Critical Context

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In many respects, Fool for Love marks a turning point in Sam Shepard’s career. From the outset, with his first produced play, Cowboys (pr. 1964), and continuing through Cowboy Mouth (pr., pb. 1971), Geography of a Horse Dreamer (pr., pb. 1974), and True West (pr. 1980), Shepard has explored the figure of the American cowboy in one guise or another. In this respect, Fool for Love follows the pattern. As May tells Eddie, “anybody who doesn’t half kill themselves falling off horses or jumping on steers is a twerp in your book.” Yet it also breaks a Shepard pattern. In the words of critic Ron Mottram, Fool for Love is the first play in which he sustains “a female character and [has] her remain absolutely true to herself, not only as a social being, but also as an emotional being.”

Shepard worked earlier with director Michelangelo Antonioni as a screenwriter for Zabriskie Point (1969), and the film version of Fool for Love (1985) marks a consummation of Sam Shepard’s many talents. He not only wrote the screenplay for director Robert Altman, but also played the role of Eddie. If for this reason alone, Fool for Love will continue to occupy an important place in the works of Sam Shepard.

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Critical Evaluation