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Thread: The Lion (1962)

  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    THE LION (1962)

    A Neglected British Classic.








    This Samuel G. Engel British production for 20th Century-Fox is a marvelous film to look at and one of my all time favourites. Directed by Jack Cardiff, it is enhanced by beautiful CinemaScope and colour photography of sun-drenched Kenya and Uganda by Ted Scaife and also by one of Malcolm Arnold’s most exhilarating scores. Set in a game reserve in Kenya, it tells of the friendship between eleven years old Tina Bullit (Pamela Franklin) and King, a full grown African lion that she has raised from the time it was found as an abandoned five weeks old cub in the bush. Tina is the step-daughter of the reserve’s warden, John Bullit (Trevor Howard). Her mother, Christine (Capucine), is worried about the way John is bring up Tina to be a child of the bush and sends for Tina’s natural father Robert Hayward (William Holden) who, much to the annoyance of Bullit, arrives to investigate the situation. Barely able to remember him, Tina, at first, resents the appearance of her natural father and there is much friction in the group as Tina initially turns to Bullit and the wild ways he has taught her.



    Events come to a head when, to prove his manhood, a young native warrior has to kill his first lion and chooses King. Bullit, rifle in hand, arrives on the scene to find the native and King grappling in mortal combat, with Tina urging King to kill the native. Bullit is faced with a dilemma. If he shoots and kills King, he will also kill Tina’s love for him and if he lets King live, the native will surely die. Ignoring the pleas of Tina not to kill the animal, he shoots and kills King and, in a tear-jerking and well acted scene, Tina kneels beside the dead animal and holds him in disbelief. “He’s dead?, she says, softly, “King’s dead.? Then, with hatred in her eyes, she stands up and glowers at Bullit. “YOU KILLED HIM!?, she rages, “YOU KILLED MY KING! I BEGGED YOU NOT TO AND YOU KILLED HIM!?, turning violently on Bullit and beating at his body with her clenched fists. “I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!?, she screams at him, while Bullit just stands there, expressionless, and takes it, knowing that he’s just killed their relationship forever. In the end, Christine and Tina fly back to America with Robert, leaving Bullit with his memories and thoughts of what might have been.



    Holden and Capucine look tired in their roles. Trevor Howard, as always, is excellent in his. But Pamela Franklin steals the movie with her wonderful performance. She was not only very beautiful, but the bravest child star ever, showing absolutely no fear as she romped with the lion as though it were Lassie, while Holden, only a few feet away, looks genuinely petrified with fear. In fact, the scene where Tina introduces Robert to King in the lion’s lair is one of the most dramatic and genuinely frightening scenes ever to grace a “U? certificate film. There is nothing faked about the scenes of Pamela and the lion together. What the audience can’t see is the marksman standing beside the camera with a high – powered rifle, ready to kill the beast if it decided to turn on her, as such creatures can never be tamed, only trained. Filming on The Lion began on Monday, October 30th, 1961 and a special, sound-proofed sound stage was built at Nanyuki in Kenya for the filming of the few interior scenes, as most of the scenes were shot outdoors on picturesque locations that benefited enormously from the wide expanse of the CinemaScope process.



    I ran The Lion at the Plaza, Fenton, during the bitter winter of 1962 / 1963 and we had the heating up full and it was nice and warm in the cinema and, while Pamela Franklin soaked up the Kenyan sunshine on the CinemaScope screen, outside the Plaza it was deep in snow, bitterly cold and blowing a blizzard. The memory of those two contrasting images has always stayed with me.



    Below are scans of publicity material for the film, a Movie Classic comic; the Extended Play soundtrack record; a press still and a Front-of-House still, followed in the next post by a selection of frames from the widescreen DVD. I notice that I am only allowed to upload five images into a post now, whereas before it was twenty. Hence having to spread these images over two posts.











  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    Nice display. Is the widescreen dvd still available? I had no idea it had been released and I've been waiting for this for a long time.

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    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Pickard' date='07 June 2010 - 06:30 PM' timestamp='1275931855' post='436838

    Nice display. Is the widescreen dvd still available? I had no idea it had been released and I've been waiting for this for a long time.
    Thanks, Stephen. I had to leave out a few images as I�€™m only allowed to upload a few per post since the changeover. I got the DVD online from an eBay seller in Spain, where amazingly, it has been released on a Region 2 DVD by 20th Century-Fox. Although the DVD box is in Spanish, the film itself is the original English version and is available on the disc with either the original English or dubbed in Spanish dialogue. The transfer itself, although not 16 x 9 enhanced, is 2.35:1 CinemaScope with unfaded colour and the image and sound are very clear. I hadn't seen this film in widescreen since I ran it at the Plaza nearly 48 years ago. Television screenings have always been in pan and scan and it hasn�€™t been run on television in the UK for over ten years. But why Fox chose to release this film on DVD in Spain instead of the UK or US where there is a big demand for it is anybody's guess. Available as a new DVD from amazon uk market place sellers and from eBay sellers. Here are a few images I had to leave out in my earlier posts:












  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    For anyone interested in buying the DVD, here is the link:



    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/LION-DVD-WILLI...item5ad90a368f

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    when i saw this at the Odeon temple Fortune they got the reels mixed up.I didnt notice.When the manager went on stage to a refund i do not remember much of a rush for the paybox.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by orpheum

    when i saw this at the Odeon temple Fortune they got the reels mixed up.I didnt notice.When the manager went on stage to a refund i do not remember much of a rush for the paybox.


    Well, it seems to me that you're one of those miserable sods who won't allow yourself to be impressed even by impressive things. If you weren't impressed by the beauty and scope of this film and by its wonderful music, there must be something wrong with you, especially considering you went to see the film in the first place. Why pay to see a film you don't like? You saw the posters and Front-of-House stills before you went in and maybe you saw the trailer for the film the previous week, so you knew what you were getting. There was no mad rush to the pay box for a refund when we had it the Plaza and we were certainly not incompetent enough to mix the reels up, as all the leaders had part numbers on them. The Lion was a very popular film of its day and we were packed out for it. All the more surprising when you consider it was shown during one of the worst winters...1962 / 1963...with people trudging through the snow and blizzards to see it. The audience loved it. If you go on the IMDb, you can read the comments of people who are begging 20th Century-Fox Fox to release it on DVD.

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    I never cease to marvel at some people on this forum who seem to think that rudeness is acceptable.I recall little of the film itself and i said nothing about its merits whatsoever.I think that you should learn some politeness and manners

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    Quote Originally Posted by darrenburnfan

    For anyone interested in buying the DVD, here is the link:



    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/LION-DVD-WILLI...item5ad90a368f
    Thanks Darrenburnfan, I think I will just sit and wait for a region 1 release. It amazes me that studios are still releasing 4x3 letterbox transfers of their films in 2010!

  10. #10
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    I haven't seen this since its original release - at the old Carlton, Haymarket, I think. It may be worth mentioning just what a personal project this was for William Holden who owned the game reserve near Mount Kenya and incorporated the jet-set hotel, The Mount Kenya Safari Lodge, a favourite of Holden's friend, David Lean (in fact, Lean's London home had dining chairs bought from that hotel!). Holden's passion was for Africa and conserving its wildlife and this movie was a way of promoting his interest and funding its activities.

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    I will look for this one. I have enjoyed Pamela Franklin in virtually every film (and TV show) I've seen her in. Funny that she did a movie with a lion AND a tiger so early in her career!

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