Skip to main content

Lin Sutherland Collection of Eagle Pennell

Identifier: SWWC-119

Scope and Contents

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. The 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).


  • 1977-1990


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials from the Wittliff Collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user assumes responsibility for determining copyright status, obtaining permission to publish, and abiding by U.S. copyright laws.

Biographical Notes

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.

Eagle Pennell died n Houston, Texas on July 20, 2002 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.


2 boxes

.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations

  • The descriptive data created for this finding aid is licensed under the CC0 Creative Commons license and is free for use without restriction.


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.

Physical Location

Materials may be stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use:

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Lin Sutherland, 2009.

Guide to the Lin Sutherland Collection of Eagle Pennell
Ashley Stone
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Revised for ArchivesSpace by Susannah Broyles.

Repository Details

Part of the The Wittliff Collections Repository

601 University Drive
San Marcos Texas 78666 USA