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A Lion Is in the Streets (1953)

Approved | | Drama | 23 September 1953 (USA)
A charismatic peddler from the bayous finds his true calling in politics. Is he a demagogue in the making?

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Writers:

(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Hank Martin
...
Verity Wade
...
Flamingo McManamee
Warner Anderson ...
Jules Bolduc
...
Jeb Brown
Jeanne Cagney ...
Jennie Brown
...
Spurge McManamee (as Lon Chaney)
...
Frank Rector
...
Robert L. Castleberry IV
Onslow Stevens ...
Guy Polli
James Millican ...
Samuel T. Beach
Mickey Simpson ...
Tim Peck, Blacksmith
Sara Haden ...
Lula May McManamee
...
Singing Woman
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Storyline

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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Jeb Brown- his heart was too big it made an easy target See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

23 September 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Fera  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was based on a 1945 novel which was a fictionalized account of assassinated Louisiana politician Huey Long by Adria Locke Langley. A film based on a similar roman a clef by Robert Penn Warren, "All the King's Men," won an Oscar as Best Picture in 1949. That b/w film shot on location with non-professional extras had a gritty realism that the studio-bound "A Lion Is in the Streets" did not have, and the later film suffered by comparison. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Flamingo: I've been your wife ever since I knowed what the word meant.
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Soundtracks

Turkey in the Straw
Traditional
Played when Hank and Verity are being carried to Jules' house
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User Reviews

 
Flexing His Demagogic Muscles
23 March 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

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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