"I take orders from the Octoboss."

Superman III

On May 5th, 1983, future Superman actor Henry Cavill was born in St. Helier, Jersey. While he was in his crib, on June 17, 1983, the definitive cinematic Superman met Richard Pryor.

Boy, I hope I’m not trying people’s patience too much with this series. I believe 1985 is the earliest retrospective I’ve done previously, and I thought that went well, but what I’ve really realized looking at 1983 is how many of these movies feel just a little bit before my time. I remember being alive then, but I was only aware of a little kid-sized slice of pop culture. I was hearing all about Salacious Crum, but not BLUE THUNDER or anything starring Burt Reynolds. My friends born a few or several years before me, people who are older than Generation Ewok, have attachments to some of these movies, characters and actors that I just don’t.

So I hope it’s not getting annoying. Even if you forgive me for not caring about James Bond or TRADING PLACES, the camel’s back could break when I confess that I don’t really care that much about the Christopher Reeve Superman movies either. I’m so sorry! Let me explain.

I’m not saying Richard Donner’s SUPERMAN is bad. Reeve is obviously great. The theme by John Williams is obviously great. The flying effects continue to be cool no matter how dated they get. I did watch those movies on TV as a kid and I liked them. But they didn’t capture me the way Star Wars or Indiana Jones or E.T. did. The super hero movies didn’t really hit me that way until BATMAN came out. By that point I was a teenager and here was a stylish movie about outsiders and circus freaks and artists and gothic atmosphere with a side order of Prince music. That meant something to me.

I’m sure that movie seems like caveman drawings to young people today, which is how it made SUPERMAN feel when it came out. They’re different eras and very different approaches. I do like the character of Superman, I just don’t like how they do it in those movies. To me the fake-nerd Clark Kent hiding his identity shenanigans get old fast, and I hate that Gene Hackman has to play Lex Luthor as a wacky comedy character, especially since we know from other movies how perfect he would be as a scary Luthor.

Forgive me these transgressions. I’m not a hater, I’m just not a fan. The good news is I’m not here to review the sacred texts, this is only SUPERMAN III, so we probly all agree that it’s not great. Shit, if anything I might get in trouble for going too easy on it.

I think it was weird at the time, and it’s definitely weird now, that the co-lead of SUPERMAN III is Richard Pryor, not playing some established comic book villain, but just the type of character he could play in a normal comedy. A normal guy thrust into unusual circumstances, cracking some jokes, etc. It was directed by Richard Lester – yes, the director of A HARD DAY’S NIGHT, but also the guy producers Ilya and Alexander Salkind brought in to reshoot much of SUPERMAN II without Richard Donner’s knowledge. Now he’s on his own, with a script by David & Leslie Newman (later writers of SANTA CLAUS: THE MOVIE), whose jokey take on the first film Donner hated and had extensively rewritten by Tom Mankiewicz.

I didn’t remember much about it so I was surprised by the “and Margot Kidder as Lois Lane” credit. Could this really mean…? Yep, at the beginning of the movie Lois announces that she’s going on vacation to Bermuda, and we don’t see her again until a scene at the end! I’m sure that must’ve gone over well at the time.

I do kind of like how the movie starts at ground level. In the opening scene, Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor, BLUE COLLAR) goes to the crowded Metropolis unemployment office, where he’s denied his check after failing to maintain steady employment. He’s making little jokes (we learn that he got fired from a fast food job after 28 minutes of employment) but the handheld closeups give the scene a sense of reality. This is not a guy who needs to be rescued from a falling water tower or some shit, he’s just one of the thousands of regular people out here struggling to survive economically in Metropolis.

If you like that feeling like I did, hold tight to it in your heart, because you’re not gonna get any more of it in this movie. The credits play out over a long sequence of slapstick chain reactions involving a blind man who loses his seeing eye dog, lots of paint being spilled, falling into a hole, some wind-up penguins walking around on fire, a pie in a face, etc. It’s not all bad but it’s… you know. Not the tone most people are looking for here.

While Gus is not a super villain, he’s not that much more down to earth than one. He takes a computer class as job training, discovers (to his and the teacher’s complete confusion) that he’s some kind of intuitive genius super hacker, then gets hired at the Webscoe corporation, where he comes up with a scheme to embezzle fractions of cents rounded off of everyone’s paychecks (as referenced in OFFICE SPACE). Evil CEO Bubba Webster (Robert Vaughn, BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS) catches him, but rather than bust him enlists him in a scheme to secretly hack into a weather-controlling satellite (you know, one of those) to destroy the coffee bean crops in Colombia and corner the market.

They think they pulled it off but then Gus returns to report that – didn’t you see this on the news? – Superman showed up and used his heat vision to dry the crops. Damn it. So Gus’s next corrupt mission is to hack a satellite, have it examine the debris in the area where Krypton once existed, and try to synthesize kryptonite to kill Superman with.

Meanwhile, Clark returns to Smallville for his 15th high school reunion (meaning this takes place in 1980?) and has awkward, clumsy, we-totally-want-to-fuck-each-other-but-neither-of-us-will-ever-say-anything exchanges with childhood friend Lana Lang (Annette O’Toole, CAT PEOPLE). She’s a single mother, he spends time with her and her son Ricky (Paul Kaethler), uses his super breath to help the boy cheat at bowling, and rescues him as Superman when he falls down, hits his head on a rock, and almost gets chopped up by a thresher.

Lana is unhappy with life in boring-ass Smallville and dreams of moving to Metropolis, which Clark promises to help her with. And she doesn’t seem surprised when he casually tells her he knows Superman, gets his autograph for Ricky, and has him attend his birthday party (which gets hijacked by the town and becomes a key-to-the-city ceremony for Superman; I wonder if Ricky was bummed?)

Disguised as a general, Gus presents Superman with a gift of his fake Kryptonite, not even disguised as a trophy or anything, and for some reason he accepts it. It doesn’t kill him, because some small percentage of the debris the computer studied was made of an unknown substance. But later it becomes clear that it has an unexpected effect on Superman: it makes him a prick. He doesn’t care about rescuing people, he kinda sleazes on Lana, there’s a joke about him making the leaning tower of Pisa no longer lean. I kinda took it as him being confused, but I guess it was probly deliberate mischief. My favorite part of the movie, actually, is when he goes to the opening ceremony of the Olympics just to blow out the torch right before the ceremonial lighting. Not really the type of joke I’m looking for in a Superman movie, but it made me laugh really hard. Evil mischief worthy of the alien assholes in MARS ATTACKS!.

As corny as the Evil Superman concept is, it’s nice for Reeve that he gets to play a different version of Superman. He does a good job of it. And the darker colors of his costume look cool.

I don’t really understand the magic of him being able to split into two people (one of them dressed as Clark Kent) and have his good side strangle his bad side to death, but then I didn’t understand the magic of making the earth rotate backwards in part THE MOVIE, so I’ll just go with it.

Another thing that’s crazy is that Gus’s natural genius goes beyond just instinctively knowing how to program computers – he also sketches out a design on some scraps of paper and a napkin, which Bubba is able to follow to build a massive supercomputer inside a cave. It thinks and defends itself, can find people’s weaknesses, fire missiles, create Kryptonite rays, and briefly wrap circuitry around Vera to turn her into an evil cyborg lady, an image I’m aware terrified many a child at the time. One very lucky break with the super computer is that when Gus has a conscience and decides to help Superman, all he has to do is loosen one screw to stop the whole thing from working, at least for a bit.

