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Androcles and the Lion (1952)

Approved | | Adventure, Comedy | 9 January 1953 (USA)
Story of a Christian in ancient Rome who befriends a lion.

Directors:

Chester Erskine, Nicholas Ray (uncredited)

Writers:

Chester Erskine (screen adaptation), Ken Englund (screen adaptation)
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Cast

Cast overview:
Jean Simmons ... Lavinia
Victor Mature ... Captain
Alan Young ... Androcles
Robert Newton ... Ferrovius
Maurice Evans ... Emperor Antoninus (Caesar)
Elsa Lanchester ... Megaera
Reginald Gardiner ... Lentulus
Gene Lockhart ... Menagerie Keeper
Alan Mowbray ... Editor of Gladiators
Noel Willman ... Spintho
John Hoyt ... Cato
Jim Backus ... Centurion
Lowell Gilmore ... Metellus
Woody Strode ... The Lion
Edit

Storyline

Androcles is a Christian who follows that religion's teachings even as they apply to the treatment of animals. Seeing a lion in pain, he removes a huge thorn from the beast's paw, creating a friend for life. Androcles and a number of other Christians are evenutally arrested and condemned to death in the arena. They are to die by being eaten by lions. Is it too much to hope that one of the lions may have a paw that has healed recently and might remember who helped heal it? Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

SPECTACLE, ROMANCE, COMEDY!...as only Shaw could write it and the screen show it! (original poster) See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Comedy

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 January 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bernard Shaw's Androcles and the Lion See more »

Filming Locations:

Hollywood, California, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,250,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

After the opening credits clear over a background of Roman ruins the camera draws in on a bust which turns out to be of George Bernard Shaw, author of the play on which this is based. See more »

Goofs

The Christians sing "Onward, Christian Soldiers" - a hymn published in 1871. See more »

Quotes

Androcles: The coliseum! I never thought I'd live to see it.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: ROME 161 A.D. IN THE REGION OF THE EMPEROR ANTONINUS See more »

Connections

Version of Androcles and the Lion (1967) See more »

Soundtracks

Onward, Christian Soldiers
(uncredited)
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Words by Sabine Baring-Gould
sung by the marching Christian martyrs
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An Apochryphal Androcles?
2 April 2013 | by duke1029See all my reviews

In a lengthy letter to the editor in the October 1960 issue of "Films in Review," a very young Robert Osborne supplies some erudition on the casting of "Androcles and the Lion." According to the film historian, shooting began with Harpo Marx in the title role and continued under the direction of Chester Erskine for five weeks. Osborne states that the film's producer and Shaw impresario Gabriel Pascal thought him "the perfect Androcles," and maintains that the rushes were thought to be "brilliant." However, RKO studio boss Howard Hughes had recently seen Alan Young on a TV show, and impetuously insisted that the part be recast. That meant all the footage involving Harpo had to be reshot.

Unfortunately because of the delay two other principle cast members were lost to other commitments: Rex Harrison as Caeser and Dana Andrews as the Roman captain. Footage with them was scrapped and is presumed lost. They were replaced with Maurice Evans and Victor Mature. The two other stars, Robert Newton and Jean Simmons, making her American film debut, were able to stay.

Although IMDb trivia claims that Harpo was only considered for the role, Mr. Osborne's reputation, gravitas, and record of film scholarship gives this anecdote credibility. It certainly is typical of the idiosyncratic and fickle Hughes that he would have these kind of caprices. Just one year earlier after John Farrow had completed "His Kind of Woman," the unpredictable billionaire brought in Richard Fleischer to shoot some additional scenes. Incredibly Fleischer ended up reshooting virtually the entire film when Hughes suddenly decided he now wanted Raymond Burr as the villain and had a large expensive set built in the studio tank for a superfluous sight gag involving Vincent Price that lasted only a few seconds on screen.

Although it's unlikely that any of this footage will surface, if indeed it exists, but one can always hope.

P.S. Victor Mature had a refreshingly off-beat sense of humor, and unlike other egotistical stars of the period, never took himself too seriously. According to co-star Jim Backus, he and Mature decided to go to a local café for lunch rather than suffer through a meal at the RKO cafeteria. The waitress was surprised to see the two men in ancient Roman military uniforms and was shocked and amused to hear the actors ask for the usual "servicemen's discount."


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