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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines."
A biblical passage about greed tells of hungry foxes prowling vineyards to eat grapes, while the little foxes, too small to reach the grapes, chew on the bases of the vines and destroy them. Greed is the main theme of this magnificent 1941 adaptation of Lillian Hellman's stage play of the same name, the little foxes being the grasping Regina Hubbard Giddons (Bette Davis),...
Published on 5 Aug 2004 by Mary Whipple

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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Little entertainment
This film goes on for nearly two hours. Thankfully, I didn’t suffer that long and had it out of the DVD player after 30 minutes. It was still 30 minutes of complete disinterest, though. By all means, watch it if you need a Bette Davis fix. Dan Duryea pops up in a rather drippy kind of role while Teresa Wright is so saccharine that it makes you want to vomit. And the...
Published 6 months ago by Alex da Silva


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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines.", 5 Aug 2004
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Little Foxes [VHS] (VHS Tape)
A biblical passage about greed tells of hungry foxes prowling vineyards to eat grapes, while the little foxes, too small to reach the grapes, chew on the bases of the vines and destroy them. Greed is the main theme of this magnificent 1941 adaptation of Lillian Hellman's stage play of the same name, the little foxes being the grasping Regina Hubbard Giddons (Bette Davis), who married upright Horace Giddons (Herbert Marshall) for his money, and her equally grasping Hubbard brothers (Carl Benton Reid and Charles Dingle) and nephew (Dan Duryea).
While Horace, the president of Planters Trust, a bank in the deep South, has been recuperating from a serious illness, away from home, his Hubbard brothers-in-law and nephew have been running the bank--and fleecing the poor and the black. Eventually, the Hubbards steal money from the absent Horace in order to become partners in a new cotton mill, but the sickly Horace returns home and discovers the theft, along with the treachery of his wife (Davis). Only his nubile daughter Alexandra (Theresa Wright) is true to his heritage of honesty and generosity of spirit.
As Regina, Davis as a cold-hearted villainess, imperious and demanding, without an ounce of generosity. The very young Teresa Wright, as daughter Alexandra, is her naïve antithesis. Author Hellman, who wrote the screenplay for the film, apparently recognized the need to offer some hope for the younger generation and an upbeat note to the film, including a new character, David Hewitt (Richard Carlson), a journalist, who is in love with Alexandra. In new scenes in which the two converse, and in scenes at the bank, a rounder picture of the transition from old to new economy evolves.
Set around the turn of the century, this powerful set piece, directed by William Wyler, depicts the change from a traditional landed aristocracy to newly rich entrepreneurs, like Regina's brothers, who lack positive values. The cast, many of whom created their roles in the stage play, is letter perfect in the attitudes they convey and in their complete mastery of their material. Many of the scenes, beautifully filmed interiors, with the staircase and its balcony playing a key role, allow Davis to look down on those below her. The exterior shots give a wider view of the society and provide some relief from the dark intensity of the drama surrounding the ill Horace. Nominated for nine Academy Awards, including acting, directing, supporting actor, score, and interior decoration, the film seamlessly integrates its many facets in a directorial triumph for Wyler. Mary Whipple
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bette at her badest and best, 9 July 2007
This was Bette's 3rd and last outing with the great William Wyler and although they clashed throughout the shooting of the film this turned out to one of Bette's best performances. Totally stripped of any emotional warmth (which Wyler wanted Bette to display) Bette plays Regina with a coldness that would make the Artic seem tropical. Regina is obsessed by money and power and she will stop at nothing to get what she wants, whether that is letting her husband die by withholding his heart medicine, blackmailing her brothers or losing her daughter. I have a tendancy to concentrate soley on Bette's performance which is one of the best she has ever given but this film is supported by a terrific supporting cast without whose talent this would have been a lesser film. The cameramanship towards the end of the film is superb especially when the camera freezes on Regina's face as you see her husband in the background trying to climb the stairs to get his heart medicine.
The script is flawless and this is a must see film for anyone who truly enjoys great cinema and acting. Bette Davis turns acting into an art form in this film.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars William Wyler and Bette Davis: A great ride, 24 Dec 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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If there were ever a better movie made about family greed, duplicity and selfishness, I've yet to see it. William Wyler, one of the great directors, is at the top of his form. Bette Davis commands the screen with a performance so powerfully evil you can't stop watching, but it never descends to camp.

