17 user 11 critic

A Lion Is in the Streets (1953)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, Thriller | 23 September 1953 (USA)
A charismatic peddler from the bayous finds his true calling in politics. Is he a demagogue in the making?


Raoul Walsh


Luther Davis (screenplay), Adria Locke Langley (from the novel by)


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Complete credited cast:
James Cagney ... Hank Martin
Barbara Hale ... Verity Wade
Anne Francis ... Flamingo McManamee
Warner Anderson ... Jules Bolduc
John McIntire ... Jeb Brown
Jeanne Cagney ... Jennie Brown
Lon Chaney Jr. ... Spurge McManamee (as Lon Chaney)
Frank McHugh ... Frank Rector
Larry Keating ... Robert L. Castleberry IV
Onslow Stevens ... Guy Polli
James Millican ... Samuel T. Beach
Mickey Simpson ... Tim Peck, Blacksmith
Sara Haden ... Lula May McManamee
Ellen Corby ... Singing Woman


Colorful bayou peddler Hank Martin marries pretty teacher Verity, who finds that the rural poor all love Hank. Gradually, she realizes that Hank's popularity is the fruit of his expert manipulation of everyone he knows. She's further taken aback when she meets sexy swamp girl Flamingo, who considered Hank hers and is murderously jealous. Now Hank starts crusading against a crooked cotton buyer, and swiftly rises toward political power. Is there no stopping him? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He was king of a double-cross empire ..and the gutter was his throne! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »


Official Sites:

WB Shop / Warner Archive





Release Date:

23 September 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Fera See more »

Filming Locations:

Everglades, Florida, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Eleventh and final time that James Cagney co-starred with his close friend Frank McHugh. The first time being The Crowd Roars in 1932. See more »


Fifteen minutes in, when James Cagney and Barbara Hale are walking towards Mr. Castleberry's mansion, a very visible boom mic shadow can be seen moving in front of them, going from the top to the middle of the screen. See more »


Hank Martin: Wheels within wheels within wheels.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The version first released in Australia was black and white. See more »


Oh, Dem Golden Slippers
Written by James Allen Bland
Played when Hank is dancing with the children
See more »

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User Reviews

Great Cast but Bad Screenplay
23 August 2012 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

A Lion is in the Streets (1953)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Raoul Walsh directs this incredibly uneven and at times poorly written tale of a poor peddler (James Cagney) who finds his calling in politics. After the death of his friend, the man begins to slowly rise up and lead the poor people against the evil rich but this game contains one twist after another. A LION IS IN THE STREETS features a terrific cast, some great cinematography and at times a compelling story but there are just way too many beyond stupid moments that keep this film from being a complete success. I must admit that I got caught up in the story and it made for a mildly entertaining film but at the same time there were moments where I was wanting to scream at the television. There's no doubt in my mind that this was an incredibly poor screenplay that needed a major re-write. There's no doubt that those involved wanted to get their message across but they should have done it with better, more realistic writing. I won't spoil anything but there's a court scene and the sequence at the end, which should have been terrific but they're just so far fetched that the message involved in them are just lost. Another problem is that stuff will come up in the story and never get explained or even commented on again. There's an entire subplot with Cagney's swamp girl lover that comes and goes. Cagney's wife gets pregnant but this disappears from the screenplay only to then pop back up out of no where. There are some terrific performances here including Barbara Hale as the wife, Anne Francis as the swamp girl and we've also got strong work from Lon Chaney, Warner Anderson, John McIntire, Jeanne Cagney, Onslow Stevens and Cagney's old buddy from Warner, Frank McHugh. As far as Cagney goes, there's no question that he's got some passion and fire going on. The performance is incredibly energetic, although the accent comes and goes at times. A LION IS IN THE STREETS isn't a complete success but the cast alone makes it worth sitting through.

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