News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

February 19, 2014

MARK BENNETT: City sparkles during premiere of ‘The Drunk’

TERRE HAUTE — William Tanoos and Paul Fleschner cast their hometown in a starring role in their debut effort as filmmakers.

Given that chance, Terre Haute sparkled.

The Indiana Theatre overflowed with Hauteans for Saturday night’s premiere of “The Drunk,” and the movie brimmed with local scenery. Tanoos, Fleschner and their supporters gave the city and its landmark movie house a unique and unforgettable evening. They gave a crowd of 1,300 a reminder of the community’s history and possibilities. Searchlights scanned the snowy sky above Seventh and Ohio streets downtown. Red carpet stretched into the bustling lobby where photo ops with the local actors awaited. The ornate room grew into a sea of handshakes, hugs and hellos. The revived, 91-year-old theater itself glowed as in its heyday, defying its age.

Wow, what a sight.

Tanoos and Fleschner filmed “The Drunk” almost entirely in Terre Haute, and as natives of the city, they astutely culled its most captivating venues as backdrops. Together, the duo wrote, directed and acted in the movie, depicting the unsteady life of young Joe Debs, the fictional grandson of Terre Haute-born social activist Eugene V. Debs (who in reality had no children). Tanoos and Fleschner literally open a door many locals have never entered, into the life and home of America’s most famous “radical,” Eugene Debs.

Several scenes take place in Debs’ house on North Eighth Street, now preserved as a museum. Re-created recordings of his passionate speeches help explain his legacy. An unexpected visit to the museum by a pair of politically hip, female college students allows Joe (played by Tanoos) to recount ideas espoused by his grandfather, whose views sounded subversive in the early 20th century but are mainstream today. The plot bravely illuminates the five-time Socialist Party presidential candidate’s humanitarian idealism and crusades for society’s forgotten. The two women are receptive to Joe’s museum tour (a surprise to him), but the general public keeps his grandfather’s achievements closeted, just as in real life.

For Joe, his last name lingers as both a source of pride and baggage, a “scarlet letter” as his mother (the colorful Cindy Gold) puts it. Joe’s own life is a rudderless existence. He’s apathetic about his future. His affable, good-timing nature gets overwhelmed by his alcoholism, an addiction to which he seems oblivious. His drinking, its impact on others and the “socialist” stigma he’s inherited inject fireworks into Joe’s improbable decision to run for governor of Indiana against the well-connected, corrupt local prosecutor, Bruce Frye (Hollywood veteran Tom Sizemore). Joe and Frye aren’t strangers; a tragedy years earlier poisoned their bond, turning it into bitter animosity.

It’s the perfect brew for a nasty political campaign between the two men.

As the rivals target the other’s jugular, they betray, coerce and manipulate staffers in both camps. Their friction provides the highlights. Tanoos and Fleschner share their finest moment as Joe and his longtime friend and campaign manager, Larry Donegan (played by Fleschner), split apart. In the context of their acting debuts, both deliver promising performances. Tanoos looks completely at ease in front of the camera and excels in the picture’s comedic instances, particularly in an ill-advised but hilarious TV ad for his campaign. Fleschner exhibits a flair for nuanced scenes, especially in Larry’s intense rebukes of Joe’s impulsive decisions and Larry’s poignant bedtime chat with his ailing daughter.

Sizemore skillfully portrays Frye with an explosive temper, spicing up his encounters with Joe and Larry. Their exchanges include more than a few profanities, but the most jarring comes from Jesse Ventura in his role as Indiana’s outgoing governor. He nukes an otherwise sentimental moment by dropping that four-letter bomb while giving Joe fatherly advice on disingenuous political parties and endearing the audience to Eugene Debs’ memory by saying, “Your grandfather was my hero.” Still, Ventura lends a compelling presence (even though the idea of Hoosiers electing him governor, as Minnesotans once did, defies probability). Maura Kidwell confidently plays Joe’s girlfriend, guiding him, along with Larry, toward a wakeup call desperately needed in his lifestyle.

Most Americans know little about Eugene Debs. Many who do dismiss him as a “two-bit, socialist convict,” just as Frye does in the film, referring to Debs’ 1920 run for president while a political prisoner in a Georgia penitentiary; he polled nearly 1 million votes. The film introduces viewers to the more timeless side of him. Likewise, it grants historically rich Terre Haute an overdue cinematic niche, compared to other Hoosier towns such as Bloomington (setting for “Breaking Away,” “Blue Chips” and “Kinsey”).

At its premiere, audience members pointed toward the huge theater screen, recognizing local people and places. The excitement included a curiosity about the next project for Tanoos and Fleschner. As their filmmaking style tightens up, their future ventures could be fascinating. Their first effort, “The Drunk,” treats viewers to an entertaining sip of what’s ahead for two talented guys.

Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or


Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
  • MET 072514 WWI 01MORAHN.jpg Postcards from the war front

    A native of France, Marie Decleir saw humanity at its worst as she experienced the death and destruction caused by World War I, which began 100 years ago today.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET 072714 NASCAR STEIG.jpg Watching Gordon make history

    As race car drivers competed on the track on Sunday in Indianapolis, racing fans in Terre Haute gathered around television screens and watched history unfold during the “Crown Royal Presents, The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard.”

    July 27, 2014 3 Photos

  • STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Inept amid partisan fury

    Retired Congressman Lee Hamilton has warned of the perils of political ideology, calling the body where he spent 34 years “noxiously partisan.” Now, he worries the divide is downright dangerous.

