Horton Foote: The Greatest Playwright You’ve Never Heard Of

Horton Foote: The Greatest Playwright You’ve Never Heard Of


Today we’re talking about Horton Foote (1916-2009), the award-winning playwright and screenwriter. In the recently released documentary Horton Foote: The Road to Home, the celebrated screenwriter Anne Rapp helps us to learn more about this unsung Texas and American legend.

Foote was born and raised in Wharton, Texas, and he went on to become a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, the winner of two Academy Awards for screenwriting, an Emmy Award for television writing, and was a recipient of the National Medal of Arts among numerous other theatrical and literary prizes. His best known works are the Oscar-winning screenplays for To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and Tender Mercies (1983). 

Ann Rapp met Foote on the set of Tender Mercies, where she worked as a screenplay supervisor. She developed a life-long friendship with this unsung gentleman playwright.

With this documentary, she wants to share with everybody her inside look into Foote’s humanity, integrity and empathy that played into his work during his whole life.

“To be a good writer, you don’t have to be educated, you don’t even need to speak good grammar. If you are an observer and a listener, and you find a voice to reflect that, then you can write. Horton was the best listener I’ve ever known.” – Anne Rapp

Time Stamps:

3:40 – Introducing Anne Rapp and her film Horton Foote: the Road to Home.
5:00 – When and where the film will be released to a wider audience.
9:08 – Who Horton Foote was.
13:14 – The first clip from the film: people talking about his writing and personality.
15:32 – What the film is really about.
20:35 – How it was for Anne to spend time visiting Horton Foote and recording him.
25:05 – What is Foote’s home town Wharton, Texas like.
32:56 – The second clip: Ludie’s monologue from the play The Trip to Bountiful.
34:09 – Why it took 13 years for Anne to release this documentary.
42:00 – How Foote’s daughters reacted to the film.
50:10 – The experience of supervising Foote’s scripts.
55:33 – What it was like for Anne to work with Robert Duvall.
59:55 – What it was like to work with Robert Altman and how Anne became a screenwriter.
1:04:30 – The storytelling tradition in Texas.
1:09:22 – What Anne’s writing process looks like.
1:13:40 – What is the essence of Foote’s writing genius.
1:18:50 – How young people can get to know his work better.
1:21:10 – What Anne’s wish for the documentary is and what her next projects are.


Horton Foote: The Road to Home (2020)
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Tender Mercies (1983)
The Trip to Bountiful (1985)
The Major Plays of Horton Foote by Robert W. Haynes
Cookie’s Fortune (1999)
Alamo Pictures

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Episode 39