erik lundegaard

Superman Screenshot of the Day posts

Saturday June 08, 2013

Superman Screenshot of the Day

Iron Eater heads to Metropolis

As TV seasons progress, budgets shrink, and you wind up with characters like the above, the Iron Eater, a well-meaning .... um ... whatever ... from the first season of “The New Adventures of Superman” in 1966.

The Iron Eater is actually a meteorite that comes to life and has the added ability to transform itself into a perfect replica of anything: bridge, cop, signage. Superman winds up defeating it (of course) and flying it to an asteroid of iron, where it'll live happily ever after ... until it runs out of asteroid, I guess. Then maybe the cycle repeats itself.

I love the above for its absurdity. Who knew meteorites who come to life as monsters could read English?

Posted at 11:06 AM on Saturday June 08, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day   |   Permalink  

Friday June 07, 2013

Superman Screenshot of the Day

Metropolis turns on Superman, 1988

The Ruby-Spears' Superman, which premiered in 1988, a year after “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” died at the box office ($15 million, U.S.), is closely tied to the Christopher Reeve movies. We get the John Williams' score and Lois hanging from a helicopter. Clark is clumsy. The first time we see Superman and Lois, they're flying through the air a la “Can you read my mind?” Plus Clark/Superman even looks a bit like Christopher Reeve.

As for the above screenshot? It's Superman's reaction to one of my least-favorite and most laughable conceits in entertainment.

In the show's first episode, Lex Luthor, the CEO of LexCorp, creates the Defendroids to stop crime. There's some indication that he creates both the crime and the crime-stoppers, but he creates the latter so Metropolis will turn on Superman. Which is totally what happens. The Defendroids stop some “Mad Max”-type yahoos in the park and Luthor appears to hail them and dismiss Superman:

Lex: What has Superman done? Oh sure, he arrests a few jaywalkers and muggers. But do you feel safe at night?
Everyone: Noooooo!

Then an apartment building erupts in flames and the Defendroids save some children in the white-hot spotlight of the press, while Superman saves an elderly couple around the corner, unnoticed. When he's spotted by a TV reporter, she, and the crowd, surge upon him:

TV reporter: Well, Superman, how does it feel, knowing that with THEM around youíre no longer needed?

CUT TO: Angry faces of crowd.

Man in crowd: Ha! Weíve got the Defendroids to help us now!
Woman in crowd: Yeah! We donít NEED you anymore!

CUT TO: The above screenshot.

Oh, how sharper than a serpent's tooth to have a fickle populace.

The whole thing is so absurd. Angry? “Ha!”? “We don't NEED you anymore”?

Sure, you can make arguments for why everyone in Metropolis turns on Superman so suddenly and viciously. Maybe they feel guilty because they've relied on him for so long. Maybe they're sick of relying on him and now, now that they don't have to, they can finally vent their frustration. No one likes to owe anyone anything, particularly unpayable debts, and humanity owes nothing but unpayable debts to Superman. So the knives come out.

But what is this conceit really about?

It's Hollywood's view of us, the movie-going, TV-watching population. We flit from show to show, movie to movie, star to star. What's revered today is a joke tomorrow. We don't NEED you anymore, David Cassidy, Fonzie, ALF. We don't NEED you anymore Mel Gibson, Winona Ryder, Kevin Costner, Arnold Schwarzenegger. We don't need you anymore, “Friends.” CUT TO: David Schwimmer, looking like the above.

The point: This conceit is almost never true in the context where Hollywood places it (as above). But it's always true in the context of Hollywood entertainment. Because in Hollywood, you're only as good as the last crime you stop.

Posted at 02:45 PM on Friday June 07, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day   |   Permalink  

Thursday June 06, 2013

Superman Screenshot of the Day

Lois Lane, hypnotized, with finger

Don't say Superman cartoons never had any subtext.

This is a screenshot from Filmations' 1966 “New Adventures of Superman,” episode 18, “The Deadly Dish.” Lex Luthor invents a “Kryptonic Wave” that weakens Superman, but, as he tells his assistant, Blinky, “It takes 15 minutes for the transmittor to attain full power! And the waves are effective only within one square mile!Ē So how to get Superman close enough? Why, hypnotize his friends to do dangerous things, of course.

At The Daily Planet, Luthor shows up (sans Blinky) disguised as a professor to give Perry White and company an award for ”best newspaper," then releases the mind-control gas from the award. Ha ha! Then he gives them orders. Perry White is supposed to stand in the middle of the street. And Lois Lane? With Luthor's finger dangling just inches away from her open, hypnotized mouth, Luthor tells her:

Tomorrow at 12:10, you will enter Apt. 2A at 37 Pine Street. At exactly 12:13 PM, you will climb out on the window ledge!

