In its 31st year at the time of publishing, The 1976-77 International Film And TV Yearbook is nothing if not a fascinating snapshot in time.
A Screen International Publication (A Division of King Publications Ltd.) This doorstop- heavy tome literally houses the film industry of the age between its garish orange covers. Edited to a mere 680 pages by ‘Mr. Showbiz’ (as referred to in the introduction) Peter Noble, its a virtual Yellow Pages of cinema. Need Michael Caine’s agent? Want to book a slot in Elstree Studios? Have an enquiry for Rank Laboratories? Its all here and good for across the globe.
The impact and readership of these annuals was obviously not wasted on one Mr. Alexander Salkind, European producer of considerable reputation in what would turn out to be his prime. Never one to miss an opportunity for advance publicity, Salkind manages to solicit both covers for two upcoming projects (on the rear: The Prince and The Pauper, third pic) including a little picture that wouldn’t hit screens for another two years.
Not content with covers and spine, all three exposed sides of the volume are also stamped with the word ‘SUPERMAN’ (second pic) even if there is no mention of the film inside. Utilizing artwork that had already spearheaded a similar campaign in the pages of US screen bible Variety, (click here) the film was at this stage clearly under the direction of Guy Hamilton.
A final treat for the Superman historian was the neat addition of the bookmark – (god knows it needs one) cleverly modelled after a clothing tag for noneother than Bermans & Nathans, (bottom pic) makers of, among many other adornments, Superman’s costume…
SUPERMANIA presents the concluding part of Dwight R. Decker’s exhaustive review of Superman: The Movie from the vintage pages of The Comics Journal.
Pulling no punches as established in Part 1, Decker’s continued observations are at once barbed as they are complimentary. Having passed judgement on the Krypton scenes through the eyes of a comic-book devotee, Decker notes that the Smallville scenes (short of the era represented by the established timeline) are equally strong.
A favourite quote from the late Tom Mankiewicz was “Bam! You get to Metropolis and you’re in the comic book” may be true but this is where Decker begins to take exception. Besides the obvious praise for newcomer Reeve (no mean feat for a die-hard comic fan) the casting choices of Margot Kidder, Jackie Cooper and especially Gene Hackman in his view are at odds with the characters represented on the page. While a case could be made for the descent into camp of the Luthor scenes( being reminiscent of the Batman TV series) the commentary on Margot and Jackie is harsh and the romantic, whimsical themes portrayed in the picture are clearly wasted on him.
In his summing up Decker enforces a common myth by claiming Superman is several movies in one. As the narrative is clearly a play of three very different acts he manages to undo some of his sharper insights when he claims the movie commits ‘dramatic suicide’ with the Luthor plot and that Lois should’ve stayed dead…
From the Sideshow Collectibles.com website;
“The Man of Steel explodes into action like never before, with the Christopher Reeve as Superman Premium Format™ Figure.
Having just celebrated his 75th anniversary last year, the all-American icon endures through the decades like, well, a Man of Steel. Superman’s famous red cape soars on, even while aspects and attributes of the world’s first comic book superhero change as a reflection of the times and culture…”
Unveiled for preorder on this splendidly presented page, the highly anticipated reveal of this latest PF is not quite the embodiment of SUPERMANIA’s worst fears realised but still does little to advance them beyond the initial thoughts as offered here.
Besides the hideous (and unnecessary??) wooden plinth to force the height of the piece over two feet the addition of the out-of-scale Green Crystal (as an exclusive) elicits yet more bafflement but little incentive. There are positives – the costume (less skinny belt and padless cape) is fabulously realised but the irony of such time and effort being spent on this and having the best view coming from behind is not lost here.
Even this excellent article documenting the talented Matthew Black’s artistic process and obsession with the Reeve lifecast can’t detract from how much better the Hot Toys figure manages to appear sat on his own desk. Sadly, the gaunt, unbalanced portrait simply fails to capture Reeve and the pose is every bit as out of character.
With less ambition and more faith in simplicity and the source material this may well have been the definitive licensed Reeve as Superman statue. To expand, a base comprising of a top-tier corner from a New York apartment terrace, a headsculpt by Trevor Grove resplendent with warm expression, a revised costume with correct details and a pose, well, see any publicity photo from ’78 and take your pick. Whichever way you slice it, the fusion of iconic vintage with 21st century aesthetic in this instance fails to soar…
From the Comic Reader to the Comics Journal, SUPERMANIA continues its retrospective on vintage reviews of Superman: The Movie through the eyes of comic-book purists.
And Dwight R. Decker’s essay (Part one of which presented above) is arguably a definitive review, or at least the most exhaustive. Found beneath a splendid cover by Joe Staton (showing Superman through various incarnations through the ages) Decker’s words are nicely arranged alongside stills from he movie and random art from the likes of Fred Hembeck.
Surmising early on that the movie is “An erratic collection of disparate scenes that individually range from the utterly splendid to despicably camp” its enjoyable to share the early anticipation/dread of the prospect of a rehash of the Batman TV legacy (or indeed the Broadway show ‘Its a bird, its a plane, Its Superman..!’).
Indeed, one finds themselves empathising with many of the points Decker raises about the Krypton scenes in regard to production design. For all its frigid glory as represented onscreen its easy to forget what made the demise of Krypton so tragic was its flourishing and youthful culture as depicted in comics by the art of Wayne Boring et,al.
To be concluded in Part 2 coming soon..!