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Cinema: Don’t Call Me George

1 minute read

Crusty old George Bernard Shaw, who always insisted on approving every detail of his plays’ productions, was even crankier when it came to the movies. His will provides that he be billed only as “Bernard Shaw.” His trustees also decided that no more than 10% of Shaw’s original lines may be changed for the screenplay.

This posed a stickler for Shaw’s trusted friend, Producer Gabriel (Pygmalion, Caesar and Cleopatra) Pascal, who had to stretch the two-acter, Androcles and the Lion, to feature length. Pascal finally wangled a grudging O.K. from the trustees of Shaw’s estate to raise the alteration rate to 25%, and fattened up the script with lines borrowed from Shaw’s own preface. With the biggest barrier hurdled, Androcles was only two weeks behind schedule at RKO last week.

G.B.S. might have been startled at some of Producer Pascal’s casting: Television Comic Alan Young as Androcles and a professional football player and wrestler named Woody Strode as the lion. But Shaw would undoubtedly have been delighted with the painted backdrop for the Colosseum scenes. Two seats away from a beaming likeness of Pascal is a portrait of (George) Bernard Shaw himself.

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