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Eagle Pennell

A Guide to the Lin Sutherland Collection of Eagle Pennell
1977-1990
Collection 119

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Descriptive Summary

Creator:                    
Eagle Pennell

Title:                          
The Lin Sutherland Collection of Eagle Pennell

Dates:                       
1977-1990

Abstract:                   
The Lin Sutherland Collection of Eagle Pennell spans 1977-1990 and documents the films, publicity, and business career of Eagle Pennell, a Texas film director. The collection is separated into nine series: Script Development, Production Crew, Media, Publicity, Film Distribution, Business Information for Maverick Films, Inc., Correspondence, Other Writings by Eagle Pennell and Lin Sutherland, and Artifacts. The collection includes script development of The Whole Shootin’ Match, a large number of articles and reviews relating to The Whole Shootin’ Match, and the business records of Maverick Films, Inc.

Identification:          
Collection 119

Extent:                      
2 boxes (1 linear foot)

Language:                 
English

Repository:               
The Wittliff Collections, Texas State University

Biographical Sketch

Eagle Pennell, originally named Glenn Irwin Pennell, was born July 28, 1952 in Andrews, Texas. Pennell showed an interest in film at an early age, filming skits at home with the family Super 8 camera. After high school Pennell attended the University of Texas, studying in the Radio-Film-Television program. He dropped out his junior year to pursue a career in film.

In the early 70s Pennell legally changed his name, his last name paying homage to both director Arthur Penn and Lt. Ross Pennell, a character from John Ford’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. His first name is rumored to have been changed to Eagle because he was once told that his nose looked like the beak of an eagle.

Still pursuing a career in film, his first film was a short documentary titled Rodeo Cowboy. In 1977 he made his first narrative film, the short film A Hell of a Note, which was the inspiration for The Whole Shootin’ Match. Pennell met Lin Sutherland, a fellow Texan and a writer, in 1977 and together they co-wrote and produced The Whole Shootin’ Match. This film was made on black and white 16mm film and was shot on location in Austin, Texas. The film was estimated to have cost as little as $30,000 to make. After production was completed, in 1978 Pennell began entering the film into festivals. The Whole Shootin’ Match would go on to win second prize at the U.S. Film Festival and was also said to have inspired Robert Redford to create the Sundance Institute.

Following the success of his movie, Pennell began his next project in the early 1980s. Reunited with actors from The Whole Shootin’ Match, Lou Perryman and Sonny Carl Davis, in 1983 he produced and directed his second full-length feature Last Night at the Alamo. This film was also entered into film festivals and won praise at both the New York Film Festival and Telluride Film Festival in Colorado.

Pennell went on to direct four more films: Ice House (1989), Heart Full of Soul (1990), City Life (1990), and Doc’s Full Service (1994), which were not as successful as his first two. During this time Eagle Pennell was in and out of rehab centers because of his struggle with alcoholism. His marriage, to Nanette Taylor, also ended due to his alcohol addiction.

In Houston, Texas on July 20, 2002 Eagle Pennell died and was buried in College Station. Seen as one of the great independent filmmakers of his time, in 2008 a documentary titled King of Texas commemorates his work.

Scope and Content Note

The Lin Sutherland Collection of Eagle Pennell materials range from 1977 – 1990, and consists of approximately .50 linear feet.  The collection is comprised of scripts, screenplays, drafts, newspaper clippings, film distribution agreements, legal papers, Maverick Films, Inc. business papers, and correspondence. A bulk of the materials relates to Pennell’s film The Whole Shootin’ Match, which was co-written and co-produced by Lin Sutherland. Another section of materials that is emphasized in this collection is the film distribution dispute between Maverick Films, Inc. and Pahl Films (1980-1982). According to the documents in series five, box 1 folders 31-34, the dispute revolves around the film rights promised to Pahl Films by Eagle Pennell, who signed them without the correct approvals. 

The collection originally had no apparent arrangement, business papers and articles, as were many other papers, placed throughout the collection without any alphabetical or chronological order. The collection is arranged chronologically within nine series. The series: Script Development, Production Crew, Media, Publicity, Film Distribution, Business Information for Maverick Films, Inc., Correspondence, Other Writings by Eagle Pennell and Lin Sutherland, and Artifacts, are also broken into sub-series when needed. Some of the correspondence overlapped in category, so any correspondence related to film-distribution or investor shares were kept within the Film Distribution or Business Information of Maverick Films, Inc. series. The eighth series Correspondence, are the remaining letters from the collection that were not linked with any other category.

