Frasier, the Lovable Lion (1973)

PG | 90 or 94 mins | Comedy | June 1973

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Frasier . The picture was released in Southern California on 20 Jun 1973 under the title Frasier, the Sensuous Lion but the title was changed to Frasier, the Lovable Lion in an effort to encourage family audiences and persuade the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to change the rating from PG to G, according to a 13 Jul 1973 DV article. The article further noted that several changes had been made to the film to tone down any possible “borderline or questionable” scenes, and that the “revised version” would be tested on 18 Jul in Portland, OR and Atlanta, GA. According to a 29 Aug 1973 Var news item, the film’s distribution company did appeal the PG rating, and after the title was changed, “scenes with relatively strong dialog were cut and a bedroom scene was eliminated,” but the MPAA Code and Ratings Appeal Board sustained the PG rating.
       Maurice Max’s onscreen credit reads: “Associate producer and post production supervisor.” Re-recording mixer James L. Aicholtz' surname is misspelled "Aicholtv" in the onscreen credits. Although the onscreen production company credit reads: “Produced for Frasier Productions, Inc. by Sandler Films, Inc.,” the pressbook stated that producer Allan Sandler teamed with executive producer Harry Shuster to form Shuster/Sandler Productions, Inc. to make the movie. The onscreen credits contain a 1973 copyright statement, but the picture was not copyrighted until 16 Jul 2001, when Four Star International, Inc. was issued registration number RE-851-664. The credits end with the following written statement: “Special thanks to the staff and officers of ... More Less

The working title of this film was Frasier . The picture was released in Southern California on 20 Jun 1973 under the title Frasier, the Sensuous Lion but the title was changed to Frasier, the Lovable Lion in an effort to encourage family audiences and persuade the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to change the rating from PG to G, according to a 13 Jul 1973 DV article. The article further noted that several changes had been made to the film to tone down any possible “borderline or questionable” scenes, and that the “revised version” would be tested on 18 Jul in Portland, OR and Atlanta, GA. According to a 29 Aug 1973 Var news item, the film’s distribution company did appeal the PG rating, and after the title was changed, “scenes with relatively strong dialog were cut and a bedroom scene was eliminated,” but the MPAA Code and Ratings Appeal Board sustained the PG rating.
       Maurice Max’s onscreen credit reads: “Associate producer and post production supervisor.” Re-recording mixer James L. Aicholtz' surname is misspelled "Aicholtv" in the onscreen credits. Although the onscreen production company credit reads: “Produced for Frasier Productions, Inc. by Sandler Films, Inc.,” the pressbook stated that producer Allan Sandler teamed with executive producer Harry Shuster to form Shuster/Sandler Productions, Inc. to make the movie. The onscreen credits contain a 1973 copyright statement, but the picture was not copyrighted until 16 Jul 2001, when Four Star International, Inc. was issued registration number RE-851-664. The credits end with the following written statement: “Special thanks to the staff and officers of Lion Country Safari for their cooperation and help while filming on location at their Orange County Park, Irvine, California.”
       A 30 Mar 1973 LAHExam news item reported that Orson Welles and Peter Ustinov were under consideration to provide “Frasier’s” voice. Although other contemporary reviews listed the film’s running time as 97 minutes, the LAT review listed it as 90 minutes.
       As noted by contemporary sources, the film was inspired by the life of a real lion named Frasier who lived at the 500-acre Lion Country Safari located in Orange County, CA. Frasier lived most of his life in a Mexican circus until, at age fifteen, he was sent to California. As depicted in the picture, Frasier lived to the advanced age of seventeen and fathered more than thirty cubs in the last two years of his life. His longevity and romantic activities were written about in many magazines and newspapers, including articles in Life and Readers Digest . Frasier died on 13 Jul 1972.
       The picture was conceived by Shuster, the president and board chairman of Lion Country Safari. Formerly a lawyer in South Africa, Shuster and a group of entrepreneurs founded several Lion Country Safaris in the United States, with the first one opening in Florida in 1967 and others following in California, Texas, Ohio and Georgia. The Orange County park in which Frasier lived opened in 1970 and closed in 1984. Only the original Florida park remains open as of 2007. Although Shuster previously had produced motion pictures in South Africa, according to the film’s pressbook, Frasier, the Lovable Lion marked his first American production. Jerry Kobrin, who wrote the film’s screenplay, was the vice-president in charge of public relations for the Orange County Lion Country Safari, according to the pressbook. Kobrin also appeared in the film in a bit part as the “newspaper editor.”
       The picture marked the feature-length directorial debut of Pat Shields and the last film of longtime character actor John Qualen (1899—1987). In Mar 1974, Box noted that distribution rights to the picture had been granted to American National Enterprises. Although a quote from Sandler in the picture’s pressbook noted that a story line for a sequel to Frasier, the Lovable Lion had already been prepared, no sequel was produced. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
23 Jul 1973
p. 4609.
