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Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion


Cute movie, and that’s no ‘Lion.’

Rod Lott December 5th, 2011

I’m too young to have caught “Daktari” in its three-year run on TV in the late 1960s, but I knew of its existence. What I didn’t know is was based on a movie, the 1965 obscurity “Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion,” now available from Warner Archive.

clarencethecrosseyedlion
As kids’ movies of that era go, it’s unspectacular, but also harmless, charming and agreeable. Let’s put it this way: The phrase "a fine howdya do" is spoken without irony.

Marshall Thompson (“It! The Terror from Beyond Space”) is Dr. Tracy, the veterinarian in an African village whose natives fear a lion. But it’s Clarence, the cross-eyed lion, whose ocular handicap makes for broadly comic scenarios, such as when he pulls the doc’s jeep into the lake. Oh, silly Clarence, you king of the jungle! King of the bungle is more like it!

Your kids won’t care a lick about the story’s pesky humans; it’s the animal antics they’ll appreciate, like the sight of a chimp honking a car horn, or a man terrified by a snake, or Dr. Tracy wrestling a fierce leopard. Many other of God’s creatures are glimpsed via stock footage of varying quality, from great to vacuum-filter dingy.

Just warn them that the movie contains the worst rendition of "Danny Boy" their ears ever shall bear witness to, which is the comic intent of director Andrew Marton (“Around the World Under the Sea”).

 
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