By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act June 20, 2012 at 5:04PM
Maybe someone at 20th Century Fox reads S&A; specifically, maybe they read THIS April post titled The First Book By A Black Author Adapted To Film By A Hollywood Studio Was...?, in which I talked about the adaptation of a 1946 book by African American author, Frank Yerby, titled, The Foxes of Harrow, which was the answer to the post's title question.
Recall in that post I stated that the film wasn't available in any easily accessible format (DVD, Blu-ray, VOD specifically), and that I couldn't find it available anywhere?
Well, wonder/search no more; this afternoon, I received a press release with a list of never-before-released titles from the Fox Cinema Archives that 20th Century Fox would now be making available on DVD for the first time ever.
Here's the opening...
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment today debuted Fox Cinema Archives, a new manufacture-on-demand (MOD) series for film aficionados and collectors that goes deep into the studio’s vault to bring some of its most classic films featuring some of the biggest stars of the twentieth century to DVD for the first time. Starting today movie lovers can purchase a wide variety of films from the Fox Cinema Archives series at major top-tier retailers with more titles to become available in the coming months.
I quickly scrolled down the list of titles, looking for any familiar names, and way down at the bottom (4th from last) I saw The Foxes Of Harrow (1947, 118 Minutes).
As the release states, starting today, that film (and several others) are available for purchase from major retailers; and sure enough, I just checked Amazon.com to find that The Foxes Of Harrow is indeed now available for sale for $19.98; sorry, no Netflix rentals yet, but maybe that's coming eventually.
But head over the Amazon.com now if you're curious. Click HERE to do so.
So what's this book about?
Well, first, it's worth noting that it was a best-seller; second, it centered on "an Irish rascal and inveterate gambler who wins a vast estate while gaming in New Orleans."
In 1947 John M. Stahl directed the film based on the book, which starred Rex Harrison and Maureen O'Hara. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction.
The novel the film is based on appears to be out of print, although you can buy early editions from resellers via Amazon.com as I learned.
Clearly, the book's story isn't centered on black people, which would partly explain studio interest at the time, despite the author being black; as for its content... the film has been praised as one of a number of 1940s movies that "increasingly sensitized Hollywood to the African American perspective on slavery..." as Ed Guerrero said, and that it highlights include moments of an "undercurrent of... cultural resistance to slavery and Christianity."
In the first, slaves are shown practicing a voodoo ceremony; and in the second, a black mother throws herself and her baby into a river to avoid having to go on living in slavery (almost as if addressing the scene from Birth Of A Nation, when the white woman jumps off a cliff to avoid submitting to a black man).
So clearly there were subplots involving black people. But, as I said, that was the movie adaptation, not the book.
With regards to the book, I found this piece in the New Georgian Encyclopedia: "Yerby was often criticized by blacks for the lack of focus on or stereotypical treatment of African American characters in his books. Thus, ironically, while Yerby held the distinction of being the first best-selling black novelist, he also became one of the most disparaged for his lack of racial consciousness. In response to this criticism, Yerby argued that "the novelist hasn't any right to inflict on the public his private ideas on politics, race, or religion." He later amended this stance to a degree, and in the late 1950s and 1960s he wrote novels that touched upon issues of race and southern culture..."
Yerby died in 1991 by the way. He was 75 years old.
The above photo was taken in 1983.
But, again, if you're interested in seeing The Foxes Of Harrow, head over the Amazon.com now to pick up a copy by clicking HERE. I'm getting mine.
Here's the full list of films that Fox is releasing today for the first time on home video:
Dangerous Years (1948), 63 min.
After a botched robbery, a district attorney prosecutes a teenage boy he doesn’t realize is his own son.
Fraulein(1958), 97 min.
A shy German girl helps the Allies during WWII and is helped in return by a kindly American officer at the war’s end.
Love is News(1937), 77 min.
A beautiful heiress has a scheme to embarrass a handsome gossip columnist played by Hollywood idol Tyrone Power.
Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell(1951), 88 min.
A 50 year-old claiming to be 77 checks into a dreary senior citizen's home and infects the residents with his youthful energy making them realize that you’re never too old to have fun.
My Wife's Best Friend(1952), 87 min.
When a man confesses to his wife that he has been unfaithful, she imagines all the different ways that historical figures such as Cleopatra and Joan of Arc might handle the situation.
Rings on Her Fingers(1942), 86 min.
In this romantic comedy, a pair of swindlers convince a young girl to pretend to fall in love with a man they believe is a millionaire, but the plan backfires.
Suez(1938), 98 min.
This epic adventure of the building of the Suez Canal tells the story of the engineer who attempts to create the canal that will connect the Mediterranean and Red Seas.
Diplomatic Courier(1952), 98 min.
Diplomatic Courier is a Cold War spy tale about an agent who must hunt down vital information about Russia's plans to invade Yugoslavia.
They Came to Blow Up America(1943), 73 min.
An American FBI agent of German heritage infiltrates a Nazi bund and foils acts of sabotage.
Way of a Gaucho(1952), 90 min.
After inadvertently killing a man, an Argentinian gaucho signs on with the army in order to avoid a jail sentence, then soon after forms a band of outlaws.
Claudia(1943), 92 min.
A fairly frank depiction of the day-to-day troubles of a child-like bride in the 1940s.
The Foxes of Harrow(1947), 118 min.
In 1820, a New Orleans adventurer woos his way to the top of Louisiana society.
Kidnapped(1938), 90 min.
A young heir falls into the hands of kidnappers on his travels to Scotland to take over the family fortune and is saved by a dubious renegade.
Frontier Marshal(1939), 71 min.
When Wyatt Earp becomes the Marshal of Tombstone, Arizona, he attempts to quiet the rowdy town. He's successful with the exception of Curly Bell and his gang, who kill Doc Holliday, forcing the Marshal to settle the score.
Life Begins at Eight-Thirty(1942), 84 min.
A young disabled girl and her composer boyfriend try to revive the stage career of her alcoholic father.