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Yes, I realize there aren’t actually a 100 showdowns, but the showdowns are from a 100 list, so there’s some linguistic wiggle room there. Although, now that I think about it a “wiggle room” sounds really gross. Anyway…

Today’s bout is actually pretty awesome. Part 2 of the Bette Davis double-header, it’s…

 

#43. Moses vs. Bette Davis (The Little Foxes)

BACKGROUND

The year is BC something, historians disagree, whatever. The children of Israel are slaves in Egypt. To help control the population, the pharaoh has all the jewish baby boys killed. One Mom figures the only way to save her son is putting him in the river and hoping. Okay, yes, he’s in little boat and his sister is covertly following it, so not that crazy. Anyway, the gamble pays off big time as Moses is rescued by pharaoh’s daughter who does the princess thing and decides to raise the child as her own, no matter what Daddy says.

Years pass, Moses figures out who he really is and goes soft for his enslaved people, which leads him into homiciding an Egyptian. So, exile. Forty years later, God speaks to him from a burning bush and sends him back to Egypt to tell the new pharaoh (a guy who grew up as Moses’ brother) to “Let my people go.” Ten plagues later, the Israelites get away and pharaoh has yet another change of heart and chases them down. Moses parts the red sea, gets an entire ethnicity through, then waits for the Egyptians to try the same trick and drops the river on them.

In The Little Foxes, Bette Davis plays Regina Giddens, an upper crust Southern belle in a loveless marriage to a dying man. Her brothers are planning to set up a cotton mill, but they need some extra money to get it going. After a couple tries at hubby’s cash fail, they resort to theft, which leads to a tangled web of blackmail and murder, with Davis at the center pulling all the strings and manipulating the fates of everyone else.

 

TOOLS OF THE TRADE

Moses has the aforementioned ten plagues as well as two big tablets of stone that he’s pretty dang good at throwing around. While technically the leader of the Israelites, there’s quite a bit of dissension in the ranks, so that’s not much help.

Regina has limited access to a dwindling fortune, a gift for heavy-handed yet covert manipulation and world class eavesdropping skills.

She's like a ninja. A big, fluffy ninja.

"Come on, God, do I have to?"

METHODS AND MOTIVES

For starters, Moses does not want to be here. He would much rather be back in Midian with his sheep and his wife. On the other hand, God told him to do it through a freaking burning bush. You really can’t argue with that; eloquent, immolating shrubs are just not something you disagree with. The point is, Moses is following orders from on high and the almighty is not handling things the way Moses would have it. Breaking the first set of tablets? Moses’ idea and God is a little bit pissed at him for it.

Regina has spent the better part of her life miserable and wants to get some of her own back, as they say. She has zero scruples as she basically hates everyone around her.

 

THE SHOWDOWN

This time, Moses is leading the slaves out of Louisiana. Heston isn’t black, but I doubt the slaves are going to argue much. With Regina’s husband sickly, she’s

"I'd like to ring that belle! Gigitty."

handling the negotiations. The trouble is, tactic numbers 1-5 are going to have basically zero affect on Regina. The estate is already circling the drain and the plights of others fill her with a dark sort of glee.

Water to blood? She’s got sherry.

Frogs? It’s Louisiana, cajun frog legs fo’ dinnuh!

Gnats? It’s not like she leaves the house, ever, so shut the windows.

Flies? See above.

Pestilence on livestock? It’s a cotton plantation.

Boils? Okay, that one’s annoying, but she’ll have built up some serious stubbornness at this point.

Hail? Now, we’re talking. Instead of blowing Moses off, now, she’s scheming.

Locusts? Damage depends on time of year, but it’s significant. It is at this point, God starts hardening Pharaoh’s heart. Hard to say if that would necessary with Regina.

Darkness? People have lamps. At this point, I imagine Regina would try to seduce Moses.

If not sooner. Look at those pecks!

Death of the firstborn? Regina has no son. More glee.

It’s fair to say God could’ve cooked up more Louisiana-specific plagues (*cough* flooding *cough*), but we work with what we’ve got. At this point, Pharaoh only gives in out of grief for his son and fear for his own life; Regina would be dealing with neither. So, no releasing her slaves. If God and Moses decided bullocks to rendering unto Caesar and just sneaking the slaves out, Regina would somehow blackmail her brothers into chasing them down. Moses parts the Mississippi, then kills her brothers and oh, look, Regina now owns their land as well.

"Did someone mention being tied? Rawr."

So, the slaves are free and Regina has tripled her land holdings.

TIE

 

FINAL ANALYSIS

Regina is a very different villain from Pharaoh. King of Egypt is a politician and Regina’s just an oppressed housewife lashing out. I suspect that getting her to free her slaves would have been easier if God was offering blessings in return. The plagues hurt Pharaoh because he has everything. Regina’s got next to nothing, so what’s one more plague? Additionally, since the scheming and plotting wasn’t against her own family, Regina isn’t alienated and alone at the end (or, at least, not as much) so she ends up sitting rather pretty.

Really, coming out with a tie is as good as you’re going to get when your opponent works for God.

There's no fighting that beard, either.

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