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Bwana Devil (1952)

Not Rated | | Adventure | 30 November 1952 (USA)
British railway workers in Kenya are becoming the favorite snack of two man-eating lions. Head engineer Bob Hayward becomes obsessed with trying to kill the beasts before they maul everyone on his crew.




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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Bob Hayward
... Alice Hayward
... Dr. Angus McLean
Ramsay Hill ... Major Parkhurst
... Commissioner
Hope Miller ... Portuguese girl
John Dodsworth ... Sir William Drayton
Patrick O'Moore ... Ballinger (as Pat O'Moore)
Patrick Aherne ... Latham (as Pat Aherne)
Edward C. Short ... (as Edward Short)
... Indian Headman
Paul Thompson
Bhupesh Guha ... The Dancer
Bal Seirgakar ... Indian Hunter
Kalu K. Sonkur ... Karparim (as Kalu K. Sonkar)


When the construction of the East African railway comes to a grinding halt Bob Hayward, the chief engineer, undertakes to kill the lion that is terrifying the construction crews and preventing them from working. Hayward isn't very happy in his job. He's been away from his home and his wife for 8 months and has taken to drinking and carousing.As the lion continues to attack the laborers, Hayward seeks the help of the local Masai tribesmen but they too have little success. Despite the arrival of several hunters to assist him - and his wife who unexpectedly arrives from England - the killer beast remains elusive, killing them one by one. It's left to Hayward to overcome his self-doubts and go up against the lion. Written by garykmcd

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The world's FIRST FEATURE LENGTH motion picture in Natural Vision 3 Dimension See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

30 November 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Lions of Gulu  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Based on the 1898 Tsavo Lion attacks that were also told in The Ghost and the Darkness (1996). See more »


Bob: I don't need any help, I'll get that scurvy lion myself.
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Referenced in Experiments in Love (1977) See more »

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User Reviews

The First 3-D Color Feature
4 July 2008 | by See all my reviews

I saw it the first day of its first run release at the Chicago Theater in Chicago in 1952. 'Bwana Devil' was the brainchild of radio director, Arch Oboler. - best known for the radio (and early live TV series) 'Lights Out'. Oboler's brother-in-law was Milton Gunzburg. Gunzburg was, I believe, the optician who connected the use of Polaroid lenses to the making of stereoscopic films.

In 1952, television was stomping out movies and movie theaters the way rogue elephants could destroy villages. Hollywood was searching for any gimmick it could use to bring people back to the theaters. Cinerama, a cumbersome early widescreen process had come on the scene. It produced an 3-D like effect. That opened the door for Gunzberg and his brother-in-law. They called their process Naturalvision, raised some money to demonstrate the process, and produced 'Bwana Devil'.

While the story and production values took a back seat to the illusion of depth, the picture was a hit. It was quickly followed by 'House of Wax' and others. Most producers opted to exploit the stereoscopic effects rather than make good movies. 'House of Wax' was one of the rare exceptions. After about a year, audiences tired of the shoddy productions, and Naturalvision eventually disappeared. Into the void Fox introduced CinemaScope, a flat wide-screen process, and helped stem the sinking theater system.

I imagine seeing 'Bwana Devil' in flat projection would be painful. But for those of us who saw it with pristine prints, and quality projection, it was something to behold. Lions leaping off the screen into our laps was something few of us would forget.

It has taken another fifty years for 3-D to return. Today's producers seem not to be making the same mistake as those in the early fifties. I hope so. After all, 3-D is so much more fun than flat.

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