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George Roy Hill
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. There were New York revivals in 1967, 1981 and 1997. See more »
TV film is very good but can't match the 1941 movie
This Hallmark TV production of "The Little Foxes" cannot match the original and best movie of 1941. But it is good, nevertheless, and some of the characters have slightly different personas.
Greer Garson, especially, gives a slightly different look to the leading role of Regina. She has a sly smile at times and comes across as a more conniving and heartless woman all along. Whereas, Bette Davis in the 1941 movie was more serious and stern. She seemed to be a harder, meaner woman at heart. It would be interesting to know exactly how the author saw her or imagined the character. Lillian Hellman wrote the stage play, and wrote the screenplay for the 1941 film. So, she was on hand for that classic production of her story.
Did she help shape her characters more closely as to how she had envisioned them? Or, are the characters for the most part the personas of the actors and directors as done for each work? Different actors often bring something different, fresh or new to long-standing roles of plays and films. We may never know exactly how Hellman saw her characters. But, we can enjoy them all as they are. Besides the seeming differences in Garson's Regina, I think a couple others are noticeably different. Franchot Tone is very good in his role as Horace. And Sidney Blackmer plays a much darker Ben Hubbard than did Charles Dingle in the 1941 film. Here, Ben is more serious and meaner. I think Dingle's character had more flavor and color with his humor, and he was more believable when he appeared calm in the face of being beaten back.
I don't think most of the supporting roles in this film are as strong as in the 1941 movie. The characters of Alexandra, Leo and Birdie were done much better in the 1941 film by Teresa Wright, Dan Duryea and Patricia Collinge, respectively. Likewise for the role of William Marshall. Russell Hicks gave a better portrayal in the early film than does Lauren Gilbert in this TV version.
Other than Garson, Tone and E.G. Marshall, this Hallmark production doesn't have a cast of as many well-known actors. The earlier film had several prominent actors. And, this production appears to have been filmed from a stage play. Still, "The Little Foxes" is a timeless drama about greed and corruption. And, all of the cast for this 1956 Hallmark TV film are good and carry off the story very well. If one didn't have the original movie, this would be a suitable substitute for a solid rendition of the play.
Very few have rated it as of the date of my review here, and I think it's rated much too high compared to the 1941 movie.
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