Tender Mercies 40th anniversary

Tender Mercies was released in American theaters forty years ago this month. The story of a troubled Texas country singer on the verge of a comeback who must choose between his career and new family was nominated for multiple Academy Awards. Although the film did not win the Academy Award for Best Picture, Horton Foote won the award for Best Original Screenplay, and Robert Duvall won the award for Best Actor in 1984.  This production was the fourth time that Robert Duvall appeared in a film by Texas dramatist Horton Foote. Duvall’s costars include Tess Harper, Ellen Barkin, Betty Buckley, Lenny von Dohlen, and Wilford Brimley. Filming occurred in the North Texas towns of Waxahachie, Arlington, and Palmer in 1981.

Horton Foote with director Bruce Beresford, 1981

Tender Mercies script page

For three decades Robert Duvall appeared in films written by Horton Foote: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), The Chase (1966), Tomorrow (1972), Tender Mercies (1983), and Convicts (1991). Horton Foote’s extensive personal archive includes materials from his plays, television films, motion picture films, unpublished manuscripts, and personal correspondence. Below is a letter from American author, Reynolds Price, and Foote’s response:

Tender Mercies cast photo with humorous captions by the crew

Please contact degolyer@smu.edu for questions about the Horton Foote papers in DeGolyer Library.


Horton Foote papers, MSS 88
Horton Foote digital collection