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The Lion (1962)

Approved | | Action, Adventure, Drama | 19 August 1962 (UK)
In Kenya, when young Tina befriends a lion and embraces local customs, her mother summons Tina's American father to help bring Tina back to civilization and give her a civilized upbringing.


Jack Cardiff


Irene Kamp (screenplay), Louis Kamp (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview:
William Holden ... Robert Hayward
Trevor Howard ... John Bullit
Capucine ... Christine
Pamela Franklin ... Tina
Zamba ... King / The Lion


Young Tina lives with her mother and stepfather on a wildlife reserve in Kenya. While her stepfather believes this is a wonderful environment for her to grow up in, her mother becomes increasingly concerned by her behaviour. These concerns are reinforced when it is revealed that her daughter's best friend in the whole world is a fully grown lion. Worried that her daughter may be turning into a savage, she sends for her former husband, Tina's biological father, in the hope that he can take her back to civilization (in this case rural Connecticut). But it seems as though Tina's mother wants something more than a civilized upbringing for her daughter. Written by Kevin Steinhauer <K.Steinhauer@BoM.GOV.AU>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Two Men Obsessed By a Woman Who Desired Them Both... See more »


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

19 August 1962 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Lion See more »

Filming Locations:

Nanyuki area, Kenya See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Before the Producers met Ralph Helfer and Zamba they thought they were going to have to use a robot Lion for the movie because their were no African Lions' in Hollywood tame enough to trust with a small child. See more »


If Tina really did raise King from a cub she would be about 15 years old. See more »


King: [Saves Tina's life from lioness]
Tina: [King comes to Tina] King! I knew you loved me. You saw King chose me. He's mine!
King: [Coming to Tina]
Tina: Stay away from her. You naughty thing.
King: [Mounting King]
Tina: King will see me home. He really loves me.
Christine: Now your beginning to see?
Robert Hayward: If I hadn't seen it... Well, I wouldn't have believed it. It's like witchcraft.
Tina: [Riding away on King] Now do you understand King? I don't want you to have anything more to do with that nasty lioness again. Who does she think she is?
See more »


Version of Le lion (2003) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Beautiful to watch and young Pamela Franklin shines
28 December 2017 | by kirksworksSee all my reviews

Although Jack Cardiff was a better cinematographer than a he was a director, he wasn't a bad director, and I believe "The Lion," along with "Dark of the Sun" are his best films. In "The Lion" Christine (Capucine) lives in Kenya with her second husband, big game hunter John Bullit (Trevor Howard), and her daughter Tina (Pamela Franklin) from a previous marriage. Tina has so taken to the African wild that Christine fears her daughter will one day just become an unreachable savage, so she contacts her first husband, Robert Hayward (William Holden), to come to Africa and help civilize Tina so she can return to the U.S. and live a normal, less dangerous, life. This idea is acerbated because Tina's best friend is a full grown lion she calls King. They grew up together and she spends most of her time in the jungle with King. She also believes King will do whatever she says, including attack and kill someone.

Of course Bullit resents the arrival of Robert, particularly since it becomes clear Robert continues to have feelings for Christine. The performances of the entire cast are quite good, if very much of their time. Franklin is especially good. She really does wrestle and play with the full grown lion on screen. It's actually quite remarkable to watch and apparently Franklin actually did bond with the animal. On the other hand, the love relationship that grows between Christine and Robert is less impressive, but Holden and Capucine have some effective moments, and the rebirth of their feeling for each other feels natural. So does the gradual changes that happen with hunter Bullit. Trevor Howard plays him in a strong performance that makes you dislike him but also understand his situation. He loves his step daughter and he does what he can to keep her in Kenya. One sequence where Bullit takes his wife, daughter and Robert on a wild drive through the African plain exposes his character. He purposely tries to upset big game like rhino, hippo and elephants in order to scare Robert by driving through the herds, taunting them. Of course this is exciting but annoying to watch because he's showing no respect for the animals. It almost makes you hate him, but there are more sides to him, and as the story plays out, we can't help but feel for him.

Woven through this story are two native tribemen, a chief and his arrogant son who will become chief when his father dies. This is actually well integrated into the plot. The stories of Tina and her lion King, Christine, Robert, Bullit and the two tribesmen all come together in an inevitable climax. Some viewers might see it coming, but I think they might be surprised by how it happens.

The score by Malcolm Arnold is one of his finest, full of thunderous drums and a beautiful main theme. It has a jazzy Gershwin-esque quality to it, which makes sense, since jazz is America's connection to Africa, an art form created by African Americans, and the story is about Americans' connection to Africa. The film is beautiful to watch, but be sure to see it in widescreen. The African landscapes and skies are stunning, and the scenes in camp during the character drama maintain a constant sense of place. You can be carried away by the atmosphere. The cinematographer was Edward Scaife, but the look of the film has Cardiff all over it. Try to find a widescreen version of this film, I think you'll find it a pleasant surprise.

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