Box Office
11 Mar 1974.
---
Daily Variety
14 Dec 1972.
---
Daily Variety
21 Jun 1973.
---
Daily Variety
13 Jul 1973
p. 15.
Daily Variety
20 Aug 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Dec 1972
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Dec 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Mar 1973
p. 41.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jun 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 1973
p. 3, 8.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
30 Mar 1973
Section B, p. 3.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
23 Jun 1973.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Jun 1973.
---
Variety
27 Jun 1973
p. 34.
Variety
29 Aug 1973.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Shuster/Sandler Presentation
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Based on the story by
Conceived by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Gaffer
Key grip
Dolly grip
Transportation
Elec & gaffing equipment
Cam equipment
ART DIRECTORS
Des of "The Man's" mansion by
Des of "The Man's" mansion by
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Assoc film ed
Post prod supv
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Propman
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Mus ed
SOUND
Re-rec mixer
Boom man
Sd eff ed
Re-rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title des
Optical eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Animals supplied and supv
Animals supplied and supv
Animal trainer
Animal trainer
Animal trainer
Prod mgr
Controller
Casting dir
Asst to the prod
Prod secy
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntgirl
SOURCES
SONGS
"The Frasier Love Theme," music and lyrics by Robert Emenegger.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Frasier, the Sensuous Lion
Frasier
Release Date:
June 1973
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 20 June 1973
Production Date:
mid December 1972--mid March 1973
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
DeLuxe
Duration(in mins):
90 or 94
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Zoology professor Marvin Feldman is thrilled when he learns that he has been accepted to study at the African Lion Safari Park in Orange County, CA, although his overprotective Jewish mother worries about him being alone with strangers. The introverted, lonely Marvin assures her that as long as he is with the animals, he will be happy, and soon leaves with his beloved macaw, Rebecca. At the airport, Marvin is greeted by William Windsor, the wildlife preserve’s main zoologist, who is jealous that his favorite chimpanzee, Algernon, immediately likes Marvin. Thrilled to be able to cuddle a real chimp, Marvin explains that all animals love him, although due to his mother’s allergies, he is allowed to have only Rebecca as a pet. After driving through the park, in which wild animals roam freely while tourists drive on designated roads, Willie introduces Marvin to Harley Worcester, the park’s director, secretary Minerva Doily, visiting professor W. Walker Dredge and public relations head Allison Stewart. Allison announces the birth of a rare oryx and the group visits the nursery, where Marvin befriends a lion cub, which Worcester allows him to take to his motel that night. In the morning, when Willie awakens Marvin, they are aghast at the havoc created by the cub and Marvin momentarily panics, thinking that the cub has eaten Rebecca. Soon peace is restored, and back at the park, Willie takes Marvin to view the pride presided over by African lion Frasier, a seventeen-year-old male, who, despite his advanced age, keeps seven lionesses happy and pregnant. Frasier, who is the equivalent of a human man in his eighties, has sired ... +


Zoology professor Marvin Feldman is thrilled when he learns that he has been accepted to study at the African Lion Safari Park in Orange County, CA, although his overprotective Jewish mother worries about him being alone with strangers. The introverted, lonely Marvin assures her that as long as he is with the animals, he will be happy, and soon leaves with his beloved macaw, Rebecca. At the airport, Marvin is greeted by William Windsor, the wildlife preserve’s main zoologist, who is jealous that his favorite chimpanzee, Algernon, immediately likes Marvin. Thrilled to be able to cuddle a real chimp, Marvin explains that all animals love him, although due to his mother’s allergies, he is allowed to have only Rebecca as a pet. After driving through the park, in which wild animals roam freely while tourists drive on designated roads, Willie introduces Marvin to Harley Worcester, the park’s director, secretary Minerva Doily, visiting professor W. Walker Dredge and public relations head Allison Stewart. Allison announces the birth of a rare oryx and the group visits the nursery, where Marvin befriends a lion cub, which Worcester allows him to take to his motel that night. In the morning, when Willie awakens Marvin, they are aghast at the havoc created by the cub and Marvin momentarily panics, thinking that the cub has eaten Rebecca. Soon peace is restored, and back at the park, Willie takes Marvin to view the pride presided over by African lion Frasier, a seventeen-year-old male, who, despite his advanced age, keeps seven lionesses happy and pregnant. Frasier, who is the equivalent of a human man in his eighties, has sired more than thirty cubs during the previous two years and is well-known for his romantic proclivities. When Willie receives an urgent summons, he leaves Marvin alone, and the bashful Marvin