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Josef von Sternberg,
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A famously bad movie of a minor Shaw play, Androcles and the Lion isn't bad so long as one doesn't approach it expecting a sparkling and witty adaptation along the lines of Major Barbara. To be fair to producer Garbriel Pascal, who loved Shaw's work dearly, and director Chester Erskine, an experienced theatre man, the play wasn't that good to start with. In trying to make their picture look like a spectacle, and casting hunky Victor Mature in a major role, Pascal and Erskine at least give the viewer something pleasing and familiar to look at. The presence of Jean Simmons doesn't hurt, either, though her padrone, studio chief Howard Hughes, was in the process of inadvertantly wrecking her American career with inferior movies.
In the roles as early Christians, Alan Young and Robert Newton make a terrific pair, and ought to have been co-starred again. Mr. Young's endearingly innocent, child-like and effeminate Androcles makes a fascinating contrast with Newton's bellowing, hyper-virile Ferrovius, and one wonders, if one adds to the mix the mere presence of Victor Mature, was going on subliminally in the minds of Pascal and Erskine when they cast this film. (Young fared far better with the animal kingdom some years later on television, as friend and companion of the irascible and unpredictable equine, Mr. Ed.)
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