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The Adventures of Superman First Season DVD Set
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Buy the Adventures of Superman first season featuring the movie Superman and the Mole Men. Learn all about this great classic 1950's movie.

 

Buy Adventures of Superman - The Complete First Season

The Man of Steel assumes the secret identity of Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for the Metropolis Daily Planet. And with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, he battles for truth and justice and the American way as Superman. The first ever Superman TV series! Originally aired in the 1950's, it features George Reeves as Superman and enjoyed tremendous success during its broadcast as a first run syndicated series. The TV series premise was established a year before its broadcast via the theatrical release of "Superman and The Mole Men" in 1951.

 George Reeves The Adventures of Superman - The First Season

Episodes from the First Season

1-"Superman on Earth" (9/19/1952)
An infant boy is rocketed from the dying planet Krypton to Earth and is reared by a kindly couple. As a young man, Clark Kent gets a job at The Daily Planet newspaper. As Superman, he rescues a man from a dirigible.

2-"The Haunted Lighthouse" (9/26/1952)
Jimmy Olson visits his aunt and discovers a group of smugglers on her island home.

3-"The Talkative Dummy" (10/3/1952)
Armored cars are robbed and then disappear. A ventriloquist's dummy is used to transmit the armored car routes.

4-"The Mystery of the Statues" (10/10/1952)
Two elderly men buy and destroy small statues all over Metropolis. Lois investigates and is captured and almost killed before Superman rescues her.

5-"The Monkey Mystery" (10/17/1952)
A secret formula used in defense of atomic warfare is stolen. Superman gets a trained monkey to help get it back.

6-"A Night of Terror" (10/24/1952)
Lois Lane is vacationing in Canada when she's kidnapped by gunmen. Jimmy tries to help her, but gets captured as well.

7-"The Birthday Letter" (10/31/1952)
A young girl is kidnapped by counterfeiters when she mistakenly receives printing plates from a French Bank.

8-"The Mind Machine" (11/7/1952)
Three congressional witnesses are killed by a hypno-therapy machine run by Lou Cranek, "Kingpin of Crime."

9-"Rescue" (11/14/1952)
Lois tries to rescue a coal miner who is trapped in a mine, but she becomes trapped as well.

10-"The Secret of Superman" (11/21/1952)
The evil Dr. Ort tries to drug Superman and control his will. He then captures Lois and Jimmy.

11-"No Holds Barred" (11/28/1952)
A young wrestling champ tries to expose crooked wrestling. Superman breaks up the ring and rescues him.

12-"The Deserted Village" (12/5/1952)
A "killing fog" and a strange sea monster drive people away from their village. It turns out that a druggist and his son have discovered a deposit of hydrozite, an element of the hydrogen bomb.

13-"The Stolen Costume" (12/12/1952)
A thief steals Clark's Superman costume and tries to sell it. Clark uses a clever trick to get it back.

14-"Treasure of the Incas" (12/19/1952)
Looking for Incan treasure, Lois and Jimmy are seized by desperate gunmen.

15-"Double Trouble" (12/26/1952)
The Von Klaven twins steal a million dollar radium core from the U.S. Medical Corps. When one brother is murdered, Superman cracks the case and brings the other to justice.

16-"Mystery in Wax" (1/2/1953)
Madame Selena, operator of a wax museum, predicts deaths that come true. When Mr. White disappears, Superman investigates.


17-"The Runaway Robot" (1/9/1953)
A correspondent of The Daily Planet invents a robot which is stolen by robbers to use for looting banks.

18-"Drums of Death" (1/16/1953)
Haitian voodoo worshippers capture Jimmy and Perry White's sister.

19-"The Evil Three" (1/23/1953)
Three strange men try to scare Jimmy and Mr. White out of an abandoned hotel.

20-"The Riddle of the Chinese Jade" (1/30/1953)
An expensive figurine is stolen before it can be presented to the National Museum. Superman reveals the thief.

21-"The Human Bomb" (2/6/1953)
"Bet-A-Million" Butler, a racketeer and gambler, schemes to keep Superman helpless while robbing the Metropolis Museum.

22-"Czar of the Underworld"
Clark and Inspector Henderson are warned by a gang leader to "lay off" of a film about crime. After murder and sabotage on the set, Superman sees to it that the film is completed.

