DEATH & TEXAS: DVD
In 1994, Barefoot Bobby Briggs (Steve Harris) is arrested for his role in a fatally botched armed robbery of an Austin convenience store. When he is convicted and sentenced to die, the career of one of the greatest wide receivers in the history of pro football has ended. It's nine years later, Bobby's appeals via his anti-death penalty appeals lawyer Marshall Ledger (Charles Durning) have all but run out, and the Austin Steers are - once again - on the march to the Mega Bowl, when their star wide receiver incurs a season-ending injury. With the play-off hopes in shambles, the Governor of Texas controversially offers Bobby a furlough from Death Row to help rescue the Steer's post-season hopes.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Unique and gripping, Death & Texas is an unlikely combo of pro US football and the death penalty, fused in a story about a pro footballer caught up in an armed robbery which results in the death of the store attendant. But things aren't that simple, we discover, and the footballer, Barfeoot Bobby Briggs (Steve Harris) is both a sporting hero and a convicted murderer. Kevin DiNovis uses this juxtapose to probe the ethics and dilemmas of the death penalty - and nowhere better than a film set in Texas, the state with the highest number of executions in the US. And the state with some of the keenest football fans.
Although comedic in tone for some of the time, the film ends up on a sombre note about the subject, and by using a mockumentary approach, DiNovis is able to articulate both pro and con positions on the death penalty. Still, it's clear by the strength of the arguments that he is against it. He uses the always authoritative character actor Charles Durning as Briggs' appeal lawyer (acting pro bono in his capacity as founder of the Abolition Coalition) to put the case against.
But the film never forgets the importance of story, and the doco formula enables DiNovis to spell out the story in detail, including a telling security video clip of the robbery, which helps argue the case for Briggs. Performances are uniformly excellent, with Steve Harris quietly convincing and the entire support cast delivering confifently judged performances as participants in a doco. Successful at a few festivals, the film never received the recognition it deserves, but should find a sizeable audience on DVD around Australia.
March 19, 2009
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DEATH & TEXAS: DVD (M)
CAST: Steve Harris, Charles Durning, Corbin Bernsen, Jello Biafra, Susan Egan, Chris Ellis, Rance Howard, Michael McShane, Mary Kay Place
PRODUCER: Stephen Israel
DIRECTOR: Kevin DiNovis
SCRIPT: Kevin DiNovis
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jon Kovel
EDITOR: Gena Bleier, Alex Stanhope
MUSIC: Roy Firestone
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Kevin Pierce
RUNNING TIME: 78 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: none
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Peacock Films
DVD RELEASE: March 19, 2009