The dangerous A.I. missile-firing supercomputer obviously reminds me of WARGAMES, but also from some angles this thing looks like the place the Emperor got thrown into in RETURN OF THE JEDI. So maybe he fell down into this cave, the supercomputer turned him into a robot, and that’s how somehow he returned in THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. Something to think about.

Bubba isn’t a great villain or anything, but I really like the set for his black and grey evil penthouse, with secret doors and screens that open up out of things – gimmicks like those that I praised in OCTOPUSSY. Also it’s a funny joke that he seems to be at a ski resort and then the camera pulls back and we learn that his building has an artificial ski slope on top of it.

He has two accomplices – his grouchy sister Vera (Annie Ross, later the principal in PUMP UP THE VOLUME) and his helium-voiced girlfriend Lorelei (Pamela Stephenson, HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART I). It’s a corny joke but I kind of like that she’s actually very smart and for some reason playing dumb, faking her voice and hiding that she reads Kant in her spare time and stuff. Also she’s smart enough to figure out how to climb out onto the top of the Statue of Liberty and look sexy for Superman.

There’s lots of silly bullshit in here. When they hack the city and cause a bunch of chaos, it includes turning the pedestrian signs into animation of the go and stop guys fighting each other. I’m not sure it works that way. And after a forced gas shortage is resolved a customer at a gas station says this line: “Oh, what the hell. She hasn’t had a drink in so long – give her a tank full of the good stuff!”

After Gus and Superman save each other at the end, they shake hands and Gus says, “Thank you, brotha.” It would be funny if Gus was in all subsequent Superman movies as his best friend, as if they assume everyone would expect him. Like he would’ve been in part 4, and then Eddie Griffin or somebody plays him in SUPERMAN RETURNS, and Snyder has him killed in a deleted scene of BATMAN VON SUPERMAN. Instead we never see Gus again and have to assume he took that depressing job Superman presumptuously hooked up for him, programming computers at a coal mine in the middle of nowhere, West Virginia.

According to a Superman wiki, the reason for Gus’s far-fetched computer skills is that he was initially going to turn out to be the alien robot Brainiac in disguise. They decided that was corny, made him just be a guy, but left the story pretty much the same, I guess.

Pryor infamously wasn’t really into the movie, and mainly did it for the $4 million paycheck (it had been a big deal that he got $1 million for STIR CRAZY). But he got the job because the writers saw him on the Tonight Show talking about SUPERMAN II. The appearance they saw isn’t on Youtube, but here’s an earlier one where he was excited to see the sequel:

Obviously SUPERMAN III is not the perfect movie for him, but I do think he’s kinda funny in it. He gets the big goofy scene where he pretends to be a general and makes a speech in front of everybody in Smallville (in kind of a Bill Cosby voice?), but the best parts are the little touches. I like the part where he finds out Bubba is so rich he’s never worn the same pair of socks twice and asks him about what happens to the socks. Also this is not his doing but I like the part where he falls off a skyscraper and I thought Superman would fly in and save him but instead he skis down a glass slope, lands safely in the street, and hobbles away in shock, trying to play it cool. Quite a falling stunt there.

Although they still use the classic John Williams themes, the score is by Ken Thorne (THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN). He had also done part II, so this is not a sudden decline. I was excited by the opening credits mentioning original songs produced by Giorgio Moroder, but you don’t actually get to hear them in the movie. I only noticed one song, played for a few seconds and too muffled to make out. But apparently this is the Chaka Khan song made for the movie:

Like Anthony Perkins in PSYCHO II, there was a point when they weren’t sure Reeve would return, as he, Hackman and Kidder were all pissed at the Salkinds for firing Donner from part II. Reportedly John Travolta, Jeff Bridges and Kurt Russell turned down offers to replace him, but Tony Danza accepted. Lester was horrified and convinced Reeve to return by giving him veto power over the script. Hackman still refused. Kidder told Nathan Rabin in a Random Roles interview that her reduced role was not her choice, but a punishment: “I said the producers were beneath contempt as human beings to Time Out magazine. So they cut me.” She was dating Pryor at the time (they met on SOME KIND OF HERO) and they don’t have any scenes together, but “I got to hang out with Rich in London and drink a lot of Cristal champagne.”

Man, that would be crazy though if they had made it with Danza. I’m pretty sure that would still be a hacky punchline today. “Oh, The Rock doesn’t want to do another FAST & FURIOUS? Why don’t you replace him with Tony Danza?”

Another weird change is that they had wanted to call it SUPERMAN VS. SUPERMAN, but backed down under threat of lawsuit from the producers of KRAMER VS. KRAMER. Yeah, that’s true, people would’ve gotten the two mixed up.

Reviews were lukewarm, many of them saying it was okay but pretty much all of them lamenting that it paled in comparison to previous installments. Roger Ebert eventually conceded that it’s “sort of fun,” but seemed genuinely sad about it being “the kind of movie I feared the original SUPERMAN would be… a cinematic comic book, shallow, silly, filled with stunts and action, without much human interest.” He said that “Pryor can be a wicked, anarchic comic actor, and that presence would have been welcome here. Instead, like the rest of SUPERMAN III, he’s kind of innocuous.”

Unsurprisingly, Cinefantastique was much harsher, mainly attacking it for leaning too much into the comedy. Reviewer Allen Malmquist made the astute point that “Kent’s bumblings change from touches of humor arising out of a superhero’s disguise to the defining characteristic of a pathetic innocent who can occasionally turn into a superhero.”

Supporting my theory that ’83 was the Summer of Nub, many of the reviews mention RETURN OF THE JEDI. Janet Maslin, in her mildly positive review in the New York Times, supposed Superman might be taken for granted because “for audiences accustomed to intergalactic travel and endless technological wizardry, someone who can merely fly through the air to stop a falling elevator may not be much of a novelty anymore.” Oh yeah, that’s kinda true! That was me!

She also noted a connection between Darth Vader’s turn to the light side and Superman’s battle with his evil self. “Along with computer tricks, a number of which SUPERMAN III also contains, split personalities seem to be big this summer.”

At least one reviewer considered at least one aspect of SUPERMAN III to be better than JEDI. I’m not sure who the writer is, but Metacritic quotes a Miami Herald review saying that Reeve “manfully refused to let on that he is tired of the part (as opposed to the JEDI principals, who phoned theirs in).”

As we discussed earlier, JEDI is a divisive part 3, but I think it’s safe to say it gets more love than SUPERMAN III, which is generally remembered as what would later be termed a “jumping the shark” moment for the series. It did open big, knocking JEDI out of the #1 slot, but then they traded places the next week. Ultimately it made around $80 million in theaters, which was good (and obviously they made a part 4), but part II had made $190 million. Which is a higher number.

Reeve and Kidder returned for 1987’s SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE, produced by Golan and Globus instead of the Salkinds. “Oh, God! What a dreadful piece of shit!” Kidder later said.

This was at the beginning of a slew of pretty mediocre mainstream comedies for Pryor, but he did release his concert film RICHARD PRYOR: HERE AND NOW that October.

