Superman (1948, Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr), Chapter 3: The Reducer Ray

The Reducer Ray drags. It opens with an okay, not great, cliffhanger resolution–with the best use of the animated Superman action so far in Superman. The resolution’s truncated so the action can get back to the Daily Planet so Noel Neill can meet Kirk Alyn (as Clark Kent). She already met Superman, but just for a moment and it has no apparent effect on her.

There’s a promising hint of Alyn and Neill bickering, then the chapter moves ahead an indeterminate period. There’s a newspaper headline montage of all Superman’s feats.

When the montage ends, Reducer Ray introduces villain Carol Forman and her stooges. Forman is “The Spider Lady.” She wears a black gown and an eye mask. She also has a giant silvery spider web in her foyer. It’s unclear why she’s such a powerful villain, but her stooges do her bidding. Including when it gets them killed, like here.

Turns out the U.S. government has a job for Superman. There’s a lot of action–and The Reducer Ray–before it’s back to Metropolis for Alyn as Clark Kent. A meteor is expected to land nearby and they’re supposed to get the story. Can he and Neill work together?

Or will she strand him on the side of the road.

Neill’s good. Alyn’s better as Kent. Especially during the bickering scenes with Neill, Tommy Bond, and Pierre Watkin. The script just doesn’t take any time with them.

Lots of Superman cartoon flying “effects.” Never too bad, but never good. If Superman’s got to fly as a cartoon, they ought to still be excited about the cartoon.

It feels long–there are a lot of people standing around in Reducer Ray, most of them new characters, most of them probably just here for the one chapter. It’s a lot to get through.

The cliffhanger involving Kryptonite is at least a shocker.

Also–Neill gets screen time but nothing to do as a reporter. Her part is to actively dislike Alyn, amusingly so, but zilch else.


Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr; screenplay by Arthur Hoerl, Lewis Clay, and Royal K. Cole, based on an adaptation by George H. Plympton and Joseph F. Poland and characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; director of photography, Ira H. Morgan; edited by Earl Turner; produced by Sam Katzman; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Kirk Alyn (Superman/Clark Kent), Noel Neill (Lois Lane), Pierre Watkin (Perry White), Tommy Bond (Jimmy Olsen), Carol Forman (Spider Lady), Herbert Rawlinson (Dr. Graham), Forrest Taylor (Professor Arnold Leeds), Nelson Leigh (Jor-El), Luana Walters (Lara), Edward Cassidy (Eben Kent), and Virginia Carroll (Martha Kent).


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