Wednesday, February 27, 2019

CAFTAN WOMAN'S CHOICE: ONE FOR MARCH ON TCM


The world first became acquainted with the Hubbards of Alabama through Lillian Hellman's play The Little Foxes. The basis for the play was Lillian's observations of the machinations within her own family for business success.

The Hubbard siblings are a mess of back-stabbing, manipulative creatures who destroy all those around them in the battle for success, money, and power.


"Take us, the little foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes."
- Song of Solomon


Tallulah Bankhead starred as Regina Giddens in the original 1939 Broadway production of The Little Foxes. To date, there have been four Broadway revivals of Hellman's most successful play. Bette Davis was cast in the 1941 film in the final of three collaborations between Davis and director William Wyler. Cast members repeating their Broadway roles in the film are Charles Dingle as Benjamin Hubbard, Patricia Collinge as Birdie Bagtry Hubbard, Carl Benton Reid as Oscar Hubbard, and Dan Duryea as Leo Hubbard. The film was nominated for 9 Academy Awards but did not receive any trophies.

Patricia Neal as Regina Hubbard

In 1946 Hellman revisited the Hubbards with Another Part of the Forest which ran on Broadway for 182 performances and won Patricia Neal as young Regina Hubbard the first Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Play.

Vladimir Pozner (The Dark Mirror) adapted Hellman's play for the Universal film release of 1948 and was nominated for a Writers Guild of America award for Best Written American Drama. The movie has an oppressive atmosphere and nice directorial flourishes from Michael Gordon (An Act of Murder). The cinematographer was Hal Mohr, the only write-in Oscar candidate for A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Ann Blyth, Edmond O'Brien, Fredric March, Florence Eldridge

Another Part of the Forest takes us back to the earlier years alluded to in The Little Foxes. We have heard of the shady background of the Hubbards and their father Marcus, but now we are face-to-face with the events which will shape a generation.

Fredric March, Ann Blyth

Fredric March stars as Marcus, a man whose success from profiteering during the Civil War makes him a financial power in his town. There is also a secret in Marcus' past which, if confirmed, could lead to fatal consequences. It has already caused his wife Lavinia played by Florence Eldridge to hover ever closer to a mental breakdown.

Marcus is a self-made man in business and proud of being self-educated. Marcus aspires to culture and has been sorely disappointed in his sons. The eldest, Benjamin played by Edmond O'Brien schemes for success beyond the bookkeeping duties and a pittance in wages which has been his lot in life as a Hubbard. The weakling son, Oscar played by Dan Duryea (playing the father of his role in The Little Foxes) has the tendencies of a wastrel and no clue of how to get what he desires.

Ann Blyth plays Regina, the apple of her father's eye. She has no difficulty in devising ways to get what she wants and right now the attractive and confident young woman wants John Bagtry played by John Dall. The man she desires lives in the past; his glory years as a Confederate officer, and cannot fully return her affection. Betsy Blair plays Birdie Bagtry, the young mistress of the failing plantation Lionette. Her gentle nature and desperation foretell her tragedy at the hands of the Hubbards.

A musical evening at home with the Hubbards

Hope and schemes, and lies and truths come together on the night of Marcus Hubbard's monthly musical entertainment. Breaking with tradition, this evening will not only include the hired musicians who stoke Marcus' pretentions, but also some guests.

Birdie Bagtry attends in hope of getting a much-needed loan after a northern businessman unexpectedly and violently left town. Birdie will be accompanied by her cousin John. Regina plans to cement her romance with John this evening. Oscar has romantic hopes and will introduce his father to his intended Laurette played by Dona Drake, who dances the can-can at a local establishment. 

What Marcus Hubbard failed to understand in his disappointment in his sons and his delight in his daughter is that he created them in his own image. He will have no one else to blame for his comeuppance. Most of these people will find what they perceive as strength, but only one among them will display the real thing. 


Dona Drake, Dan Duryea, Ann Blyth, Fredric March
Florence Eldridge, Edmond O'Brien, John Dall

See the smiling actors in the photo above. I imagine it was fun to go to work with such a meaty script and talented co-stars. Although the Hubbards are not a particularly fun group of people, they are fascinating to watch.

Fredric March is the TCM Star of the Month and you can enjoy his performance as Marcus Hubbard when Another Part of the Forest airs on Tuesday, March 19th at 11:00 pm eastern time.


Recommendation:


Jacqueline T. Lynch's definitive look at the career of Ann Blyth features an insightful study of her wonderful performance in Another Part of the Forest. Information on the book here.












19 comments:

  1. Great review on what may be the first prequel made in Hollywood's Golden Age. Like THE LITTLE FOXES, it has a great cast (I hardly recognized Fredric March with that mustache!). And I love your line: "Although the Hubbards are not a particularly fun group of people, they are fascinating to watch." Well said!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you.

      If we start thinking our own families are tipping too far into the dysfunctional side of life, all we have to do is remember the Hubbards.

      Delete
  2. Paddy Lee, you've done it again. I'm going to search out another movie that I don't think I've ever seen. Your reviews have caused that more than once.

    ANOTHER PART OF THE FOREST has a really good cast. It seems that I'm reading quite a bit about Dan Duryea and Edmond O'Brien lately. Margot on Dan Duryea, Colin on Edmond O'Brien, and now Paddy Lee on both. Unlike Margot, you didn't describe Oscar Hubbard(Dan Duryea) as a young weasel, but rather a wastrel.

