Photographing MGM’s Lion Logo

I’ve never thought much about the behind the scenes work that created the MGM ‘Lion’ logo. I just accepted it as one of the great cinema icons. Then I saw this great image that captures the creation of that icon.

This pic, originally seen today on Reddit, caught my eye not only because of the obvious appeal of seeing the creation of an iconic image. No, what I really love here is the fact that it’s so low-key: a couple guys with their gear, and the lion. That’s part of the beauty of cinema — all the fancy stuff isn’t truly necessary as long as you’ve got a great subject and know how to show it off.

The original Reddit post labeled this as being from 1924, which would make it part of the ‘career’ of the first MGM lion. But the microphone and general appearance of the great cat make it more likely to be the second lion, Jackie, photographed in 1928.

Check out this annotated compilation of all the MGM lions. (Just ignore the incongruous music at the end.)

And, while we’re on the subject, here’s one of my favorite takes on the Lion logo. It was created as a promo shot for Alfred Hitchcock during, I believe, the era that produced North by Northwest at MGM.

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