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Little Foxes
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The Little Foxes

4.5 4
Director: William Wyler,

Cast: Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, Teresa Wright

 

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Playwright Lillian Hellman first wrote of the horrible Hubbard family in her 1939 play The Little Foxes. In this lavish 1941 film version, Bette Davis takes over for Broadway's Tallulah Bankhead in the role of conniving turn-of-the-century Southern aristocrat Regina Hubbard Giddens. Regina's equally odious brothers (Charles Dingle and Carl Benton Reid) want her

Overview

Playwright Lillian Hellman first wrote of the horrible Hubbard family in her 1939 play The Little Foxes. In this lavish 1941 film version, Bette Davis takes over for Broadway's Tallulah Bankhead in the role of conniving turn-of-the-century Southern aristocrat Regina Hubbard Giddens. Regina's equally odious brothers (Charles Dingle and Carl Benton Reid) want her to lend them 75,000 dollars to help build a cotton mill. To do this, she must make peace with her long-estranged husband, Horace (Herbert Marshall) -- and failing that, she tries to arrange a wealthy marriage between her daughter, Alexandra (Teresa Wright), and her slimy nephew Leo (Dan Duryea). Horace refuses to give Regina the money, whereupon Leo is pressured by his father (Reid) to steal bonds from the family business. Regina uses this information as a means of blackmailing her brothers for a share in the new mill. In retaliation, Horace claims that he gave Leo the bonds as a loan, thereby cutting Regina out of the deal. When Horace suffers a heart attack, Regina makes no effort to give him his medicine, and he dies without revealing his willingness to loan the money to Leo. Regina is thus still able to strongarm her brothers into giving her a piece of the mill -- but the price for her evil machinations is the loss of her daughter's love and respect. The Little Foxes caused a censorship stir in 1941; by refusing to give Horace his medicine, Regina technically gets away with murder. However, the censors decided that Regina was punished enough when her daughter left her to marry an honest newspaperman (Richard Carlson). Given the usual Tiffany treatment by producer Sam Goldwyn, The Little Foxes was a success; several years later, Lillian Hellman wrote a "prequel" to The Little Foxes, titled Another Part of the Forest.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
The Little Foxes is a triumphant screen translation of Lillian Hellman's classic stage melodrama, blessed with an exceptional cast and expert direction. True, there are a few minor missteps in the manner in which the play has been "opened up" for the screen, the most obvious being the addition of a rather stereotypical crusading journalist boyfriend for Alexandra. But these flaws are made up for by the glorious production, which manages to add a few new layers to some characters who can, in the wrong hands, come across as a bit too clearly drawn. Presiding over the cast with a velvet glove cast in iron is Bette Davis, turning in the kind of performance that made her a screen legend -- and deservedly so. Davis clearly presents Regina's hardness and severity, but she doesn't overplay that hand; her Regina knows how to charm, and to do so with conviction. The actress also shows the audience the character's vulnerability, but only enough glimpses to make us almost feel for her. She's well-matched by Herbert Marshall's extremely well-judged Horace, Patricia Collinge's magnificent Birdie, and Charles Dingle's dangerous but subtle Ben. Teresa Wright pushes a little too hard to demonstrate Alexandra's innocence and naïveté, but otherwise she's thoroughly engaging. Add in William Wyler's spot-on direction and a first-rate physical production, and the result is a true classic.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/15/2014
UPC:
0883929405114
Original Release:
1941
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Home Video
Time:
1:56:00
Sales rank:
2,574

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Bette Davis Regina Hubbard Giddens
Herbert Marshall Horace Giddens
Teresa Wright Alexandra Giddens
Richard Carlson David Hewitt
Patricia Collinge Birdie Hubbard
Charles Dingle Ben Hubbard
Dan Duryea Leo Hubbard
Carl Benton Reid Oscar Hubbard
Jessie Grayson Addie
John Marriott Cal
Russell Hicks William Marshall
Lucien Littlefield Sam Naders
Henry Thomas Harold
Virginia Brissac Lucy Hewitt
Charles Moore Simon
Hooper Atchley Guest
Al Bridge Dawson, the Hotel Manager
Lew Kelly Train Companion
Henry Roquemore Depositor
Kenny Washington Servant

Technical Credits
William Wyler Director
Howard Bristol Set Decoration/Design
Alan Campbell Screenwriter
Samuel Goldwyn Producer
Stephen Goosson Production Designer
Lillian Hellman Screenwriter
Arthur Kober Screenwriter
Dan Mandell Editor
Orry-Kelly Costumes/Costume Designer
Dorothy Parker Screenwriter
Gregg Toland Cinematographer
William Tummel Asst. Director
Perc Westmore Makeup
Meredith Willson Score Composer

Customer Reviews

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The Little Foxes 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Little Foxes' is based on the play by Lillian Hellman. It stars Bette Davis as Regina Giddens, the ruthless matriarch of a Southern family steeped in deceit, fraud and betrayal. Regina wants to be rich again and to this end she is willing to destroy her two brothers, sell her only daughter, Alexandra (Teresa Wright) in marriage to her first cousin, and kill her ex-husband, Horace (Herbert Marshall) by giving him a heart attack and then refusing to give him the medication that might save his life. This is one tough and classy dame! True to its Southern roots, the plot meanders through a series of complications which are riveting, slowly paving the way for Regina¿s greatness. Unfortunately, Regina underestimates the courage, determination and forthright penitence of her daughter to buck her and depart from the old plantation manor with new love David Hewitt (Richard Carlson). Although the print for this film shows little signs of age related artifacts, nothing can excuse the edge enhancement, shimmering of fine details and aliasing that is inherent in nearly every scene. It really is distracting, especially as a lot of the key scenes are played out on a winding banister with ornate spindles that shake and shimmy all over the screen - enough to give one a small headache. The audio is mono and very nicely balanced. A Theatrical trailer that looks as though it was fed through a meat grinder is the only extra included here for your consideration. This isn't one to spend your money on!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is Bette Davis at her best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A Davis performance not to be missed. She insisted on her own harsh makeup, and is supported by an outstanding cast.