Superman postsTuesday February 06, 2018
I was watching “Voyage á travers le cinema française,” a three-hour doc about the history of French cinema—essentially Bernard Tavernier doing with France what Scorsese did with America back in ‘95—and an hour in we get this shot while Tavernier talks up the many great theaters in postwar Paris:
It took a little digging to figure out this promotion was for the 1948 “Superman” serial starring Kirk Alyn. OK, a little peering. The spiderwebs on the poster to the right, sign of the villainous Spider Lady, are the giveaway.
I’m a little surprised that Superman was a big-enough deal to warrant this kind of promo, to be honest. And this very French promo. Look at Supes' face: more Jean-Paul Belmondo than Kirk Alyn. Then again, this is before the Cold War-era “the American way”; and it's not exactly leaping a tall building in a single bound to go from liberté, egalité, fraternité to verité et justice.
Everything Wrong with 'Batman v Superman'
Not a huge fan of these “Everything Wrong with...” videos but agree 100% with this one. What's the highest sin total they've had? Surely, this is near the record—even though they forgot the idiocy of the U.S. government nuking Doomsday/Supes in space when Supes was taking Doomsday away from Earth. Worth a few more sins:
I had a lot of the same complaints last March.
Superman Before The American Way
That was in 1948, three years after the discovery of Auschwitz, Buchenwald, et al., when tolerance seemed like an important concept to instill in kids. Three years later, for the “Adventures of Superman” TV series, and amid various McCarthy and HUAC hearings in which people lost careers and lives because of left-wing political leanings, “tolerance” was removed in favor the all-purpose “American way.”
Feel free to share.
Jack Larson: 1928-2015
Larson as Jimmy Olsen in “The Haunted Lighthouse” episode of “The Adventures of Superman,” which aired on Sept. 26, 1952.
Shortly after I heard about the death of Jack Larson, who played Jimmy Olsen on “The Adventures of Superman” TV show in the 1950s, I read the following tweet from author Mark Harris:
RIP Jack Larson. Superman's pal Jimmy Olsen. Montgomery Clift's boyfriend. Virgil Thomson's librettist. James Bridges's life partner. Wow.— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) September 21, 2015
With one tweet I found out the original Jimmy Olsen (or the second, after Tommy Bond), whose acting career pretty much ended with Jimmy Olsen, was:
- involved in high art
- had good taste in men
That's the problem with being straight. Actually, more, that's the disadvantage for anyone in the majority when the majority forces people who are different from them underground or away—segregating or marginalizing them. It means you don't know the whole story.
I mean, how much have I written about Superman? And I didn't know any of the above? Yeah, I feel a little rooked.
The New York Times has a good obit, which makes Larson's life and career sound pretty fascinating. Thomson's previous librettist, for example, was Gertrude Stein. Larson met James Bridges when they were both young actors, and Bridges went on to write and direct, among other films, “The Paper Chase,” “The China Syndrome,” and “Urban Cowboy.”
Imagine if this were 40 years ago. How odd Larson's story would read. How much of it would've remained hidden from people like me.
Did anyone ever interview Larson about Superman and popular culture? About what it was like to star in a superhero story at a time when movies were for grownups and reading comic books were thought to lead to homosexuality? And to strive for decades for literary respectability (plays, opera) only to find the culture gravitating in the opposite direction? Toward superheroes?
Anyway, I agree with Mark Harris. Wow.
Larson as Bo the bartender in 2006's “Superman Returns.”
How Wrong is Joe Posnanski About Superman Movies?
Damn. I was enjoying the column, too.
In it, Joe Posnanski, my man Joe, my regular lunchtime reading, wrote about why walks are down in Major League Baseball, and why attendance is down in the American League, and he makes a joke about all the charts he's throwing up, about how “this is the chartiest post I've ever done.” So he finishes it with a flourish. He adds a line graph on his ratings for the Superman movies:
A few things I don't get:
- The rise from “Superman: The Movie” to “Superman II.” Is he suggesting “Superman II” was better? Richard Lester's “Superman II”?
- I get the steep drop for “Superman III” but why does it rise again for “Superman IV”? Shouldn't it plummet? I mean off the charts?
I like that he likes “Superman Returns”—that movie is way too maligned. As for his feelings about “Man of Steel”? Whatever. It's not the worst of the Superman movies—that's almost impossible. I originally had it second-best but I might drop it a bit now. Maybe below “Superman Returns”? Maybe below the Donner cut of “Superman II”? Nah. It's still #2 or #3 in my book. Or blog.
But I don't mind that Posnanski dislikes “Man of Steel” so much. That's fine. But to think the series got better with “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace”? Now that's just crazy talk.
Superman's blue eyebeams miraculously repair the Great Wall of China in “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.” What—you didn't know about the blue eyebeams? I think they first made an appearance in Action Comics #389: “The Shrinking Budget of Golan and Globus.”