The Thin Red Lion

Sometimes you need entertainment that CHALLENGES you. So we looked at FEARLESS FAGAN, a Stanley Donen lion comedy. Scripted by Charlie Lederer, so there are some good lions lines, but unfortunately they’re mostly in the introductory voice-over.

This is Fagan.

These are his teeth.

This is Fagan’s master, Floyd.

These are his teeth.

I guess the movie should really be termed a service comedy, since that’s a bigger sub-genre than lion comedy, and our hero does get drafted (Floyd, not Fagan). The story is about the serviceman trying to find a home for Fagan while he’s serving his country.

Janet Leigh is the leading lady, and sings the film’s only song, so technically you might have to screen this lion comedy if putting together a complete retrospective of Stanley Donen’s MGM musicals. But since you’d also have to program DEEP IN MY HEART, I don’t see what you’re looking so concerned about.

This is Janet. These are her… oh, never mind.

Floyd is played by Carleton Carpenter, who’s quite winning, but not somebody we’d heard of. There are two possibilities: Donen went down the list of MGM stars and they all, to a man, took suspension rather than make a movie where they have to wrestle a full-grown lion on screen, until he got to an unknown contract player with nothing to lose; or, Donen simply chose the studio’s least valuable actor, one they didn’t mind too much getting eaten.

Carleton didn’t get eaten! But then he pretty much went back into obscurity, which was mean of Fate or somebody.

Although the good jokes are at the start, the emotion is at the end, where it belongs — we shed a tear, collectively.

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6 Responses to “The Thin Red Lion”

  1. chris schneider Says:

    At least DEEP IN MY HEART has that swoony rendition of “One Alone,” the one with Cyd Charisse and James Mitchell. I watch that repeatedly. There’s also a number with Ann Miller (“It”) which looks like an outtake from SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN and one featuring Gene Kelly’s brother (“I Love To Go Swimmin’ With Women”).

  2. I’m going to fast-forward through it looking for the good bits now.

  3. What’s this? You haven’t heard of Carp? WELL LOOK AND LISTEN UP!

  4. Ahah! He’s MGM’s other jungle animal specialist, for when Johnny Sheffield is otherwise engaged.

  5. I’m sure that Carp (who is still with us by the way) would LOVE to have been engaged with Johnny Sheffield in his “Bomba” prime. Carp’s “openly” Bi and has written a few novels. A few years back he toured with “Crazy For You” — a newish stage adaptation of “Girl Crazy”

  6. Good old Carp! He really sells the pathos in this one.

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