Colorful bayou peddler Hank Martin marries pretty teacher Verity, who finds that the rural poor all love Hank. Gradually, she realizes that Hank's popularity is the fruit of his expert manipulation of everyone he knows. She's further taken aback when she meets sexy swamp girl Flamingo, who considered Hank hers and is murderously jealous. Now Hank starts crusading against a crooked cotton buyer, and swiftly rises toward political power. Is there no stopping him? Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The last film of William Cagney Prouctions. See more »
When Hank walks back into Polli's living room after standing out in the rain, he momentarily loses his footing on the tile floor, but manages to recover. It happens a second time as he is leaving. This may not qualify as a true goof, as the slips are genuine and thus could be considered "real," but it's unusual that they did not dry him off and go for another take. See more »
It's unfortunate that A Lion Is In the Streets came out after All the King's Men. Both films were based in part on the legend of Huey Long. I think All the King's Men is better, but A Lion Is in the Streets has its moments.
For one thing it has the dynamic presence of James Cagney. You would hardly think that the very urban Mr. Cagney could pull off the role of a southern demagogue, but pull it off he does. It's the story of a man who is an itinerant peddler with a good gift of gab. You like him in those first few minutes of the film as the peddler takes shelter in Barbara Hale's one room schoolhouse. But as he discovers his gift for demagoguery he fascinates and repels the viewer as much as he enthralls the crowds in the film.
For another since our protagonist doesn't quite get to the heights that Broderick Crawford did in All the King's Men, it instead concentrates more on the man's humble beginnings. Instead of being a farmer who was educated by his wife as Broderick Crawford was in All the King's Men, the real Huey Long in fact was an itinerant peddler who was educated by his wife Rose McConnell Long. In fact Huey, Rose, and Russell are the answer to a trivia question as being the only parents and child who served in the United States Senate. Rose was given a temporary appointment to his seat following Long's assassination and son Russell had a considerable career in the Senate himself.
Barbara Hale's role is pretty modest, but that's how Rose McConnell was in real life. In their marriage she put up with quite a lot from Huey.
James Cagney produced this one himself with brother William Cagney taking on the administrative responsibilities and both of them giving little sister Jeanne Cagney her career role. She's the wife of luckless sharecropper John McIntire whose death Cagney demagogues for all its worth. The scene with the dying McIntire in court will chill you with fright. Jeanne is a true believer in Cagney the man and it's her disillusionment with him that leads to the shattering climax.
Other good performances in the cast are Anne Francis as bayou mantrap Flamingo, Larry Keating as the stuffed shirt that Cagney attacks for his own ends, and Lon Chaney, Jr. who is Francis's stern father.
It's not as good as All the King's Men, but A Lion is in the Streets has a lot to recommend it.
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