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Monday, January 16, 2017

Another Part Of The Forest (1948)

Set in post Civil War Alabama, the tyrannical patriarch (Fredric March) of the Hubbard family rules his household with an iron fist. But his spawn, two sons (Edmond O'Brien, Dan Duryea) and a daughter (Ann Blyth), plot behind his back to wrest control away from their father. Based on the play by Lillian Hellman, this is actually a prequel to her earlier stage success THE LITTLE FOXES and the play and film gives us the backstory of the conniving vipers of FOXES in their youth. While it lacks the richness and structure of Hellman's earlier play, FOREST proves to be entertaining in its own right. It's interesting to see the young Regina (Bette Davis in the 1941 film, Ann Blyth here) start off as a spoiled brat and slowly emerge into a cold money hungry manipulator that would reach its apotheosis in FOXES. But while Regina may be the focus of FOXES, in FOREST it's the battle of wills between father (March) and son (O'Brien) for control that takes center stage. Directed by Michael Gordon (PILLOW TALK), it's a compelling companion to FOXES. With Betsy Blair as Birdie, which is inspired casting as I can easily see her morphing into Patricia Collinge in FOXES. Also with John Dall, Dona Drake and as the mother horrified by her offspring, Florence Eldridge. 

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