The Little Foxes (1941) Poster


Bette Davis and William Wyler fought a great deal during filming. Disagreements ranged from Davis's interpretation of the character (Wyler thought she should be more sympathetic) to the appearance of the house (Davis thought it was far too opulent for a family struggling financially), to her appearance (Wyler thought her white makeup made her look like a Kabuki performer.) Davis eventually walked out of production, but returned when she heard rumors she was going to be replaced by Katharine Hepburn or Miriam Hopkins.
Herbert Marshall had lost a leg in WWI. The scene where Horace crawls up the stairs is done by a stunt man. Marshall takes the role until he walks towards the stairs, but is hidden by a curtain for a moment. That was where the switch was made.
Bette Davis had legendary make-up artist Perc Westmore devise a white mask-like effect for her face to emphasize Regina's coldness. William Wyler hated it, likening it to a Kabuki mask.
William Wyler encouraged Bette Davis to see Tallulah Bankhead's Broadway performance. Davis was not keen on the idea but agreed to do so, regretting it instantly as she realized that she was now forced to play the character in a very different manner. Bankhead played her as a fighter; Davis' interpretation was of a cold, calculating and conniving woman.
When it opened at Radio City Music Hall in New York, it set an all-time attendance record for a normal opening day at the theatre, with over 22,000 people attending.
Teresa Wright's debut and her first Oscar nomination.
In an effort to recoup its losses after the initial box office failure of Citizen Kane (1941), RKO distributed that film on a double bill with "The Little Foxes" in January 1942.
Four members of the original Broadway cast repeated their roles in the film: Dan Duryea, Charles Dingle, Carl Benton Reid, and Patricia Collinge.
Bette Davis was a contract player for Warner Brothers at the time, earning $3000 a week. When she heard how much Warners was receiving for her services she demanded a share of the payment.
For the second straight year, a William Wyler directed Bette Davis vehicle was nominated for Best Picture, Director and Actress at the Academy Awards. (The year before the film in question was The Letter (1940).) And for the second straight year, everyone went home empty-handed.
According to Samuel Goldwyn Jr., the reason Jack L. Warner loaned Bette Davis to RKO for this movie was to settle a $300,000 gambling debt Warner had with Samuel Goldwyn. It has been said that all of the studio moguls (Jack L. Warner, Samuel Goldwyn, Harry Cohn, Louis B. Mayer, Darryl F. Zanuck and Carl Laemmle) would gather and play cards after work, after having "stabbed each other in the back" during the day.
Although the film was a big hit at the box office, because of the terms RKO set up with Samuel Goldwyn, they ended up making a loss of $140,000.
Shot during one of Los Angeles' hottest heatwaves in years, with temperatures on the soundstages frequently rising above 100 degrees.
The original stage production of "The Little Foxes" opened at the National Theater in New York on February 15, 1939 and ran for 410 performances. It starred Tallulah Bankhead as Regina Giddens and featured Dan Duryea as Leo Hubbard. As of this date (Aug. 2008), it has had three revivals, starring Anne Bancroft in 1967, Elizabeth Taylor in 1981, and Stockard Channing in 1997.
Sergei M. Eisenstein counted The Little Foxes (1941) as one of his favorite films.
David Hewitt, the character played by Richard Carlson, does not appear at all in the play. He was added to provide a love interest for Alexandra Giddens (Teresa Wright's character), and to add another sympathetic male character to the film besides Horace Giddens (played by Herbert Marshall).
The role of Regina was originally offered to Miriam Hopkins but director William Wyler didn't want to work with her.
Warner Brothers loaned Bette Davis to RKO for the role of Regina Giddens.
William Wyler decided not to open the play out for its film adaptation. This was because he recognized in Regina a character rather akin to a director like himself so he wanted to play it out in as theatrical a manner as possible to emphasize her controlling nature.
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According to 'Reel Facts: The Movie Book of Records', Goldwyn had to pay Warners $385,000 for Davis' services.
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"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on August 6, 1945 with Bette Davis, 'Charles' Dingle' and Teresa Wright reprising their film roles.
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Bette Davis took over the role made famous by Tallulah Bankhead in the Broadway production.
'Although rumours were circulating that 'Jack Warner' was looking to replace Bette Davis after she walked off the picture, the truth of the matter was that he was very reluctant to do so as it would involve significant costs in reshooting all the scenes already in the can with a different actress.
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Although Lillian Hellman has the credit for writing the screenplay for this version of her famous play, three others get credit for additional scenes and dialogue. They were Hellman's ex-husband (Arthur Kober), her closest friend (Dorothy Parker) and the latter's husband (Alan Campbell).
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Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
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