Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"Cross-Eyed" Lion" is Family Film

Cleveland Press June 17, 1965

Producer Ivan Tors has become the Walt Disney of the wild animal set. The man who made "Rhino" and "Flipper" now offers us "Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion. It's not as good as the others but it is still an OK family film if you happen to be looking for something for the kids.

The best thing about the movie is the amazing work with this lion among all those human actors. Come to think of it, the actors are pretty amazing, too. Seldom have I seen actors and a lion working so close together.

THE FLAW in the film is a disjointed plot that just sort of muddles along. A veterinarian (Marshall Thompson) working in Africa comes across forlorn lion who is cross-eyed and consequently not much good at hunting game. He takes the lion in and his teenage daughter (Cheryl Miller) makes a pet of him.

There's also a pretty widow (Betsy Drake) around whose work is studying gorillas. (The vet is a widower.) Complicating life in this African Garden of Eden are a couple of serpents in the form of illegal hunters out after the gorillas.

Richard Haydn offers some comedy moments as an itinerant tutor who is afraid of animals.

Once introduced, Clarence is sort of forgotten until the end of the film. Some African film footage that looks as though it were left over from "Rhino" has been spliced in.