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Mark Twain: Beneath the Laughter (1979)


Starring Dan O'Herlihy as Mark Twain, this praised PBS special was created by renowned Twain scholars and produced by educational filmmaker Larry Yust for the Foundation for American Letters. A synopsis of the production describes the made-for-television movie this way: “Samuel Clemens, or Mark Twain, is one of America's most widely known, yet least understood authors. This film focuses on the tragedy or folly that often provoked Twain's humor, while never forgetting the laughter, his device for getting and holding our attention. Authentic dialogue and dramatized incidents from his life and his fiction help illustrate the deep pessimism that formed a counterpoint to Twain's celebrated humor.”

"An award-winning documentary that deserves to be widely seen and thoughtfully reflected upon." -- Film News

 "A superbly crafted and scholarly work." -- Library Journal

Little Rock locations including in the movie include the Arkansas State Capitol and the Old State House. Also featured is the old Scott train depot, now a part of Scott Plantation Settlement


Academic Film Archive
Internet Movie Database


Old State House Museum
300 West Markham
Little Rock

Arkansas State Capitol
Capitol and Woodlawn
Little Rock

Scott Plantation Settlement
Walker Corners & Alexander Roads


In his book Life on the Mississippi, Twain said "Helena, Arkansas occupies one of the prettiest situations on the river."