23-"The Ghost Wolf" (2/20/1953)
Lumberjacks leave their job fearing a werewolf. A forest fire enlivens the plot.

24-"Crime Wave" (2/27/1953)
A gigantic crime wave sweeps Metropolis. Superman is exposed to atomic rays.


25-"Unknown People - Part I"
Investigating the world's deepest oil well, Clark and Lois find that it has been dug into a world in the center of the Earth. This two-parter was edited from a single theatrical release entitled Superman and the Molemen.

Originally a theatrical release
Superman And The Mole Men (12/18/1951)


26-"Unknown People - Part II"
A strange creature emerges from the well and is wounded by the excited citizens. Superman helps him and gains his trust.

Superman And The Mole Men (12/18/1951)
Originally a theatrical release

 

The Adventures of Superman is the first television series to feature Superman and began filming in 1951 in California. Sponsored by cereal manufacturer Kellogg's, the syndicated show's first, and last, air dates are disputed but generally accepted as September 19, 1952 and April 28, 1958. The show's first two seasons (episodes 1-52, 26 titles per season) were filmed in black-and-white; seasons three through six (episodes 53-104, 13 titles per season) were filmed in color but originally telecast monochromatically both on the ABC network and in first-run syndication. Television viewers would not see Superman in color until the series was syndicated to local stations in 1965.

George Reeves plays Clark Kent/Superman with Jack Larson as Jimmy Olsen, John Hamilton as Perry White, and Robert Shayne as Inspector Henderson. Phyllis Coates plays Lois Lane in the first season with Noel Neill stepping into the role in the second season (1953). Stories follow Superman as he battles crooks, gangsters, and other villains in the fictional city of Metropolis while masquerading "off-duty" as Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, Clark's colleagues at the office, often find themselves in dangerous situations which can only be resolved with Superman's timely intervention.

Adventures of Superman generally employed visual effects advanced for television of the period, and, while the show won no major awards, it was popular with its audience and remains popular today. Its opening theme, known as The Superman March, has become a classic of its kind and is instantly recognizable by most classic television buffs and Superman fans. In 1976, the book Superman: From Serial to Cereal was published, and, in 1987, selected episodes of the show were released to video. In 2006, the series became available in its entirety on DVD and reruns of the show still hold a place on television programming schedules.

Black-and-white seasons, 1952-1953

The noir-like episodes of the first two seasons resemble theatrical action-adventure serials and crime melodramas of the 1940s. The supporting casts are filled with established movie character actors, heightening the resemblance. Phyllis Coates, like George Reeves, was a popular lead in B features of the period. For the TV series, Reeves suggested that Coates receive equal star billing. Coates created a sharp, strong-willed Lois Lane, an enterprising reporter who tries to out-scoop Clark Kent. Jack Larson presents Jimmy Olsen as a Daily Planet intern always investigating the truth behind something wrong, but being caught by the villains. He usually receives help from Superman in the nick of time. Superman himself is seen as a semi-mysterious presence, unknown to many of the crooks ("Who's the guy in the circus suit?" asks a villain in "The Riddle of the Chinese Jade"). The episodes usually featured action-packed, gritty, and often violent storylines in which Superman fought gangsters and crimelords. Many characters met their deaths in these episodes, some of them shown on screen.

When it came time to reassemble the cast and crew for filming the second season, Phyllis Coates was no longer available, having committed to another project. The producers then hired Noel Neill and gave her secondary billing with Larson, Hamilton, and Shayne. Neill's portrayal was more accessible to the younger television audience, sweeter and more sympathetic than the efficient, hard-as-nails Coates characterization. Bob Maxwell, whose episodes in the first season verged on the macabre, left the show (going on to produce Lassie in 1954). Whitney Ellsworth became Superman producer in 1953 and would remain so for the duration of the series (he was already working on the show, as an uncredited associate producer and story editor, during the initial season). The second season shows were still fairly serious in nature, retaining its film-noir/crime drama qualities while steering more in a science fiction direction, with Ellsworth tempering the violence significantly. With most of the villains becoming comic bunglers less likely to frighten the show's juvenile viewers and only some occasional deaths, usually off-screen, Kellogg's gave its full approval to Ellsworth's approach and the show remained a success. Sentimental or humorous stories were more in evidence than in the first season. A large portion of the stories, however, dealt with Superman's personal issues, such as his memory loss in "Panic in the Sky".

