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  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

Superman: The Movie (1978) ft. Shane Rogers

Updated: Feb 21


Guest: Shane Rogers, Comedian and Host of Midnight Facts for Insomniacs


Cast:

  • Richard Donner, Director

  • Mario Puzo, David and Leslie Newman, Robert Benton, Screenplay

  • John Williams, Score

  • Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent / Superman

    • Jeff East as the teenage Clark Kent

  • Marlon Brando as Jor-El

  • Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor

  • Ned Beatty as Otis

  • Jackie Cooper as Perry White

  • Glenn Ford as Jonathan Kent

  • Margot Kidder as Lois Lane

  • Valerie Perrine as Eve Teschmacher

  • Terence Stamp as General Zod

  • Phyllis Thaxter as Martha Kent

  • Susannah York as Lara

  • Marc McClure as Jimmy Olsen

*Recognition:

  • Superman: The Movie was wide released on December 15, 1978.

  • Despite only having 16 days open in 1978, the film would become the 12th highest grossing film of 1978, and would go on to be the top grossing film of 1979. On a budget of roughly $55 million, Superman is said to have grossed over $300 million at the box office during its run.

  • The film became the sixth-highest-grossing film of all time after its theatrical run, and it was also Warner Bros.'s most successful film at the time.

  • It received praise for Reeve's performance and John Williams's musical score, and was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Film Editing, Best Music (Original Score), and Best Sound, and received a Special Achievement Academy Award for Visual Effects.

  • In addition, Williams was nominated at the 36th Golden Globe Awards and won the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.

  • Groundbreaking in its use of special effects and science fiction/fantasy storytelling, the film's legacy presaged the mainstream popularity of Hollywood's superhero film franchises.

  • In 2017, Superman was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.

  • Superman: The Movie currently holds a 94% among critics on RT, an 82 score on Metacritic, and a 3.7/5 on Letterboxd.

What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: Like the beginning of comic books, Superman is the first comic movie that establishes the template for all superhero origin stories going forward including his start on Krypton up through his beginnings as the original superhero. It also establishes Clark Kent as more than a demi-god, but also as someone of intense vulnerability outside his super strength.


Plot Summary: "Superman" follows the legendary tale of the Man of Steel's journey from the distant planet Krypton to becoming Earth's greatest protector.

The film begins with the destruction of Krypton, where Jor-El, a scientist, sends his infant son Kal-El to Earth in a small spaceship to escape the planet's demise. Kal-El crash-lands in Smallville, Kansas, and is found and raised by the Kent family. As he grows up, Kal-El, now named Clark Kent, discovers his incredible superhuman abilities, which include super strength, flight, and heat vision. Following the guidance of his adoptive parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent, Clark learns to conceal his powers while developing a strong sense of moral responsibility.

Upon reaching adulthood, Clark decides to move to Metropolis and takes on the role of the mild-mannered reporter at the Daily Planet. At the newspaper, he forms a connection with the fearless journalist Lois Lane and butts heads with the tough-talking editor, Perry White. Meanwhile, criminal mastermind Lex Luthor is plotting a nefarious plan to create an earthquake that will allow him to gain control over valuable land. Superman must use his powers to thwart Luthor's scheme, rescuing Lois and preventing widespread devastation. Throughout his heroic efforts, Superman captures the admiration and adoration of the public, becoming a symbol of hope and justice.


Did You Know:

  • To obtain the musculature to convincingly play Superman, Christopher Reeve underwent a bodybuilding regime supervised by David Prowse, the man who played Darth Vader in the original "Star Wars" trilogy.

  • According to Sir Roger Moore's autobiography, he witnessed Christopher Reeve walking through the canteen at Pinewood Studios in full Superman costume, oblivious to the swooning female admirers he left in his wake. When he did the same thing dressed as Clark Kent, no one paid any attention. Very interestingly, something similar happened with Harold Lloyd: when he wasn't filming movies and removed his iconic round glasses nobody paid attention to him at the point that no one recognized him as the famous actor he was. Lloyd was inspiration for Superman alter ego Clark Kent, specially in the detail of the glasses to hide himself of the public eye in his civilian identity.

