Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Jane Russell, Dan Duryea and Jeff Chandler
FOXFIRE (1955). Director: Joseph Pevney.

A wealthy young woman named Amanda (Jane Russell) gets a lift from a handsome half-Apache mining engineer [who seems to have mixed emotions about his heritage], Jonathan "Dart" Dartland (Jeff Chandler), and the two rapidly fall in love and get married. Amanda must deal with the culture shock of moving out of luxury to a comparative shack in a mining town, and Dart has to deal with jealousy and a certain void in his emotions, as well as some self-esteem issues. The movie doesn't bang you on the head with the characters' problems, which is all the better, and the leads give good performances. Chandler has a limited bag of tricks but he makes them work within the role, and Jane gives a vital, warm and appealingly feminine performance instead of playing it hooker-hard as she often does in other movies. She and Chandler work up a lot of chemistry, which the latter didn't have with all of his leading ladies [such as the unfortunate June Allyson]. Frieda Inescort [The Alligator People] is fine as Russell's high society mother, but Austrian Celia Lovksy is ludicrously miscast as Dart's Native American mother, especially with that thick Viennese accent! Dan Duryea scores as the alcoholic doctor in the mining camp as does Mara Corday as his nurse, Maria, even if it makes no sense that the doc is smitten with Amanda but can't see the even more gorgeous and buxom Maria for dust. "Foxfire" refers to an abandoned Indian mine that Dart suspects has hidden gold in it, and wants to work. When all is said and done, however, Foxfire can't quite rise above its minor melodrama-romance status, despite some unusual and interesting elements. Whether Foxfire is accurate as regards to Native American affairs and attitudes in the fifties is debatable. NOTE: Jeff Chander wrote the lyrics for the title tune (with music by Henry Mancini) and also did the vocal, quite creditably. Nice score by Frank Skinner.

Verdict: Nice technicolor and a solid cast never hurt. **1/2. 


Anonymous said...

Great Review of FOXFIRE! Thanks. I thought Jane Russell's performance was very good and unlike any other she did on film...she was softer, more gentle than the characters she usually played And I also agree that she and Jeff Chandler had EXCELLENT chemistry together. Their performances (along with Dan Duryea) are the reasons to watch this!

William said...

Thanks for your comments. I agree with you that Russell and Chandler worked beautifully together and both gave very nice performances. And Duryea is always good.