Napoleon and Samantha (film) Upon the death of his grandfather, a young boy inherits a full-grown African lion, who is really a gentle pet. It is impossible to keep the lion in a small town, so the boy and his young girlfriend head for the mountains with the lion to find him a safe home. The trek leads to excitement and danger before all ends happily. Released on July 5, 1972. Directed by Bernard McEveety. 91 min. Stars Johnny Whitaker (Napoleon), Jodie Foster (Samantha), Michael Douglas (Danny), Will Geer (Grandpa), Arch Johnson (Chief of Police), Henry Jones (Mr. Gutteridge). This was Jodie Foster’s movie debut. Producer Winston Hibler discovered the beautiful scenery utilized in this film in the Strawberry Mountains wilderness area of eastern Oregon. The rugged 33,000 acres of unspoiled terrain contains the largest stand of Ponderosa pines in the world. Filming also took place in the adjoining picturesque historic gold country towns of John Day and Canyon City. The lion, Major, a 500-pound, 16-year-old, was a film veteran, having appeared in Tarzan movies with Mike Henry and in a television series with Ron Ely. Academy Award nomination for Original Score by Buddy Baker. Released on video in 1986.