Oh, Lex. So little imagination. Unlike, apparently, the animators at Filmation Studios.

Posted at 02:47 PM on Thursday June 06, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day   |   Permalink  

Wednesday June 05, 2013

Superman, Fat Ass

Superman, fat ass

Here's an unfortunate screenshot from “Superman and the Mole Man” (1951). I'm not sure if it's Reeves or a stuntman. Either way, it's hardly buns of steel. No wonder Superman wears a cape.

Posted at 12:13 PM on Wednesday June 05, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day   |   Permalink  

Tuesday June 04, 2013

Superman Screenshot of the Day

Animated Superman saving animated mole-man in "Superman and the Mole Man" (1952)

By the time of “Superman and the Mole-Men” (1951), the animated flying of the Kirk Alyn serials was a thing of the past. Instead, they did take-offs with wires (until George Reeves injured himself), a few POV shots with whooshing sound effects, and close-ups of Reeves as Superman steadying himself in mid-air.

But they did rely on animation for the above scene. Two of the mole men, who have emerged from the world's deepest (and driest) well, are exploring the neighborhood, which is unfortunately in Texas, and they rile up the locals. One MM is shot off the top of this bridge and falls to his death. But wait! Up in the sky! Look! Then we get this.

As bad as it looks as a screenshot? It's worse when played.

Posted at 03:37 PM on Tuesday June 04, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day   |   Permalink  

Monday June 03, 2013

Superman Screenshot of the Day

Screenshot from "The Stolen Costume," Season 1, Episode 13 of "Adventures of Superman"

There's something about a Superman outfit hanging in a closet.

The above screenshot is from Season 1, episode 13 of “Adventures of Superman” with George Reeves. It's called “The Stolen Costume” and it's justifiably famous. Or infamous. It's an indication of what you could get away with in a world before brand managers.

Johnny Sims (Norman Budd), AKA “T-Ball,” AKA “The Rope Burglar,” is on the run from the cops when he stumbles into an empty apartment that just so happens to belong to Clark Kent. He also stumbles upon a button that just so happens to open a secret closet that reveals .... well, you know. Getting away with the uniform, he's shot in the back by the cops (he should've put it on first) but makes it to the apartment of a gangster, Ace (Dan Seymour), and his hard-talking moll, Connie (Veda Ann Borg). He gasps out the address before expiring.

There's some mistaken-identity stuff. Connie and Ace think Clark Kent's friend, Candy Meyers (Frank Jenks), is Clark Kent, but he's actually investigating the case for Clark Kent, which is totally odd. Superman needs a private detective?

Eventually Ace and Connie try to blackmail Superman about his secret identity but instead he takes them for a ride. Literally. He tells them to put on warm clothes, then flies them to a high mountaintop where they'll stay until he can decide what to do with them. He warns them not to try to get down, either. But they do. And they slip and fall and die. The end.

I know. I burst out laughing.

Question: Is Superman guilty of kidnapping here ... or kidnapping and involuntary manslaughter? Either way, I doubt the show would be approved by the Comics Code Authority.

I've written about Dan Seymour before. Veda Ann Borg died young, 58, from cancer, in 1973, though her last screen credit is from 1963. And Norman Budd? The man in the above shot? He was born in Liverpool in 1914 and died in Studio City, Cal., in 2006, though his last film credit was from 1953: an uncredited role in Marlon Brando's “The Wild One.” He played one of Chino's boys.

Posted at 02:05 PM on Monday June 03, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day   |   Permalink  

Sunday June 02, 2013

The Kents Go for a Sunday Drive

The Kents, X and Y, in 1948 (Superman, the serial)

1948: Martha and Eben (Virginia Carroll and Ed Cassidy)

Sarah and Eben Kent in "Adventures of Superman" (1952)

1952: Sarah and Eben (Francis Morris and Tom Fadden)

Jonathan and Martha Kent in "Superman: The Movie" (1978)

1978: Martha and Jonathan (Phyllis Thaxter and Glenn Ford)

Jonathan and Martha Kent in "Last Son of Krypton" (1996)

1996: Martha and Jonathan (Shelly Fabares and Mike Farrell)

The Kents in "Smallville" (2001)

2001: Martha and Jonathan (Annette O'Toole and John Schneider)

Jonathan and Martha Kent in "Man of Steel" (2013)

2013: Jonathan and Martha (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane)

Tags:
Posted at 01:37 PM on Sunday June 02, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day   |   Permalink  

Saturday June 01, 2013

Obama Isn't Coming for Your Guns; Superman Is

We watch old movies not only for what they say about their times but what they say about ours.

