Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Lion (2 stars)

The Lion, from 1962, is an action/adventure film starring William Holden, Trevor Howard, and Capucine, with juvenile actress, Pamela Franklin, in a supporting role.  As a die-hard William Holden fan, I am making it my goal to see as many of his movies as I can, so when I saw that The Lion was making its TCM premiere last night, I excitedly set my DVR.  Alas, I was disappointed; however, I'm not sorry I watched it, and I don't consider it time wasted.  Anytime I have an opportunity to see my beloved Bill Holden in a "new-to-me" film, I consider it time well spent.

Robert Hayward (Holden) and his ex-wife, Christine (Capucine), have been divorced for several years, with Chris having custody of their young daughter, Tina (Pamela Franklin).  While Rob has been living stateside since the divorce, Chris and Tina have been living in Kenya, where Christine's new husband, John Bullit (Trevor Howard), manages a game preserve.  Concerned because of Tina's isolation and her strong attachment to a full-grown lion, Chris requests that Rob make a trip to Africa to judge the situation for himself.

Though Rob at first thinks Tina is bright and well-adjusted, he comes to realize that Chris is right...Tina does, in fact, have an unhealthy attachment to the lion---and he does to her as well, even, in a dramatic moment, choosing Tina over a lioness.  Additionally, Tina is strongly connected to the tribal customs of the local natives, something which greatly concerns her mother.  Rob realizes that Tina needs to be removed from the game preserve and brought to the states to live with him; however, since his connection with his daughter had been severed when she was very young, and she now looks upon Bullit as her father, will Rob be able to convince her to leave Africa and live with him?  Making matters even worse is the fact that Rob violated the natives' tribal laws by saving a man who had been left to die.  And on top of it all is Rob and Chris's realization that they still love each other.  How everything plays out is the balance of the film.

The Lion was filmed entirely on location in East Africa.  William Holden, part-owner in a Kenyan game preserve, had long-wanted to be involved in a film such as this.  Truly, it was his passion, and, in fact, according to Robert Osborne's informational snippets, he is the one who spearheaded the effort to have this film made.  Despite his zeal for the project, though, the film didn't do it for me.  I don't generally do well with animal films...for what are probably obvious reasons.  In this movie, it appeared that Trevor Howard's character was taunting the animals with his vehicle.  Perhaps it was meant to be just playfulness, but it was a turn-off for me.  Also, I didn't feel there was much chemistry between any of the stars---funny because Holden and Capucine were involved with one another at this point in their lives (said Robert Osborne).  I didn't see their off-screen love playing out in the film.

Just because I didn't enjoy this film, though, it doesn't mean others won't love it---especially those with an interest in Africa or safari animals.  (The scenery is stunning, and the animals are completely awesome.) While I don't believe the movie is out on DVD, I am willing to part with my copy.  Given that it was a William Holden film, I assumed I would love it, so I recorded it to disc as I watched it; however, it's not a movie I will ever watch again, so I am happy to send my recorded disc to anyone who wants it.  Please don't hesitate to ask.

Happy viewing!!


  1. I can't get into animal themed movies, they just don't interest me. I never like horse stories when I was little either...or dog stories. You're a trooper for sitting thru this one though! I don't know if I could.

  2. Victoria, I DO love "Black Beauty." It's a very bittersweet story, but I DO love it, and on Christmas, I went to see the movie "War Horse," (which I liked, but much less than "Black Beauty"). By and large, though, I don't do well with animal movies...I hate seeing the animals in pain or getting killed in the end. You ought to have seen it when we watched "Old Yeller" when my kids were about 8 and 10. NOT a pretty sight, as all of us were nearly hysterical.

  3. Sadly, I too saw this movie when it originally came out. It was on a double feature and is considered a "B" movie I think. I

    I shy away from animal movies Patti, too hard to watch abuse, neglect and sad endings. I never showed "Old Yeller" to my kids because of the feeling in the pit of my stomach as a kid when I heard the line, "He's my dog, I'll do it" I was in tears and upset for days over it every time I recalled that line !!!

  4. Even worse than "Old Yeller" for my family was "Where the Red Fern Grows." My son was about 7 when we watched that, and he was beyond upset...he was out of control hysterical.

    We can do "Bambi" and other animated animal films, but the real-life ones tend to have the animal in pain theme (or worse), and I just can't handle that. Humans in pain make me sad, too, but at least they understand in a way an animal doesn't.

  5. I would probably watch The Lion as a lazy Sunday afternoon movie although I would share your misgivings about the treatment of animals.
    It sounds like it's in a similar vein to John Wayne's Hatari and also Rampage which co-starred Robert Mitchum and Jack Hawkins, which are two of my guilty pleasures.
    Elsa Martinelli provides the love interest in both movies, European actresses such as Elsa and Capucine were very much in vogue in that period weren't they?
    I'm sure my mother would watch The Lion too, if only for Trevor Howard. He's one of her favourite actors, mainly because he bears a very strong resemblance to my late grandfather.


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