The Hubbard brothers, Ben (Charles Dingle) and Oscar (Carl Benton Reid), bankers in their turn-of-the-century southern town, have a scheme to bring cotton factories to the south where the cotton grows. With cheap labor they'll make a fortune. They need their sister, Regina Giddens (Bette Davis) to come up with a third of the required investment. The three believe they can get the money from Regina's sick husband, Horace (Herbert Marshall). He refuses, saying he won't be part of a plan to take advantage of the workers in the town through the schemes of his wife and her brothers. "Maybe it's easy for the dying to be honest," he says to Regina. "I'm sick of you, sick of this house, sick of my unhappy life with you. I'm sick of your brothers and their dirty tricks to make a dime. There must be better ways of getting rich than building sweatshops and pounding the bones of the town to make dividends for you to spend. You'll wreck the town, you and your brothers. You'll wreck the country, you and your kind, if they let you. But not me, I'll die my own way, and I'll do it without making the world worse. I leave that to you." Regina's response is straightforward. "I hope you die. I hope you die soon. I'll be waiting for you to die." The brothers arrange to "borrow" some bearer bonds Horace is keeping in their bank. Horace discovers the theft. He plans to change his will, but dies before he can. Regina now says she wants a 75 per cent share of the scheme or she'll send her brothers to jail. Ben Hubbard simply chuckles and muses about why Regina's husband died on the stairs while she was in the living room. It's a stalemate of scorpions. But, as Ben said to Regina, "The world is open for people like you and me. We'll own it someday."

Most of this takes place in the Giddens' genteel antebellum mansion, yet Wyler has managed to avoid any hint of staginess (where the play, by Lillian Hellman, originated). He keeps things so dramatically edgy and moving that the story and the acting simply is engrossing.

Bette Davis, in my view, could and did go over the top too easily in portraying evil or ruthless women. Here she reins it in enough that her selfishness is stunning but you're reacting to the character, not just to Bette Davis acting. One of her great scenes is when, after her showdown with her husband in the parlor, Horace realizes he's having a heart attack and asks Regina to go up the stairs to his room and bring him his medicine. She just sits there, watching him. It dawns on him that she won't help him. He struggles to the stairs and partly climbs, partly crawls up. The camera focuses on Regina's face as, in the background, you can see him struggling...and dieing. It's quite a scene.

The other cast members are excellent. Charles Dingle, as Ben Hubbard, the brother who has the brains, is at once charming and completely unethical. Herbert Marshall, who often played noble but weak men, this time places the accent on physically weak but morally strong. Teresa Wright plays Alexandra Giddins, Regina and Horace's daughter who finally realizes the monster her mother is and breaks free of her. This was her first movie, and she holds her own very nicely with Davis.

This is one of the great American movies, and watchable many times. The DVD looks great.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Korean Import, 9 Mar 2012
By 
Tim Kidner "Hucklebrook Hound" (Salisbury, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Little Foxes [1941] (DVD)
I bought the Region 2 Korean import, as advertised. I won't review the film itself as others have done so - and well at that but concentrate on this particular release.

It plays in original English sound by default (no need to turn off Korean subtitles) and the transfer/picture is good, rather than outstanding. Unlike some other Korean imports I've tried on my Panasonic machine, the picture doesn't judder slightly during panning shots.