“Superman and the Mole Men,” the hour-long debut of George Reeves as the Man of Steel, which became forerunner to the hugely successful “Adventures of Superman” TV series, offers such an instruction.

This Superman is the one who fought for “truth, justice and the American way,” when, previously, Superman merely fought for truth and justice, and sometimes tolerance. Tolerance is big in “Mole Men,” too. Previous cinematic Superman villains include the Spider Lady and Lex Luthor, both of whom were out to take over the world, but the villain here is really small-town intolerance.

In Texas, the world's deepest well is drilled, six miles down, until it reaches a community of “mole men” (midgets with bald wigs and furry costumes), who rise to the surface, in pairs, and run into trouble. Old men have heart attacks, women scream, vigilante mobs form. At one point, in a forerunner to the courthouse steps scene of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the mob descends upon a hospital, where an injured mole man lies, intent on lynching him. But it's met by Superman.

Superman confronts Luke Benson and a mob on the hospital steps in "Superman and the Mole Men" (1951)

Precursor to Atticus Finch: Stopping the lynch mob on the hospital steps.

On the way there, lead rabble-rouser Luke Benson (veteran character actor Jeff Corey), incites the people with a speech that wouldn't be out of place at a Tea Party convention:

Now them two reporters from back east Ö theyíll try to stop us, like as not, but we ainít gonna be stopped. This is our town. We donít need any strangers telling us what to do!

He even decks the Sheriff. This doesn't sit well with Superman, who's more no-nonsense than previous incarnations. He compares the mob to Nazi stormstroopers. When a gun goes off and Lois is nearly killed, Superman says the following:

Whoever fired that shot nearly hit Miss Lane. Obviously none of you can be trusted with guns. So Iím going to take them away from you.

Which he does.

Superman and gun control

Gun control from Krypton.

I laughed out loud. Think of it. An illegal alien confiscating the guns of Texas citizens under the guise of “the American way.” The GOP was right. The 1950s were the good old days.

Posted at 10:27 AM on Saturday June 01, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day   |   Permalink  

Saturday June 01, 2013

Superman Screenshot of the Day

Superman and Lois flying around the country in Superman IV

Nick: You can't repeat the past.
Gatsby: Why, of course you can!
The Great Gatsby

In a way, Gatsby's right here. You can repeat the past. It just doesn't measure up. Think of the lobster scene in “Annie Hall.” Or think of the whole of “Superman IV.” The magic ride around Metropolis with Superman and Lois in “Superman: The Movie” is here reduced to a farce. The special effects suck, the rationale for the trip is meaningless, and at the end, in a nod to one of the worst moments in the “Superman” ouevre, Supes kisses Lois and makes her forget it all. One wonders how often he's used this trick. And does he do it with women other than Lois? How many? Maybe he's done it with you!

“Superman IV” grossed $15 million in 1987 or 11% of what “Superman: The Movie” grossed in 1978. Unadjusted. Superman didn't need kryptonite to finally fall to earth. He just needed Golan and Globus.

Posted at 07:05 AM on Saturday June 01, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day   |   Permalink  

Friday May 31, 2013

Superman Screenshot of the Day

Superman's junk in Superman III

Superman's junk, believe it or not, was a matter of a huge debate during the making of “Superman: The Movie.” Apparently the suit Christopher Reeve wore was a bit revealing, even with the outside undies, and the debate was whether to minimize (with whatever) or maximize (with a codpiece). Producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind were definitely in favor of this latter approach. “Either he has a big one or he has nothing!” Ilya supposedly said.

They seemed to go both ways in the movie, didn't they? It's noticeable in some scenes, less so in others, but I haven't done extensive research. Volunteers?

The above shot, with codpiece, is from “Superman III.” Computer technician Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor), at the behest of the villainous businessman Ross Webster (Robert Vaughn), has created a synthetic version of kryptonite, which acts upon the Man of Steel like red kryptonite. In this case, he turns evil, or at least mischievious, or at least horny. Webster's assistant, Lorelei (Pamela Stephenson), the booby blonde of this movie (replacing Valerie Perrine, to be replaced by Mariel Hemingway), then hangs out at the top of the Statue of Liberty to get Supes' attention. She gets it.

Question of the day: Would Richard Donner have approved of this shot? Would Geoffrey Unsworth? How about Jerry Siegel?

Posted at 04:32 PM on Friday May 31, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day   |   Permalink  

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 Thursday May 30, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day   |   Permalink  

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 Wednesday May 29, 2013 in category Superman Screenshot of the Day   |   Permalink  
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