In 2022, “Gus Gorman’s Supercomputer Screw” was sold at auction in London. I don’t have an account to find out how much the winning bid was, but they estimated the value at £400 – £600.

signs of the times:

A joke about a street mime.

A very worn down BLADE RUNNER poster is, for some reason, hanging in the junkyard. Must’ve put it up really early if this takes place in 1980.

A video game style animation (complete with the player’s score and a “GAME OVER” screen) is used for Bubba’s view of attacking Superman with a missile system. It was created by Atari and uses sound effects from the 2600 version of Pac-Man, but it’s much more sophisticated than the actual Superman game or anything that could be done for home systems in those days. According to Cinefantastique at the time, Warner Brothers had to spend $95,000 for the equipment and it took four months to create the 26 seconds of animation. (Neverthless, the same magazine’s review just to the left of the article called it “an impractical video game with dismal graphics.” What!?)

The head of Atari’s Special Programs Division was Steve Wright, who had designed games including Pele’s Championship Soccer and went on to work in visual effects on such movies as FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE, FERNGULLY: THE LAST RAINFOREST, HELLRAISER III: HELL ON EARTH, BEBE’S KIDS, and HARD RAIN. Full disclosure: he was also animation director for MORTAL KOMBAT: THE JOURNEY BEGINS.

tie ins:

William Kotzwinkle (who wrote the E.T. novelization, which I read as a kid) wrote a novelization. But there was no Atari game.

summer of ’83 connections:

Frank Oz (RETURN OF THE JEDI’s Yoda) cameos in a scene that was deleted but can be seen in the extended TV version.

Also, the guy who made the Yoda puppet, Stuart Freeborn, did the makeup. That’s interesting because the Making of Return of the Jedi book talks about everybody being frustrated that he was always behind schedule on that movie. Must’ve overbooked himself.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 15th, 2023 at 3:33 pm and is filed under Reviews, Comedy/Laffs, Comic strips/Super heroes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

50 Responses to “Superman III”

  1. Damn, that is the most “song from the soundtrack to a Richard Pryor movie” ass song I’ve ever heard. And I have the STIR CRAZY soundtrack.

    This one is a cute novelty but even as a kid I smelled a rat. There’s all this extra bullshit in there that has no business being in a Superman movie. The Salkinds must have the most unforced errors of any producers in movie history. All they had to do was get the fuck out of Donner and Reeve’s way and they’d have had a license to print money for years, but instead they kept whipping their dicks out and getting it caught in the money press, and consequently they fuck up their golden goose so bad they have to sell out to fucking Cannon after three movies. Total clown shoes. Somebody should make a documentary about them to show to studio heads as a cautionary tale.

  2. Still a guilty pleasure for me. Yeah I get the oft-repeated argument “More a Pryor film that happens to feature Superman instead of the other way round”, but it worked for me, even when I’m fully aware how it’s such a mish mash of a story. What I still enjoy is how this is the only installment that lets Reeve have some genuine fun with the character, giving us Asshole Supes who wrecks a bar, yells at people, blows out the Olympic Torch, straightens the Leaning Tower of Pisa, fucks the villain’s girlfriend before engaging in battle…with himself!

  3. I used to detest Richard Lester. Now, I see the difference between Donner and Lester as being the same one between Chad Stahelski and David Leitch.

    One wants to mythologize his Hero, the other is content to let him do goofy shit

  4. I unabashedly love Superman III. While there’s probably more sketchy material than the gymnastics scene in Lost World, I think it still pales in comparison to the good stuff.

    It sucks they shafted Kidder but I love the story of Clark going home and reconnecting with Lana. And the asshole Superman leading up to the junkyard fight is the best stuff in the series. And for a pre-CGI movie it looks way more believable than the shit we watch now.

    I understand if people don’t want their Superman movie turned into a Richard Pryor vehicle but it doesn’t bother me. It’s one issue of a comic book so Gus and Webster are the random villains of the week. (And if you DO want your Superman movie to become a Richard Pryor vehicle this one is pretty much your best option.)

    The movie is full of great Superman rescue scenes which the new ones never seem to get that’s the most important part. And this isn’t just the movie imprinting on me as a kid because I’ve come to appreciate these aspects more as an adult. Sure there’s a bit of a child logic to the plot but that’s a feature not a bug. Some of these movies should appeal to children’s imaginations.

    I’m loving the series, Vern. I’ve revisited all the years of the ‘90s so much now that we have to go back to before our time to get any kind of retroactive summer movie thrill. The fact that it was before your time makes these reviews fresh so keep it up.

  5. Though this was a bit of a letdown after SUPERMAN II, it’s still worthwhile — the Tati-esque gags set a weird sort of tone, but at least they’re funny, unlike the excruciating comic-relief scenes in Donner’s work. And Reeve’s scenes with Annette O’Toole are fantastic; they almost make up for the absence of Kidder.

  6. This movie kicks ass and is so stupid. Christopher Reeve was hilarious. You know what kicks the most ass though, ROYAL FLASH starring Metallo from Superman The Animated Series. Now THAT is some stupid ass shit.


  7. I can confirm that Vera turning into an evil cyborg lady was terrifying to this 9 year old, to the point where I have never been able to bring myself to watch the scene again. I watched this movie on VHS dozens of times, but always looked away and fast forwarded through that part.

    Seeing this at the cinema is one of my most vivid early cinemagoing memories. We took the neighbours’ kids with us, and before the main feature there was a 45 minute shirt film about Pele. I was bored rigid by it, but football mad neighbour kid Paul enjoyed it more than the movie.

  8. After having re-watched the first 2 Supes, and confirmed my belief in that the Richard Lester cut of SUPERMAN II is the only one I will (probably) watch again someday, I’m actually looking forward to this. I’ve always found Superman to be the most boring of all the suped up heroes, and I haven’t seen III in maybe 15 years, but I remember liking the how weird it was.

  9. Never knew the Tony Danza story. Almost happened to Tobey Maguire with Jake Gyllenhaal too.

  10. This movie is trash. The first is halfway shit with the silly Luthor and the reversing of time which makes any stakes in any further movie pointless, but enough of it is good if not kind of boring. The second is at least good because they figured why have the villians be morons, wouldn’t it be cooler if they were threatening and scary. And the third…Robert Vaughn? It’s like they used all the money for Pryor and got the cheesiest common tv villain they could get. Ugh I do remember liking stuff like Star Wars or even Bond (but better still as shit like Predator or RoboCop), but these were always kind of duds to me.

    But Reeves is EXCELLENT in the role, so great and easily the best Superman. They were right to get the best actor and bulk him up rather than find a big guy, especially back then when an action star could still be old, doughy Roger Moore. Not like today where everyone in Hollywood has that gym bod.

    And the robot lady in part 3 IS cool…you get like 45 seconds of coolness in a Superman movie, back to Pryor saying silly things.

    Vern is right…Batman felt like the real deal.

    Hopefully James Gunn will make a great Superman movie because I don’t think it’s been done…2 is good but you still have Gene stinking up the joint, and the movie figured with the super strength, heat vision, super speed, super hearing, impervious to bullets or nukes and flying, that Superman was underpowered and needed to be able to pull the S off his costume and use it as a weapon.

  11. The sad thing is that there is a really damn good Superman movie buried in this. All the elements sound good on paper. Clark returning to Smallville and meeting Lana again. Superman turning evil. An average Joe character, who is played by a likeable comedian, gets dragged into the world of super villainy without feeling really passionate about it. Honestly, I would love to see the James Gunn version of this. Or a version by anybody who is able to deliver a more focused and generally good one.

