Tallulah Bankhead, Bette Davis, and Marc Blitzstein: Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes as Play, Film, and Opera
Keywords:Forest, Tallulah Bankhead, Marc Blitzstein, Bette Davis, Lillian Hellman, The Little Foxes, William Wyler.
AbstractWhile other American plays such as Elmer Rice’s Street Scene, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, and Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra have made the journey from stage to film and finally to opera, the film and operatic versions were faithful recreations of the original without the addition of new characters, including those from other works by the same playwright. Lillian Hellman’s best play, The Little Foxes (1939), is unusual in two respects: in the 1941 film version, a character is added who did not appear in the original in order to provide a love interest for the protagonist’s daughter, thereby resulting in a different ending; in the 1949 operatic version, a character from a later play by Hellman, Another Part of the Forest, is introduced to show how a young woman with romantic ideals evolved into the Lady Macbeth of American drama. Thus each version of The Little Foxes deepens our understanding of the original without altering the play’s dramatic impact.
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