Friday, February 20, 2009

Fox and Hounds

In the 1950 British film, Gone to Earth, a woman tries to save her fox from huntsmen, running desperately from a pack of English Foxhounds with her pet in her arms. But both fox and hounds almost didn't make it into the movie at all.

When the producers set about the daunting task of trying to find not only a tame, but trained, fox for the role of "Foxy," they almost gave up. Turning instead to a Corgi dog to play the part. Yes, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, with a fox tail attached to its own stub tail. It is extremely fortunate for the integrity of the film that they did at last find the foxes needed as Foxy and the Corgi idea was abandoned.

Then came the problem of the hounds: When the British Field Sports Society learned about the production of Gone To Earth, they made a statement requesting that no master of hounds should allow his pack to appear in it on the grounds that the film was propaganda promoting anti-hunting attitudes. Directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger were furious over the BFSS roadblocks in completing their "work of art," and their troubles were not over.

The American executive producer of Gone to Earth, David Selznick, was so unhappy with the way the film turned out, he sued Powell and Pressburger in an effort to get it changed. Although he lost the case for the British release, he was able to change the film for its US release. And change he did, re-shooting large portions in Hollywood instead of England and cutting out others. Unfortunately Selznick could not be bothered to go through the trouble Powell and Pressburger had to find trained foxes. In the scenes that were redone of the flight across the countryside with the fox in her arms, actress Jennifer Jones carries a stuffed dog instead.

But Powell and Pressburger had the last laugh: In the end they got the fox, got the hounds, and Gone to Earth was a success in the UK.

Pictured: English Foxhounds catch the scent of the fox in a scene from Gone to Earth.

No comments:

Post a Comment