Androcles and the Lion (film)

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Androcles and the Lion
Androcles lion.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Chester Erskine
Nicholas Ray (uncredited)
Produced by Gabriel Pascal
Written by George Bernard Shaw
Ken Englund
Chester Erskine
Starring Jean Simmons
Victor Mature
Alan Young
Music by Friedrich Hollaender
Cinematography Harry Stradling Sr.
Edited by Roland Gross
Distributed by RKO
Release date
  • 30 October 1952 (1952-10-30) (Premiere-Los Angeles)[1]
  • 9 January 1953 (1953-01-09) (US)[1]
Running time
98 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $1,250,000[2]

Androcles and the Lion is a 1952 RKO film produced by Gabriel Pascal from the George Bernard Shaw play of the same name. It was Pascal's last film, made two years after the death of Shaw, his long-standing friend and mentor, and two years before Pascal's own death.[3][4][5][6][7][8]


The plot is a more or less careful rendition of George Bernard Shaw's script. Androcles, a fugitive Christian tailor, accompanied by his nagging wife, is on the run from his Roman persecutors. While hiding in the forest he comes upon a wild lion who approaches him with a wounded paw. Androcles sees that the cause is a large thorn embedded in its paw, which he draws out while talking baby language to the lion. His wife had fled, and Androcles is next seen in a procession of Christian prisoners on their way to the Colosseum in Rome. They are joined by the fierce convert Ferrovius who subsequently provides much of the comic entertainment in his struggle to keep his nature in check. Love interest is also introduced by the growing attraction of the Captain to the noble-born convert Lavinia. Eventually the party is sent into the arena to be slaughtered by gladiators, but Ferrovius kills all of them and accepts a commission offered him in the Praetorian Guards. To appease the crowd, one Christian is needed to be savaged by the lions and Androcles volunteers to uphold 'the honour of the tailors'. It turns out that the lion is the one that Androcles has helped, and the two waltz round the arena to the acclaim of the people. The Emperor dashes behind the scenes to get a closer look and has to be rescued from the lion by Androcles. He then orders an end to the persecution of Christians and allows Androcles and his new 'pet' to depart in peace.


Note that the opening sequence of the film places it during the time of Emperor Antoninus Pius, but the character is only addressed as "Caesar" during the film.


Harpo Marx was originally signed to play Androcles, and after the first five weeks of shooting, Pascal was thrilled with the results; but Howard Hughes, who had seen Young on TV, hired him for the lead, and Harpo was replaced.[9] George Sanders was meant to play Caesar but was unable to get out of another commitment.[10] Jose Ferrer was mentioned for the part of Androcles.[11]

Under Pascal's contract with George Bernard Shaw, the film had to include at least 75% of Shaw's original dialogue in the screenplay. This was not a problem for this particular play since the play was short; indeed, material had to be added.[12]

Victor Mature had a contract with RKO to make one film a year. However this film, while released by RKO, was produced by GB Productions.[13]

Filming began 13 August 1951.[2]

When it opened in American cinemas nobody laughed, so Hughes withdrew the film and shot two weeks of new sequences. Alan Young recalled "He put in girls with gauze and a real lion, and it became a blood-and-guts film," in 1987.[14]


  1. ^ a b "Androcles and the Lion: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  2. ^ a b HOLLYWOOD SURVEY: HEROINE By THOMAS M. PRYOR. New York Times (1923–Current file) [New York, N.Y] 15 July 1951: X3.
  3. ^ "Androcles and the Lion(1952)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  4. ^ "Androcles and the Lion (1952)". Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  5. ^ "Movie Review – Androcles and the Lion". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  6. ^ "Androcles and the Lion (1952) – Critics' Reviews". Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  7. ^ "Shaw Society Double Bill Screening: Androcles and the Lion (1952) ..." Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  8. ^ Williams, Richard. "Androcles and the Lion". Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  9. ^ McClelland, Doug (1972). The unkindest cuts: the scissors and the cinema. NY: A. S. Barnes. pp. 114–15. ISBN 978-0498078255.
  10. ^ FILM EMPLOYMENT REPORPED ON RISE: February Figure of 13,700 Is Above '5O Monthly Average and Higher Than in '49 By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923–Current file) [New York, N.Y] 5 April 1951: 34
  11. ^ Drama: John Wayne to Direct 'Alamo' in Fall; Gable Gets Sherman as Guide Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 21 February 1951: B11.
  12. ^ New Material Is Added For Feature Film: Hollywood Letter By Richard Dyer MacCann. The Christian Science Monitor (1908–Current file) [Boston, Mass] 4 December 1951: 4.
  13. ^ New Boy Wonder Quips Career Along; ZsaZsa Gabor in 'Moulin Rouge' Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 5 January 1952: 11.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 June 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2016.

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