Tag Archives: Joe Shuster

Billion Dollar Limited (1942, Dave Fleischer)

It’s Superman versus a train full of gold thieves. Only not so much. Lois Lane actually battles the thieves themselves in Billion Dollar Limited, while Superman deals with the runaway train.

There’s a lot of impressive action in the cartoon, especially given how little dialogue–I think maybe four or five lines total, including one of the robbers exclaiming “Superman”–but the wrap-up leaves a lot to be desired. Poor Lois fends off the robbers with a machine gun and doesn’t get any credit at the end.

The animation is outstanding–one shot has Superman’s hair getting mussed as he slows the train–but the lack of dialogue and characterization make the whole thing a tad distant. Dave Fleischer has the good sense to show one of the robbers putting on his mask, humanizing him, but then there’s nothing else.

Limited’s action-packed, well-made; it’s just not exciting.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Dave Fleischer; screenplay by Seymour Kneitel and Izzy Sparber, based on characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; animated by Frank Endres and Myron Waldman; music by Winston Sharples and Sammy Timberg; produced by Max Fleischer; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring Bud Collyer (Clark Kent/Superman) and Joan Alexander (Lois Lane).


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Superman and the Mole-Men (1951, Lee Sholem)

Superman and the Mole Men is somewhat hard to watch–and not because of the goofy mole people costumes. The bad guys in the film aren’t the mole men, but the evil redneck townspeople who hunt them down. Mole Men runs less than an hour (a theatrical pilot for the “Adventures of Superman” TV series) but the constant hounding of the cute little mole men and unrelenting viciousness of main villain Jeff Corey makes it constantly uncomfortable.

The other problem is how ineffectual Superman’s presence is to quelling the viciousness. While George Reeves is pretty good as Superman, except the fists to hips stance, Robert Maxwell’s script doesn’t know what to do with him. Being super has nothing to do with Superman’s role in the picture. So an added frustration is knowing Superman should be saving the little mole men, but isn’t because Maxwell’s got him giving nonessential speeches.

As Kent, Reeves’s wink-wink performance doesn’t play well. When he’s giving a straight performance as a newspaper reporter, he’s a lot better. Phyllis Coates is barely present as Lois Lane; she’s not very good. Besides Corey, the best supporting work is from Walter Reed.

Clark Ramsey’s photography is weak. Sholem’s direction is competent enough. Mole Men‘s real villain is its small budget. The mole men had been running around ten minutes before I realized their sweatsuits were supposed to be their fur.

Darrell Calker’s score is nice.

Mole Men isn’t good, but it’s definitely has some good things about it.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Lee Sholem; screenplay by Robert Maxwell, based on characters created by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel; director of photography, Clark Ramsey; edited by Albrecht Joseph; music by Darrell Calker; produced by Barney A. Sarecky; released by Lippert Pictures.

Starring George Reeves (Superman / Clark Kent), Phyllis Coates (Lois Lane), Jeff Corey (Luke Benson), Walter Reed (Bill Corrigan), J. Farrell MacDonald (Pop Shannon), Stanley Andrews (The Sheriff), Ray Walker (John Craig), Hal K. Dawson (Chuck Weber), John Baer (Dr. Reed), Frank Reicher (Hospital Superintendent) and Beverly Washburn (Child).


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THIS FILM IS ALSO DISCUSSED IN SUM UP | SUPERMAN.

The Adventures of Superpup (1958, Cal Howard)

What better way to capitalize on the success of TV’s “The Adventures of Superman” with a kid’s show recasting the characters as dogs. What’s strangest about “The Adventures of Superpup”–not surprisingly, it never went past pilot–isn’t the Little People in gigantic dog helmets (no, “Superpup” isn’t a cartoon), but how it handles the Superman mythos.

The dog costumes are just weird–especially since the script’s for a cartoon–the characters are a lot more interesting.

First off, Bark Bent has a mouse (or rat) living in his drawer at work. This rodent is the real hero. See, Superpup isn’t much of a superhero. He mostly loafs about at work, napping at his desk. The rodent is the real hero.

“Superpup” isn’t even schlocky bad. It’s just a terrible idea, incompetently produced and directed.

Well, I guess it does show what a real live action cartoon would look like.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Cal Howard; screenplay by Howard and Whitney Ellsworth, based on a concept by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; director of photography, Joseph F. Biroc; edited by Sam E. Waxman; produced by Ellsworth.

Starring Billy Curtis (Super Pup/Bark Bent), Ruth Delfino (Pamela Poodle), Angelo Rossitto (Terry Bite), Frank Delfino (Sergeant Beagle), Harry Monty (Professor Sheepdip) and Sadie Delfino (Wolfingham / Montgomery Mouse).


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Superman Classic (2011, Robb Pratt)

While it only runs a minute (I think), Superman Classic–which director Pratt describes as a “super fan film”–is pretty, well, super. Only the final moment disappoints, mostly because it’s a promise Pratt’s not going to keep.

Classic is mostly hand drawn animation, which gives the cartoon the “fan film” feel occasionally, but Pratt professionally packages it. The music is from the old serials and sets a certain tone. But the backgrounds remind of the Fleischer cartoons. And Pratt gives Clark Kent mannerisms straight out of Christopher Reeve’s essaying of the character.

Not to mention John Newton (who once played Superboy on TV) voices Superman.

Classic feels like a thoughtful, warm homage to the various Superman moving pictures.

The first moments, between Clark and Lois are the best. In a few lines, Pratt establishes the classic banter with some modern details.

I wish Classic were just twenty seconds longer….

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Produced and directed by Robb Pratt; screenplay by Pratt, based on characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; animated by Pratt, Steven Pierre Gordon and James Baker.

Starring John Newton (Clark Kent / Superman) and Jennifer Newton (Lois Lane).


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