The Little Foxes (1941)

The Little Foxes

The Little Foxes Review

The Little Foxes is a 1941 drama film directed by William Wyler and starring Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall and Teresa Wright. It is such a powerful and unforgettable movie.

It is set in a small town in Alabama in 1900. It follows a cold-hearted woman named Regina who is after her husband’s money and eventually everyone sees what a horrible person she is. It is an important and very dramatic story filled with many memorable moments, notably the ending which is just breathtaking! The whole third act was absolutely fantastic to me with its dramatic dialogue and melodramatic conclusion. It wonderfully explores greed and it makes you care for those characters affected by the antagonist.

Yes, the character development is just phenomenal.  You really feel for Horace as this deeply unhappy man destined to die. And he is to die now knowing who he married and once loved. He is such a tragic figure here and his story really made me sad. Alexandra is also terrific as their daughter and the relationship between her and her mother is superb and gives us some fantastic scenes at the end. Birdie is also really sweet and caring and her brothers are not as good as the female characters, but still realistically depicted. Addie is a typical character, but a likable one.

And of course we come to Regina. She is so cold, heartless and just plain repulsive and such a horrible person that I couldn’t believe what he was capable of doing. The movie surprised me with her as she was genuinely a bad person and although too unrealistically horrible at certain moments, she still cared for her daughter and what she thought of her which is a great approach. But her overall screen presence is that of an undisputed malice and horror and she is definitely, without any doubt, one of the best villains of all time. Just magnificent.

The acting is top-notch across the board. Everyone here shines. Bette Davis gives one of her finest performances which is really saying something as she is my favorite and to me the best actress of all time. She gives here such a powerhouse performance that it is a real shame that she did not get an Oscar for it. But I liked this role because it was unusual for her. Yes, she usually plays bitchy personas, but this time she plays a full villain and she does it beautifully with a great charisma and such precious facial expressions. Teresa Wright is really phenomenal as well and she is such an underrated actress because whenever I saw her in any movie, she was great but never quite got the attention she deserved. She even held her own in the scenes shared with Davis which is such a tremendous achievement. And everyone else is also really good in supporting roles, but Herbert Marshall gives such a memorable performance, subtle and understated unlike his co-star Bette Davis who is theatrical in her role. But each and every one of these actors did such a great job and they lifted this movie to higher levels together for sure.

As for its flaws, it does have some issues that concerned me mostly the inferior first half and sometimes the movie was too theatrical, too unrealistic and of course overly melodramatic. The lack of score is expected but it still felt too much like a theatrical production sometimes which is evident for its overabundance of dialogues, but what dialogues those are! Very well executed and memorable with often a great sense of humor as well. It is wonderfully directed by great William Wyler and it is mostly really well edited and paced. It is emotional and also smart, but above all hugely entertaining and just so damn unforgettable. It is undoubtedly one of the very best films of 1941 in my opinion. It is up there with ‘Sullivan’s Travels‘ which is really saying a lot.

The Little Foxes is an incredible film! It is filled with characters you care about and the dialogue is terrific, but it is the character of Regina who is the standout being one of the very best villains of all time. The acting is superb with Teresa Wright being terrific and of course Bette Davis is truly fantastic in one of her very best roles which is really saying a lot. It is such a deeply melodramatic, but such a heartfelt and memorable movie that is one of the very best of its year and one of the best melodramas of the forties.

My Rating – 4.5

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      Interior & Exterior Stills from he Little Foxes

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Posted in 1940s, 1941, Drama, MOVIE REVIEWS and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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