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Horton Foote's Three Trips to Bountiful: Teleplay, Stageplay, and Screenplay
The acclaimed playwright and screenwriter Horton Foote wrote The Trip to Bountiful for Philco/Goodyear Television Playhouse in 1953, during the golden age of live television drama. The teleplay was so successful that an expanded version opened on the Broadway stage eight months later starring the same leading lady, Lillian Gish. Over thirty years later,...
The acclaimed playwright and screenwriter Horton Foote wrote The Trip to Bountiful for Philco/Goodyear Television Playhouse in 1953, during the golden age of live television drama. The teleplay was so successful that an expanded version opened on the Broadway stage eight months later starring the same leading lady, Lillian Gish. Over thirty years later, Foote converted the play into a screenplay that became the vehicle for Geraldine Page's Oscar-winning performance as Carrie Watts, the aging widow who yearns to return to her home-place, to the vanished Texas town of Bountiful. This volume is a comparative media study that collects the three scripts and examines the way Horton Foote's words and vision make the transition from television screen to stage to film. Moore and Yellin show Foote to be a preservationist, making minimal changes as he adjusts for the restrictions of time and technology in each medium. In a general introduction the editors discuss Foote's themes - going away and coming home again, the need for a sense of continuity with the past - and define his typical characters - small-town simple folk who face the knowledge that their straitened lives probably will not improve. Moore and Yellin briefly analyze the differences and similarities among the three versions of the play, demonstrating the necessity for each to meet the demands of a profit-making business. Preceding each script the editors discuss the circumstances surrounding the production - the technical and aesthetic limitations influencing and shaping the performance. This volume also includes four interviews - with Horton Foote; with the film's co-producer, Sterling VanWagenen; with Peter Masterson, itsdirector; and with Carlin Glynn, who played the supporting role of Jessie Mae in the film. What ultimately emerges from the discussion of the three versions is a glimpse into the way a writer can function within the structure of the entertainment industry, respond to the limitations of the various media, share the creative process with co-workers, and yet remain true to an original vision.
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