Eagle Pennell’s materials were donated to the Wittliff Collections in 2009 by Lin Sutherland, the co-writer and co-producer of The Whole Shootin’ Match, associated with Maverick Films Inc.

Series Descriptions

Series I: Script Development, 1979, Undated
Box 1

This series includes writings for The Whole Shootin’ Match, including screenplays, drafts, and synopsis. Was placed as the first series because the bulk of the collection relates to this film- either crew information, publicity related to the film, or the film distribution of this film.

Series II: Production Crew, Undated
Box 1

This series includes cast and crew information relating to The Whole Shootin’ Match, including crew biographical information, contact lists, and The Whole Shootin’ Match Credits.

Series III: Media, Undated
Box 1

This series includes 7 strips of film, a total of 24 frames. No other film or prints throughout the collection.

Series IV: Publicity, 1977-1984
Box1

This series includes photocopies of newspaper and magazine articles, and also original newspaper clippings. Separated into sub-series: Newspaper Articles, Magazine Articles, Film Festival Flyers, and Notes. Some of the original newspaper clippings are fragile and should be handled carefully.

Series V: Film Distribution, 1979-1990
Box 1

This series includes film rental agreements, distribution contracts, correspondence between Maverick Films, Inc. and the film distribution companies, and documentation of a legal dispute of a film distribution agreement. Separated into sub-series: Cinema Perspectives, First Run Features, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and Pahl Films (German TV).

Series VI: Business Information for Maverick Films, Inc., 1977-1984
Boxes 1-2

This series includes a certificate of incorporation for Maverick Films, Inc., memorandums, stock and share agreements, tax returns, and other financial information. Separated into sub-series: Maverick Films, Incorporated, Board of Directors Meetings, Maverick Films, Inc. Memorandums, Shareholders, Legal papers, and Financial Information.

Series VII: Correspondence, 1977-1978, Undated
Box 2

This series includes correspondence to or from Eagle Pennell and Lin Sutherland, including typed or handwritten letters. Separated into four different folders: Letters to Lin Sutherland and Eagle Pennell, Letter to Lin Sutherland, Letters to Eagle Pennell, and Letters from Lin and Eagle.

Series VIII: Other Writings by Eagle Pennell and Lin Sutherland, Undated
Box 2

This series includes the first draft for “No Drums, No Bugles” screenplay. Pages are out of order, some are numbered while others are not and corrections are made throughout.

Series IX: Artifacts, 1986
Box 2

This series includes a bumper sticker, which the only artifact in this collection.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Open for research

Preferred Citation

The Lin Sutherland Collection of Eagle Pennell, The Wittliff Collections, Texas State University

Acquisition Information

Gift of Lin Sutherland, 2009

Processing Information

Processed Ashley Stone, 2015

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series I: Script Development, 1979, Undated

Box     Folder

1          1          The Whole Shootin’ Match theme, Undated
                                Written by Karen L. Ford, RTF Assignment. Typed. 1 page.

1          2          The Whole Shootin’ Match synopsis, Undated
                                  Typed. 7 pages, includes 5 copies.

1          3          Section from The Whole Shootin’ Match screenplay, June 1979 
                                Sent to Toba from Lin Sutherland on June 25, 1979.
                                Typed. 2 pages and an envelope.

1          4          Third draft of The Whole Shootin’ Match screenplay, Undated.  
                                Written by Lin Sutherland and Eagle Pennell. Registered
                                with The Writer’s Guild of America, No. 188761. Undated.
                                Typed. 93 pages.

Series II: Production Crew, Undated

1          5          Casting call advertisement for a Maverick Film, Inc. production, 
                               October 9, Unknown year.  Typed. 1 page.

1          6          The Whole Shootin’ Match crew biographical information,
                               Undated. Typed. 6 pages, 2 copies of the first page and
                               missing pages 4 & 5.

1          7          Cast and crew contact list, includes addresses and phone
                               numbers, Undated.  Typed, with handwritten corrections. 2
                               pages.

1          8          The Whole Shootin’ Match credit drafts, head and tail credits,
                               Undated. Typed, with handwritten corrections. 3 pages.

1          9          The Whole Shootin’ Match credits, complete cast and crew
                                listed, including score  title, Undated. Typed. 11 pages,
                                includes copies.

Series III: Media, Undated

1          10        Negatives, Undated. Frames 1-24. 7 strips of film.

