Never heard of this before. What a little gem. A damning indictment of the business world, especially in 1941; small wonder Lillian Hellman would later be blacklisted by the notorious House Committee on Un-American Activities. Bette Davis imperious as ever, without the over-acting that turned her into a parody of herself. Sympathetic roles for black actors. And the rain...
Totally brilliant. When you've cheated till you've not got a friend left in the world. Be very afraid. Comment on Song of Solomon 2:15 by Matthew Henry: "The first risings of sinful thoughts & desires, the beginnings of trifling pursuits which waste the time, trifling visits, small departures from truth, whatever would admit some conformity to the world; all these & many more are LITTLE FOXES which must be removed"
I know that this film was adapted from a very successful stage play (Bettes role played originally by miss Tallulah Bankhead), and that the film version was critically applauded and also a surprise commercial success, but it must have been an absolute scandal to watch! Bette and her brothers are ruthless. For me, the scene stealing performance, and the one that makes the whole film worth it is Patricia Collinge's
This film is a slow-burner that has you surrounded by flames before you realize the oven's even been turned on. It may be 75 years old, but its scathing indictment of greed is as applicable as ever. Powerful, poignant, and angry, it's anchored by masterful directing and outstanding performances across the board. I look forward to reading the play.
"Addie, clean up." My grandfather was born in 1915. Left school at the age of 13 to work the railroad from Memphis to St. Louis. A pullman porter. He handed out wash towels and shined shoes for white people in NYC nightclubs. Worked his ass off and died a horrible alcoholic. The history of anti-black racism provides the back-drop and mise-en-scène for this tale of the deep south's disintegration. Good riddance.
"There's people that eats up the whole earth and all the people on it -- like the Bible with the locusts." - Addie. "Despite appearing to be a Deep South soap opera, TLF ... is one of the strongest indictments of capitalism in all of American film, a stance it probably gets away with by setting it in the South...." M. Keith Booker, Film and the American Left: A Research Guide.
Very good drama. Davis absolutely kills it as the icy, even-tempered player that flickers in and out from being valuable to the monetary-driven plot into the rook that takes the king. The pseudo-romance corner of the film isn't fleshed out so well but it's good enough to give that last shot of Davis seeing her daughter go with the guy. The drama is universal & the theme of greed makes the film into a cautionary tale.
While the performances are usually noted with good reason, it is the collaboration of William Wyler and cinematographer Gregg Toland that really make this sing -- and sting. Toland (Citizen Kane) uses deep focus lenses in groundbreaking fashion, showing background characters in tense interaction. And Wyler's film version is, IMO, better than the play, with more savagery and snobbery afoot. No one is spared.