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March is a megalomaniac in this Hellman play, which backs into THE LITTLE FOXES by presenting the Hubbard family 20 years earlier. The tyrannical cruelty displayed by March is a wonder to watch as he lords it over his southern neighbors by flaunting his wealth. He ruthlessly profited from
the misery of Confederate troops during the Civil War and now has nothing but contempt for the genteel folk of the lost cause. He degrades his sons, O'Brien and Duryea, the latter giving another fascinating performance as the whining, spineless coward Oscar. Only money and power appeal to the
savage patriarch, but O'Brien, the eldest son who is banished by March for standing up to him, unearths the skeletal secret in the Hubbard cupboard, that his father was directly responsible for the deaths of many Confederate troops. Just as ruthless as his father, O'Brien threatens to reveal this
awful tale unless the family fortune is turned over to him. March relents and falls from power, proving to be utterly hollow. All his children turn on him, but Eldridge, the only decent member of this hideous clan, stands by March, telling her vicious offspring she wishes never to see them again.
This utterly depressing film is salvaged through intense performances that rivet the viewer, along with the literate, acerbic script.