Tag Archives: Seymour Kneitel

Secret Agent (1943, Seymour Kneitel)

Secret Agent opens with this really exciting car chase. Clark (Bud Collyer) has just called in and been told to get to work on the right story, only then a car crashes through the drug store he’s in and so he hops on the back of it as it chases another car. Then the cops start chasing the car Clark’s on; he pushes up a thug’s gun hand so he can’t shoot at the cops. The whole thing ends with a female secret agent getting away and Clark apparently unconscious and captured by saboteurs.

The chief saboteur has a monocle and a Hitler mustache. It’s unclear how he manages to get around in the United States without people wondering what he’s up to… oh, and a German accent.

So most of the cartoon has to do with the secret agent (voiced by Joan Alexander in a less than impressive performance–she’s got one monologue and it’s flat) trying to get to the airport. The cops are going to give her an escort, but the saboteur ring ambushes them and mows down a bunch of cops before the agent gets through.

But the shootout ambush was just a red herring, the real ambush is at a swing bridge. The secret agent ends up on the bridge’s mechanics, in danger of being crushed. Luckily, when the bad guys call the Hitler boss guy, he and his guys get ready to go and lock up Clark before leaving. Once he’s safely in a broom closet, Clark finally changes into the long johns and saves the day.

Shame he didn’t do anything to save those shot down coppers. Because he was either unconscious or just didn’t think he could break the ropes and take out the guards? Not very super.

There’s some lame jingoism, which the cartoon could’ve gotten away with as cute if it were any good (that opening with the car chase is decent stuff though) and for some reason a lot of focus on the secret agent’s shapely legs.

Secret Agent is a stinker.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Seymour Kneitel; screenplay by Carl Meyer, based on characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; animated by Otto Feuer and Steve Muffati; music by Sammy Timberg; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring Bud Collyer (Clark Kent/Superman), Joan Alexander (Secret Agent), Julian Noa (Perry White), and Jackson Beck (Nazis); narrated by Beck.


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The Underground World (1943, Seymour Kneitel)

The Underground World is absolutely gorgeous. The animation has its issues, but how the animators light their characters and how director Kneitel composes the frames… just breathtaking.

The story concerns Lois and Clark on an expedition to an underground cavern. Once they arrive, there’s trouble for Lois and they discover the totally absurd secret of the cavern. But the absurdity doesn’t matter because the cartoon is so gorgeous. In fact, once Superman shows up in this silly situation, it just keeps getting more and more amazing. Kneitel outdoes himself every shot.

Joan Alexander probably has the most to do as Lois; she’s really good in World. Bud Collyer’s Clark is a little too nonplussed, but that describes Jay Morton’s characterization of Clark in general.

As the scientist leading the expedition, Jackson Beck is weak. He shouldn’t be so noticeably bad, but it comes through.

Ignore him though, World’s magnificent.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Seymour Kneitel; screenplay by Jay Morton, based on characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; animated by Reuben Grossman and Nick Tafuri; music by Sammy Timberg; produced by Dan Gordon, Kneitel and Izzy Sparber; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring Bud Collyer (Clark Kent / Superman), Joan Alexander (Lois Lane), Jackson Beck (Henderson) and Julian Noa (Perry White).


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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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