Series IV: Publicity, 1977 – 1984

            Newspaper Articles, 1977-1982

1          11        Photocopied Newspaper clippings, 1978 – 1980.
                                    The Daily Texan, March 1978. 1 page, 2 copies.
                                    The Houston Post, March 1, 1978. 1 page.
                                    Austin American Statesman, March 3, 1978. 1 page, 2 copies.
                                    Austin American Statesman, March 12, 1978. 1 page.
                                    Box Office, April 3, 1978. 1 page, 2 copies.
                                    New York Times, April 21, 1978. 1 page, 3 copies.
                                    Desert News, September 12, 1978. 1 page, 2 copies.
                                    The Hollywood Reporter, April 25, 1979. 1 page, 2 copies.
                                    The Hollywood Reporter, August 14, 1979. 1 page, 2
copies.
                                    New York Times, October 28, 1979. 1 page, 3 copies.
                                    Variety- The Minneapolis Star, December 13, 1979. 1 page.
                                    Variety, March 5, 1980. 2 pages, 2 copies.
                                    Unknown newspapers, Undated. 2 pages.

1          12        Newspaper clippings, originals, 1977 – 1982.
                                    Austin American Statesman, August 18, 1977. 1 page.
                                    Austin American Statesman, August 19, 1977. 1 page.
                                    Dallas Times Herald, March 22, 1978. 2 pages.
                                    Back Stage, July 14, 1978. 2 pages.
                                    The Hollywood Reporter, March 27, 1978. 2 pages.
                                    New York Times, October 28, 1979. 1 page.
                                    The Houston Post, February 17, 1982. 1 page.
                                    Unknown newspapers, Undated. 4 pages.

            Magazine Articles, 1978-1984                                              

1          13        Magazine articles, 1978 – 1984.
                                    Texas Monthly, May 1978. 2 pages.
                                    Texas Monthly, July 1978. 1 page.
                                    American Film Magazine, December/January 1979.
                                            2 pages, 2 copies.
                                    Film Texas, January 1979. Entire issue, 15 pages.
                                    Film in the Cities, January/February 1982. Entire issue, 4 pages.
                                    American Film Magazine, September 1984. 5 pages, 2 copies.      

            Film Festival Flyers, 1978-1979

1          14        Dallas Eighth Annual USA Film Festival, March 1978.
                                    Includes Eagle Pennell’s itinerary, festival presentation
                                    schedule, and festival program. Typed. 71 pages.

1          15        Film Society of Lincoln Center The Whole Shootin’ Match
                                    screening, April/May 1979. Includes WSM show time,
                                    film synopsis, and biography on Eagle Pennell. Typed. 1 page

1          16        PR Flyer, The Whole Shootin’ Match

            Notes, Undated

1          17        Notes for The Whole Shootin’ Match PR and interviews, Undated. Typed and handwritten.

Series V: Film Distribution, 1979 – 1990

1          18        Memorandum to Shareholders, May 29, 1982. Discussing the
                                  distribution of The Whole Shootin’ Match to Chanel 4 in
                                  England and also briefly mentions plans for future film
                                  distribution, and Sutherland’s current projects.  Written by
                                  Lin Sutherland. Types. 1 page, 3 copies.

1          19        Cast, crew, and investor shares for German TV and British
                                  sales, Undated. Typed, with handwritten corrections. 6 pages.

            Cinema Perspectives, 1979-1989

1          20        The Whole Shootin’ Match film rental ad, Undated. Includes an
                                  overview of the film: the production information, Eagle
                                  Pennell biography, and a summary of the film. Typed. 1
                                  page, 3 copies.

1          21        Distribution agreements, May 1979 – January 1980. Agreement
                                  between Maverick Films, Inc. and Cinema Perspectives,
                                  and an agreement between Cinema Perspectives and
                                  Rotterdam Arts Foundation. Typed. 5 pages.

1          22        Royalty Statements, April 1981 – January 1989.Typed, with
                                  handwritten corrections. 8 pages.

1          23        Film distribution letter from Lin Sutherland to Ray Fisher
                                 (Cinema Perspectives) and Harvey Corn (Certified public
                                 accountant), February 1980. Discusses that all revenue
                                 information sent directly to Harvey Corn, not Maverick   
                                 Films, Inc. Typed. 3 pages.

1          24        Film distribution letters from Ray Fisher to Lin Sutherland, and
                                    to Lewis Black, March 1980 – January 1982. Discusses
                                    royalties and distribution activity with German TV and
                                    England Chanel 4. Typed and handwritten letters. 8 pages.