    Every once in a while I rewatch the transformation scene, thinking first “Hey, it’s not that bad”, but then I see it and yes, it still is pretty horrifying. How those wires suddenly grow across her face, her scream and the music suddenly stop, her eye balls turning silver, the thought of having any kind of metal devices slammed in your face and attached to them. Say what you want about the movie’s otherwise harmless, cheesy and kid friendly tone, but it was nice of them to let her survive this unharmed.

  12. This isn’t one of my favourites or anything, but I’ve got a soft spot for it because I remember my family catching bits and pieces of it several times when we first got Satellite TV, and my grandad in particular got some big laughs of all the broad gags. I’ve mentioned before that I hate how nerd culture seems to have determined how people view Lester, despite his distinguished career. He directed HARD DAY’S NIGHT people, granted that’s no BRUCE MCMOUSE SHOW but still, show some respect!

    I guess I’ll be the a-hole (Atlantic-neutral term in deference to transatlantic Lester) who makes the argument nobody wants to read; is what SUPERMAN III does in amping up the comedy really worse than what several modern comic book movies, OK, let’s be honest here several MCU movies, do with their comedy? I guess the obvious point of comparison would be THORs RAGNAROK and LOVE AND THUNDER but I’m not going to do that, and not just because I haven’t actually seen the latter (you think that would stop me!), I’ll cite SPIDERMAN: FAR FROM HOME. Where SUPERMAN III begins with a pretty elaborate and well executed slapstick sequence, that film begins with a deliberately bad PNG slideshow video in memoriam of the characters who died in AVENGERS ENDGAME, so not only does it establish some of its main characters as tasteless figures to be mocked, it makes light of the epic conclusion to the entire shared universe. Does SUPERMAN III do anything that’s so casually dismissive of its series and central character?

    Now to be fair I’ll admit that as a whole FAR FROM WHOLE is better than SUPERMAN III. The villain is fairly compelling and the plot was decent. You might find the humour more appealing, maybe you find youtube cringe funnier than elaborate slapstick, and you find the comic stylings of Joseph Bantlon and Zendaya funnier than half-hearted Richard Pryor and Pamela Stephenson, can’t talk someone out of a laugh and humo(u)r changes over time. But is what its doing philosophically different? I’m not convinced.

    OK having done the annoying cliché thing I’ll do the other annoying cliché thing of saying, get me with my quirkiness, I like SUPERMAN III that you’re not supposed to like, and don’t particularly like the stuff you are. I think a lot of the humour is pretty funny, but the Smallville scenes are fairly dull. The fight between the two Supermanseseses isn’t particularly exciting and goes on too long. The final action set piece is kind of dull. I like Robert Vaughn and its funny that he’s a Coffee magnate, but it’s not a very compelling villain.

    And having said all this in defence of one of the lesser entries, I kind of agree that the Reeves films aren’t all that great. The first one plays better in the memory than sitting down and watching it, it’s very messy and Reeves himself doesn’t appear until quite a way into it. I would say there’s no Superman film I entirely dislike (well, maybe RETURNS) but none that completely hit the mark. I’m honestly not a Gunn fan at all these days (bet he thought long and hard about who to give the directing job to), but who knows maybe he’ll pull off some magic

    Despite that I have a near-FRO7 level fascination with SUPERMAN IV and its production history, particularly the deleted first Nuclear Man and that it was filmed in Milton Keynes, something that will never not be funny; and I like Milton Keynes! Don’t know how much to get into that vs waiting for a potential Summer of 87 series in four years.

    Also, someone should probably mention that Annette O’Toole went on to play Supermum in SMALLVILLE

  13. On that note, does anyone else think it’s weird that there’s a SUPERMAN show on TV right now, a proper SUPERMAN show and not like a show about Krypton or a kid who will eventually be Superman worrying about the heat vision boner he got while lifting a truck or whatever, but an actual SUPERMAN show with Lois and Lex and everything, and no one (relatively speaking) talks about it? I mean I assume I wouldn’t like it because the whole CW vibe is not my thing, but still it’s out there, it seems weird to me there would be a TV show about one of the canonical American Pop Culture characters and no one talks about it. Then again, I don’t know what the deal is with DC shows and what place they have in the culture, they’re trying to get us all excited about seeing THE FLASH on the big screen without thinking, oh yeah this character’s just now been on TV for 9 years.

    Also looking it up SMALLVILLE never cracked the Top 100 but it ran for 10 years? I may not understand how American pop culture works.

    (Oh and FAR FROM WHOLE was a typo, not some “witty” AsimovLives style “dis” name, sorry).

  14. Damn, SUPERMAN & LOIS is still on? I remember when it started it got some mediocre reviews and then everybody stopped talking about it, so I thought it was over. SMALLVILLE at least did very well internationally and I guess sold well enough on DVD too, so that would explain its long run.

  15. There are movies about detectives who track down killers by adopting their psychology and looking at the world from that twisted, inhuman point of view, and I wish I had such powers myself, because I’d understand why people freak out about Superman throwing the S from his chest in SUPERMAN II.

  16. Anette O’Toole kicks ass and is married to Lenny and therefore was friends with Squiggy. That’s TWO guys with hilarious curls on they face. Not bad! I try not to talk about the Marshallverse excessively but since you are all talking about the comedy of jokes…

    Pacman my dude and excellent friend and correspondent, are you familiar with the hilarious Superman character Bibbo Bibbowski? He is kind of like a more effective version of Superman Meets a Goofy Idiot. Part of why Superman rules is because the shit is hilarious and much like love itself people delude themselves into thinking a platonic ideal has ever existed and get all worked up about something that has literally never happened ever, so all these preference-skewed lunatics get worked up into a tizzy about Batman this and represented utilization of anger, intensity, grandiosity and scruples, meanwhile there are a million comics about some nice guy who helps people where stupid shit happens non stop and people are like how dare he, etc, not my Superman, etc. Don’t get it twisted my favorite is SuperGIRL but you gotta love her whole bizarre crew. I particularly recommend the joyous Jon Bogdangrove run, from which Bibbo hails.

    Richard Lester rules, though I wish I liked THE KNACK AND HOW as much as I thought I did at age 21, some dumbass gross moments in that one.

    In conclusion Superman knows Richard Pryor and Supergirl knows Peter Cook. Mr. Myxyzptlk was portrayed by both Michael J. Pollard from Tango and Ca$h AND Gilbert Gottfried from Problem Child, and the other day I saw a panel online in which Krypto the Superdog drives a car that burrows through the ground. Therefore Superman is meant to be hilarious. I think the S on his chest stands for “Some Funny Shit”.

    If anyone wishes to read a very long and sincere Supergirl fanfic that I wrote in 2013 and 2014 LMK.

    He is too handsome for the role but this Troma guy should hire me to direct BIBBO: THE MOTION PICTURE starring the guy from The Left Banke that is Mr. Annette O’Toole, playing the character as somewhere halfway between Mr. One Wolf from The Squigtones and this hilarious video (that could offend people who are serious about Polish jokes, which I would understand).


    Shaq from UNCLE DREW would be awesome as Bibbo too, and I think he would genuinely exude a love for Superman that no acting could ever duplicate.

