ONEHUNDREDANDEIGHTY…!

“Battersea Power Station, London, England 1982 – 

As shown in the TV Special ‘The Making Of Superman III’, the conclusion of the movie is shot at one of the capital’s most iconic landmarks just before its decommissioning after supplying a fifth of the city’s power for decades. 

Swaggering onto set in a bright red towelling robe, star Christopher Reeve meets & greets before being consulted about a new flying rig being trialled for an upcoming shot.  Stuntman Mark Stewart is strapped into a seesaw-like contraption that elevates him simply by applying the weight of two men the opposite end.  The result is admittedly unimpressive, and Reeve dismisses it as ‘useless.’  Stewart offers that it might be better for landing than taking off and Reeve walks away, literally leaving Stewart hanging.  Later, an even more primitive solution of a wooden board is employed to bring Reeve and co-star Richard Pryor back down to Earth.

The highlight of the day, however, overlooked by bemused Power Station staff is Superman’s flight to exit the scene, to be achieved with the assistance of the Flying Unit and a large crane.  Tenured SFX technician Bob Harman snaps the hooks onto Reeve’s harness as he’s done so many times previously while cinematographer Robert Paynter (top pic, far right) lines up the shot.  Pre-flight checks done, the giant pulley is turned and Reeve gracefully ascends, banking over the skyline before saluting the ground crew.  Below, Stunt double and friend Paul Weston shouts “180!” though the megaphone to confirm a successful rehearsal…”

The above was originally intended as an introduction to a page dedicated to the late Bob Harman, whom SUPERMANIA had been in contact with for a year before his sad passing in 2020.  Bob was very modest about his incredible contribution to the ‘Super’ series of films but had nonetheless agreed to tell his story – unfortunately we never got the opportunity – however I was glad to offer his family some rare footage and images of Bob in action back in the day from the SUPERMANIA archives.

Its also bittersweet to realise that only the stuntmen (Weston & Stewart) are the only men from this tale to still be with us – hopefully one day we get to share their stories before they are lost to time.  Paul Weston is still active in the industry and is a simply wonderful guy – I’ve also made contact with Mark Stewart who is similarly gracious but to date has not gone on record to share his experiences – I ask all Superfans interested in hearing from him to make it known in the comments section below..!

(images courtesy Alexei Lambley-Steel)

 

3 Replies to “ONEHUNDREDANDEIGHTY…!”

  1. Fantastic read and it’s left me on a cliff hanger wanting to know more. These stories are like goldust to us Christopher Reeve superman fans and we would absolutely be over the moon to hear more. Mark I beg you please share your stories with us so we can paint that imaginative picture in our heads and keep these stories of knowledge to keep the memories of these fantastic films alive. I would love to hear what you have to say Mark or possibly meet you one day, as you part of this Superman universe that we all love so much. Thanks Supermania for letting us reach out.

  2. The work that Mark Stewart and his colleagues did in making Christopher Reeve (and his stunt doubles) fly was nothing short of magnificent.
    It had gotten so good by “Superman III” that you could ALMOST take it for granted. But I never did. I knew it was a challenge, and was delighted that skilled professionals (first and foremost, Christopher Reeve) had worked so hard to make it look believable.
    I’m interested in any and all behind-the-scenes details that Mr. Stewart might want to share. Today’s CGI flying sequences lack the realism of the Salkind Superman (and Supergirl/Superboy) productions. Beautiful work throughout.

  3. I would be thrilled to hear all about the adventures Mark Stewart could share with the fans of his involvement in the Superman films. Personally, I would appreciate the opportunity to contact Mr. Stewart myself, as I purchased some Superman movie items from the Propstore that they received from him! I sincerely hope that Mr. Stewart is willing and able to share his experiences with the fans.

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