erik lundegaard

Superman Screenshot of the Day posts

Thursday May 30, 2013

Superman Screenshot of the Day

Superman II: odd powers

Two questions:

  1. Who's missing?
  2. What's missing?

The first will answer the second, so let's start with the first.

The above is a shot from the climactic fight at the Fortress of Solitude in “Superman II,” in which we can see the three Kryptonian supervillains battling Superman, with Lois Lane watching. But where's Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor? That's who's missing.

Fans know this, most people don't, but 70-80 percent of “Superman II” was filmed alongside “Superman: The Movie”; and when the team reassembled to finish it in 1979, several of the most important elements were missing: cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth had died in the interim (the first movie was in fact dedicated to him); director Richard Donner never played well with the Salkinds, the father-son producer team who owned cinematic rights to the Man of Steel, and had been replaced by director Richard Lester (“A Hard Day's Night”); and Gene Hackman, a Donner supporter, had opted not to come back.

So when scenes were reshot, Lester relied on subterfuge to hide Hackman's absence: a body double or voiceover. Cheap stuff. Or he wasn't in the shot. As he's not here.

But how does Hackman's absence answer the second question?

You need to look at what they're doing. The three Kryptonian supervillains are training energy beams from their hands at Superman, who's stopping them with his own hand. 

Energy beams from the hands? Right. That's not a Kryptonian superpower. Lester didn't care. In an earlier scene, one of the supervillains lifts a dude in the air by pointing at him. At the Fortress of Solitude, Superman throws the “S” symbol (or family crest) and it shrinkwraps Non. None of this was ever in the comic books, and none of it would have been allowed with Donner as director. His watchword on the set of “Superman” was verisimilitude. He had it practically tattooed on everyone's forehead.

And that, of course, is what's missing from the shot: verisimilitude.

Posted at 02:48 PM on May 30, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day
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Wednesday May 29, 2013

Superman Screenshot of the Day

Superman (Christopher Reeve) takes off for the first time in Metropolis in "Superman: The Movie" (1978)

In the March 2013 Empire Magazine, with new Superman Henry Cavill on the cover, Mark Dinning, in his Editor-in-Chief letter, writes about the Christopher Reeve “Superman” movies in less-than-complimentary fashion:

I never did believe a man could fly. ... Even I, as an undiscerning kid, could see the fat black lines that clung to Christopher Reeve in flight against an obviously fake front projection. The trailer promised us the gift of flight. What a swizz! Who knew that trailers could tell you porkies?

Then he goes on to kiss the ass of the new movie.

Allow me a rebuttal.

First, I know what he's talking about. Some of the flying shots, yes, had a bit of a black line around Supes, and that line, sadly, got thicker as the movies progressed, until in the Golan and Globus version in 1987 it was like something out of1974's “Shazam!” or “Adventures of Superman” from the 1950s. It looked awful. A swizz. But in “Superman: The Movie” it wasn't bad.

More importantly, for many of the shots, he did fly. Christopher Reeve didn't just run and bounce through a window (George Reeves) or run and bounce over the camera (Kirk Alyn), to be replaced by the thick black line (Reeves) or an actual cartoon (Alyn). No, Christopher Reeve, via harness and crane, flew, as in the shot above, when he takes off for the first time in Metropolis to save Lois Lane hanging from a helicopter. That's no rear-screen projection there. Reeve is in New York, being pulled into the air, and seeming to fly.

Of course the new “Man of Steel” movie will make this look like child's play. But it's good to keep in mind that whatever Henry Cavill does is just green screen. It's CGI. In a way, we're back to the cartoon. A very sophisticated cartoon, yes, but a cartoon nonetheless. It's not real the way the above was real.

So if you want to see a man fly, you have one option. Everything else is porkies.

Posted at 04:49 PM on May 29, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day
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Tuesday May 28, 2013

Superman Screenshot of the Day

Superman and Sparkle Toothpaste

Early product placement? Nope. It's actually the lead-up to a prank.

In this episode of “The New Adventures of Superman” from 1966, the toothpaste in the billboard becomes three-dimensional and plops down on the Man of Steel--the result of the dastardly work of the Toy Man!

By the way, check out how muscle-bound Superman is here. Women talk up the unrealistic media depictions of women, but men don't always have it easy either. Dude's biceps are bigger than his head.

Posted at 01:07 PM on May 28, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day
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Monday May 27, 2013

Superman Screenshot of the Day

Superman and gun control. Kirk Alyn in a shot from "Atom Man vs. Superman" (1950)

From “Atom Man vs. Superman” (1950), starring Kirk Alyn. Readers, feel free to use in your next gun control post.

Posted at 01:04 PM on May 27, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day
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Sunday May 26, 2013

Superman Screenshot of the Day

Superman as troubled teen: Jeffrey Silver plays Clark Kent, age 12, in "The Adventures of Superman" (1952)

Who is this greasy, leather-jacketed punk? And what's he doing staring at the old lady peeling potaters?

Why, it's Clark Kent, age 12 (Jeffrey Silver), in the origin episode of the TV series, “The Adventures of Superman,” from 1952, having a heart-to-heart with Ma Kent (Frances Morris).

In this version, Ma is Sarah, Pa is Eben (Tom Fadden), but Pa is mostly comic relief, which is why the advice tends to come from Ma. It's she who has “the talk” with him:

Clark: Mom, why am I different from all the other boys? … Why can I do things that nobody else can do?

Ma: Why land sakes alive….

Clark: Today in school, for instance. We were playing baseball and the ball got lost. Nobody could find it. But all I had to do was look around and there it was behind a rock.

Ma: You’ve got good eyes is all.

Clark: No, ma, it’s more than just good eyes. I didn’t see the ball behind the rock. I saw it right through the rock. My eyes were an x-ray machine. Like the rock wasn’t even there.

Ma: Son, your pa and me have been meaning to have a talk with ya. … I’ll tell you why likely you’re different from other boys. And why you gotta be extra careful …

Just 12, Clark takes the news with suprising equanimity.

Narrator: The boy listened. And he understood.

Frances Morris was born in 1908, debuted in 1929's “Thunder,” starring Lon Chaney and last appeared in an episode of “The Virginian” in 1964. She lived until 2003.

Tom Fadden, who played Uncle Ira Lentz in the original “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and Ben Miller in mulitple episodes of “Petticoat Junction,” was born in 1895, and made his last movie, “Empire of the Ants,” in 1977. He died in 1980.

Jeffrey Silver's last role was in the 1961 Tony Curtis movie “The Outsider,” about Ira Hayes, the Native American who helped raise the flag at Iwo Jima.

Posted at 01:51 PM on May 26, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day
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