Super-Heroes chapter 1
Super-Heroes chapter 2
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The Kirk Alyn Superman serials and George Reeves in "Superman And The Molemen"
"Among the 41 amateur movies I made between 1953 and 1969, three of them - all filmed within two years during the early to middle 1960s -- featured or parodied the Superman character.
"The first of these, Superduperman, was inspired by the classic parody published in the Mad comic book. I played both Clark Bent and Superduperman, with Dick Andersen as Perry Wide, tall and thin Chuck Martinka as Melvin Batson and short and stocky Richard Hagopian (who had played Billy Batson in my 1962 Captain Marvel movie) as Captain Marbles among the cast. The film was shot in Chicago with a few second-unit scenes filmed in the suburbs.
"Next came an appearance by the Man of Steel, this time played by Bob Burns (AKA 'Kirk Reeves' ), in the 5-chapter serial The Adventures Of The Spirit, very loosely based on the Will Eisner comic-book character. The Adventures Of The Spirit was mostly made during a month and a half vacation in California, and most of it could not have been made without the generous help of one of my mentors, Bob Burns. I had written an actual script titled Superman at the Earth's Core, which I'd intended to shoot in California. But when I saw Bob's incredible collection of movie props (the silver cane head from The Wolf Man, a mask made by Jack Pierce for Lon Chaney, Jr. in The Mummy's Curse, an alien head made by Paul Blaisdell for Invasion Of The Saucer Men, the Blaisdell-made alien bat and 'radio' from Not Of This Earth, a miniature house made by Mike Minor for the Jeepers' Creepers TV show, the costume from Republic Pictures' Captain America movie serial and a whole lot more), I suggested that we make a movie throwing in as many of these collectibles as possible. The ultimate coup, however, was getting actor Glenn Strange (House Of Frankenstein, House Of Dracula and Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein) to recreate his role as the Frankenstein Monster for my amateur film. Because Glenn had a moustache (he was currently playing Sam the Bartender in TV's Gunsmoke series), he wore a rubber mask - the first mask ever produced of the Frankenstein Monster, manufactured by Don Post in 1948.
"As for the rest of the cast, most of the parts were divided between Bob and myself. Bob played the Wolf Man (in some shots), the Mad Mummy, Captain America, an astronaut and, because of his resemblance to Kirk Alyn, Superman. Famous author Jim Harmon played The Shadow , CBS-TV make-up man Billy Knaggs (who somewhat resembled Peter Cushing) was Dr. Frankenstein and Chicago friend Dick Andersen, in the minority of scenes filmed in Chicago and its suburbs, portrayed the villainous Phantom Avenger. I played the Wolf Man , Green Hornet , Rocket Man, doubled as the Phantom Avenger (when Dick wasn't available) and was also the Spirit.
Art by Michael Stein
"Finally came Superman VS The Gorilla Gang (shooting title: Superman's Peril), made entirely in the Los Angeles area as a student-film, camera-class project while I was attending the University of Southern California. This proved to be the most ambitious of my 'Superman' projects. Professional stuntman Bart Andrews portrayed the Man of Steel, USC film student and friend Randy Epstein enacted the role of Jimmy Olsen, Edith Hohl was Lucy Lane and professional actor John Schuyler played one of the gang. Best of all, however, Bob Burns played Kogar the ape (in a costume designed by Bob and built by Don Post Studios), while the two major bad guys were portrayed by well-known serial and Western-movie heavies Roy Barcroft as the gang leader and Kenne Duncan as his main henchman. Together, USC cinema department alumnus D. Ray Craig and I did the special effects, blowing up vehicles and making Superman fly imitating the techniques of our idol Howard Lydecker , ace Republic Pictures special effects wizard. .
"Superman VS The Gorilla Gang turned out to be the best of the three movies. My USC camera-class instructor did not think as highly of it, however, even though it fulfilled exactly the requirements of the assignment and was, in the opinion of myself and some of the other students, at least as good if not superior to some of the other projects that had received 'A's.' I was given a 'D' (for subject matter, not the quality of the film) and had to take the course over again!
"The plots of all three amateur Superman movies are briefly recounted below."
“SUPERDUPERMAN” (1962, color)
Reporter Clark Bent is proofreading his latest news story when his X-ray vision accidentally sets the paper on fire. In blowing it out he inadvertently sends editor Perry Wide hurtling across the room. When his telescopic vision reveals someone reading a rival super-hero comic book (The Jaguar), Clark sets off, getting stalled in his changeover by someone using a telephone booth. Eventually Superduperman meets the comic-book reader, actually Melvin Batson who, after saying "Shazoom!", is transformed into the super-hero Captain Marbles. Unable to defeat the good Captain by force, Superduperman ends the battle by shoving a pie in his face.