    Come to think of it and speaking of the cast of UNC, Tiffany Haddish would be a perfect Lois Lane. Confident, quick and hilarious. Think about it, Gunn.

    I have a funny Krypto-related slideshow video that I stupidity deleted but still have all the “elements” of, I think I’ll cobble that together and share it with you all a little later.

  17. Again – I did enjoy it back in 1983 as I was the right age for it, but for sure even then I felt it was not as good as the first two. I have re-watched it a few times over the years and I simply get annoyed by Richard Pryor’s character. But I do love the scenes with evil Superman doing “bad” things (by today’s standard I guess he would do a lot worst than setting the Pisa Tower straight!)… and I think the scene where Good & Bad Superman fight each other is a classic scene, so it does have some redeeming qualities… Superman IV does not have anything good to offer – let’s face it.

    I am curious to see what James Gunn will do with this character – while I love the first two Reeves’ ones, and I actually really like Man of Steel (the more I watch it, the more I like it – it has also a great Hans Zimmer soundtrack); I struggle with a character that is “so good”. I always preferred the superheroes who have a dark side – Batman for once – and Superman has this “vanilla” thing of just being too good. Or did I become an old cynical grump?

  18. Matthew B…throwing the S from his chest is stupid because

    a) It is entirely pointless. It accomplishes nothing and just adds one little goofy trick to the movie, and…

    b) It is simply stupid. Seripusly, he pulls it off and it envolopes some guy? Why? Does Superman not have enough powers? There’s a reason Donner cut that out of his director’s cut. Oh wait doesn’t Superman also teleport himself?

    It’s like if there was a Burton Batman movie and he pulled off his Batman symbol and threw it and it just became a real live bat and flew around and attacked people. It’s just a singularly dumb idea in what is a decent movie. In Superman 3 it would have been maybe the 14th dumbest thing in there and we’d forget it.

    As for this Superman tv show, jsut heard about it awhile back.Problem is there’s just so much of that shit now, how many superhero shows are there? It’s not special, especially considering we just had a Supergirl show. Just more content meant to fill the void. Like Tarantino recently said about these big bidget movies with big stars on Netflix, they come out and a week later, are simply…gone. No one remembers them, just more grist for the content mill.

    Hey A.L.F., your idea of Haddish for Lane is a great one, I love her and think she’s so funny and sharp. She WOULD be great.

  19. The Superman movies were before my time, and so I never had the nostalgia for them that others do. (My nostalgia is for the Batman movies.) But it is true that Christopher Reeve was perfectly cast as Superman, and the best thing about these movies. The nebbishy version of Clark Kent may not be my favorite, but he acted the hell out of the difference between Clark and Superman.

    Also, contrary to basically everyone else who ever lived, my favorite Superman movie is SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE. I honestly think it is better than it was ever given credit for.

    As for SUPERMAN III: reading your description of the plot had me thinking it sounded like a 70s or 80s-era issue of Superman by folks like Cary Bates and Curt Swan. I checked if a comic book adaptation of this film was ever published and it amused me to find out that they did make one, written and drawn by none other than Cary Bates and Curt Swan. I wonder if it works better on the page. I’m gonna have to track it down.

    This is also the first I’ve heard of an extended TV cut of SUPERMAN III, so I’ll have to find that, too. They did release a 3ish hour extended cut of the first movie on Blu-Ray, which I bought but haven’t gotten around to yet.

    Paramount tried to do a similar thing with STAR TREK IV where they wanted the plot to revolve around special guest star Eddie Murphy. What other franchises could insert a popular stand-up comedian into an otherwise unrelated series? Will John Mulaney show up in FAST 11 as a used car salesman?

    As for SUPERMAN & LOIS: I will happily talk about it. It’s great. Appointment television for me. Probably my overall favorite live-action Superman project, with Tyler Hoechlin as the best since Christopher Reeve to portray the role (though he does not significantly differentiate Clark and Superman to the degree Reeve did). And it takes the character in a direction the comics haven’t managed. The first season seems like it’s going to be Friday Night Lights with added Superman until it takes a couple wild swerves in the plot. The second season stumbled a bit, though I see what they were going for with their central theme. The third season has been absolutely terrific– a well-written cancer storyline for Lois, which is also the one enemy Superman can’t fight. So yeah, it’s still on and it’s pretty good! It has higher production values than any other CW series, though this might change with the rumored heavy budget cuts for next season. So yes, it comes with my personal recommendation, if that matters. I watched all or nearly all of the Arrowverse DC stuff, and suffered through nine years of the Flash, so I know what I’m talking about. (Legends of Tomorrow was the other best DC CW show, because it accepted the inherent silliness of the whole endeavor, went bonkers with it, and the cast were great in their roles.)

  20. The only thing I really had to comment on about this movie was how the computer making that lady a killer robot was super freaky, but Vern took the wind out of my sails on that one by preemptively stating how it freaked out a bunch of kids.

    The only other thing I have to say is, I don’t know what is more surprising (and kind of disturbing) that they considered replacing Reeves with Tony Danza or that that Kidder and Pryor dated.

  21. Literally the only thing i remember about this is the opening:

    “This guy is so smart we’ll never catch him.”

    Cut to parking lot.

    It was hilarious when i was ten, so I guess it’s still hilarious.

  22. The sequence with Evil Superman fighting Good Clark is still – and certainly will remain – the best Superman scene ever filmed.

    Of course, the rest of the film has things like Gus’s brilliant program being, AFAICR, “10 PRINT; 20 GOTO 10”. But I will always look kindly on this film. It was my first meeting with the US Superman during the times of communism. I did like Batman, whom I had encountered a Iittle earlier, more, however.

  23. Superman 3 is a lot of fun. Superman 2 is far better but 3 has good moments amidst some weaker elements, especially evil superman and its intent to mess with the audience a little with that aspect. The villain plot is weaker but when Lester is freed from that plot to wander we get some good stuff. Not every film has to be perfect to be enjoyable. That’s something modern culture has a hard time with, with its instant classic idiocy.

    What people have to realise about these films is that they are the work of a terrific director who is slumming at the back end of his career. Anyone who rates Donner over Lester when looking at their respective careers is a moron. Donner made very obvious schlock for Hollywood with very little to say about the world.

    Lester at his peak made entertaining films with lots of ideas. People talk about his Beatles films as the epitome of the swinging sixties films but people forget Lester then made The Knack and Petulia, two films that look at the underbelly of the youth movement and the war and misunderstanding between generations. How I Won The War goes beyond anti-war films by going into absurdity and showing the delusions that keep it all going in a whole variety of classes. The Bed-Sitting Room goes to satire with the post apocalypse tale of a UK that still holds onto its class system and repressions when all sanity or hope for survival is lost. In the 1970’s he made the Three And Four Musketeers, as well as The Royal Flash, three wonderful swashbucklers with a satirical eye on what creates the need for the heroics and how its sold to be public to fund more horrific wars. He made the great bomb on a boat film Juggernaut, the wonderful Connery/Hepburn film Robin and Marian, about the last days of Robin Hood, and Cuba, a look at romantic delusion and military incompetence leading to the Cuban communist uprising. Superman was frankly light-weight for him, with little room for biting satire so he did slapstick jokes. Yet Superman 2 works wonderfully, and some of the best stuff is Lester’s. Superman 3 went too far but it was the producers job to say no if he went too far. The worst parts of the film is where conventional plotting and producer input was seemingly dominant.

