3 things about William Wyler’s THE LITTLE FOXES

The Little Foxes [1941]

1. “Go ahead, say it. Say it and see what happens.”
2. The ornate, cut-glass pitcher of elderberry wine. Birdie drinks steadily. During the single scene she has four glasses.
3. Bette Davis stares off in into the distance, or perhaps down at the floor. Boring a hole into it with her eyes. Motionless. In the background, soft focus, we see her husband stagger to the stairs, collapsing. She’s killing him by doing nothing, and she knows it, and that’s why she stares so fixedly. The only way to keep the thing that she’s doing in the corner of her mind. In the rest of the movie William Wyler and Gregg Toland use deep focus to brilliant effect; here they use soft focus with equal power.

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