See the winner of the MFAH/Houston Chronicle Top Texas Film Picks readers’ poll on the big screen!

Shot largely in Waxahachie, and based on an original screenplay by Horton Foote, Tender Mercies opened to little fanfare and went on to draw five Oscar nominations—including wins for Foote and lead actor Robert Duvall. 

Down-on-his-luck country singer Mac Sledge (Duvall) has nowhere to turn when he wakes up in a motel, broke and hung over. He takes a job from Rosa Lee (Tess Harper), who runs the place. Mac begins to fall for Rosa, who helps him confront his drinking, and also finds an unexpected bond with Rosa's young son (Allan Hubbard). When the opportunity for a career comeback surfaces, Mac must choose between his new life and the life he let slip through his hands. Helping him decide are figures from his past, including his ex-wife (Betty Buckley), former manager (Wilford Brimley), and the daughter he neglected (Ellen Barkin).

“Tender Mercies won Robert Duvall his only Academy Award in six nominations. It contains one of his most understated performances. It's mostly done with his eyes. The actor who shouted, ‘I love the smell of napalm in the morning!’ here plays a character who wants to be rid of shouting. The film itself never shouts.” —Roger Ebert,

• Watch Horton Foote discuss pitching Tender Mercies to the studios.

• Read Rogert Ebert's review of the film.

• Watch HoustonPBS's Ernie Manouse interview Bruce Beresford.

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Bruce Beresford
Running Time
92 minutes
35mm, Color