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Tired old queen at the movies

review
The Little Foxes

T
hings get hot on the old plantation when Bette Davis squares off with everything and everybody to get to what she wants in William Wyler's adaptation of Lillian Hellman's drama of greed in the turn of the century south The Little Foxes.

Shot in full period splendor at Samuel Goldwyn studios during one of the hottest heat waves to hit California in decades, The Little Foxes was a troubled shoot from the get-go. Bette Davis and William Wyler fought incessantly over her interpretation of Regina, the lead character, which had been immortalized on stage by Davis' rival Tallulah Bankhead. The heat, along with the frayed nerves, the heavy costumes and the long waits for cinematographer Gregg Toland to set up intricate shots drove Davis to walk off the set, the production into delays and the tempers into high gear. Wyler vowed he'd never work with Davis again. Yet, despite the problems, the film proved to be a spectacular achievement. Most of the Broadway cast was brought out for the production and all had lucrative film careers after the picture's release. For her part, Davis received her fifth nomination for Best Actress and should have won over eventual winner Joan Fontaine. But the troubles on the Foxes set combined with her resignation as president of the Academy had made her too unpopular and although the production itself received numerous nominations, it took home nothing.

Steve Hayes

(Syndication is with the kind permission of Steve Hayes.)


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