YEAR: 1996

ROLE:  Pete Davenport

DIRECTOR:  Peter Masterson

TV PREMIERE:   Showtime - June 9, 1996

Plot Summary

Set in 1910, nineteen-year-old Horace Robedaux is in Houston to visit his estranged mother Corella  and sister Lily Dale while his taciturn stepfather Pete Davenport is supposed to be away. Pete dislikes Horace and left the boy behind with relatives when he married Corella and they moved away. Self-centered Lily Dale resents Horace taking away attention from herself and matters only get worse when Pete comes home early and Horace becomes so ill that he can't leave.

Mary Stuart MASTERSON...........Lily Dale
Stockard CHANNING...................Corella
Tom GUINEE.................Horace Robedaux
Jean STAPLETON..................Mrs. Coons
John SLATTERY......................Will Kidder

Publicity Stills & Posters



John J. O'Connor, NY Times:
In "Lily Dale," Horton Foote, author of some 40 plays, rummages once again through an exquisitely neurasthenic past, its taut emotions stretched almost painfully beneath flutterings of propriety... Despite a generally fine cast, there's no Page-like turn to galvanize the production... There are some casting glitches. Ms. Masterson, daughter of Mr. Masterson, the director, is 30, and just not terribly convincing as a hopelessly naive 18-year-old. And some characters remain irritatingly vague. Ms. Channing manages to make the ambiguous Corella quite moving, but the lanky Mr. Shepard can do little with Mr. Davenport other than make him look as if he has just wandered in from "The Grapes of Wrath."

Robert Koehler, LA Times:
Everything in director Peter Masterson's film version of Horton Foote's play "Lily Dale" on Showtime is saturated in an unrelieving, dull brownness - from Don Fauntleroy's weak, sepia-toned cinematography to the hazy, lazy nature of Foote's dramaturgy. Just as it did onstage, this curiously pallid work from an usually interesting writer just sits there, raising the mystery of why it's here at all.

It isn't as if "Lily Dale" is a cryptic, metaphoric piece of Southern gothic. Foote's tale is pure simplicity, showing the fleeting reunion of brother Horace with sister Lily Dale and their mother Corella. After her first husband died a drunkard, Corella married Pete, whom the children call Mr. Davenport.

Pete is also Mr. Individualism, emphatic that Horace live on his own and fend for himself. When Pete returns unexpectedly early to the family's Houston home from an out-of-town trip while Horace is still there, a clash is bound to happen. The clash, alas, is more like a whimper. Horace lapses into a fever that makes him bedridden for three weeks and a passive audience for spoiled Lily's nonstop, self-absorbed monologues. No one in the well-to-do house bothers to call a doctor to examine Horace - just one of several instances where Foote's search for ways to dramatize existential ideas collides with credibility.

Horace's fate appears wrapped in the past with his dead father, but Lily wants nothing to do with the past, happy to tinkle the piano ivories and look pretty for her suitor. Foote never finds a way to bring this sibling rift to a head; it's as if the film, like the family, were afraid of conflict. None of this is good for the actors, who fail to meld into an ensemble. Masterson suggests a wallflower who's been cooped up too long but misses the air of sadness Foote seems to be aiming at. Guinee, all manic-depressive angst, and Shepard, who's never been more sternly taciturn, are acting in two different films.

Tony Scott, Variety:
Despite expository dialogue that occasionally stalls the action, Foote summons up an engrossing work in which two of the three central people remain constant. Here's serious, engaging television. Channing's concerned, tightly wound Corella, charged with conflicting maternalism and self-preservation, remains uncertain, as she should. Masterson's prattling, insecure Lily Dale is wearing, but Guinee's self-contained, uncomplaining, repressed Horace glows.

Shepard, admirably sustaining Pete's antagonism toward Horace, develops the character's gracelessness even further with his acceptance of Will. And Stapleton's interludes - she reappears - are beautifully realized.

Michael Knue's editing is superior, and art directors Jack Marty and Chris Henry have resourcefully detailed the turn-of- the-century ambience. Production designer Barbara Haberecht provides a good, middle-class living area for the Davenport home and a realistic train interior for Horace's commute. Jean-Pierre Dorleac's costumes are authentic.

TV Guide:
Foote's usual strength is characterization, but this adaptation fails there as well. Sam Shepard is stolid at best, Masterson merely dislikable (and uninterestingly so). As a mother and son unable to resume a relationship that was taken away from them, Stockard Channing and Tim Guinee are appealing and able; the script's failure to tell us more about them is its chief failing.

Michael Kilian, Chicago Tribune:
More like a filmed play than a play-inspired movie, "Lily Dale" is slow-moving but compelling. It puts one in mind of a deep-running prairie river. On the surface, all seems calm and still, but below are swift and dangerous currents.

The film opens with Horace, barely more than a teen, riding a train from a small Texas town to Houston, where he's to visit his mother (Channing) and sister (Masterson). We're quickly informed, through his encounter with Stapleton as a very Baptist busybody, that his family has been ruined and dispersed through the drunkenness and failures of his father, now dead. The mother and sister live with the mother's new husband, Shepard, a work-hardened, proud, yet embittered man who suffered in early life and has charity for none, especially stepson Horace.

The husband has kept Horace exiled in that small town, where he labors as a store clerk without prospects. He has been invited to Houston by his mother only because his stepfather is away on a trip, but the hard-hearted Shepard returns too soon, and the dynamic tensions that build through this deceptively simple tale stem from that point.

Sister Lily Dale, whose devouring insecurities are as evident as her gay prettiness, is made almost frantic by the threat the unwanted Horace poses to her refuge "from the past." Alternately detestable and pitiable as masterfully portrayed by Masterson, Lily Dale is the centerpiece of the story, though by no means its heroine.