Atom Man vs. Superman (1950, Spencer Gordon Bennet), Chapter 1: Superman Flies Again

Superman Flies Again establishes a few things I’m very curious to see if Atom Man vs. Superman keeps going with over the course of the serial. Firstly, is Pierre Watkin always completely wrong about everything. Playing newspaper editor Perry White, Watkin calls his staff–Kirk Alyn, Noel Neill, Tommy Bond–into the office (they can all hear him, not just Superman Alyn, through a closed door about thirty feet away) and makes always incorrect predictions about crises.

He’s wrong at least twice in Flies Again, maybe three times. He also thinks Bond–as Jimmy Olsen–is either incompetent or a liar. Not sure why Bond’s still got a job. Though it’s a shame there’s no HR department at the 1950 Daily Planet because Neill ought to drag Bond in for his sexist banter. So far, all there is to Bond is stupid sexist comments masquerading as jokes (obviously, screenwriters’ fault), a lack of respect from boss Watkin, and impetuousness. Bond’s always trying to fight crooks. They tend to win.

Neill and Alyn don’t get a lot to do in Flies Again; well, Alyn as Clark Kent doesn’t get a lot to do. But there’s a sort of great sequence where he can’t change into the blue tights because Neill’s keeping too close of tabs on him. Unfortunately, director Bennet’s apparently going to be inept at comedy. Otherwise, it’d have been great.

As Superman, Alyn gets to fight with his arch nemesis, Lyle Talbot. Bald-capped Talbot is Lex Luthor, evil genius. Lots of gadgets in this chapter, usually amusing, if only because the regular folk who encounter the gadgets just act like people dematerializing is an everyday thing. Tablot ends up in jail, but can take regular trips out because of his evil genius. Alyn, of course, has no idea.

Either Superman doesn’t break down Talbot’s cave laboratory hideout when capturing him or Talbot gets it set up identically somewhere else.

The Superman flying effects are still mostly the cartoon, but there are some medium shots on Alyn in flight. It seems cool until he uses his superpower of yelling to tell the cops (on the ground) his plans.

The cliffhanger’s obvious but not bad. Some drama and a big explosion.

It seems like Talbot’s antics are going to keep Atom Man chugging along. Though it’s a shame Neill’s never going to slap Bond to shut him up. And Don C. Harvey is a henchman; he ought to be good.

CREDITS

Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet; screenplay by George H. Plympton, Joseph F. Poland, and David Matthews, based on 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), Lyle Talbot (Luthor), Tommy Bond (Jimmy Olsen), Pierre Watkin (Perry White), Jack Ingram (Foster), Don C. Harvey (Albor), Paul Stader (Lawson), George Robotham (Earl), and Fred Kelsey (Police Chief Forman).


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