erik lundegaard

Superman Screenshot of the Day posts

Saturday May 25, 2013

The Short, Embarrassing History of Man (and Superman) Riding Rockets

If the subject of men riding rockets in the movies ever comes up (and when doesn't it?), most of us think of Maj. Kong (Slim Pickens) at the end of “Dr. Stangelove,” whooping it up Texas-style as he and the world are about to end forever.

But Slim was sloppy seconds in the nuke-missle riding category by nearly 15 years. The Man of Steel beat him to it.

Superman (Kirk Alyn) riding a missle or rocket in "Atom Man vs. Superman" (1950)

Superman (Kirk Alyn) riding a missle or rocket in "Atom Man vs. Superman" (1950)

Superman (Kirky Alyn) riding a rocket or missile in "Atom Man vs. Superman" (1950)

The above screenshots are taken from the 1950 serial “Atom Man vs. Superman,” chapter 14. Lex Luthor (Lyle Talbot) has just shot a missile at Metropolis, and Superman (Kirk Alyn) soars to the rescue and stradles it (cough), and then, at the beginning of the next and final chapter, rides it out to sea, where it explodes harmlessly. Well, “harmlessly.” It was a nuke, after all.

It's a bizarre image to see in 2013—and maybe in 1950, too. Except Supes is simply following a comic-book tradition, particularly big during World War II, of superheroes riding rockets. Here's three of them. I'm sure there are many more:

Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr. and Uncle Sam riding rockets during WWII

Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr. and Uncle Sam during WWII, when men riding rockets was all the rage.

So at least we know where Maj. Kong got the idea. 

Wa ... hoo?

Posted at 12:24 PM on May 25, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day
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Friday May 24, 2013

Superman Screenshot of the Day

Superman as cartoon flying in "Atom Man vs. Superman" (1950)

Third in a series. Collect them all.

What the hell is Superman doing here? Is he greeting us? Trying out the Vulcan salute? Taunting us about our inability to fly? Taking a cue from pigeons and shitting on humanity? And what the hell is this from anyway?

It's from “Atom Man vs. Superman,” a 1950 serial starring Kirk Alyn as the Man of Steel. Two years earlier, in “Superman,” Alyn's was the first live-action cinematic portrayal of Superman, but Columbia couldn't (or couldn't be bothered) to recreate him flying. So in the first serial Alyn simply turns into a cartoon and takes to the air, then lands behind a rock and emerges as himself. In the second serial, “Atom Man,” we do get a few shots of Alyn navigating the air, looking downward with concern, but most of the heavy flying is still done with animation. And here? Superman is getting ready to land feet-first through a window, which accounts for the oddness of the pose.

Captions welcome.

Posted at 01:19 PM on May 24, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day
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Thursday May 23, 2013

Superman Screenshot of the Day

Clark Kent, with ascot and espresso, in Italy in 1966

This is from Filmation's 1966 Saturday morning cartoon, “The New Adventures of Superman,” which is probably my first encounter with the Man of Steel. In an episode entitled, “The Mermen of Emor” (written by Oscar Bensol), Clark and Jimmy are in Italy, for some reason, and they come upon a mystery: experienced scuba divers going missing off the coast. Turns out the title characters are responsible. The mermen capture the divers, bring them to some underground lair, and use them in gladiatorial-like contests. (That's why Italy.) At this point in the story, Jimmy's gone missing, while Clark, oblivious, is simply enjoying a nice espresso at an outdoor cafe. Love the expression on his face. “What, a man can't wear an ascot, and drink espresso in outdoor cafes in Italy, without people talking?” Nope, apparently not.

Posted at 11:49 AM on May 23, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day
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Wednesday May 22, 2013

Superman Screenshot of the Day

Superman battling fire in "Atom Man vs. Superman" (1950)

I've been watching all of the old “Superman” movies in anticipation of “Man of Steel,” out next month, and the above is from the 15-chapter serial “Atom Man vs. Superman” (1950), starring Kirk Alyn (as Superman) and Lyle Talbot (as Lex Luthor). But I assume the above isn't Alyn. I assume it's a stuntman. I just like the look of the shot: the graininess, the hard-to-read label on the box (Explosive? Singular?), the sense of action. It feels like it's from a different time, which, of course, it is. It feels like original source material. It feels like ur-Superman. Out of our grainy past comes the Man of Tomorrow.

I'll probably do a few of these before the premiere of “Man of Steel” next month.

Posted at 02:19 PM on May 22, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day
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