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Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Fox (1967)

Two women, the girlish Jill (Sandy Dennis) and the quiet but strong March (Anne Heywood), struggle to support themselves on an isolated chicken farm. When a man (Keir Dullea, 2001) comes into their lives, it upsets the status quo and unspoken feelings rise to the surface. Based on the 1923 D.H. Lawrence novella, this is one of the most overtly sexually symbol laden films I've ever seen. As if not trusting its audience to "get it", the film makers included the tag line "THE FOX ... the symbol of the male" and the subtlety of Lawrence's work is made more explicit. Perhaps most importantly, the relatively inexperienced boy of the novel is turned into Dullea's merchant marine stud. Still, despite Lewis John Carlino's excessive screenplay, the director Mark Rydell (this was his first feature film) imparts an urgency to the proceedings that's quite persuasive. There's something off about Dullea's performance but to be fair, it can't have been easy to play a "symbol" and Dennis gives one of her most mannered performances, full of lip licking and hesitant line readings but she brings an affecting sadness to her character. The expert Oscar nominated score is by Lalo Schifrin.

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