Review by Brian Koller|
2½ stars out of 4
"The Little Foxes" was nominated for nine Academy Awards,
including Best Picture, Best Director (William Wyler),
Best Screenplay (Lillian Hellman), Best Editing, plus Best
Actress for Bette Davis. It didn't win a single award.
"The Little Foxes" takes place in the deep South
around 1900. Regina (Bette Davis), her oily brother Ben
(Charles Dingle), and her greedy brother Oscar
are partners in a plan to build a factory that
will exploit the area's poor menial workers.
Ben and Oscar have their share, but Regina must
convince her sick husband Horace (Herbert Marshall)
to put up her share. But Horace disapproves of both the
project and his wife.
There is a subplot involving Davis' daughter Alexandra
(Theresa Wright, in her film debut). Oscar wants her to
marry his good-for-nothing son Leo (Dan Duryea) while she
prefers the clever newspaper writer David Hewitt.
There are many good things to say about this film.
The cinematography, the sets, the costumes, and the
cast are all excellent.
But, there are problems. The most obvious is the
film's racism. Blacks are shown performing all the
menial labor. They are portrayed as docile and obliging
with the minds of children.
Most of the film's protaganists aren't very likable,
either. Davis' character is even more rude and selfish
than usual, while Ben is grasping and Oscar is brutal.
Poor Dan Duryea is again cast as a creep. All lack any
sense of morality. Wright's character is sugar-sweet
despite living with her insulting mother, while her
boyfriend has no accent, and seems a more energetic
clone of her father. The film's good-versus-evil theme
is overplayed as well.
In one scene I disliked, Leo makes an insulting remark to
David, who slaps him several times. Leo finally lunges
half-heartedly at David, who punches Leo, knocking him
to the ground. The audience is supposed to cheer for
defender-of-virtue David, but ends up wondering why Leo
is such a poor fighter.
Another silly scene has the dying Horace trying to make
it up the stairs to his medicine bottle. He stumbles,
rises, grabs the banister, etc. He does everything but
knock the bookcase over and tear down some curtains.
Copyright © 2000 Brian Koller