Superman (1948)

Article #937 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-8-2003
Posting Date: 3-6-2004
Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr
Featuring Kirk Alyn, Noel Neill, Carol Forman

Superman comes to Earth and does battle with a villain known as the Spider Lady (not to be confused with the Spider Woman).

I’ve already covered the sequel to this serial (ATOM MAN VS. SUPERMAN), and many of the things I liked about that one I like about this one. I don’t mind the use of animation for the flying sequences; though it may seem jarring at first, it does add action and interesting movement to those sequences. I like the first several episodes the best, as they deal with the origins of Superman and his joining the reporting team of the Daily Planet. I also like the fact that using a stock group of well-known characters gives us a greater variety of performances among the secondary characters than is usually found in serials. The serial also does not include a single episode that consists mostly of footage from earlier episodes, which is also a plus. However, there are certain disappointments; the Spider Lady is as dull a serial villain as any I’ve known (despite her slinky black dress); Carol Forman doesn’t appear to be having any fun with the role, and comes across as if she’d much rather be home painting her toenails. Also, things get very silly at times; though I realize that the suspension of disbelief is necessary for this sort of thing, I found it impossible to swallow that Superman could use his x-ray vision to pierce through the disguise of a villain IN A PHOTOGRAPH to figure his real identity. All in all, I’m afraid I prefer the sequel a little bit more.


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