"THE ADVENTURES OF THE SPIRIT" (color, 1963)
Chapter 1: "The Phantom Avenger"
From his headquarters, an old "haunted house," the masked Phantom Avenger starts his reign of terror by dispatching a giant robot - one of his gang of monsters -- to destroy a manned moon rocket. In the vicinity is the masked hero known as the Spirit, who, after witnessing the destruction of the spaceship, is stalked by the mechanical monster. Backed against a tree, the Spirit is at the robot's mercy. Then the robot unleashes deadly electrical rays from its eyes at the hero, apparently disintegrating him!
Chapter 2: "Fangs of Death"
Luckily, the Green Hornet also happens to be in the vicinity. The Hornet tosses the Spirit a mirror which, just in time, our hero uses to reflect the lightning-like rays back at the robot, destroying it. The Hornet refusing thanks and departing, the Spirit gets close to the Phantom Avenger's lair, encountering and killing an alien bat and a Saucer Man. The Phantom Avenger, meanwhile, unleashes the Wolf Man who stalks, attacks and apparently kills the Spirit!
Chapter 3: "It Lives Again!"
Fortunately, Captain America is in the neighborhood and happens to be carrying a silver-headed cane ideal for fighting werewolves. Cap kills the Wolf Man, saving the Spirit, but gets bitten in the process. As the Spirit goes to thank him, the Star-Spangled hero unmasks, revealing the hairy face of "Captain Werewolf"! Striking that menace with the cane, the Spirit resumes his pursuit of the Phantom Avenger. The villain, meanwhile, frees the Mad Mummy from his sarcophagus. The creature stalks the Spirit, trapping him on the opposite side of a wall overlooking a deep canyon. As the Mad Mummy repeatedly pounds on the Spirit's clutching fingers, our hero begins to slip!
Chapter 4: "Frankenstein's Fury"
Coincidentally, The Shadow is not far away. Clouding the Mad Mummy's mind, The Shadow becomes invisible and unravels the creature. As The Shadow returns to the shadows, the Spirit again pursues his arch foe. Meanwhile, the Phantom Avenger, frustrated over losing another monstrous henchman, telephones Dr. Frankenstein who has a castle nearby. The scientist revives his Monster. As the Spirit investigates the castle grounds, the Frankenstein Monster attacks him and starts choking him to death!
Chapter 5: "Human Targets"
Fortuitously, reporter Clark Kent at The Daily Planet sees what is going on with his super-vision. Changing to Superman, he flies to the rescue and battles the Frankenstein Monster. Then the Man of Steel flies high into the sky, taking the Monster with him. Inadvertently, however, the Monster slips out of its jacket, plunging to the ground very far below. Superman lands to aid the Spirit, now outside his archenemy's lair, but is zapped by the Phantom Avenger's Kryptonite ray. The Spirit battles the Phantom Avenger, knocking him onto a ray gun that kills him. Our hero unmasks his foe, revealing him to be the Phantom of the Opera, then destroys the Kryptonite with the ray gun. Superman thanks him and flies off. As the Spirit walks off into the distance, another heroic friend, Rocket Man, descends from the sky.
"SUPERMAN VS. THE GORILLA GANG" (1965, black & white)
The Gorilla Gang, which uses the gorilla Kogar in their crimes, has captured cub reporter Jimmy Olsen and his girlfriend Lucy Lane because of incriminating evidence in their possession. The gang leader knocks Jimmy out cold and orders his ape back inside its camper. Watching the scene from a mountaintop, Superman swoops down to rescue his friends. After the main henchman's bullets bounce off the Man of Steel's chest, Superman hurls him down into a gully. Superman then flies after another gang member, knocking him over a fence. The gang leader, meanwhile, sends the unconscious Jimmy speeding along the highway in his car. At the same time Kogar escapes the camper, attacks and kills the gang leader, then stalks Lucy.
Superman flies to the rescue, fighting the gorilla. Finally he locks the ape inside its camper, then pushes it off the cliff, the vehicle exploding as it crashes on the rocks below. The Man of Steel flies off to save his pal Jimmy, whose car is on a collision course with an approaching gasoline truck. Landing on the car's running board, Superman gets Jimmy out and flies away with him moments before the car and truck collide, both exploding into flames. Jimmy revives as Superman lands with him, with Olsen and Lucy reunited.
Super & Serial Heroes Chapter 1 Captain Marvel The Human Torch Spy Smasher VS. The Purple Monster
Batman And Robin Capt. America Battles The Red Skull Capt. America VS. The Mutant Rocketman Flies Again
Atom-man VS. Martian Invaders # 1 Atom-man VS. Martian Invaders # 2 Spider-man # 1 Spider-man # 2
Super & Serial Heroes Chapter 2 Superduperman The Adventures Of The Spirit
Superman VS. The Gorilla Gang # 1 Superman VS. The Gorilla Gang # 2 Sitemap
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