Farewell to Horton Foote, screenwriter of “Tender Mercies,” “To Kill a Mockingbird”

I’m a little late relaying this news, but I learned on Twitter earlier today that Horton Foote has died.

Horton Foote, who chronicled America’s wistful odyssey through the 20th century in plays and films mostly set in a small town in Texas and left a literary legacy as one of the country’s foremost storytellers, died in Hartford, Conn., on Wednesday. He was 92, said his daughter, Hallie Foote.

In screenplays for such movies as “Tender Mercies,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Trip to Bountiful,” and in plays like “The Young Man From Atlanta” and his nine-play cycle “The Orphans’ Home,” Mr. Foote depicted the way ordinary people shoulder the ordinary burdens of life, finding drama in the resilience by which they carry on in the face of change, economic hardship, disappointment, loss and death. His work earned him a Pulitzer Prize and two Academy Awards.

Which of those films has made an impression on you? And why? (I’ve only seen three of them.)

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet departed the Patheos network in order to escape click-bait advertisements that were offending him and his readers. He will re-launch Looking Closer at lookingcloser.org soon. He is the author of The Auralia Thread, a four-volume fantasy series that begins with Auralia's Colors, and a memoir of "dangerous moviegoing" called Through a Screen Darkly. He teaches creative writing and film studies; speaks internationally about art and faith; served as Writer-in-Residence at Covenant College; and is employed by Seattle Pacific University as a project manager, copyeditor, and writer.

  • Clint

    Back when I was in my early 20s, The Trip to Bountiful was the first somewhat literary film I saw and really enjoyed, and that started a trend that has led to so many of the films I love today. Thank you, Horton Foote.

  • http://thedailyvindicator.blogspot.com Seth H.

    I honestly thought he died a long time ago. So I had the opposite problem from you.

    As far as his work goes, The Trip to Bountiful was a pleasant surprise. My college theater professor showed it to us in an American Theater class. It’s been a while since then, but I remember it being quite powerful and moving, even though not a lot really happens. And for me to love a movie like that means that it must have been something very special. Of course, it all hangs on Geraldine Page, who I’m quite sure deserved the Oscar she won (though I haven’t seen most of the other nominated performances from that year). She’s perfect in the way she balances quiet dignity and deep religious conviction with just the right amount of regret and melancholy. At least that’s how I remember her.

    I’m a bit divided on To Kill a Mockingbird. It has some amazing moments, particularly at the end when Boo Radley finally shows up (not to mention the whole “stand up, your father is passing” bit, which blows me away), but I just don’t gel with the bulk of it, despite my affinity for South-centric cinema. Perhaps I need to give it a rewatch soon.


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