Horton Foote's The Shape of the River: The Lost Teleplay about Mark Twain, with History and Analysis

Front Cover
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, 2003 - Performing Arts - 170 pages
0 Reviews
Published for the first time and reprinted from the only surviving copy of the script, which was discovered in the CBS-TV vaults, Applause is proud to present The Shape of the River, an ambitious television drama by Horton Foote. Mark Twain once remarked that inside every person, "there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy." However, tragedy was a dimension of Twain's life that was largely concealed from the public until The Shape of the River, starring Shirley Knight, appeared on the acclaimed series Playhouse 90 in 1960. Foote's play explored the misfortune and loss that characterized Twain's last 15 years. From his heroic (and successful) attempt to repay almost $100,000 in debt by lecturing around the world (which he hated), to the deaths of his wife and two daughters, this last phase of his life was marked by an incredible amount of sadness and pain. Not seen since its initial broadcast, The Shape of the River has long held legendary status for fans of both Twain and classic television. The play is accompanied by commentary by Twain scholar Mark Dawidziak, who examines the writing and production of the teleplay, and considers its meaning for students of Twain and television. Also included are rare photos from the original Playhouse 90 taping.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2003)

Horton Foote was born in Wharton, Texas on March 14, 1916. He studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse in California for two years before going to New York and joining Mary Hunter's American Actors Company. While there, he wrote a one-act play called Wharton Dance. After that, he continued to pursue acting and appeared in a few other plays, but primarily focused on writing. After World War II, he moved to Washington D. C. to run the King Smith School with Vincent Donehue. While he was there, he opened the King Smith Theater to all races, the first integrated audiences in the nation's capital. In addition to plays, he wrote for television and film. He was one of the writers for The Gabby Hayes Show on NBC. He wrote numerous plays including The Chase, The Carpetbagger's Children, and The Orphans' Home. He wrote numerous screenplays for movies including Baby, the Rain Must Fall and The Trip to Bountiful. He won the Pulitzer Prize for The Young Man from Atlanta and two Academy Awards for To Kill a Mockingbird and Tender Mercies. He died on March 4, 2009 at the age of 92.

Mark Dawidziak has been a theater, film, and television reviewer for thirty years. His many nonfiction books include The Columbo Phile: A Casebook (1989), Mark My Words: Mark Twain on Writing (1996), The Night Stalker Companion: A 25th Anniversary Tribute (1997), Horton Foote's The Shape of the River: The Lost Teleplay about Mark Twain (2003), and The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Dracula (2008). He is also a novelist and playwright.

Bibliographic information