Archive of films The Little Foxes / The Little Foxes

1941, 114 min

Section: Tribute to William Wyler
Year: 2007

Though consensus between William Wyler and Bette Davis might not have reigned in their last film together, the director chimed all the more with Lillian Hellman’s original work and with cameraman Gregg Toland, with whose assistance he created a unique, psychologically sophisticated portrait of a southern family whose lives are governed by a heartless desire for money.


“He hated the way I looked, spoke, moved, delivered my lines, my false eyelashes – everything else about my performance. Nothing escaped his scathing tongue. I was a nervous wreck. My favourite and most admired director was fighting me every inch of the way. I just didn’t want to continue,” recalled Bette Davis of the shooting of The Little Foxes, her last collaboration with William Wyler, in which obstinacy had come to prevail over what was once a natural meeting of minds. The cause of their wrangling was the interpretation of the main character, Regina, the portrayal of whom Davis conscientiously analogized with the expressive performance of theatre performer Tallulah Bankhead. Wyler however did not envisage Regina as a greedy woman feeling wronged by a life of unfulfilment, but as a glamorous and cynically conniving character. Though the film might not have come about in an atmosphere of harmonious consensus, in the end The Little Foxes turned into a work of art that makes a striking example of an aesthetic tendency towards depth of field and long shots. The theme was a play by Lillian Hellman set in a provincial town at the turn of the 20th century. For the enterprising Hubbard family, financial gain takes precedence over everything, even if attained through deceit, which also makes their relationships with one another heartlessly callous. Regina even assists in the death of her own husband to attain her goals. Sergei Eisenstein called the scene where two men communicate through their images in mirrors to be “a work of genius”.


Hollywood Classics
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About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Tribute to William Wyler
Director: William Wyler
Screenplay: Lillian Hellman, Arthur Kober, Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell podle divadelní hry / based on a play by Lillian Hellman
Dir. of Photography: Gregg Toland
Music: Meredith Willson
Editor: Daniel Mandell
Producer: Samuel Goldwyn
Production: The Samuel Goldwyn Company
Cast: Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, Teresa Wright, Richard Carlson, Dan Duryea
Contact: Hollywood Classics, BFI


Blažena Urgošíková

Film Institution Rep.

Vladimír Opěla

Film Institution Rep.

Catherine Wyler

Festival Organizer


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