema.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.