apologizes aloud to Frasier for watching him mate with one of his “wives.” Marvin then hears a voice in his head, stating that he is the first human being to apologize for being a “peeping tom,” and offering him friendship. Marvin happily responds verbally but then realizes that no one is present except himself and the lion. Frasier soon convinces Marvin that he is really talking, however, and that he can speak through telepathy because he is a “deep thinker” and Marvin is tuned into his “vibrations.” Marvin is overwhelmed at being able to communicate with such a wise and kind animal, but they are interrupted by Willie’s return. Frasier warns Marvin not to tell anyone about their conversation and although he is reluctant, Marvin agrees. After lunch, Marvin, who cannot drive, persuades Willie to leave him alone with Frasier, and Marvin tells the curious lion that he was too meshuga to wait to talk with him again. Frasier assures Marvin that he knows all about yiddische mamas such as Marvin’s, and that lions have always gotten along with “the Hebrew tribes,” although for a while, they “did have some trouble stomaching the Christians.” Marvin is tickled by Frasier’s sense of humor and is about to listen to the story of his first love affair when Minerva, who has heard Marvin talking because he left his radio on, calls in a panic because she thinks Marvin has gone crazy. Willie rushes Marvin back to base and there the professor is interrogated. Marvin explains that Frasier chose him to talk to because of his considerate apology, and that he tested whether it was really the lion talking by asking him to walk toward his car, which Frasier did. Worcester and Willie are still skeptical, and as they are leaving, Worcester warns Marvin not to speak to the press. Unfortunately, his remarks are overheard by newspaper reporter Gordon Fisher, who is interviewing Allison about the oryx. Soon after, Allison berates Worcester, Willie and Marvin for not only revealing Marvin’s claim that he can communicate with Frasier, but also the details of Frasier’s sensational sex life. Although Worcester weakly asserts that maybe the newspaper will not run Fisher’s story, it is soon front-page news around the world, with Frasier becoming an inspiration to older people everywhere. “Frasier the sensuous lion,” as he is dubbed, captures the attention of an Italian gangster called “The Man” by his minions, Luigi Chiarelli and Boscov, and he orders them to go to America to kidnap Marvin so that he can question him about the secret of Frasier’s eternal lovemaking. Meanwhile, in California, huge crowds swarm Marvin’s hotel and the wildlife park. Allison lambastes Marvin, accusing him of destroying the park’s reputation, but as they drive to visit Frasier, he relates how lonely his life has been. As Marvin talks with Frasier, Allison realizes that the two are indeed communicating, and that she is attracted to the gentle zoologist. Frasier senses the attraction between the two humans and encourages Marvin to pursue the romance while confiding that he also was shy when he was young. Frasier tries to boost Marvin’s self-esteem, assuring him that he has a warm, beautiful soul. While Frasier relates the tale of his first love, Allison is moved to tears as she feels his and Marvin’s “vibrations,” although she still cannot hear Frasier’s telepathic conversation. Later that night, Chiarelli and Boscov arrive in California and kidnap Marvin, flying him to Italy. There, he is interrogated by The Man, who confesses that despite his immense power, he is afraid of entering his “twilight years” and yearns to know Frasier’s secret of everlasting virility. Affronted, Marvin refuses to cooperate but The Man threatens that if he does not find out within three days, his henchmen will kill Frasier. Marvin is then returned to the United States, where Frasier mania has spread, with t-shirts emblazoned with his image being worn by both senior citizens and younger people who admire Frasier’s dedication to “making love, not roar.” At the park, Marvin tells his friends about the danger Frasier is in, and they drive out to inform the lion. Marvin warns Frasier about The Man’s intentions, and members of Frasier’s pride pinpoint the location of the two henchmen and their driver, Kuback. Frasier sends the humans to force the gangster’s limousine toward the lions, and off they race, with a now self-assured Marvin driving, much to Allison’s admiration. After a furious chase over the rugged terrain, Willie and Worcester’s jeeps have overturned, and only Marvin is still chasing the henchmen. Both Marvin and Kuback finally drive off the road and abandon their vehicles, and Frasier bounds toward the limousine in order to keep Marvin safe from the gun-wielding criminals. The gangsters are chased by the animals and rounded up, while a grateful Marvin is summoned by Frasier, whose heroic act has sapped the last of his strength. Assuring Marvin of his undying friendship, Frasier asks him and Allison, who now can hear him, to care for his youngest cub, and instill in him the bond of understanding and love that they have shared. Frasier then reminds Marvin of the words of Dostoevsky, who wrote that if you love all of God’s creation, you will perceive the divine mystery in all things, and will come to love the whole world with an all-embracing love. Marvin tearfully finishes the quotation as Frasier dies, then, both saddened and anticipating a loving future, hugs the tiny cub and Allison. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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