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Features

September 2012

Horton Foote's staying power

by Brooke Allen

On the creative prowess of playwright Horton Foote.

Like Eugene O’Neill, the playwright Horton Foote essentially had two careers. During the first, which lasted from the early 1940s until the late 1960s, he established a reputation as a fine regional writer with a homespun flavor, occasional flashes of brilliance, and a flawless ear for the dialogue of his native East Texas. The one-act plays Foote wrote for live television in the early 1950s (The Oil Well, The Trip to Bountiful, and Death of the Old Man, among others) were immediately recognized as works that lifted the new medium to a higher level. His Oscar-winning screen adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) put him at the top of Hollywood’s A-list.

But the downward slope from that pinnacle is famously precipitous, and by 1968 the world seemed to have lost interest in what Foote had to offer. Sex and violence now ruled at the Hollywood box office. Origina ...

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Brooke Allen's latest book is Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers (Ivan R Dee). 


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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 September 2012, on page 18

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On May 5, 2014, The New Criterion and PJ Media presented the second Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity. The award is given to highlight egregious examples of dishonest reporting. Also awarded this year was the Rather, a new award for lifetime achievement in mendacious journalism.
The Duranty Prize is named after Walter Duranty, the New York Times Moscow corresponded in the 1920s and 1930s who whitewashed Joseph Stalin’s forced starvation of the Ukrainians (the Holodomor) and many other aspects of Soviet oppression. Duranty was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for his efforts. It has never been revoked.
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