  • Richard Donner was disgusted that production designer John Barry and cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth received no recognition from the Academy for their work on this film. He was particularly aggrieved that one of the nominees for Best Art Direction was California Suite (1978), which merely duplicated an existing hotel, while Barry created an entire fictional city and a fortress in the Arctic.

  • To maintain on-screen continuity, Christopher Reeve dubbed all of Jeff East's dialogue as young Clark Kent. East's voice is never heard during the film.

  • Initially, Gene Hackman refused to cut off his mustache to play Lex Luthor. In early one-sheets of the movie, his face is featured with a mustache. Before Richard Donner and Hackman met face-to-face, Donner proposed to Hackman that if he would cut his mustache, Donner would cut his too, and Hackman agreed. It turned out later that Donner did not have a mustache at all. He wore a false moustache that he peeled off at the last moment.

Best Performance: Christopher Reeve (Superman)/John Williams (Score)

Best Secondary Performance: Christopher Reeve (Superman)/Margot Kidder (Lois)/John Williams (Score)

Most Charismatic Award: Richard Donner (Director)/John Williams (Score)/Marlon Brando (Jor-El)

Best Scene:

  • Fall of Krypton

  • Smallville High

  • Fortress of Solitude

  • First Day at the Daily Planet

  • My Night w/ Superman

  • Luthor's Hijack

  • Kryptonite

  • Changing History

Favorite Scene: My Night w/ Superman/Helicopter Save/Kryptonite

Most Indelible Moment: Changing History/Superman Flies Away


In Memorium:

  • Robert Swan, 78, American actor (Hoosiers, Natural Born Killers, Backdraft, The Untouchables)

  • Johnny Hardwick, 64, American voice actor (Dale Gribble on "King of the Hill")

  • Walter Charles, 78, American actor (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Fletch Lives, Prancer) mostly a stage actor, he made his Broadway debut in Grease

  • Robbie Robertson, 80, Canadian musician and songwriter for The Band ("The Weight," "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," and "Up on Cripple Creek," among other classics), a key Bob Dylan collaborator

  • Arthur Schmidt, 86, American film editor (Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump), Oscar winner (1988, 1994), long-time collaborator with Robert Zemeckis

  • William Friedkin, 87, American film director (The French Connection, The Exorcist, To Live and Die in L.A.), Oscar winner (1971)

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Miss Teschmacher: It's too good to be true. He's 6' 4", has black hair, blue eyes, doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, and tells the truth.


Superman: Easy, miss. I've got you.

Lois Lane: You - you've got me? Who's got you?


Superman: I'm here to fight for truth, and justice, and the American way.

Lois Lane: [laughs] You're gonna end up fighting every elected official in this country!


Superman: Uh, you really shouldn't smoke, you know, Miss Lane.

Lois Lane: Don't tell me. Lung cancer, right?

Superman: [x-rays her lungs] Well, not yet, thank goodness.


Lois Lane: How big are you... um... how *tall* are you?


Co Pilot: [Superman supports Air Force One's damaged wing] What the hell happened, we got our engine back? What the hell is going on out there?

Air Force One Pilot: Fly. Don't look, just fly. We got... something. I ain't saying what it is. Just... trust me.


Superman: Is that how a warped brain like yours gets its kicks? By planning the death of innocent people?

Lex Luthor: No, by causing the death of innocent people.


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 8

Impact/Significance: 8.83

Novelty: 8.33

Classic-ness: 5.5

Rewatchability: 4.33

Audience Score: 8.25 (79% Google, 86% RT)

Total: 43.24


Remaining Questions:

  • How did Lois' car not get swallowed by the Earth a second time, but everything else happened yet?

  • If the car falls in a fault line, where does all the excess dirt come from that suffocates her?

  • If Luthor is already a fugitive, how is the land going to be worth anything to him anyway?

  • Why does Jor-El forbid Clark to interfere in human history?

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