DOC SAVAGE THE MAN OF BRONZE (1975)
Article 3501 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-19-2011
Posting Date: 3-16-2011
Directed by Michael Anderson
Featuring Ron Ely, Paul Gleason, William Lucking
What it is: Pulp hero parody
When an attempt is made on his life and the last communication from his father is destroyed, Doc Savage takes his band of heroes (known as the Fabulous Five) on a mission to the country where his father passed away, where he hopes to unravel the secrets that resulted in his father’s death.
Back when I covered BUCKAROO BANZAI, some of the replies made passing comments to the pulp origins of that type of story, with a special mention of Doc Savage as a prototype for Buckaroo Banzai. I’ve not read any of the Doc Savage books, but having now seen the movie, I can appreciate the influence, and it’s made me quite curious to find some of the Doc Savage novels and get to know the world he lived in. Since I’ve also heard that this movie doesn’t really do him justice, that seems even more like a good idea. There are things I like here much better than in BUCKAROO BANZAI; in particular, I think the Fabulous Five are a much more well-defined group than the Hong Kong Cavaliers. Unfortunately, for this, his last film, George Pal chose a camp approach to the material, and the camp humor is obvious, intrusive, and simply not very good. As a result, the sense of adventure and excitement is muted and compromised; because the movie doesn’t take itself seriously, neither do we. Furthermore, the movie is slow and leisurely when it should be fast-moving, and a poorly conceived musical score only makes things worse. At times, the movie is just pointlessly weird; why does the one villain sleep in a giant rocking crib? There’s enough fantastic content for genre fans, with the eerie phantom snakes being only the most striking example. Still, the movie is a missed opportunity.