    July 27, 2014

  • Restaurant Inspections: July 28, 2014

    July 7-11

    July 27, 2014

  • MET 072514 I-70 CONE.jpg Caution zone

    Travel the interstate at your own risk.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • Earl Elliott report1 copy.jpg Report: City‘s general fund to remain in red

    The city’s general fund balance on June 30 remained deep in the red, even after Terre Haute received its twice-yearly property tax check from the state.

    July 26, 2014 6 Photos

  • MET 072314 INTERN 01MILLER.jpg Interns, getting foot in the door, bring diversity to workplace

    Shanya Tompkins interviewed with Coldwell Banker-Troy Helman Realtors, anticipating an eight-week, part-time summer internship.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • MET072514dance porter.jpg Everybody get up and dance now

    National Dance Day promotes dancing as part of a healthy, active lifestyle.

    July 26, 2014 4 Photos

  • Pendergast.jpg Man arrested after rollover kills teen girl

    A Terre Haute man has been arrested and a teenager has died following an alcohol-related accident early today.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET072514 invenadamson step.jpg ‘Minds-on camp’

    Sylvia Ann Adamson longed for privacy, so she invented a solution to that problem at “Camp Invention.”

    July 25, 2014 5 Photos

  • Linda Tincher.jpg Riley lion’s roar goes global

    Linda L. Tincher has become the first woman from Indiana elected to serve as an international director for Lions Clubs International. She was chosen earlier this month during the clubs’ 97th international convention in Toronto, Canada.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET072514 SPPRAK glasses.jpg Kindness ‘undercover’

    Hundreds of people gathered at Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium on Friday for a night of baseball, music, the “Green Man” and green shades.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Residents ‘stuff the bus’ with pencils, notebooks, backpacks

    After exiting a Wal-Mart store in Clinton, Roger E. Richardson stopped his shopping cart Friday in front of a large yellow South Vermillion School Corporation bus.

    July 25, 2014

  • Man faces 9 charges in homicide case

    A Solsberry man faces nine criminal charges related to a July 18 homicide and rape in rural Greene County.

    July 25, 2014 1 Story

  • maroon truck.jpg UPDATE: Rockville man dies after head-on collision

    A Rockville man has died from injuries he sustained this afternoon in a two-vehicle, head-on crash on U.S. 41 north of Lyford.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • red truck.jpg Head-on crash leaves Rockville man seriously injured

    A Rockville man was air-lifted to an Indianapolis hospital with serious injuries this afternoon following a two-vehicle crash on U.S. 41 north of Lyford.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vigo County Jail Log: July 25, 2014

    The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Thursday and Friday, based on jail records.

    July 25, 2014

  • Measles case confirmed in Central Indiana

    INDIANAPOLIS — State health officials have confirmed a case of measles in Central Indiana. The Indiana State Department of Health is working with local health departments and health care providers to identify additional cases of measles, and to prevent further transmission of the disease.

    July 25, 2014

  • Fast food workers prepare to escalate wage demands

    CHICAGO (AP) — Fast food workers say they’re prepared to escalate their campaign for higher wages and union representation, starting with a national convention in suburban Chicago where more than 1,000 workers will discuss the future of the effort that has spread to dozens of cities in less than two years.

    July 25, 2014

  • 4 doctors arrested after Indiana clinic raids

    CARMEL, Ind. (AP) — Authorities say four doctors have been arrested on charges of improperly prescribing a drug used to treat painkiller addiction from several Indiana offices.

    July 25, 2014

  • holiday world thunderbird.jpg Holiday World plans new winged roller coaster

    SANTA CLAUS, Ind. (AP) — The Holiday World amusement park in southern Indiana is building a new $22 million roller coaster that it says will launch riders to 60 miles an hour in 3.5 seconds, with a 14-story loop and four inversions.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Indianapolis pulls future support for Amtrak line

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — City officials in Indianapolis have cast the future of an Amtrak passenger line between Indianapolis and Chicago into doubt after deciding not to provide any additional money to subsidize that line.

    July 25, 2014

  • Pence leading annual governor’s motorcycle ride

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Mike Pence is leading the annual governor’s motorcycle ride from the Statehouse through southern Indiana.

    July 25, 2014

  • State asks judge to delay right-to-work ruling

    CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) — The Indiana attorney general’s office has asked a judge to put on hold his order striking down the state’s right-to-work law.

    July 25, 2014

  • MET 072414 HOESS 01KOR.jpg Voices from Auschwitz: Ties that bind

    A message that has spread like wildfire across Europe can easily translate to America.

    July 24, 2014 4 Photos 1 Story

  • Minimum wage frozen after 5 years

    Thursday marked the fifth anniversary since the federal minimum wage was increased, a wage U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez contends should again be raised.

    July 24, 2014

  • MET072414 CANDLES shake.jpg ISU, CANDLES join to ‘illuminate the world’

    Indiana State University and CANDLES Holocaust Museum are joining forces to educate current and future generations about the Holocaust, genocide and related issues.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story

  • MET072414 JA hadley.jpg 50 years later, still business as usual

    Junior Achievement of the Wabash Valley marked its 50th anniversary hosting a luau Thursday at the Ohio Building in Terre Haute.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Two semis collide; one driver injured

    A semi-trailer driver from North Carolina was airlifted to Methodist Hospital Thursday after his vehicle collided with another tractor-trailer on Interstate 70 in far western Vigo County.

    July 24, 2014

  • Valley talent returns for show tonight

    Local musical collective Lunes Domingo is scheduled to be back at The Verve tonight to perform the last installment of its 2014 series.

    July 24, 2014

Latest News Poll
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma Raw: Violent Clashes Between Libyan Militias Video Shows Smiling American Bomber in Syria Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Fox Dons 'Bondage Strap' Skirt at Comic-Con Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids
NDN Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010