Bow, Yield, Kneel…

Jillan Freisen, DAILY PLANET 15:00 ET July 30th 2017

METROPOLIS – The Man of Steel is reunited with fallen dictator and fellow Kryptonian General Dru-Zod during a visit to a top-secret Government facility. Zod and his cohorts, Ursa and Non were imprisoned in 1981 after an attempt at world domination was thwarted by Superman during a battle in an undisclosed location in the Arctic.  The trio were sentenced to five consecutive life-sentences each, reduced to three after it was discovered they had been stripped of all their unearthly powers and been rendered mere mortals.  Zod, now 79, and subject to decades of rehabilitation has had numerous appeals for his release rejected despite claims of repentance for his crimes, which included the murder of three astronauts and collateral damage to the cities of Washington DC and Metropolis estimated at $3.6 Billion.  After their brief private conversation, Superman was challenged about his motivation for the meeting and said “While the General’s crimes were terrible and many of his actions unforgivable, he and his associates are nonetheless a vital link to my former homeworld.  I have absolute faith in our Govenrment and legal system and support their efforts to ensure their incarceration is carried out appropriately.” (Photograph by James Olsen)

Last week’s London FIlm & Comic Con at the Olympia scored an unprecedented coup for fans of the classic Superman Movies by announcing the first ever reunion of all three villians from Superman I &II, and almost delivering.

In a guest lineup that promised no less than Sarah Douglas, Jack O’Halloran and Margot Kidder, Showmasters had done what many thought was impossible and had managed to secure legendary British actor Terence Stamp for his Convention debut.  Besides the obligatory autograph signing, the bill included a group photo session of all the Super-stars and a talk with Q&A.  It was, in short, a once in a lifetime opportunity and of course, SUPERMANIA was there.

Despite best laid plans, however, the show was dealt a series of blows in the form of guest cancellations right up to the last minute meaning the organisers could not fulfil their promises and were made to improvise in ways that unfortunately left many advance paying fans disappointed.  First to go was Jack O’Halloran, who had to drop out for health reasons (get well soon big man!) and then in the irony of Ironies, poor Margot Kidder missed her flight and never made it to the UK.

There was great relief on the Saturday as Terence and Sarah’s arrival was confirmed by a photo on social media so happily photo sessions and the talk would go ahead, but not exactly as intended.  The group photo session (costing over £100 paid in advance) was cancelled in favour of a joint picture with Terry and Sarah (third pic) which would’ve been a great alternative had it been organised and promoted correctly.  Instead, fans that had bought group photos were turned away with a promise of a refund and could only purchase a ticket for the double pic there and then for £70 in cash only.  This outrageous action was followed up with a poor queuing system that meant anybody without a Diamond Pass (Over £200) had little chance of obtaining Terence Stamp’s coveted autograph.

In fact, the show was evidently massively over-subscribed and it was everything one could do to bounce from location to location to obtain what you had, in most cases, already paid for. This, and the excessive crowds did not make for a pleasurable experience and were it not for the class act that is Ms.Douglas (bottom pic signing a replica of the Phantom Zone) being the standard by which all other con guests should be judged, it would’ve been worse.

So thank goodness for Mr. Stamp, who maintained an unflappable aura for the entire proceeding.  Softly spoken and gentile, his iconic intense gaze was as sharp as ever now found under a shock of white hair.  This was what hit me first as I approached for my photo wearing the Superman costume (top pic) as he glared at me up and down, it seemed to me, completely in character!

Drawing up next to him whilst feeling a combination of awe and dread, he extended his hand to shake mine and whispered, ‘Hello, lovely to meet you thanks, for coming’.  Now, as you can imagine, for a fan of the Superman series since childhood this was a powerful significant moment.  The General, it turns out, is a total gentleman and if you ever get the chance, as many people did that day, I can’t recommend meeting him highly enough.

There was still one hurdle to overcome before the day could end and that was obtaining Terence’ autograph.  During the day I’d been so gratified that many Super-fans had come up to me to say hello and compliment me on the costume and for the first time at a con a had real sense of community – it was great to put names to faces including Mark Cookson, Filip Biesmans and Graham Holden.  One fan, it would turn out, would turn out to be the biggest hero of all as it looked like we weren’t going to get the much-coveted autograph after all.

A serious contender for No.1 Superfan in the UK, Andrew Hanton was already in the queue for Terence and saved the day by getting a photo signed on my behalf (second pic) made all the more significant by way of his alternate signature (where you can actually make out his name).  Quite why he elected to do this rather than the standard two lines is a mystery but I was overjoyed with the result and it is now a key piece in the SUPERMANIA collection.

While I would be reluctant in the extreme to attend the London show again, rumours persist about plans for an ultimate celebration of the 40th anniversary of Superman: The Movie next year.  If anybody can do it, Showmasters can but I would hope that many learns have been taken on in the meantime from the LFCC 2017 experience…

Lot 774/983…

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Eubanks Entertainment & Memorabilia (Movie, Music, Sporting & Toys), 12th May 2016, 12:00pm

Lot 774
Description

Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987) Christopher Reeve leotard in pale blue stretch fabric with Superman logo to front, zip to back & four stud fasteners on shoulders to attach cape, label to inside, ‘ Bermans & Nathans, 40 Camden St, London NW1, Christopher Reeve 4913 Flying Superman IV ‘.

Provenance: A friend of the vendor worked on the set of the film.

Lot 983
Description

Superman – Acrylic crystal production used movie prop in the Fortress of Solitude scenes with Gene Hackman as he learns about his arch-nemesis Superman, and later in the film as Superman’s powers are taken away from him. approx 11 inches long.