    I hope you are doing okay and have a very good day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so pleased to have introduced you to Another Part of the Forest. I "made" my daughter watch this and The Little Foxes this year, and it was a treat to see her horrified reaction to these characters.

      Dan Duryea is a treasure and this is a very interesting role for him considering his connection to The Little Foxes.

      Things are going pretty well for me personally. We're just waiting for spring which will make everything better for everyone. Thanks.

      Delete
  3. This is one of he few "prequels", I think, that was done in classic Hollywood films (though of course they're very popular now). I thought it was an interesting film especially since we think of prequels more in the vein of fast-paced sci-fi/fantasy type films and this is more of a psychological family drama. I enjoyed the film but it is hard to see the characters here as "young people" when we know what they were like in the first film.

    I did think Blyth held her own (considering she was shadowing Bette Davis' amazing performance in "The Little Foxes"). I also like how Duryea (a totally underrated character actor) played the young Oscar here and played Oscar's son in "The Little Foxes". That was clever :-).

    Tam May
    The Dream Book Blog
    https://thedreambookblog.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I found it fascinating to see the younger versions of Regina, Oscar and Ben. It must have been very satisfying for Hellman to revisit these characters. For years, this movie was on my "wish list" and others I know. I am surprised that in the two times (that I am aware of) that TCM has screened it, that they haven't made more of a big deal about.

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing.

      Delete
  4. This is a fantastic movie that doesn't need to hide behind The Little Foxes though I've seen a few disparaging reviews. Everybody is good here. I like Ann Blyth, Duryea is great as the whiner who always looks for handouts from Daddy, and I must say this is O'Brien's best role. Plus a great supporting cast. It's a new favorite of mine. Margot

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to hear it. I have seen it three times so far and find more to interest me each time. The previous year the same director had March, Eldridge and O'Brien in An Act of Murder. I'm surprised that it doesn't appear to be on the schedule for Fredric March Month.

      Delete
  5. Fabulous movie, and thank you so much for the mention, Paddy. The cast is top-notch, not a false note among them. It stands on its own quite apart from THE LITTLE FOXES, but knowing the ultimate fate of the Hubbards in that movie makes ANOTHER PART OF THE FORREST especially eerie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I introduced Janet to The Little Foxes last month and then sprang Another Part of the Forest on her. The look on her face was equal parts enthralled and horrified. The Hubbards work their black magic again.

      Delete
  6. I was thinking of Ann Blyth the other day because of the musical actors I mentioned. Didn't she work with Howard Keel in two musicals? I didn't see them but I think I read that she played his daughter in one. Who did she play in the other one, his love interest? I am reminded of Angela Lansburys show because I saw Ann in the Murder, She Wrote episode that also had Ben Murphy, Wings Hauser and Stacy Nelkin. Also I saw a Wagon Train episode that Ann was in where she played the wife of Ronald Reagan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can see Ann Blyth as Howard Keel's daughter in Kismet where she has some beautiful music to sing, also in the remake of Rose Marie. Ann and Fernando Lamas are the romantic team in Rose Marie with Howard playing a Mountie.

      Ann was in a number of Wagon Train episodes, but The Fort Pierce Story with Ronald Reagan was the only one during the colour season. In The Jenny Tannen Story she introduced a lovely John Williams song called The Tomorrow Waltz.

      A lovely musical star and, as movies like Another Part of the Forest show, an exemplary dramatic star.

      Delete
  7. Thank you for the wonderful information. When I saw her on Angelas show I thought that I had seen her a few years earlier on the WAGON TRAIN rerun. I found out later I was right. She looked familiar because of her petite stature and her lovely smile, plus her dark hair. She worked with some big strapping fellows(as some people call it). HOWARD KEEL, RONALD REAGAN, ROBERT MITCHUM. What are some other movies you have seen her in? I liked the MURDER, SHE WROTE show that she did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also I meant to ask if she ever did any movies with men of a short stature? They used to pair ALAN LADD up with short women so its a wonder they didn't pair Alan up with Ann. They certainly would have made a cute and attractive pair.

      Delete
    2. I can't recall seeing Ann paired with a shorter leading man.

      Some of my favourites of her films are: Mildred Pierce, I'll Never Forget You, Our Very Own, Top o' the Morning, and Killer McCoy.

      Delete
    3. I remember Our Very Own. It was shown on AMC and TCM. Her sisters were played by NATALIE WOOD and JOAN EVANS.I remember that Joans character was also named Joan. Joan later became a teacher in real-life, I read. The movie also had JANE WYATT, FARLEY GRANGER, and MARTIN MILNER. Did you see very many movies of Joan Evans?

      Delete
    4. The only other Joan Evans movie I recall is No Name on the Bullet, although as a TV western fan I must have seen her guest appearances.

      Delete
  8. My sister and I use to own an original still from this movie and we had it on our "watch-list" for years, but then I forgot about it. Thank you for bringing it back to mind! It sounds really good. And Fredric March is always so wonderful to watch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I find movie fascinating. March is indeed marvelous, and Hellman's characters are engrossing.

      Delete

THE JANET LEIGH BLOGATHON: Columbo, Forgotten Lady (1975)

Michaela of Love Letters to Old Hollywood is hosting a blogathon tribute to lovely Janet Leigh. Click HERE to enjoy the contributions....