Horton Foote’s uniquely personal style of screenwriting is at its peak in this collection of two Academy Award winners, To Kill a Mockingbird and Tender Mercies, and The Trip to Bountiful, a film widely named as one of 1985’s best. “In an age when the lexicon of cinema is largely visual,” noted Samuel G. Freedman in the New York Times Magazine, “Foote writes films. He stresses dialogue and character development rather than spectacle or even traditional narrative.”
Each of the three screenplays sprang from a different origin. One was adapted from the novel by Harper Lee, who later wrote, “If the integrity of a film adaptation is measured by the degree to which the novelist’s intent is preserved, Mr. Foote’s screenplay should be studied as a classic.” Tender Mercies was conceived for the screen, and The Trip to Bountiful came from Foote’s own stage and television play. While each demanded solutions to different cinematic problems, all are marked by Foote’s own mastery of the screenwriting form, as well as his understanding of human relationships. All three show a modern Chekhov at work, revealing the deep currents of American society through the simplest details of daily life.