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Superman - The 1948 & 1950 Theatrical Serials Collection 
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Buy the Superman movie serials starting Kirk Alyn. Learn more about Kirk Alyn


 Buy Superman - The 1948 & 1950 Theatrical Serials Collection

Product Description
Kirk Alyn sets the herioc standard for generations to come, portraying Superman in these multichapter cliffhanger adventures that kept Saturday matinee crowds coming back for more. The 15-chapter Superman (1948) spans our hero's first arrival on Earth to his alter-ego role as reporter Clark Kent through his battle with sinister Spider Lady. In the 15-part Atom Man vs. Superman (1950), a UFO and A-bomb imperil Metropolis.

Superman 1948 Serial

Superman poster for the first serial.

Superman (1948) is a 15-part black-and-white Columbia film serial based on the comic book character Superman. It stars an uncredited Kirk Alyn (billed only by his character name, Superman) and Noel Neill as Lois Lane. It is notable as the first live-action appearance of Superman on film and for the longevity of its distribution. The serial was directed by Thomas Carr, who later directed many early episodes of the Superman television show, and Spencer Gordon Bennet, produced by Sam Katzman and shot in and around Los Angeles, California. It was originally screened at movie matinées and after the first three scene-setting chapters, every episode ends in a cliffhanger. The Superman-in-flight scenes are animations, in part due to the small production budget.

Republic Pictures tried twice to make a Superman serial. The first attempt was replaced by Mysterious Doctor Satan (1940) when licensing negotiations failed. The second attempt was advertised for 1941. This time there were two obstacles that eventually prevented productions. The publisher insisted on absolute control of the script and production, and the rights were tied up by the Paramount cartoon series.[1] Sam Katzman acquired the live action rights in 1947. He tried to sell to Universal but they no longer made serials by this time. He also tried to sell to Republic but they claimed "a superpowerful flying hero would be impossible to adapt" despite having done so in 1940 with The Adventures of Captain Marvel. Republic were also no longer buying properties for adaptation by 1947. Columbia accepted.

Sam Katzman found Kirk Alyn after looking through photographs but had a hard time selling him to Whitney Ellsworth, the representative of National Comics. This was made even worse when Alyn came in for a screen test, during filming on a historical film, with a goatee and moustache. These initial reservations were eventually overcome and Alyn got the part. Columbia's advertising claimed that they could not get an actor to fill the role so they had hired Superman himself. Kirk Alyn was merely playing Clark Kent.

George Plympton added a joke to script, substituting the Lone Ranger's "Hi-Yo Silver!" for the traditional "Up, Up and Away". This did not survive in the script long enough to actually be filmed.The Superman costume was grey and brown instead of blue and red because those colours photographed better in black and white.

An obvious error can be seen in one chapter where you see the shadow of the boom mic being cast on the car of Jimmy Olsen.

 Special Effects

Superman in flight was made with animation. This is considered the "weakest point of the serial" by Harmon and Glut. The "effects created by Republic for Captain Marvel were very convincing; even the more routine ones for the Superman TV series... always showing the same pose, were better." Other effective special effects were undermined by the flying sequences.An alternate version of the flying sequences was tested. Kirk Alyn spent an entire day painfully suspended by visible wires in front of a rear projection of moving clouds. Katzman fired all the production staff involved and went with animation instead.[1]

A peculiar characteristic of the mix of animated and live-action footage is that Superman's take-offs are almost always visible in the foreground, while his landings almost always occur behind objects, such as parked cars, rocks, and buildings. It was easier to shift from live footage of Kirk Alyn starting to take off to animated footage than it was to shift from an animated landing to live footage of the actor. As a consequence of the need to hide Superman's landings, Superman frequently lands at some distance from where he wants to be and must run to get there.

Budget limitations also dictated the frequent reuse of film footage, especially scenes of Superman flying. For example, one sequence showing Superman flying over a rocky hill (shot in the hills of Chatsworth in Southern California's San Fernando Valley) was used at least once in almost every episode of the first serial. However, while the reuse of the same footage is difficult for anyone watching successive episodes to ignore, it was much less noticeable to the original theater audiences, who saw only one episode each week.

Atom Man vs. Superman

Atom Man vs. Superman (1950), Columbia's 43rd serial, finds Lex Luthor (Lyle Talbot), secretly the Atom Man, blackmailing the city of Metropolis by threatening to destroy the entire community. Perry White (Pierre Watkin), editor of The Daily Planet, assigns Lois Lane (Noel Neill), Jimmy Olsen (Tommy Bond) and Clark Kent (Kirk Alyn) to cover the story.

Plot for Atom Man vs. Superman

Lex Luthor, the Atom Man, invents a number of deadly devices to plague the city, including a disintegrating machine which can reduce people to their basic atoms and reassemble them in another place. But Superman manages to thwart each scheme. Since Kryptonite can rob Superman of his powers, Luthor decides to create a synthetic Kryptonite and putters about obtaining the necessary ingredients: plutonium, radium and the undefined 'etc.' Luthor places the Kryptonite at the launching of a ship, with Superman in attendance. He is exposed to the Kryptonite and passes out. Superman is taken off in an ambulance driven by Luthor's henchmen, and he is now under the control of Luthor. Superman is placed in a device, a lever is pulled, and the Man of Steel vanishes into "The Empty Doom" (which bears a similarity to the Phantom Zone of the comic books). Most of chapter 7 is a repeat of the origin story from chapter 1 of Columbia's first "Superman" serial, and this serial also finds a way to work in stock footage from Ken Maynard's 1936 Avenging Waters (also directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet ). The serial features several elements re-used in later Superman features: the Man of Steel is exposed to synthetic Kryptonite during a public function, as he is the motion picture Superman III. When he escapes from "The Empty Doom", the headline of the Daily Planet proclaims: "Superman Returns", the title of the most recent Superman movie.

 Buy Superman - The 1948 & 1950 Theatrical Serials Collection on DVD

 

 

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Superman was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.and is copyrighted by D.C. comics