Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Little Foxes(1941).

The Little Foxes(1941). Directed by William Wyler. The screenplay by Lillian Hellman is based on her 1939 play of the same name.

The story is about how Southern aristocrat Regina Hubbard Giddens, fights for wealth and Independence in a time when a father sons only could be legal heirs. Regina's, brothers Benjamin and Oscar are wealthy, while she depends on her sickly husband Horace for financial support, who has been away being treated for a heart condition.

Oscar along with Benjamin, want to build a cotton mill. They meet with their sister to ask her for $75,000 to invest in their idea. Oscar proposes a marriage between the first cousins, his son Leo and Regina's daughter Alexandra, but they are repulsed by the suggestion. When Regina asks Horace for the money, he refuses and she tells him his refusal is not important since he will die soon.

Ben and Osca, pressure Leo into stealing Horace's railroad bonds from the family business to obtain the money needed to start the mill. Horace tells Regina what her bothers did and she comes up with a plan for larger share of the mill by blackmailing her brothers about the theft.

Hurt and angry, Horace changes his will leaving Alexandra everything except the railroad bonds. Regina is forced out of the deal, her brothers will have to go on with their plans without her.

Regina tells Horace that she has always had contempt for him and when he suffers a heart attack she makes no effort to get him his medicine. This is one of the scenes you will not soon forget because of the shocking nature of it. Regina cold demeanor is terrifying, while you watch Horace fighting for his life. Horace dies without anyone knowing his plan, now Regina is free to blackmail her brothers. Will the price she pay for her evil plan leave her wealthy but completely alone?

Who better to play the evil Regina than... Bette Davis, who gives another Oscar worthy performance, leading a perfect cast through this amazing film.

Fun facts:

Bette Davis and William Wyler fought a during filming. Disagreements ranged from Davis's interpretation of the character to the appearance of the house, to her appearance. Davis walked out of production, but returned when she heard rumors she was going to be replaced by Katharine Hepburn or Miriam Hopkins.

Teresa Wright's debut and her first Oscar nomination.

Patricia Collinge debuted in film, The Little Foxes(1941), she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Other films include: Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Teresa (1951), Washington Story (1952), and The Nun's Story (1959).

According to the featurette included in the DVD of, Shadow of a Doubt, Collinge rewrote the scene between Teresa Wright and MacDonald Carey in the garage. Hitchcock was delighted and used her rewrite. Collinge also worked with Hitchcock's wife Alma Reville and Ben Hecht (all uncredited), on the screenplay for Hitchcock's next film, Lifeboat (1944).

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