Provenance: The vendors family have a long history of working on film sets in Elstree, Pinewood & Shepperton Studios. Her granddad was Bill Lowen (Rigger) & her father was Dave Lowen (Carpenter). This was given to the vendor as a gift from her father who worked at the Studios.

These two superior upcoming lots from the famed Surrey auction house represent the first original pieces of genuine Superman movie memorabilia on offer this year –

The ‘flying’ tunic (top three pics) is a great example of what distinguishes the Superman IV costume from the preceding films with its narrow bottom curve of the \S/ on the chest shield.  The lack of shorts also suggests (or harness vents) also indicate this tunic may have been used for bluescreen effects and its soiling indicates potential use for the climatic Moon battle…

“My Attachment…”

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAimageCostume month on SUPERMANIA gains momentum with this fascinating and unique variation of the iconic outfit made especially for Margot Kidder in Richard Donner’s Superman II.

As originally scripted, the scenes between Lois Lane and Kal-El in the Fortress Of Solitude conclude with the very controversial (at the time) consummation of their relationship before the sacrifice his of powers for love.  Later, as Clark/Superman confides in his father that all he craves is the chance to live a ‘normal’ life, Lois appears wearing the Superman tunic as a nightshirt.

This particular tunic (one of three made) was specifically tailored to appear oversized for Margot from the same Bridal weight Spandex as the full costumes and was used to photograph wig tests prior to the filming (top pic).  Asked about the footage only days ago – Margot herself recalls –

“I don’t remember wearing that at all but there was a love scene and Lois wore that the next morning. I don’t think the scene made it into the movie but I’m not sure. my hair was never like that in the Donner version. I had my own hair, not those hideous wigs. Harry (Dick) would never have allowed me to wear such an ill fitting piece of crap on my head..”

This entire sequence would be ultimately be excised and rewritten after both Richard Donner’s departure and Marlon Brando’s salary demands forced the Producers (and replacement director Richard Lester) to reshoot all of Jor-El’s scenes with Susannah York.  In this theatrical version, Superman would first be de-structured before spending the night with Lois as a mortal man.

It would be almost thirty years before the sequence as originally shot would be discovered in UK vaults and restored for inclusion in Superman II; The Richard Donner Cut, where Margot does indeed appear wearing the tunic (without said hairpiece.)

Amazingly, one of the tunics would survive in pristine condition to this day and form part of the significant collection of the UK office of Propstore, where it was mounted in an acrylic case with its label still attached (second pic). The accompanying sign (third pic) eloquently highlights the differences between the structure of this shirt versus the bodysuits (where its appearance suggests Superman’s costume in the movie framework is a top and tights as opposed to leotard) and its provenance from Warner Bros (Read Jason DeBord’s assessment on The Original Prop Blog here).

Propstore would later offer the tunic on the market (read the listing here) and in the hands of a private collector in the UK it was recently photographed being signed by Margot Kidder at a con (bottom pic).

While an owner has the right to do what he pleases with his property, SUPERMANIA nonetheless urges fellow collectors never to interfere with any original costume in such a fashion as it dramatically affects the value of the piece…

Coming soon, the Super-auction to end all auctions…

The Big Palooka…

15674412844_507e143127_o16110687069_5d4b9c165a_o (1)16270889756_e9166034a3_o16295037591_92f498d16f_oAt the dawn of DC Comics properties conquest of the silver screen, modern day successors Marvel would gamely go along for the ride in early 1979 with both this fun publication above and its more highbrow twin Starburst (to be featured in an upcoming post).

While Pizzazz may well have been ‘humour in the Marvel manner’, the articles featured about ‘The Big Palooka’ were very well-written and offered some great insights into the upcoming movie and probably best of all, a preview of Richard Donner’s Superman II, where actress/stuntwoman Ellen Bry (fresh from her appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man TV pilot, or feature if you lived in the UK) speaks out regarding a scene that wouldn’t surface publicly for another thirty years…

Astronautics…

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Though the cinematic conception of Planet Krypton as a world founded on crystal technology may be credited to Star Wars designer John Barry, it may come as a surprise that the final designs for Superman’s alien mechanizations were rendered by the man most famous for the iconic look of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Despite their infamy, producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind insisted on hiring the best of the best across the industry for their productions and the late Harry Lange, now known as ‘the man who saw the future’ was no exception.

Credited as an ‘Astronautics Consultant’ for Richard Lester’s Superman II, German born Hans Kurt Lange (bottom pic, holding the astronaut helmet he designed for 2001) was solely responsible for the interior/exterior work on the Artemis II space capsule set (third pic) realised with such authenticity it could’ve passed as a real spacecraft –  

“I’d seen real hardware at Cape Canaveral and in NASA’s research laboratories and hangars, so I knew what the equipment had to look like. A piece of board with blue squares stuck on it may do for TV, but not when you want to do something on a Cinerama screen. It had to be absolutely perfect. I kept that idea in my following films: Star Wars, Superman, James Bond…”

While comparisons between the earth-based hardware in II, Kubrick’s classic and Moonraker evidently bear Lange distinctive style, it is the Kryptonian computers/memory banks (first & second pic) that are standout examples of fantasy art elegantly realised.  While the console (second pic) could easily be the basis of Superman’s computer in the Fortress Of Solitude revised for Superman II, one wonders if he was involved uncredited as early as Donner’s original movie as this lot of illustrations from his estate (in auction this month by Propstore) clearly show a bank of computers mounted in the arch of Lex Luthor’s underground hideaway…

Read Harry’s obituary from the UK Independent here