From the success on Broadway to multiple Oscar nominations, Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes features the ruthless, wealthy Hubbard family – with Bette Davis (All About Eve, Of Human Bondage) determined to get even more than she already has. At any cost.
A sick husband (Herbert Marshall – The Letter, Foreign Correspondent), two grasping brothers and a bullied sister-in-law are essentially the only company for Regina Giddens in 19th century deep South. When the opportunity for personal wealth comes her way, she grabs at it with both hands – even at the expense of alienating her own daughter (the screen debut of Theresa Wright – The Best Years of Our Lives, Mrs Miniver).
Taken from the Biblical quote … the little foxes who spoil the vines, Hellman’s commentary on human greed and social ills (forward-thinking views for 1940 expressed on slavery) sees a magisterial Davis at her vicious best. Intimidating, heartless, ruthless, Davis takes no prisoners, outfoxing her husband and two business-minded brothers. Director William Wyler (The Best Years of Our Lives, Ben Hur) marshals his stupendous cast perfectly in this dialogue-driven drama – aided and abetted by cinematographer Gregg Toland (Citizen Kane, The Grapes of Wrath), arguably the highlight.
Nominated for nine Oscars – no wins (same year as Citizen Kane but both lost out to How Green Was My Valley).