It’s an extraordinary coincidence that Eagle Pennell’s feature debut is being revived during the same year that Charles Burnett’s remarkably similar Killer of Sheep finally got its moment in the exhibition sun. Both are examples of truly independent regional filmmaking, and while The Whole Shootin’ Match’s slices of life may not be as socially resonant as Sheep’s profound urban parables, Pennell’s tale of two Texas roustabouts is just as lyrical in its own lazy, hazy way. The movie says as much about a certain beer-soaked Lone Star state of mind as Burnett’s film does about the hardscrabble life in Hell-Ay’s ghettos.
Loyd (Perry) is the brains of the duo; his partner, Frank (Davis), supplies the belligerence. The movie simply follows them from one vignette to the next—Frank goes to the drive-in with his family, the boys hit up a honky-tonk, they get ripped off by shady businessmen and go hunting in the woods. But Match’s attention to character and environment affected those who saw it; its impact is felt everywhere in the post-Sundance world even if the movie (and Pennell) have been largely forgotten. Attention must now be paid: Watch this, and you can see where modern American indie cinema first pecks out of its eggshell.