Superman postsMonday May 14, 2018
Margot Kidder (1948-2018)
From my 2013 slideshow on the cinematic history of Lois Lane:
Why does Kidder's Lois Lane instill define the role? Because there's a difficulty dichotomy to thread in portraying Lois. She's supposed to scoop Clark and get rescued by Superman, but often within this dynamic they make her either too tough (and unlikeable) or too agreeable (and thus hardly a scoop-worthy reporter). Margot was able to inhabit both aspects of Lois. She held the two opposing ideas of Lois in her mind and was still able to function. Her toughness (at work) was never annoying, her vulnerability (around Superman) was always endearing. Plus I just like the way she says “Peter Pan.” Not to mention, “Blaghhh.”
She's also the object of my fifth-most quoted movie line. Not to mention one of the primary actors in the best lost scene ever. And she was smart enough to know the franchise was better in the hands of Richard Donner than Richard Lester—for which she got the shaft in “Superman III.” If barely appearing in a movie is really “the shaft.”
I love that little scene in the original, so '70s New York, when Lois and Clark run into film critic Rex Reed coming into The Daily Planet building, and we get this exchange:
Lois: See anything good today?
Rex: Not until you came along.
Truer words. Rest in peace.
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.”