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Horton Foote’s Work Illuminated Struggles of American Life

March 5, 2009 at 6:50 PM EST

TRANSCRIPT

JIM LEHRER: And finally tonight, a scene from the master storyteller Horton Foote. He wrote more than 60 plays and films, capturing the dignity and frequent struggles of American life. He died yesterday at the age of 92.

Foote was awarded the National Medal of the Arts, a Pulitzer Prize, and two Academy Awards, the first for his movie adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird” in 1962. Here is a scene from “The Trip to Bountiful,” his play that he adapted for the movies in 1985.

We see the main character, Carrie Watts, talking to a young stranger on bus as she makes a final visit to her Texas hometown.

GERALDINE PAGE, “Carrie Watts”: Nobody needs to be ashamed of crying. We’ve all dampened a pillow some time or other. I know I have.

REBECCA DE MORNAY, “Thelma”: If only I could learn not to worry.

GERALDINE PAGE: I know. Yes, we all ask that. Jesse Mae, my daughter-in-law, don’t worry. “What for?” she says. Well, like I tell her, that’s a fine attitude if you can cultivate it. Trouble is, I can’t any longer.

REBECCA DE MORNAY: It is hard.

GERALDINE PAGE: I didn’t used to worry. When I was young, I was so carefree. Had lots to worry me, too. Everybody was so poor back in Bountiful, but we got along.

I said to my papa once after our third crop failure in a row, “Whoever named this place Bountiful?” He said his papa did, because in those days it was a land of plenty. You just dropped seeds in the ground, and crops would spring up. We had cotton and corn and sugar cane. I think it’s the prettiest place I ever heard of.

Jesse Mae says it’s the ugliest, but she only says that to bother me. She only saw it once and that was in a rainy day at that. She says it’s nothing but an old swamp. That may be, I said, but it’s a mighty pretty swamp to me.

JIM LEHRER: That actress, of course, was Geraldine Page. She won an Academy Award for her performance.