The Shape of the River: The Lost Teleplay About Mark Twain

Mark Dawidziak

Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Applause Books (May 1, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1557835195
ISBN-13: 978-1557835192


The Shape of the River 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.

Author: Mark Dawidziak

Mark Dawidziak is the author or editor of about 25 books, including three studies of landmark television series: The Columbo Phile: A Casebook, The Night Stalker Companion and Everything I Need to Know I Learned in The Twilight Zone, his lighthearted 2017 tribute to Rod Serling’s classic anthology series. He also is an internationally recognized Mark Twain scholar, and five of his books are about the iconic American writer. He spent 43 years as a television, film and theater critic at such newspapers as the Akron Beacon Journal and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. His work on the horror side of the street also includes the novel Grave Secrets, The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Dracula, short stories, and comic book scripts. He lives in Ohio.