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Androcles and the Lion

Androcles and the Lion

Androcles and the Lion is a 1952 RKO film produced by Gabriel Pascal from the 1912 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.

Plot

Androcles (Alan Young) a gentle Christian tailor, is on the run from his Roman persecutors, accompanied by his nagging wife Megaera (Elsa Lanchester). While they are hiding in the forest, a wild lion approaches them. Megaera swoons, but tender-hearted Androcles sees that a large thorn is deeply embedded in the lion ‘s paw; he draws it out while soothing the beast with baby-talk. While Androcles and the lion—whom he names Tommy—are becoming best buddies, his wife escapes, and when soldiers come upon Androcles and Tommy wrestling playfully, he is accused of sorcery. Androcles is next seen in a procession of Christian prisoners on their way to the Colosseum in Rome. They are joined by the fierce recent Christian convert Ferrovius (Robert Newton), who subsequently provides much of the comic relief in his struggle to keep his bellicose nature in check. Love interest is provided by the growing attraction between the Roman Captain (Victor Mature) and the nobly born Christian convert Lavinia (Jean Simmons). Eventually the party is sent into the arena to be slaughtered, but when Ferrovius demonstrates his powers of conversion—and kills all of the gladiators—Antoninus Caesar (Maurice Evans) declares that all his subjects should become Christians and offers him a commission in the Praetorian Guards. Ferrovius accepts. To appease the crowd, it is necessary to choose one Christian to be savaged by a lion, and Androcles volunteers "to uphold the honour of the tailors." It turns out that the lion is the one that Androcles helped in the forest, and the two waltz round the arena to the delight of the audience. 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.