The sound is also very good and overall, this is an above average release and which can be thoroughly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The neck has it., 4 Sep 2011
By 
Torchy (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Little Foxes [1941] (DVD)
This is one of Bette Davis's greatest performances. We know now that she was right to refuse Wyler's demand to make Regina more sympathetic - note the wonderful moment when Regina apes the softness which her brother suggests might make her more amenable - and it is her callous absolutism which provides the pivot for the picture. Given that 'the business of America is business' it is astonishing that such a subversive film was made at all (being similar in its deontological ethic to 'In This Our Life'). My favourite moment of many is at the dressmakers, when Regina's daughter's lover delivers his fearless coup de grace to Regina herself. At this moment, Bette Davis has her back to the audience and her most dominant feature is her neck. Watch the scene: perhaps only Bette Davis could convey to an audience precisely what her character was feeling by using nothing but the curve of her neck. It lasts only a few seconds but there is nothing quite like it anywhere else in cinema.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, 22 Sep 2007
By 
Amazon Customer "hamble" (somewhere in west europe) - See all my reviews
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This is the film that Bette Davis was born to star in. Here she is - conniving, brutal, vain, imperious and grasping. Just the sort of character we should all love to hate, but yet love.

The story concerns a money-spinning deal, and unfortunately the only possible investor for the deal is not interested in doing so. I won't ruin the plot, but shall only say that the goings-on that follow will have you gasping and on the edge of your seat. Quite brilliant performances all round, astute dialogue and beautifully crafted cinematography. This is the film that Bette Davis ought to have won an Oscar for (instead it went to Joan Fontaine in "Suspicion"), and this is the film that Hollywood should continue to aspire to.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bette Davis at her best, 1 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Little Foxes [1941] (DVD)
I had this film on VHS for years and have been waiting for it to become available on DVD. The plot is excellent and the acting too. The actual quality of the film is really good considering when it was originally made - well worth buying. If you like Bette Davis you will like this. I have nearly all her films and am a great fan so I'm very pleased to own it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bette is THE Fox!!, 17 July 2013
By 
Stephen NORMAND "Stephen Normand" (Melbourne,Florida/NYC/Norfolk England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Little Foxes [1941] (DVD)
They just don't make films like this anymore...excellent... dialogue..use of body language..scenery...costumes..believable acting.
Story of family greed, human jealousy,deceit and irony. Moving and gets the blood circulating and the heart pumping as Miss Davis does her stuff!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very satisfied., 13 May 2013
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This is one of those Bette Davis films you do not get a chance to see often, and is worth acquiring if only to complete your collection of this lady's magnificent films.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Greed, Deathless Greed!, 4 April 2012
By 
F. S. L'hoir (Irvine, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Little Foxes [1941] (DVD)
This Lillian Hellman classic stage play-to-film has worn awfully well because of the brilliance of the writing, acting, directing, and cinematography. Hellman, first of all, has written a brilliant play that deals with the timeless subject of greed within a dysfunctional family of wheelers and dealers--a theme that broadens metaphorically to greed on a global scale and has therefore lost none of its sting. The costumes, which look as if they've been designed by Worth of Paris, are stunning, as is the setting, the focal point of which is a dramatic spiral staircase, which Bette Davis dominates.

In a deserved, but not won, Academy Award performance, Bette Davis portrays an ice-cold Regina Giddens, a Clytemnestra-like character, who will stop at nothing--including what amounts to spousal murder--to achieve her mercenary ends. Because director William Wylder has used the players who created the roles of Ben and Oscar--her equally unscrupulous brothers--on Broadway, she is ably assisted by a strong supporting cast (including Dan Durea in a comedic turn as Oscar's feckless son--a role that he also created on Broadway). Hellman has scripted a perfectly villainous clutch of fraudsters, who end up with everything they so richly deserve.

The only fly in the cinematic ointment, as far as I am concerned, is Meredith Willson's dated musical score (Hollywood's romanticised version of the 'dear old cotton fields way down south'), which is not only syrupy but also continuous, according to the 1941 tradition; we would now likely consider the film to be over-scored. Nevertheless, the play and the performances are so good that this musical flaw can be overlooked.

See this one for vintage Bette Davis!
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The Little Foxes [1941]
The Little Foxes [1941] by William Wyler (DVD)
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