            First Run Features, 1982-1990

1          25        Distribution agreement, September 15, 1982. Signed by Lin
                                    Sutherland. Typed. 18 pages.

 

1          26        Royalties from The Whole Shootin’ Match distribution, July
                                    1989 – July 1990. Typed. 6 pages.

1          27        Film rental contracts for The Whole Shootin’ Match, September
                                    1982 –November 1983. Contracts between Lin
                                    Sutherland, Frances Spielman, and Susan Ryan.
                                    Agreements for The Whole Shootin’ Match to show at
                                    the Agee  Room- Bleecker Street Cinema in New York
                                    City, New York; the Honolulu Academy of Arts in
                                    Honolulu, Hawaii; and the Harry Peterson Company in
                                    Pontiac, Michigan. Typed. 5 pages.

1          28        Reports on The Whole Shootin’ Match distribution periods.
                                    December 1983 - September 1984. Typed. 4 pages,
                                    and an envelope.

1          29        Film distribution at the 8th Street Playhouse. October 1982.
                                    Letters discussing the The Whole Shootin’ Match
                                    showing cancelation, between Frances Spielman (First
                                    Run Features) and Steven Hirsch (8th Street Playhouse)
                                    and Maverick Films, Inc. Typed. 3 pages.

            Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), 1979

1          30        Film distribution inquiry, May 1979. Addressed to Eagle Pennell
                                    from Robert D. Kanten (PBS). Typed. 1 page, 3 copies.

            Pahl Films (German TV), 1980-1982

1          31        Pahl Films and Maverick Films, Inc. The Whole Shootin’ Match
                                    purchase dispute; Pahl Film letter to Eagle Pennell,
                                    June 1980. Discussing that Pennell was unauthorized to
                                    sign film distribution contract, Pahl Film asking for their
                                    advance and expenses to be returned. Typed. 1 page.

1          32        Pahl Films and Maverick Films, Inc. The Whole Shootin’ Match
                                    purchase dispute;  Letters from Timothy Mashburn, l
                                    awyer (at Robinson, Felts, Starnes, & Latting law office)
                                    representing Maverick Films, Inc., June 1980 – March
                                    1982. Addressed to Michael Traut, lawyer (at Traut,
                                    Findeisen, Prof. German law office) representing Pahl
                                    Films and Lin Sutherland. Discuss the distribution
                                    dispute of The Whole Shootin’ Match. Typed. 15 pages.

1          33        Pahl Films and Maverick Films, Inc. The Whole Shootin’ Match
                                    purchase dispute;  Letters from Michael Traut (at Traut,
                                    Findeisen, Prof. German law office) representing Pahl
                                    Films, September 1980 - April 1981. Addressed to
                                    Robinson, Felts, Starnes, & Latting law  offices. Discuss
                                    the distribution dispute of The Whole Shootin’ Match.
                                    Typed. 5 pages.

1          34        Pahl Films and Maverick Films, Inc. The Whole Shootin’ Match
                                    purchase dispute; Letters from Lin Sutherland, April
                                    1981. Addressed to Michael Traut (Pahl Films lawyer).
                                    Discuss the payments Maverick Films, Inc. will pay to
                                    Pahl Films and also includes handwritten notes about
                                    the amount that  Eagle Pennell owes Maverick Films,
                                    Inc. Typed and handwritten. 1 page.

Series VI: Maverick Films, Inc. Business Records, 1977-1984

         Maverick Films, Incorporated, 1977

1          35        Portfolio draft and portfolio, 1977. Typed, portfolio draft was
                                    handwritten corrections. 22 pages.

1          36        Prospectus draft and prospectus, 1977. Typed, prospectus draft
                                    has handwritten corrections. 1 page.

1          37        Bylaws and Articles. 1977. Typed. 16 pages.

1          38        Certificate of Incorporation. July 1977. Typed. 2 pages.

1          40        Board of Directors Meetings. August 1977 – June 1980. Typed,
                                    some pages have handwritten corrections or signatures. 13 pages.

2          1          Memorandums. May 1978-February 1983. Documents include
                                    memo drafts, budget estimates, and copies/originals of
                                    meeting minutes. Typed, some pages include
                                    handwritten notes or signatures. 68 pages.

                        Shareholders, 1977 – 1981, Undated

2          2                      Stock and Share agreement drafts. Undated. Typed,
                                         some pages have white-out marks. 9 pages.

