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It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman
Superman - The Musical

USA 1975
produced by
Norman Twain for CineWorld/ABC
directed by Jack Regas
starring David Wilson, Kenneth Mars, David Wayne, Lesley Ann Warren, Loretta Swit, Phil Leeds, Harvey Lembeck, Allen Ludden, Al Molinaro, Malachi Throne, Lou Wills jr, Danny Goldman, Geoffrey Horne, George Chandler, Irene Tedrow, Stuart Goetz, Michael Lembeck, Gary Owens (voice)
screenplay by Romeo Muller, based on the musical by David Newman, Robert Benton (libretto), Charles Strouse (music), Lee Adams (lyrics), and based on the comicbook created by Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel, published by DC Comics

Superman

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Superman (David Wilson) saves the world and especially his hometown Metropolis pretty much on a daily basis - so why is it then that reporter Max Mencken (Kenneth Mars) wouold hate Superman?

Because before Superman came to town, he was the regional bigshot, was even planning on a political career, and had the affections of fellow girl reporter Lois Lane (Lesley Ann Warren). Now that Supie's here though, he's nothing but a second rate writer ...

There is someone else who hates Superman, Doctor Sedgwick (David Wayne), resident mad scientist of the local university and 10 time Nobel Prize runner-up, who quite simply wants to rule the world to erradicate Sweden, so he can have his revenge on the land that denied him the prize.

With the help of a bunch of gangsters (Harvey Lembeck, Al Molinaro, Malachi Throne, Lou Wills jr), Max and the Doc make up a cunning scheme to break Superman, and because he is invulnerable, they decide to break his spirit: First they let Superman save the city from a deathray run wild - an easy task for the man of steel. Then they dedicate a wing of the university to his name, but during the celebrations, they also blow up City Hall, then see to it that Superman gets the blame for partying and not doing his job as protector of the city. This throws Superman into an identity crisis, only deepened by the fact that Doc Sedgwick uses a bit of psychoanalysis on him - which leaves Superman so devastated he doesn't even save Lois from being kidnapped, instead tries to drown himself - which he can't because he has superlungs. Ultimately though, two hippies (Stuart Goetz, Michael Lembeck) get him back on track, and he saves not only Lois from an explosion that wrecks the university, but also Mencken and Sedgwick, who have been tricked by their gangster friends. Superman throws the gangsters into jail, but since both Mencken and Sedgwick have suffered partial amnesia as a result of the university explosion, Superman gives them jobs at his newspaper.

 

You might not have been able to tell from my synopsis, but It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman is a musical - and it should come as common knowledge that superheroes and musicals don't mix too well (and yes, I'm talking to you, Bono) ... and bearing that in mind, this film comes off as rather charming, as the filmmakers haven't made the mistake of taking their source material too seriously but have thrown in jokes throughout and given the whole thing an intentionally campy feel - a bit like Adam West's run as Batman from the 1960's, actually. This of course means that serious comicfans will hate this film just like they hated West's Batman, but anybody else with at least a trace of a sense of humour will at least find something to chuckle about here.

All that said though, It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman is far from perfect, it's just way too cheap, meaning it's evading any and all special effects by just having them represented by panels from the comicbook, the cardboard sets that look like straight out of comicbooks might be quite charming but they could have been done better and used better, and at least some of the actors could have done with a few more singing lessons.

All that said, the film is still good fun.

 

By the way, this film is based on an actual musical that ran on Broadway in 1966 - but audience response was at best mediocre and it closed after merely 4 months ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD