|Androcles and the Lion|
|Directed by||Chester Erskine|
Nicholas Ray (uncredited)
|Produced by||Gabriel Pascal|
|Written by||George Bernard Shaw|
|Music by||Friedrich Hollaender|
|Cinematography||Harry Stradling Sr.|
|Edited by||Roland Gross|
Androcles and the Lion is a 1952 RKO film produced by Gabriel Pascal from the George Bernard Shaw play of the same name. It was Pascal's last film, made two years after the death of Shaw, his long-standing friend and mentor, and two years before Pascal's own death.
The plot is a more or less careful rendition of George Bernard Shaw's satire. Androcles (Alan Young) a gentle Christian tailor, is on the run from his Roman persecutors, accompanied by his nagging wife Megaera (Elsa Lanchester). While they are hiding in the forest, a wild lion approaches them. Megaera swoons, but tender-hearted Androcles sees that a large thorn is deeply embedded in the lion ‘s paw; he draws it out while soothing the beast with baby-talk. While Androcles and the lion—whom he names Tommy—are becoming best buddies, his wife escapes, and when soldiers come upon Androcles and Tommy wrestling playfully, he is accused of sorcery. Androcles is next seen in a procession of Christian prisoners on their way to the Colosseum in Rome. They are joined by the fierce recent Christian convert Ferrovius (Robert Newton), who subsequently provides much of the comic relief in his struggle to keep his bellicose nature in check. Love interest is provided by the growing attraction between the Roman Captain (Victor Mature) and the nobly born Christian convert Lavinia (Jean Simmons). Eventually the party is sent into the arena to be slaughtered, but when Ferrovius demonstrates his powers of conversion—and kills all of the gladiators—Antoninus Caesar (Maurice Evans) declares that all his subjects should become Christians and offers him a commission in the Praetorian Guards. Ferrovius accepts. To appease the crowd, it is necessary to choose one Christian to be savaged by a lion, and Androcles volunteers “to uphold the honour of the tailors.” It turns out that the lion is the one that Andrew rocles helped in the forest, and the two waltz round the arena to the delight of the audience. The Emperor dashes behind the scenes to get a closer look and has to be rescued from the lion by Androcles. He then orders an end to the persecution of Christians and allows Androcles and his new 'pet' to depart in peace.
- Jean Simmons as Lavinia
- Victor Mature as the Captain
- Alan Young as Androcles
- Robert Newton as Ferrovius
- Maurice Evans as Caesar
- Elsa Lanchester as Megaera
- Reginald Gardiner as Lentulus
- Gene Lockhart the Menagerie Keeper
- Alan Mowbray as the Editor of Gladiators
- Noel Willman as Spintho
- John Hoyt as Cato
- Jim Backus as the Centurion
- Lowell Gilmore as Metellus
- Woody Strode as the Lion
- Strother Martin as Soldier
- Sylvia Lewis as the Chief of the Vestal Virgins
Note that the opening sequence of the film places it during the time of Emperor Antoninus Pius, but the character is only addressed as "Caesar" during the film.
Harpo Marx was originally signed to play Androcles, and after the first five weeks of shooting, Pascal was thrilled with the results; but Howard Hughes, who had seen Young on TV, hired him for the lead, and Harpo was replaced.George Sanders was meant to play Caesar but was unable to get out of another commitment. Jose Ferrer was mentioned for the part of Androcles.
Under Pascal's contract with George Bernard Shaw, the film had to include at least 75% of Shaw's original dialogue in the screenplay. This was not a problem for this particular play since the play was short; indeed, material had to be added.
Victor Mature had a contract with RKO to make one film a year. However this film, while released by RKO, was produced by GB Productions.
Filming began 13 August 1951.
When it opened in American cinemas nobody laughed, so Hughes withdrew the film and shot two weeks of new sequences. Alan Young recalled "He put in girls with gauze and a real lion, and it became a blood-and-guts film," in 1987.
- "Androcles and the Lion: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
- HOLLYWOOD SURVEY: HEROINE By THOMAS M. PRYOR. New York Times (1923–Current file) [New York, N.Y] 15 July 1951: X3.
- "Androcles and the Lion(1952)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- "Androcles and the Lion (1952)". criterion.com. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- "Movie Review – Androcles and the Lion". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- "Androcles and the Lion (1952) – Critics' Reviews". moviesmsn.com. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- "Shaw Society Double Bill Screening: Androcles and the Lion (1952) ..." cinemamuseum.org.uk. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- Williams, Richard. "Androcles and the Lion". silversirens.com.uk. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- McClelland, Doug (1972). The unkindest cuts: the scissors and the cinema. NY: A. S. Barnes. pp. 114–15. ISBN 978-0498078255.
- FILM EMPLOYMENT REPORPED ON RISE: February Figure of 13,700 Is Above '5O Monthly Average and Higher Than in '49 By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923–Current file) [New York, N.Y] 5 April 1951: 34
- Drama: John Wayne to Direct 'Alamo' in Fall; Gable Gets Sherman as Guide Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 21 February 1951: B11.
- New Material Is Added For Feature Film: Hollywood Letter By Richard Dyer MacCann. The Christian Science Monitor (1908–Current file) [Boston, Mass] 4 December 1951: 4.
- New Boy Wonder Quips Career Along; ZsaZsa Gabor in 'Moulin Rouge' Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 5 January 1952: 11.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 June 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)