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The Little Foxes (film)

the little foxes film wikipedia, the little foxes film cast
The Little Foxes 1941 is an American drama film directed by William Wyler The screenplay by Lillian Hellman is based on her 1939 play of the same name Hellman's ex-husband Arthur Kober, Dorothy Parker and her husband Alan Campbell contributed additional scenes and dialogue2

Contents

  • 1 Plot
  • 2 Cast
  • 3 Production
  • 4 Critical reception
  • 5 Box office
  • 6 Nominations
  • 7 Radio adaptation
  • 8 References
    • 81 Notes
    • 82 Bibliography
  • 9 External links

Plotedit

Southern aristocrat Regina Hubbard Giddens Bette Davis struggles for wealth and freedom within the confines of an early 20th-century society where a father considered only sons as legal heirs As a result, her avaricious brothers, Benjamin Charles Dingle and Oscar Carl Benton Reid, are independently wealthy, while she must rely for financial support upon her sickly husband Horace Herbert Marshall, who has been away undergoing treatment for a severe heart condition

Bette Davis in The Little Foxes

Oscar, having married and maligned the sweet-souled, now hopelessly alcoholic Birdie Patricia Collinge to acquire her family's plantation and its cotton fields, now wants to join forces with Benjamin to construct a cotton mill They approach their sister with their need for an additional $75,000 to invest in the project Oscar initially proposes a marriage between his son Leo Dan Duryea and Regina's daughter Alexandra Teresa Wright – first cousins – as a means of getting Horace's money; but Horace and Alexandra are repulsed by the suggestion When Regina asks Horace outright for the money, he refuses She tells him his refusal is not important since he will die soon and she is eagerly waiting for that day to come Alexandra overhears the conversation and is distraught She then comforts her father after Regina leaves the room

Patricia Collinge

Ben and Oscar, aware of Horace's refusal, pressure Leo into stealing Horace's railroad bonds from his personal security box at the bank to complete the sum needed to construct the mill After returning home from an impromptu trip to his security box at the bank, Horace informs Regina of the theft of his bonds Regina, realizing her two brothers stole the bonds through Leo, who works at the bank, schemes to acquire a larger share of the mill by blackmailing her brothers about their theft

Immediately, Horace states he is changing his will to leave Alexandra everything except the railroad bonds which, he will claim, he freely lent to Leo This story will thwart any attempt by Regina to blackmail her brothers over their theft and will deny her any claim to an ownership stake in the mill Alexandra is rescued from a larger misfortune, that of marrying the repugnant Leo, by Birdie, the only person able to do so, who wills herself the courage to tell the younger woman not to marry the wrong man ie Leo, lest she bear the consequences for the rest of her life Unfortunately, Oscar overhears part of the conversation and, after Alexandra is out of earshot, slaps Birdie hard

Bette Davis and Herbert Marshall

Regina argues with Horace about her contempt for him; and, when he suffers a heart attack, she makes no effort to get him his medicine from upstairs Horace climbs the stairs to get his medicine but collapses on the way up The final scenes of the film involve a dying Horace surrounded by family, a doctor and servants who await the chance he may survive Eventually, Horace dies, leaving no one to contradict Regina if she accuses her brothers of theft She thus blackmails her brothers, demanding that she be given 75% ownership of the mill business, and they are left with no choice but to accept her demands

Alexandra hears this conversation; and, upon the brothers' leaving, she confronts her mother about the nature of her father's death on the stairway Regina denies any wrongdoing, but Alexandra is skeptical Alexandra then states the importance of not idly watching people do evil, and Regina tells her daughter that she cannot do anything to stop her from leaving the household, while hoping that she stays Alexandra runs away with newspaperman David Richard Carlson Regina is left wealthy, but completely alone

Castedit

  • Bette Davis as Regina Hubbard Giddens
  • Herbert Marshall as Horace Giddens
  • Teresa Wright as Alexandra Giddens
  • Richard Carlson as David Hewitt
  • Dan Duryea as Leo Hubbard
  • Patricia Collinge as Birdie Hubbard
  • Charles Dingle as Ben Hubbard
  • Carl Benton Reid as Oscar Hubbard
  • Jessica Grayson as Addie as Jessie Grayson
  • John Marriott as Cal
  • Russell Hicks as William Marshall
  • Lucien Littlefield as Manders
  • Virginia Brissac as Mrs Hewitt
  • Terry Nibert as Julia
  • Henry 'Hot Shot' Thomas as Harold
  • Charles R Moore as Simon
  • Hooper Atchley as Party Guest uncredited
  • Al Bridge as Dawson uncredited
  • Tex Driscoll as Bank Customer uncredited
  • Jesse Graves as Headwaiter uncredited
  • Lew Kelly as Train Companion uncredited
  • Henry Roquemore as Depositor uncredited
  • Kenny Washington as Servant uncredited