    Comic book fans need to learn more about actual history as well as film history. They’ll have more interesting things to say that way.

  24. Hi Peter, thank you for sharing your views and insights. I last saw ROYAL FLASH sixteen years ago and remember it being sorta goofy. HOW I WON THE WAR I found to have a lot more of the history and politics going on that you’ve mentioned, and the weird, frustrating din of war is an interesting predecessor to M*A*S*H, another frustrating movie that I like. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that one, too. I gotta admit to finding Lester to be sort of the second best at a lot of things, which is a compliment. Still and all, I kind of associate his movies with others I like more, so I’m more likely to turn to SUPERGIRL if I want to see one of the funniest people of all time who invented everything boringly being awesome, or BILLY LIAR instead of THE KNACK, etc. This is no slight in him and I think he is awesome, just someone who shone despite constraints. He is sorta like George Martin in a lot of ways, and though America kicks ass, I would rather listen to Neil Young. I am a big fan of Spike Milligan and friends, though, and it’s interesting to see him try to shoehorn impossible weirdness in with people less adept at it than the Goons. HOW I WON THE rocks HELP!’s ass up and down the block in terms of being a movie, but one is a frustrating satire and one is a pop art painting. I am obviously going to prefer the former.

    How do you feel about Jack Clayton? 70s GATSBY is one of my most hated movies ever, so I was shocked that THE PUMPKIN EATER was one of the most brutal, upsetting, insane, realistic, inventively stylized movies I’d ever seen, one of the two best movies I saw in those weeks in the nursing home and hospital that I hadn’t seen previous, along with IT! THE SCARY ASS MOVIE WITH RODDY MCDOWELL NOT THE OTHER ONE. James Mason is such a horrible slithering son of a bitchin bastard in that one, he makes Bobby Peru look like a kindergarten teacher for babies in comparison. I really want to see OUR MOTHER’S HOUSE at some point, which looks perfectly intense and depressing. I hated HAPPY GATSBY so much that I was shocked how much I loved PUMPKIN EATER, good thing I was locked in a hospital with nothing to do and nowhere to go. I was not expecting THE ORIGINAL BRITISH VERSION OF A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE

    If you wanna get cheesed off with me, there is this Squeeze documentary where Elvis Costello compares them to Keith Waterhouse and John Osbourne, explains who they are and then says their work is not great art. What the fuck, Declan, those guys rule! “Mouth Almighty”, “Couldn’t Call It Unexpected No. 4” and “You Bowed Down” all rock nice and sadly but yo, not cool EC.

    I like when names I don’t usually see show up here and I look forward to your posting again. Thank you for reminding us of Lester’s HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO qualities.

  25. Peter, I think calling Richard Donner someone who made “obvious Hollywood schlock” won’t make you any friends here. (Just kidding, I hope you know we are pretty chill here.) Still, dismissing a technically skilled and 100% competent journeyman director in the best sense of that term, simply because he did “just” popcorn movies, is a bit snobbish. As you said yourself: Not every film has to be perfect to be enjoyable. Not to mention that Donner himself came up with some stone cold classics. THE OMEN is still one of the top 3 occult horror movies of all time. LETHAL WEAPON is maybe the most copied action movie of the 80s. I know quite a few western fans who think that MAVERICK is one of the, maybe even the best western comedy ever. THE GOONIES is seen as the benchmark for 80s kid adventures with a certain edge and likewise SUPERMAN was the definite super hero epic until BATMAN.

    But yeah, it’s too bad that Richard Lester is these days mostly remembered as the guy who either made the Beatles movies (Which, by the way were pretty groundbreaking. A HARD DAYS NIGHT still feels suprisingly modern despite its age and its influence can still be seen in several movies of today.) or as the guy who stole one SUPERMAN movie from Richard Donner and made a way inferior one with Richard Pryor. Although his filmography also feels a bit random and journeyman-ish, he definitely had a certain style and autheur touch that should put him in higher regard with film nerds these days. I can imagine the extreme britishness of many of his movies isn’t really helping.

    But the point is: You probably have to admit that in terms of SUPERMAN Richard Donner was the right director and Richard Lester was not.

  26. Muh, I get that there’s an overwhelming amount of film and TV shows out there and superhero stuff in particular, believe me I get it, but my point was you would think a show about Superman would be one of the main standouts, at least when there’s not a show about Batman or Spider-Man on the air. Your comedy grandmother who thinks WANDAVISION is a nightclub and MOON KNIGHT is that game the kids like with all the dances knows who Superman is and quite likely has some fond memory of the character, you think it would get more attention than a MRS MARVEL or even a HAWKEYE, not less. I know the character isn’t the most fashionable superhero out there, but I think he still casts a long shadow in popular culture, as evidenced by all the interest in potential casting for the, and no I don’t think it’s because the world is Gunn Crazy, because I don’t think there’d be this kind of speculation if he were casting Booster Gold or Hawk and Dover, or the Scatman John biopic (a real thing currently in preproduction that I pray actually gets made). Irrespective of quality it’s just surprising to me nobody says “oh by the way you can watch every single bloody one of these characters on TV for free right now”. It’s just had a surprise renewal for a fourth season so it must be doing something right, maybe it’s like YELLOWSTONE (though obviously not as big), where there’s an audience but they don’t tweet so the online press don’t know what to do with it, I don’t know.

    I respect the right to be cranky about all kids of silly BS, but I wonder if the cellophane S in SUPERMAN II is the ur-text for the “scene that lasts 20 seconds but people hate and comes up every time someone mentions the movie” a la the gymnast scene in THE LOST WORLD, or the dream sequence in JURASSIC PARK III, or something from another series I can’t think of right now. I guess the dancing in SPIDER-MAN TROIS is too long to count. You guys remember how back then flipped out over Peter flying past a waving US flag for 5 seconds? I wonder how that would go now.

    (Thinking about it the ur-text might actually be the slide-whistle in MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN)

    ALF, I’m only passingly familiar with Mr Bibbowski, but I like him, I’m pleased to see he is voiced by Brad Garrett in the Animated series, putting him in league with other Garrett animated big lugs like Casper’s Uncle, Trypticon and Hulk Hogan. I also have limited knowledge but fondness for Mr. Myxyzptlk, particularly his original bald version.

    I always liked Shaq even thought I know nothing about basketball, I even had that game SHAQ-FU, which did get released in the UK, somehow (it was only £2 I think, so that’s not a huge sign of anything, but still, I had it). I watched that docuseries about him, admittedly I wasn’t paying 100% attention at all times, but I don’t think they mentioned SHAQ-FU *or* STEEL, which is ridiculous. There are at least two bits in it where he sings the CHEERS theme with his own lyrics though.

    Do you think Quincy Jones ever talked to his old buddy Frank Sinatra about STEEL? That would have been an interesting conversation.

    Your mention of Peter Cook reminds me of how the bit in SUPERMAN III where Pryor talks about Superman like he did on THE TONIGHT SHOW is an example of something they would sometimes do in the pre-VHS/VHS is still really expensive era where people would do something they already did on stage or on TV but it’s in a film now so you should go and see it, like in PETER COOK AND DUDLEY MOORE IS THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES where they do their famous “One Leg Too Few” routine for no particular reason. This was particularly common in British 70s films, but in the US it happened sometimes, and was even still happening as far in as the Dana Carvey vehicle OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS from 1990 where for some reason it ends with him disguising himself as his popular SNL character, President Herbert Walker Bush.