Locations of Adventures of Superman

Adventures of Superman began filming at the RKO-Pathe Studios (later, Desilu Studios) in Culver City, California in August-September 1951. Episodes cost roughly $15,000 a piece, a low-budget program by any standards then or now. In 1953-54, the show was filmed at California Studios, and, in 1955, at Chaplin Studios. In 1956-57, the show was filmed at ZIV Studios.

The establishing shot of the Daily Planet Building in the first season was the E. Clem Wilson Building in Los Angeles, California while the Carnation Milk Company Building a few blocks east served as the Daily Planet's front door.

 Later, various stock clips of the Los Angeles City Hall were used as the Planet building and the sidewalk entrance to the Planet was a studio-bound "exterior." Many exteriors in the first season were shot at RKO Pictures backlot called "Forty Acres", a site that later became famous as the fictional, idealized small town of Mayberry, North Carolina on The Andy Griffith Show. Hillsides in Culver City, city streets of downtown Los Angeles, or residential areas of the San Fernando Valley were sometimes used for exteriors during all six seasons. In later seasons, filming occurred on soundstages, with exterior shots (such as cars driving along roadways) being stock footage. Another Los Angeles stock-footage landmark was the Griffith Observatory, which had several different "cameos" in the series. Aside from a few clips of New York City in "Superman on Earth", most if not all of the stock clips used to depict Metropolis are from the Los Angeles area.

Opening sequence

The opening narration of the show, expanded from that of the 1940s radio show and the Superman cartoons, was voiced by Bill Kennedy, framed by the show's theme music, and set the stage for each program.
ď Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! ("Look! Up in the sky!" "It's a bird!" "It's a plane!" "It's Superman!")... Yes, it's Superman ... strange visitor from another planet, who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men! Superman ... who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way!

Musical Theme
The main theme, based on a triad, matched the three syllables in the character's name, as has been the case with nearly all Superman music. John Williams' later score for Superman used a similar but not identical musical triad. With the exception of the title theme, musical cues ranged from the serious to the light-hearted and were different for each of the seasons. Each season's cues tended to be used repeatedly from episode to episode, in similarly appropriate "mood" moments such as apprehension or fast action. The opening credits theme, Superman's "leitmotif", was often (though not always) used whenever Superman was depicted flying or taking action.

Sponsor

The show's sponsor was Kellogg's, maker of corn flakes and other breakfast cereals, a sponsorship continued from the radio days. The characters from the TV series made a number of TV commercials promoting cereal products, some of which are preserved in the DVD series. Some versions of the show contained a vocal introduction, "Kellogg's, the greatest name in cereals, presents The Adventures of Superman." The line was spoken by announcer Charlie Lyons. The sponsor originally requested to have this line placed (at the intro's start) on every single episode of the series, as well as (from second season onward) the company's logo on the intro and the end of the closing credits. When Kellogg's ceased being the show's sponsor, the logo and the intro line were removed from some prints, especially when Warner Bros. Television received distribution rights.

 Flying effects

While considered simple by today's standards, the "flying" effects on Adventures of Superman were advanced for the period. Superman's "flying" involved three phases: take-off, flight, and landing. Cables and wires were used for Supermanís take-offs early in filming, but when Reeves came close to suffering a concussion in the episode "Ghost Wolf", cables and wires were discarded and a springboard was brought in. Reeves would run into frame, hit the out-of-frame springboard which would boost him out of frame (sometimes over the camera), and onto padding. The springboard had enough force, along with subtle camera manipulation, to make it look as though he was actually taking off. The flying scenes were accomplished through a relatively small amount of stock footage that was used repeatedly. The typical technique had footage of Reeves stretched out on a spatula-like device formed to his torso and leg, operated on a counterweight like a boom microphone. Reeves was occasionally filmed in front of aerial footage on back-projection screen, or against a neutral background which would provide a matte which would be optically combined with a swish-pan or aerial shot. That footage was matted onto various backgrounds depending on the needs of the episode: clouds, buildings, etc. that he would appear to fly by. Techniques for landings involved Reeves jumping off a ladder or holding an off-camera horizontal bar and swinging down into frame. In early episodes, stuntmen sometimes took Supermanís part.

