The Lion Man (1936)

THE LION MAN (1936)
Article #1197 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-24-2004
Posting Date: 11-21-2004
Directed by John P. McCarthy
Featuring Kathleen Burke, Jon Hall, Ted Adams

A boy whose father was killed in an ambush by a double-dealing sheik is rescued by a woman and raised by a man who brings him up with lions. He grows up to defend others who are being victimized by the same sheik.

I was wondering for a bit while watching this as to what was giving this movie that slightly poetic feeling to it; it was then that I realized that all the Arabs were speaking in a somewhat Shakespearean “thee-thou-thy” mode. Once I realized this, though, that slight poetic feeling gave way to a sense of silliness instead, but I will admit that it lends a certain odd dignity to the proceedings. This one was based on a story by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and given the title, I thought it was largely going to be a Tarzan variation with a man raised in the desert by lions (whereas Tarzan was raised in the jungle by apes), but that’s not really the case; the boy is raised by a human who associates with lions. Actually, it would be kind of nice to see someone interact with the lions, but the full grown lions never appear in the same scenes as the humans; we do see humans cuddling lion cubs on occasion. The only fantastic aspect to this one is that slight air of fantasy that comes with setting a melodrama in an exotic location, so this one remains thoroughly marginal. Overall, it’s an odd and not quite effective movie; the beginning is strong and it ends all right, but the soap opera subplot that makes up most of the middle of the story largely exists to mark time until the end of the movie. It’s mostly of interest to those who want to try out an adaptation of one of Burrough’s lesser known works.

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