July 10th, 2013: Superman (1978)

Superman

Cast and Crew:  Richard Donner (Director); Jerry Siegel (Co-Creator); Mario Puzo (Co-Writer); Trevor Howard, Jack O’Halloran, Maria Schell, Terrence Stamp, Susannah York, Sarah Douglas, Harry Andrews, Larry Hagman, John Ratzenberger

What It’s About: Superman’s father (Marlon Brando) Jor-El tries to convince the council that governs the planet Krypton that it is doomed, but they refuse to listen or allow him to warn others. Jor-El constructs a spacecraft and sends his child off to Earth.  The craft crash lands and the son is raised as Clark Kent by Martha and Jonathan Kent (Glenn Ford) in Smallville, Kansas. Jonathan teaches  Clark to conceal his powers and wait for the right time to use them. When Jonathan dies, Clark (Jeff East)goes on a journey to the North Pole, where an image of his father teaches him about his powers and Krypton.

Years pass and then the adult Superman (Christopher Reeve) flies to Metropolis where he joins the staff of the Daily Planet, a newspaper run by Perry White (Jackie Cooper). Jimmy Olsen (Marc McClure) is the chipper cub reporter; Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) is the star report who seemingly can’t spell to save her life. A freak helicopter accident gives Superman the perfect chance to reveal himself and save Lois. Soon he’s out foiling bank robbers, saving the president, and yes, even getting a girl’s cat out of a tree.  Watching all this is Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman), a mastermind who lives in an abandoned subway lair.  Aided by his bumbling henchman Otis (Ned Beatty) and his beautiful girlfriend Miss Teschmacher (Valerie Perrine). Luthor develops a plan.  Can he outsmart the Man of Steel?

Why Watch it Today?: Superman co-creator Joe Shuster was born on this date in 1914.  1978’s Superman is still the definitive live action version of the character, with its memorable John Williams soundtrack and Christopher Reeve’s memorable performance.  Forget believing that a man will fly (that part is pretty dodgy these days in any case), you will believe a man can successfully fool his co-workers with nothing more than a pair of glasses and an entirely convincing dork act.

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