  27. Muh: The “cellophane S” isn’t pointless. It forces back Non, already established as stronger than Superman, and deters him from attacking alone.

    “It’s like if there was a Burton Batman movie and he pulled off his Batman symbol and threw it and it just became a real live bat and flew around ….” Well, no, it’s not, is it? It’s more like if Batman pulled off his bat symbol and did exactly what Superman did here. And no one would blink an eye at that, because Batman does that kind of thing three times a day before lunch.

    I will concede that I have no idea in hell what’s going on during the — teleportation? super-speed? hologram? crystal refraction? — battle, but in the grand scheme of things, who cares?

    My understanding is that this scene was deleted from Donner’s cut because he wanted to make room for two more bedwetting jokes.

  28. I don’t think anyone needs to worry about the state of Richard Lester’s reputation. Every time you turn around Edgar Wright or Guillermo del Toro is singing his praises. Soderbergh did a book of interviews with him. Everybody loves the guy except for a subset of Superman nerds, and they seem to be a dwindling faction these days.

  29. +1 for the Scatman John biopic! A highly underrated artist, who sadly was always looked down upon because of being a Eurodance act and people misunderstanding his scatting as some silly “Blablabladubbidubibubbedabedu” silliness. But he was of course an accomplished Jazz musician, wrote his own lyrics and they were often surprisingly deep. (SCATMAN was about his stutter and how we all should fight whatever holds us back. TIME was about his struggle with addiction, for fucks sake!) Apart from that: His songs were a lot of fun! One or two years ago a comic book named WHO’S THE SCATMAN was released in Germany (and I think it’s only available in German right now, sorry), which was based on his life and death and was the first time that a comic actually made me cry. (Of course I was a bit pissed when the biopic was announced, because I was actually planning to try to develop an animated adaptation of that book, using the same art style and going for a more “European arthouse cartoon” vibe, but of course I am me so it would never happen and especially not now.)

  30. Thanks for the tips guys, that’s two books I need to check out (Soderbergh x Lester and eventual translation of the Scatman John comic)

  31. I was about to mount a Donner Defense, but CJ’s put it in far nicer terms than I would have. Look, I defend anyone’s right to extol the virtues of their favorite filmmaker. I’ll even keep my finger off the trigger for statements like “Donner made very obvious schlock for Hollywood with very little to say about the world.” But when I hear “Anyone who rates Donner over Lester when looking at their respective careers is a moron.”…Hmmmmm….

    Look I don’t hate Lester, I liked SUPERMAN II and III well enough and I did like the somber ROBIN and MARIAN. His Musketeers movies make the classic mistake of pretty much 99% of Dumas adaptations in thinking his books were all about frothy, kiddie-friendly swashbucklers when they were far more complex and darker than people give them credit for and hence I rate them roughly on par with that Chris O’Donnell, Kiefer Sutherland, Oliver Platt one and a step above that silly Paul Weak Sauce Anderson version.

    Lester is as competent a journeyman director as Donner, no more, no less. It’s just that this moron thinks for sheer entertainment value, Donner has more runs on the board.

  32. grimgrinningchris

    June 17th, 2023 at 7:59 am

    All I have to add:

    Even though I was 8 and not a total idiot, I always got Pryor’s characters in this and THE TOY mixed up and possibly even thought they were supposed to be the same person (pretty sure at that point, the two movies were all I knew him from) despite having totally different names in each.
    That he started both dealing with unemployment issues probably fueled that more. And the scene in THE TOY of Jack obliviously causing all kinds of havoc around him while riding a bicycle with headphones on was a very Gus Gormanish scene. Oh and I’m sure my older sister or someone at the time told me THE TOT was made by “the guy that made Superman” which I’m sure added to my confusion.

    That Gus KNEW Superman and that Jack in THE TOY wears Spider-Man pajamas in a movie directed by “the Superman guy” may be the closest thing we have from the 80s to a DC/Marvel crossover.

  33. Matthew you’re getting into the weeds. Yes the S is pointless…does it knock back the big guy for a few seconds, yes. But Superman also knocked him down a number of times before in the NY fight, I don’t think they had to invent something that still only stopped him for a few seconds.

    Richard Lester…never was a fan in general. He’s just kinda chintzy, even when he makes a Musketeers movie how are the fights so buffonish and sloppy? I guess it was his point, which he always does, to make everything look sloppy, loud and kind of boring cause that’s satirical. I don’t really care about any of the Superman movies, he ruined one, the 4th was ruined, but I’ve even been shitting on the supposedly 1st and 2nd ones.

    Ol’ Peter up there seems pretty cunty. Yo Pete I’ve seen a lot of movies (old ones! too!), which is why I don’t really care about these boring Superman flicks one way or the other.

    I’m not saying Donner’s a GREAT director but The Omen alone ranks him higher than Lester. And also, Del Toro and Edgar Wright have praised him.

  34. Muh, it is awesome to know you like my idea about Haddish as Lois. Seriously, that would be really good:

    She has the wild-eyed energy and would be good at doing fast-ass Howard Hawks shit like Margot Kidder, is prim and proper as fuck like Noel Nell, is sexy like Teri Hatcher and the sexy-ass Joe Shuster version, is expressive like a Max Fleischer cartoon, is good at being bitchy like Dana Delaney from Superman: The Awesome Animated Series, can do action, etc etc I could go on and on.

    I LOLed SEVERAL TIMES at the thing about Batman throwing the Bat-symbol off his chest. Hilarious. Good one.

    Also speaking of UNCLE DREW, I was all “FUCK THIS STUPID BULLSHIT” about them making a HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON: THE MOTION PICTURE until I saw Lil’ Rel was gonna be in it and then I was all. “Rel? Well…” They should bring back Van Dyke Parks from HAROLD THE TV SHOW though.

    Anyone wanna sign my petition for Lil’ Rel as Mr. O’Malley? Any Barnaby fans out there?

    Pac, I will reply to your post in better depth later, I think, but for now I would like to say that I LOLed at the Garrett Gallery you mentioned, none of which I knew about. There is a hilarious moment on the episode of the Norm Macdonald podcast where they mention that weird TV movie where Brad Garrett played Jackie Gleason, wherin Norm says “A TALL Gleason”, and Ray Romano replied with “Yeah, JACKIE GLEASON: THE TALL YEARS”. What a hilarious joke. Have I mentioned that here before? Whatever.

    Shaq is one of my favorite celebrities ever and in fact I met my first girlfriend because of our shared appreciation for him. Obviously, an important guy to me. I know a lot of little details about the guy and “can’t even” at the moment, after my five+ hours of extolling the virtues of Paul Cook from The Sex Pistols and Friends.

    Shaq rules. He would be the ideal Bibbo, which is also a hilarious casting because the joke of Shaq playing a dockworker with not a lot of money is REALLY REALLY FUNNY to me, he was famous from when he was a kid and on, continually.