Productionedit

Lillian Hellman, author of The Little Foxes 1939

The title comes from Chapter 2, Verse 15 in the Song of Solomon in the King James version of the Bible, which reads, "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes"3 The same passage also inspired the title of an unrelated film, Our Vines Have Tender Grapes

Tallulah Bankhead had received critical acclaim for her performance in the 1939 Broadway production of Hellman's play, but director William Wyler, who previously had teamed with Bette Davis on Jezebel and The Letter, insisted on casting her in the lead role instead Producer Samuel Goldwyn agreed, since none of Bankhead's films had been box office hits Coincidentally, Davis had recreated on film another of Bankhead's Broadway roles, Judith Traherne in Dark Victory However, Davis was reluctant, "On The Little Foxes I begged the producer, Samuel Goldwyn, to let Tallulah Bankhead play Regina because Tallulah was magnificent on the stage He wouldn't let her"4 Initially Jack L Warner refused to lend Davis to Goldwyn, who then offered the role to Miriam Hopkins5 When Wyler refused to work with her, Goldwyn resumed negotiations with Warner and finally secured Davis for $385,000 As a contract player at Warner Bros, Davis was earning $3,000 a week, and when she discovered how much Warner had received for her appearance in Foxes, she demanded and ultimately received a share of the payment3

Wyler encouraged Davis to see Bankhead in the original play, which she did despite major misgivings She later regretted doing so because after watching Bankhead's performance and reading Hellman's screenplay she felt compelled to create a totally different interpretation of the role, one she didn't feel suited the character Bankhead had portrayed Regina as a victim forced to fight for her survival due to the contempt with which her brothers treated her, but Davis played her as a cold, conniving, calculating woman wearing a death mask of white powder she insisted makeup artist Perc Westmore create for her5

In her autobiography, A Lonely Life, Davis gave a different version about having to see Bankhead in the play "A great admirer of hers, I wanted in no way to be influenced by her work It was Willie's intention that I give a different interpretation of the part I insisted that Tallulah had played it the only way it could be played Miss Hellman's Regina was written with such definition that it could only be played one way"6 "I had to do that part exactly the way Tallulah did it, because that's the way Lillian Hellman wrote it But I was always sad that Tallulah couldn't record Regina from the theatre, because she was marvelous" Charles Dingle, Carl Benton Reid, Dan Duryea, and Patricia Collinge all reprised their critically acclaimed Broadway performances Critics preferred Bankhead's rendition of the role to Davis's, though the supporting cast was highly praised

The character of David Hewitt was not in the original play Hellman created him to add a second sympathetic male to stand alongside Horace among all the venomous Hubbard men

Davis and Wyler frequently fought during filming, about everything from her appearance Wyler thought she looked like a Kabuki performer, but Davis wanted to look older than her age as the part was written for a 40-year-old to the set design which Davis thought was far too opulent for a family supposedly struggling financially to her interpretation of the role Wyler wanted a more feminine and sympathetic Regina, akin to Tallulah's interpretation Davis had yielded to Wyler's demands during production of The Letter, but this time she held her ground Not helping the situation was the fact Los Angeles was experiencing its worst heat wave in years, and the temperature on the soundstages regularly rose above 100 degrees Davis finally walked off the picture "It was the only time in my career that I walked out on a film after the shooting had begun," she later recalled "I was a nervous wreck due to the fact that my favorite and most admired director was fighting me every inch of the way I just didn't want to continue"3 The actress retreated to her rented house in Laguna Beach and "flatly refused to come back to work It took a little courage, to say the least Goldwyn had it in his power to sue me for the entire cost of the production"3 A week later she returned to the set after rumors she would be replaced by Katharine Hepburn or Miriam Hopkins began to circulate, although Goldwyn was not about to bear the expense of scrapping all the footage with Davis and refilming the scenes with a new actress5 Even though the film was a critical and commercial success and nominated for nine Academy Awards, she and Wyler never worked together again235

The film premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York City The New York Times reported it was seen by 22,163 persons on its opening day, setting what was then an all-time attendance mark for a normal opening day at the theatre7

In 1946, Hellman wrote the play Another Part of the Forest, a prequel to Foxes It was adapted for the screen in 1948

