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>
In a lengthy letter to the editor in the October 1960 issue of "Films in Review," 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 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 saw 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 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 shot some additional scenes. Incredibly Fleischer ended up reshooting the entire film when Hughes suddenly decided he wanted Raymond Burr as the villain and had a large expensive set built for a 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.
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