Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Little Foxes (1941)

Another Bette Davis movie, but this one features what I believe to be her greatest performance.

When it comes to The Little Foxes, I am going to admit that I am extremely biased, since it's the kind of film that I love. Only a handful of characters, a lot of scheming and backstabbing in order to gain power, very dialogue-driven, and of course it has Bette Davis.

Bette Davis is Regina Giddens, a frozen ice-b*tch from Hell. Due to being a women, her father only viewed her two brothers as his rightful heirs, so while they have financial independance, she had to marry a wealthy man in pursuit of her own fortune. Regina's two brothers Benjamin (Charles Dingle) and Oscar (Carl Benton Reid) are planning on opening a cotton mill, but lack all of the necessary funds to do so, causing Regina to scheme and plot in the hopes of gaining control of the mill.

Let me say, this is Bette Davis' best performance, and that is saying a lot. For those who accuse her of being overly theatrical or hammy, this performance is anything but. She is an ice queen using and manipulating anyone she can to gain wealth and power, and Davis creates so much venom with her eyes that it's a marvel to observe. She is total restraint, yet she eminates power, greed, and corruption.

The rest of the cast is good as well, with Theresa Wright and Patricia Collinge giving Oscar nominated performances as Regina's innocent daughter Alexandra and Oscar's depressed and slightly off wife Birdy.

Another standout is Charles Dingle as Benjamin, who gives his character a sly wit that is a great counterpoint to the deadly serious Regina.

The script isn't as snappy as maybe one would expect, but it handles the backstabbing and trickery well by keeping it fairly low key and never going into theatrics or making the dialogue go too over the top.

This is a brilliantly made featuring some great performances, if you are a Bette Davis fan, you have to see this movie, because she is absolutely fantastic.

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