2          3                      Cast and crew share papers. March 1978 – April 1981.
                                         Includes share estimates, budget drafts, and share
                                         certificates. Typed, some pages have handwritten
                                         corrections/notes and white-out marks. 21 pages.

2          4                      Investor share papers. December 1977 – September
                                         1979. Includes an investor call list, investor share
                                         and budget drafts, and share certificates. Typed,
                                         some pages have handwritten notes. 9 pages.

2          5          Legal papers. June 19, 1980 – June 24, 1980. Includes a letter
                                    to Lin Sutherland from Timothy Mashburn (lawyer from
                                    Robinson, Felts, Starnes, and Latting) and a letter to
                                    Jim Rexrode from lawyer Timothy Mashburn. Typed. 4
                                    pages and 2 envelopes.

                        Financial Information, 1977-1984

2          6                      Maverick Films, Inc. tax return. 1977 and March 1978.
                                         Addressed to Lin Sutherland, tax return completed
                                         by Harvey Corn, a certified public accountant.
                                         Includes the 1977 tax return, financial statement
                                         prepared for tax return, and the included March 1978
                                         letter. Typed. 10 pages.

2          7                      Bank statements. March 1982, October 1983, and
                                         October 1984. Typed. 3 pages.

2          8                      Checks. February 1983 and March 1978. Includes a
                                         check from Lin Sutherland to David Smith (February
                                         1983) and a check cashing out 800 stock shares
                                         (March 1978). Typed, handwriting on check and
                                         envelope. 1 check, 1 page & 1 envelope.

2          9                      Production budgets. September 1977 – September
                                          1978. Includes budget and share drafts, and a
                                          summary of details picture cost for “Shrecha”-
                                          Texas Gypsy (not filled out). Typed, handwritten in
                                          areas. 7 pages.

2          10                    Accounting data. December 1977 – February 1978.
                                         Includes handwritten accounting ledgers.
                                         Handwritten. 12 pages.

2          11                    Contrast of sale for “A Hell of a Note” film.   September
                                         27, 1977. Eagle Pennell selling film rights to
                                         Maverick Films, Inc. Labeled as a copy. Typed,
                                         signed by Eagle Pennell and Lin Sutherland. 1 page.

Series VII: Correspondence, 1977-1978, Undated

2          12        Letters to Lin Sutherland and Eagle Pennell. 1977, Undated.
                                    Includes two copies of a letter from Kim Henkel at
                                    Universal City Studios- congratulating Lin  and Eagle
                                    about their screenplay “Comin’ Back to go” and the
                                    screening of “A Hell of a Note”; letter from Frank Binney
                                    at Frank Binney Film  Production- sending a mailing
                                    address and requesting copies of film PR and reviews.
                                    Typed and handwritten. 3 pages.

2          13        Letters to Lin Sutherland. April 25, 1978, Undated. Includes a
                                    letter from Diane Young, discussing a possible
                                    opportunity with New Line Cinema; a letter from Jim,
                                    supplying a possible address for David Smith; and a
                                    letter from an investor inquiring about her contract.
                                    Handwritten. 3 pages.

2          14        Letters to Eagle Pennell. December 15, 1977, January 30,
                                    1977, February 16, 1978, and Undated. Includes letters
                                    about Pennell’s application for the Independent
                                    Filmmaker Program (American Film Institute); rejection
                                    letter for Pennell’s American Film Institute grant
                                    application; and 2 letters discussing film progress and a
                                    script. Typed and handwritten. 5 pages, and 2
                                    envelopes.

2          15        Letters from Lin and Eagle. September 30, 1977, October 12,
                                    1977, and Undated. Includes a letter from Lin
                                    Sutherland to Gregory Curtis, about The Whole Shootin’
                                    Match; letter from Eagle Pennell to Charles Blumentrist,
                                    about A Hell of a Note screenings; and a letter from
                                    Eagle Pennell to Karen Cooper  (Film Forum), about
                                    screening A Hell of a Note. Typed and handwritten. 3
                                    pages.

Series VIII: Other Writings by Eagle Pennell and Lin Sutherland, Undated

2          16        “No Drums, No Bugles” screenplay. Undated. First draft. Typed,
                                    some handwritten corrections. 100+ pages.

Series IX: Artifacts, 1986

2          17        Bumper sticker: “Give up sex! I’ll help you taper off.” 1986.