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The Fox is a 1967 American drama film directed by Mark Rydell. The screenplay by Lewis John Carlino and Howard Koch is based on the 1923 novella of the same title by D. H. Lawrence. The film marked Rydell's feature film directorial debut.
Jill Banford and Ellen March struggle to support themselves by raising chickens on an isolated farm in rural Canada. Dependent Jill tends to household chores and finances while the self-sufficient Ellen deals with heavier work, such as chopping wood, repairing fences, and stalking the fox that keeps raiding their coops, although she is hesitant about killing it. Jill seems content with their secluded existence, but the frustrated Ellen is less enchanted by the solitude.
In the dead of winter, merchant seaman Paul Grenfel arrives in search of his grandfather, the now-deceased former owner of the farm. With nowhere else to go while on leave, he persuades the women to allow him to stay with them in exchange for helping with the work. Tension among the three slowly escalates when his attentions to Ellen arouse Jill's resentment and jealousy.
Eventually Paul tracks and kills the fox. Just before his departure, he makes love to Ellen and asks her to leave with him, but she confesses she would feel guilty about abandoning Jill. After Paul returns to his ship, the women resume their regular routine. Paul returns unexpectedly while the two are chopping down a dying oak. He offers to complete the job and warns Jill to move away from the tree's potential path as it falls, but she refuses to listen and is killed when it crashes on her. Ellen sells the farm and she and Paul set off to start a new life together.
In adapting Lawrence's novella for the screen, Lewis John Carlino and Howard Koch opted to change the setting from 1918 England to contemporary Canada in an effort to make the plot more relevant for late-1960s audiences.
The film was shot on location in and around Kleinburg, Ontario.
The song "That Night," with music by Lalo Schifrin and lyrics by Norman Gimbel, is performed by Sally Stevens.
The film was released soon after the dissolution of the Motion Picture Association of America Production Code and includes scenes of nudity, masturbation, sexual activity involving Paul and Ellen, and physical relations between two females. Rated R at the time of its original release, it was re-edited and rated PG in 1973.
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