Lion Is in the Streets

A Lion Is in the Streets

Director: Raoul Walsh

Cast: James Cagney, Barbara Hale, Anne Francis

     
 
In 1945, James Cagney, through his independent production company, bought the rights to a lurid novel by Adria Locke Langley, concerning the rise of a Southern demagogue, loosely based on the political career of Huey Long. By the time the film finally went into production and was released in 1953, the film became an also-ran, trailing behind Robert Rossen's

Overview

In 1945, James Cagney, through his independent production company, bought the rights to a lurid novel by Adria Locke Langley, concerning the rise of a Southern demagogue, loosely based on the political career of Huey Long. By the time the film finally went into production and was released in 1953, the film became an also-ran, trailing behind Robert Rossen's Oscar-winning production All the King's Men, which concerned the same subject. The film, directed by Raoul Walsh, never escapes from the towering shadows of the Rossen film, so it becomes, in the end, a matter of preference for the lead character -- whether one prefers the looming intimidation of Broderick Crawford or the brisk pugnacity of James Cagney. Cagney plays swamp peddler Hank Martin, who tries to ride into the governor's mansion in a backroad Southern state by making a crusade out of the plight of the poor and impoverished majority of the state. He begins his political assent by leading a sharecropper's revolt against the rip-offs the sharecroppers are receiving at the local cotton mill. But things become more intense and Hank Martin sows the seeds of his own destruction when he makes a deal with a local, crooked political boss in order to get ahead in his political career.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Although some feel that A Lion is in the Streets would have been better received had it not followed then earlier All the King's Men, which was also based upon the career of Huey Long, the fact is that Lion simply isn't as good as Men. The crucial difference is the screenplay; Lion's simply isn't particularly good, veering off into lurid melodrama on many occasions, stretching credibility in others, and failing to create any real, viable characters for the leading role to play off of. Fortunately, Lion does have a magnetic star turn from the irresistible James Cagney. The actor clearly relishes the part, taking hold of the screen from the moment he enters and never missing an opportunity to get under the skin of this grotesque but fascinating creature. True, it's not a flawless performance: his accent comes and goes (sometimes several times within one sentence), and at times Cagney goes a bit too far. But he gives Lion a much needed anchor and makes it hard to look away while he is on screen. As noted, the other actors have less to work with, but Anne Francis is strangely appealing as the swamp slut, and Barbara Hale does the best she can with the thankless role of the wife. Raoul Walsh pulls some nice directorial tricks, including almost making the infamous "dead man trial" work; he can't totally mask the screenplay's flaws, but he does make it look much better than it should. And he could have probably done even better, had the movie been shot in black-and-white, rather than in color, which adds to the lurid nature of the tale.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/23/2009
UPC:
0883316127018
Original Release:
1953
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Archives
Presentation:
[B&W, Full Frame]
Time:
1:28:00
Sales rank:
45,367

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
James Cagney Hank Martin
Barbara Hale Verity Wade
Anne Francis Flamingo
Warner Anderson Jules Bolduc
John McIntire Jeb Brown
Jeanne Cagney Jennie Brown
Lon Chaney Spurge
Frank McHugh Rector
Larry Keating Robert J. Castelberry
Onslow Stevens Guy Polli
James Millican Mr. Beach
Mickey Simpson Tim Beck
Sara Haden Lulu May
Ellen Corby Singing Woman
James Griffith Mayor's Clerk
Henry Kulky Polli's Butler
Sam McDaniel Moses, Bolduc's Butler
William "Bill" Phillips Deputy Lewis
Fay Roope Gov. Snowden
Roland Winters Prosecutor
Burt Mustin Smith
Irene Tedrow Sophy
Sarah Selby Townswoman

Technical Credits
Raoul Walsh Director
George J. Amy Editor
William Cagney Producer
Roscoe S. Cline Special Effects
Luther Davis Screenwriter
Wiard Ihnen Production Designer,Set Decoration/Design
William Kissell Art Director
Fred MacLean Set Decoration/Design
Otis Malcolm Makeup
Kay Nelson Costumes/Costume Designer
Harry Stradling Cinematographer
Franz Waxman Score Composer

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