Main characters

* Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El, a being from the planet Krypton, is rocketed to Earth in his infancy, grows to manhood under the foster care of Eben and Sarah Kent, and then works as a Daily Planet reporter under his human name of Clark Kent. Clark is mildly assertive and is authoritive during situations when he is not Superman, despite the show's introduction discribing him as "mild-mannered. He puts his superpowers to work battling villains in Metropolis and is often called upon to rescue his associates Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane. The Superman of the television series developed superpowers beyond his precursors in radio, cartoons, comics, and theatrical serials. He separated his molecules to walk through walls, traveled over telephone lines, became invisible, and split in two while retaining his traditional powers of X-ray vision, microscopic vision, super-typing, super-hearing, super-breath, super-strength, flying, and a mastery of foreign languages. Superman's parents appear in the premier episode. Superman is played by George Reeves.

 * Lois Lane is a reporter with the Daily Planet and Clark Kent's associate. She is a well-dressed, competent professional woman. She suspects Kent is Superman and awaits an opportunity to confirm her suspicions. In the Noel Neill episodes, Lois is infatuated with the Man of Steel and dreams of being united in marriage with him. Lois returns to her hometown in one early episode. Played by Phyllis Coates in the first season, and thereafter by Noel Neill.

* Jimmy Olsen is a cub reporter and photographer with the Daily Planet and an associate of Kent and Lane. Jimmy's mother makes an appearance in an early episode. Though boyish in his tastes and sense of humor, Jimmy occasionally displays mature astuteness, courage, and judgment. Played by Jack Larson.

* Perry White is the blustering, impatient editor and publisher of the Daily Planet. He is sometimes a participant in the dangerous exploits of Lois and Jimmy as they pursue news stories. He treats crooks and thugs with disdain and lofty contempt. Perry's sister Kate appears in the first season episode "Drums of Death"; he has a nephew, Chris, who appears in the second season episode "Jet Ace". Perry White is played by John Hamilton.

* Inspector Henderson of the Metropolis Police is a friend of the Daily Planet staff and often works in conjunction with them on crime investigations. Henderson has a teenage son named Ray who appears in one episode. Henderson was the creation of the radio series writers. Played by Robert Shayne.
 

Amazon.com: about the DVD set
In 1952 Superman flew right into the hearts and minds of the American TV audience faster than a speeding bullet. Though most people were already familiar with man of steel through his comic books, as well as the popular radio show, it was the new medium's Adventures of Superman that transformed our resident Kryptonian into a timeless icon. For many young baby boomers, Superman was the ultimate symbol of truth, justice and the American way. After watching this nostalgic trip back in time it is easy to see why: George Reeves. Reeves is the quintessential Superman. He is kind, confident, smart, always does the right thing and can literally do anything physically. Even Reeves' Clark Kent is cool, even cocky without any of the trademarked shy, clumsy and hickish traits the character has developed over the years. And then there's Phyllis Coates as the Lois Lane. Coates portrayal of Lois is surprisingly one of the stronger female roles in '50s television. She is one tough cookie able to stand her ground against criminals, fight off bad guys and is not afraid to outwardly express herself. Sadly, Phyllis Coates would be replaced by Noel Neill in subsequent seasons.

Adventures of Superman also stands the test of time well as one of the best shows from the early days of television. A lot of it has to do with how the writers, producers and actors approached the making of the show. This first season, as well as the second, were made as if they were making a serious show suitable for kids and adults. Instead of being a kids' comic book show, the episodes have a strong "mini-serial-crime-movie" feel, are very story driven and include loads of elements from the popular film noir style of the 1950s. This is evident in such classic episodes such as the season opener "Superman on Earth," "The Stolen Costume" where Superman has his costume stolen by a burglar, and the tense horror-noir "The Haunted Lighthouse." Also included on this DVD set is the 1951 theatrical release Superman and The Mole Men which later became the televised two-part episode "The Unknown People." --Rob Bracco

Buy Adventures of Superman - The Complete First Season
 

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