The Little Foxes - 1941

The Little Foxes - Released August 29, 1941. Directed by William Wyler

In the 1939 Gone with the Wind, Southern Belle turned businesswoman Scarlett O'Hara says 'tomorrow is another day.' In the 1941 The Little Foxes, Southern Belle Regina Giddens says "We'll talk about that tomorrow." The difference between the two women, both who are clever and strong competitors in male-dominated southern society, is that Scarlett's hope and confidence to get what she wants is renewed daily, whereas Regina needs to avoid explaining herself when uncomfortable questions come up, and so "we'll talk about that tomorrow," is a tool to put of the inevitable exposure of her tricky plans to acquire what she wants.

Putting off inconvenient questions is particularly important when her dutiful daughter Alexandra (Teresa Wright) starts asking how her father Horace (Herbert Marshal), an invalid in a wheelchair, was found expired near the top of the staircase in their large home (he dies shortly thereafter and Regina is directly, though passively, involved in the death). Wyler uses the staircase for a number of scenes, and we see Bette Davis atop it repeatedly enough that it looks like a perch, not too far removed from how Davis and Wyler present Regina, as a kind of predator bird, waiting for a chance to take a victim (this is made more explicit when Bette Davis enters a scene with Herbert Marshall and she is wearing and tinkering with her bird-festooned headgear).

The film is based on the Broadway play The Little Foxes (which featured Tallulah Bankhead in the lead role, written by Lillian Hellman) and Wyler has constructed a nice, compact story in which a lifetime of calculated greed shared by Regina and her two brothers (played by Charles Dingle and Carl Benton Reid) comes to a head when an opportunity to get involved in a lucrative cotton mill facility becomes available, and all they need is $75,000 liquidity in order to participate - an amount none of them actually has, but Regina's terminally ill husband Horace does...

Original Page May 2017

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