In 2003, the character of Regina Giddens, played by Davis, was ranked #43 on the American Film Institute list of the 50 Best Villains of American Cinema

Critical receptionedit

In his review in The New York Times, Bosley Crowther observed,

Lillian Hellman's grim and malignant melodrama has now been translated to the screen with all its original viciousness intact It leaps to the front as the most bitingly sinister picture of the year and as one of the most cruelly realistic character studies yet shown on the screen Mr Wyler, with the aid of Gregg Toland, has used the camera to sweep in the myriad small details of a mauve decadent household and the more indicative facets of the many characters Miss Davis's performance in the role which Talluluh Bankhead played so brassily on the stage is abundant with color and mood she does occasionally drop an unmistakable imitation of her predecessor Better than that, however, are the other members of the cast Charles Dingle as Brother Ben Hubbard, the oldest and sharpest of the rattlesnake clan, is the perfect villain in respectable garb Carl Benton Reid as Brother Oscar is magnificently dark, sullen and undependable Patricia Collinge repeats her excellent stage performance The Little Foxes will not increase your admiration for mankind It is cold and cynical But it is a very exciting picture to watch in a comfortably objective way, especially if you enjoy expert stabbing-in-the-back8

Variety said,

From starring Bette Davis down the line to the bit roles portrayed by minor Negroes the acting is well nigh flawless Marshall turns in one of his top performances On top of the smooth pace, Wyler has handled every detail with an acutely dramatic touch9

Box officeedit

The film was popular at the box office but because of the favourable terms Sam Goldwyn enjoyed with distributor RKO, RKO recorded a loss of $140,000 on the film10

Nominationsedit

  • Academy Award for Best Picture Samuel Goldwyn
  • Academy Award for Best Director William Wyler
  • Academy Award for Best Actress Bette Davis
  • Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress Patricia Collinge and Teresa Wright
  • Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay Lillian Hellman
  • Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring for a Dramatic Film Meredith Willson
  • Academy Award for Best Film Editing Daniel Mandell
  • Academy Award for Best Art Direction Stephen Goosson, Howard Bristol

Radio adaptationedit

The Little Foxes was presented February 11, 1946, on Screen Guild Theatre The 30-minute adaptation starred Davis, Wright and Dingle in their roles from the film11 Tallulah Bankhead reprising her Broadway role also gave a radio adaptation

Referencesedit

Notesedit

  1. ^ "The Little Foxes: Detail View" American Film Institute Retrieved April 13, 2014 
  2. ^ a b Landazuri, Margarita "Article: The Little Foxes", Turner Classic Movies Retrieved: August 20, 2012
  3. ^ a b c d e Stine and Davis 1974, pp 148–153
  4. ^ All about All about Eve: The Complete Behind-The-Scenes Story of the Bitchiest Film Ever Made
  5. ^ a b c d Higham 1981, pp 211–212
  6. ^ Davis 1962, p 207
  7. ^ "Film record set by 'Little Foxes'; 22,163 Persons Saw Movie at Music Hall on Thursday, a New Opening Day Mark" The New York Times, August 22, 1941
  8. ^ Crowther, Bosley "The Little Foxes 1941: 'The Little Foxes,' Full of Evil, Reaches the Screen of the Music Hall" The New York Times, August 22, 1941
  9. ^ "Review: The Little Foxes" Variety, August 22, 1941
  10. ^ Jewell 2012, p 254
  11. ^ "Those Were the Days" Nostalgia Digest 35 2: 32–39 Spring 2009 

Bibliographyedit

  • Davis, Bette The Lonely Life: An Autobiography New York: G P Putnam's Sons, 1962
  • Higham, Charles The Life of Bette Davis New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1981 ISBN 0-02-551500-4
  • Jewell, Richard B RKO Radio Pictures: A Titan is Born Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 2012 ISBN 978-0-52027-179-1
  • Stine, Whitney, and Bette Davis Mother Goddam: The Story of the Career of Bette Davis New York: Hawthorn Books, 1974 ISBN 0-8015-5184-6

External linksedit

  • The Little Foxes at the American Film Institute Catalog
  • The Little Foxes on Internet Movie Database
  • The Little Foxes at AllMovie
  • The Little Foxes at TV Guide
  • The Little Foxes at Reel Classics
  • The Little Foxes on Screen Guild Theater: August 6, 1945
  • Nighttime exterior of Radio City Music Hall, with marquis indicating that The Little Foxes starring Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall and Teresa Wright, is playing there

the little foxes 1941 film, the little foxes film cast, the little foxes film wiki, the little foxes film wikipedia


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