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So, it's B-Grade and low budget... and? This is my favourite film of all time: it's emotional, it's very clever with flashback integration, and it's a reflection on different lives. Country people are as solid as the characters portrayed them, and 80 years ago, people lived and loved as the two main characters did. I am thoroughly annoyed I can't get it on DVD, I've worn out 3 video tapes now. Anyone who hasn't seen it needs to... if you have a heart anyhow. John Denver was so young when they made this, his talent has left us. He sings in this film, music I've not heard before and can't get from anywhere, but is a touching representation of life and love... Jessica Tandy and Hume are no longer with us either, and their real life love and true devotion shines through in the film and through their characters, making it easy to see just how much they loved each other.
Not only is John Denver, Hume Croyn, and Jessica Tandy not with us, but
also Harriet Hall who played Holly. She passed away Sept 29, 2007 of a
heart attack. She was in my class in high school, Maine West, in Des
Plaines, Ill, class of '66. She was very popular and outgoing, a
cheerleader and in many after school activities. Those that knew her
know of the great person she was.
I believe that she did have heart trouble before her attack. Maine West published a book in 2003 where some people submitted information about themselves. In it she said that she was a retired actress and lived in Atlanta. I don't know if she ever married or had children. Her brother Davis Hall is listed in IMDb and has a fairly extensive biography of himself, but I notice there isn't anything about Harriet Hall except the movies and soap operas that she appeared in.
Wonderfully done film concerning an old woman who is being asked to sell her mountaintop home to a land developer. Since she has lived there most of her life, of course she is reluctant. But time is against her; life is becoming harder and harder to bear while living on this sloping piece of ground. Her son wants her to leave so she will be safer, while the woman is seeking advice from the imagined presence of her deceased husband. A lot of flashback takes place as son and mother re-live their not always rosy lives on the old homeplace. 4 stars.
Charming film about deep rooted memories of an Appalachian farm family. Tandy won an Emmy for her performance. She had won a Tony on stage in the play version which also starred Cronyn.
It's hard to think badly of a film like "Foxfire". It's so earnest that
it's heartbreaking even when it goes a bit over the top. I watched this
for Jessica Tandy, and she is good, but this is also the best I've seen
of Hume Cronyn so far. The story itself is slight. There's a number of
pretty ordinary clichés I've seen more than a few times in TV movies,
i.e. the greedy real estate developer, the stubborn old homesteader,
the country singer who lost his way. Two of these clichés are every bit
as unessential as expected - Gary Grubbs plays a cardboard cutout, and
John Denver is good, but too uncomplicated and underdeveloped here.
It's the relationship of Annie (Jessica Tandy) and Hector (Hume Cronyn) that provides the real meat of the film. Their interaction is so true, so painful that it's always emotional to watch. They carry the entire production, lifting it far above everything that surrounds. I almost found myself wishing that the story could have been told completely through them alone, perhaps with a few flashbacks interspersed. It's those flashbacks where much of the power is held. The last half hour of "Foxfire" hurts the most, brings the most joy. It's so pure.
The director, Jud Taylor, doesn't really bring much to the plate here, nor does the rest of the production crew. But you didn't come to see a great film - you came to see two great performers. And you got everything you were looking for.
It would be hard to imagine how a movie could better capture the essence of Appalachia. Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy simply nail their parts, and no doubt the fact that they were married in real life helped. Hume Cronyn also wrote the script, and a nearly perfect script it is. All in all, it couldn't be more realistic, heartwarming and sad. And I should know, because I have strong ties with Appalachia and I lived there for a while as a kid. I knew real life equivalents to every character in this movie. Maybe those without my background won't see it, but I consider this movie to be a masterpiece of American culture.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I will say right off this review has a spoiler. Now I loved the first two thirds of the movie. It appeared to have set up a really good story line and then it never occurred. They introduce the character Holly and then she tells how she has a crush on Dillard. We know his wife has left him. Dillard's mother wants to stay home and not move. Dillard finds out that Holly and his Mother do not like his new way of singing and wish he would sing like he used to. He sits down to do just that at one point and that is the end of it. He never pursues Holly and talks his mother into leaving her home. Why even have Holly in the movie? Why even have Dillard's father in the movie if they were leaving? A much better movie would have him move back home to his homestead and marry Holly. Raise his kids in the mountains. The movie looked to have set up a great movie and then threw it out the window. It would have been great except for the ending.
I really wanted to like Foxfire. I am a big fan of John Denver, and
enjoyed his movie from a year earlier: A Christmas Tale, very much.
Jessica Tandy was very good in Foxfire; I can't really say anything
else good about it.
The dialogue was sub-standard and the scenes repetitive, but it was the unlikely, cynical and even shocking ending that killed this movie. The movie was going along well up to and including what should have been a fulcrum and the most critical scene of the movie: Harriet Hall (as Holly) criticised John Denver (as Dillard Nations) for being such a phony on stage. She was obviously in love with him, and the movie should have been re-written to have her lead Dillard to experience a change-of-heart about everything: The honesty of his relationships, his relationship to his work, his relationship to his mother and his relationship to the land, all of which are jaundiced and askew.
He has absolutely no appreciation for the appalachian life and land that he was raised on, and has no respect for the wishes of his mother. This is the first movie I have seen where John Denver plays a real self-centered creep: Did Dillard stop for one moment to think about what a trip to Florida could do to an old woman such as her? Did he think about how long she would last, being torn away from the land and memories that give her identity and roots? This is the cheapest, most callous ploy I have ever seen to get a free babysitter.
He had the opportunity, when Holly took-him-to-task, to get honest with himself and bring his children up there to live with her. He could have decided to help his mother, and respect her wishes, instead of fetch her to act as nanny in Florida to his then-motherless children.
When Jessica Tandy (as Annie Nations) decided to sell, it screwed with my head so bad, I threw the movie out. This would not, should not have happened, in real life. She would have lived her life there. I felt abused and betrayed by screenwriters Susan Cooper and Hume Cronyn. I haven't researched either of them, but what do you want to bet they are a couple of city slickers?
How can we feel good about Foxfire? A mountain girl like Annie would have lasted maybe 3 months best in the Florida high-rise retirement/tourist swamp.
Foxfire could have been great, but instead of John Denver's character experiencing the transformation he did in A Christmas Tale, he remained the same careless, selfish lout he was at the beginning of the movie. I still love John Denver, but I'm sorry I watched Firefox. If you want to see a movie about appalachia, then watch Song Catcher, or Fire Down Below, instead.
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