year: 1978
cast: Sonny Carl Davis, Lou Perryman, Doris Hargrave, Eric Henshaw
director: Eagle Pennell
rating: ****

The CLERKS of the late '70s has two poor white-trash Texas losers, Frank and Loyd, hanging out, drinking beer and trying to get rich quick. Loyd, played by lanky Lou Perryman (resembling a rockabilly Tom Waits), is the idea man with some pretty bad inventions till one, a self-loading mopping device, finally sells for a quick payoff... not realizing the contract left out any gross profits. But the true star of this dusty B&W classic is Frank, played by Sonny Carl Davis (the short bald guy who, years later, was promised a 100% Guaranteed Breakfast in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"), as he neglects his wife, ignores his son, and seems to enjoy himself anyway. The best scenes involve the undynamic-duo sitting around Loyd's dusty office discussing fruitless pie-in-the-sky dreams. The only drawbacks occur when filmmaker Eagle Pennell, who shot this entirely on weekends for over a year, tries overdoing himself with fight scenes (or anything involving fast action) i.e. stuff that costs money to seem realistic. Fans of ultra-low-budget indie films, this is your CITIZEN KANE. It's nitty, gritty, eavesdropping realism you'll rarely - if ever - witness on screen. And the soundtrack, consisting of an acoustic guitar played by Eagle's brother Chuck, is like a character in itself.

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