BURNED-OVER DISTRICT, NY. Horton Foote, the playwright and screenwriter from Wharton, Texas, died last week at the age of 92. Foote, whose finest works include The Trip to Bountiful and Tender Mercies, once said of Robert Duvall that his acting is never general but always particular—an artistic eulogy fitting the playwright as well. In remembrance, over the weekend we watched Tomorrow (1972), which Foote adapted for stage and screen from a William Faulkner story. A product of that most fecund of all cinematic eras, the early ‘70s, the movie stars Duvall, for my money the best film actor of his generation, in an absolutely heartbreaking performance as a Mississippi cotton farmer who takes in an abandoned pregnant woman. It is set in the South but it does not despise the South.
Horton Foote, by the way, owned and sometimes lived in the house in Wharton in which he had grown up. If you could not take Wharton out of the boy, neither could you take the boy out of Wharton.