    That Shaq-Fu game is actually pretty fun. Because nobody took me up on my offer of the Supergirl fan-fic being shared with them, I will quote my favorite line from it, which is where Supergirl quotes something Shaq said while rapping his hit song “Psycho”, after being placed on stage via helicopter to be in concert with that awful band 311:


    The idea of Supergirl thinking that to herself sure is funny to me.

    Peter, I valued your countering contributions and in the event that Muh’s punk-rock-style humor of offense offends you, let me share a hilarious moment from The Howard Stern Show that was so good they replayed it endlessly as a “drop”, in which Martha Stewart’s Lisa Kudrow-ish daughter Alexis reclaims the word “cunty”. I WISH someone would call me “cunty” just so I could respond with this exact inflection, from a piece of audio I have heard hundreds and hundreds of times in my life:

    Alexis Stewart - Oooh Cunty

    Listen to Alexis Stewart - Oooh Cunty by Ken Hames #np on #SoundCloud

  35. Oh and CJ, I hope they have a scene in which Scatman John is pained by all the cruelty and senselessness of what is supposed to be “humanity” and is inspired to write his beautiful song “Scatman’s World”, which an estranged-but-valued old friend and roommate once wisely called “Scatman’s utopian vision for humanity.”

    “Su Su Su Super Ki-Re-I” is quite possibly my favorite, though which line, I dunno. While stoned and social I used to be a big fan of “MELLOW FELLOW, I’M ALL THAT! SUPER KI-RE-I’S COMIN’ BACK!”, but that was part of a thing with this shared dynamic with an old roommate who I am estranged from due to all the nonsense with misery I’ve mentioned so frustratingly often. I hope that guy is doing good and that he still gets high and says “mellow fellow” with absolutely no joke or “Hey, a reference!” to it. The funniest parts that we used to impersonate were his casual hand gestures.

    First you seen my showers, then you seen my flowers, she’s a real cutie,
    Su Su Su Super A.L.F.-I
    (2023 A.L.F. to 2008 A.L.F.: Turns out he’s saying “Fresh as”, not “First you seen”, still good though.)

  36. Honestly, from just reading responses don’t care if people disagree with my comments. I kind of expect it. It’s a comment section. I just put my view as there seemed to the usual praise Donner over Lester, which I find ludicrous. I was amused at being called Cunty as I am British. I enjoy a good insult, even if that one is a bit tame.

    C J Holden- One of my favourite directors is John Carpenter. Another is Howard Hawks. Paul Verhoeven I adore. I adore a really well made genre film, as I follow this site. I just think Donner makes generally mediocre genre films that get over-praised. That’s it. Its the mindless and obviousness of his films I object to. Apart from Superman (which Lester helped out on and sorted the final act) and Lethal Weapon (which had a very strong script), I find his finds to be dull. That’s my taste. I just look at it as these are two very different talents and one is far more accomplished if looking at their full career than the other.

    A.L.F. Not really into Jack Clayton, although I am fond of Something Wicked This Way Comes, which is flawed but I like it. Funny you mention Pumpkin Eater as it on my to buy target in its release from Indicator UK. So I should see it soon. A good under-rated British genre film to check out is Joseph Losey’s The Criminal. Its really good and has a real sense of 60’s criminal organisation in the UK and has a great individual verses the establishment performance by Stanley Baker.

  37. I find his films to be dull- not I find his finds to be dull.

    It’s been a long day.

  38. Pacman2.0, true about tv but there have simply been a lot of Superman shows over the years now. Maybe when that one with Dean Cain was on it was more novel, but since then there has pretty much been a Superman on television fairly constantly. And old people ain’t watching CW. It’s like Batman, when Burton does it it’s like holy shit! Then Nolan and it’s holy shit a more realistic Batman, that’s different! Now the new one and it’s like…cool, I guess? Riddler is wearing some trash bags and Joker is some weiner dude and now it’s even MORE realistic and Batmobile is like, a Corvette? And I still liked it! But more Batmans just aren’t special and we even had that Gotham show with all those characters too. Next Batman needs to go the Marvel route…I don’t mean quips but go back to more of a comic book accuracy like Burton’s, even though he took his liberties with Penguin but that was still great.

    I always thought that scene in Lost World was dumb but thought it got harped on too much. It was cheesy and cringy, but the movie was overall pretty good so who cares. But you give me a bowl of shit and then pull a rotten eyeball out of a dead pig and put it on top, that eyeball exemplifies the etire experience, which is what the S does, even more so than two walk sign signals fighting which in any other film would be the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. But worse than that it just shows no one was giving a shit about the character, it’s like what DC does a lot now where you can tell they just want to throw crap at the wall, which hopefully Gunn will be fixing. I’m not even a comic purist, never read them and don’t watch many of the movies. But even as a little kid I could smell the idiotic stink of that S and all it stood for. Well, bring out Lex Luthor and let him be bumbling and silly, it’s a comic book movie and those are for submentals anyway.

    A.L.F. if they cast Haddish as Lane we’d get to hear a bunch of 17 and 55 year old white losers whining for YEARS about it, and it would be worth it. They always say why does everyone have to pay so much attention to rce until they cast one of them black people in their funnybook movie.

    Like fuck, Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin. Well who the hell else WOULD they cast for that part? He was already huge and already even bald, and he looked great as fuck in a suit with that cane. I’ve seen a little of the tv show and Clarke is still better, D’Onfrio just looks like he’s trying so hard with that voice but he just looks like a dumpy dude at the bar, Clarke could really pick you up with one hand and smash your head in. Too bad he’s ot still around or he would certainly be in one of these goofy multiverse movies.

  39. This movie has a lot of flaws but one of them has always been the most interesting to me. Superman II ends with Clark breaking things off with canonical soul mate Lois Fucking Lane, and somehow wiping her memory of his alter ego with a magic kiss, all in service to the idea that Superman can’t settle down. He seems to make peace with the idea that he can’t safely mate with a human woman, even Lois Fucking Lane, because his life belongs to the never ending vow of being the world’s full-time hero. So it always struck me as jarring that in the very next movie he’s way interested in Lana and more or less goes for it unreservedly. Like what happened there?

    I’m also confused by the dynamics of the Clark-Lana courtship. At first it seems like Lana’s way into CLARK and romantically indifferent to Superman, which I find a sweet and welcome reversal of Lois’s more superficial infatuation with the bright shiny superhero and condescending disregard for the nerd with glasses. It helps that Annette O’Toole is so appealing in an unassuming, salt-of-the-earth way, you can sort of believe that she’s really jomesing for a nice, humble guy, not a famous guy. But the circuits get inexplicably fucked up as the movie goes on, and Clark, for some weird reason, starts acting like he’s trying to be a matchmaker between Lana and Superman! This culminates in the bizarre marriage proposal scene near the end of the movie, where Clark is down on one knee saying “Superman wanted you to have this ring.” HUH????? As far as she knows, she’s met Superman like twice and they’ve never dated. That’s really weird writing.

    And then even weirder, when they get around to Superman IV, Lana is gone without explanation (although admittedly that is the least of that movie’s problems by a country mile). They did not manage Superman’s romantic storyline well att all.

  40. ALF, at least in the comic book they recreate the moment where he was on MTVs MOST WANTED and tried to explain the whole concept behind Scatland, but Ray Cokes kept interrupting him and doing his thing, until John actually got angry, told him to shut up and let him talk.

    Peter, no worries about sharing your opinion. I think nobody here would put Donner above Verhoeven or Carpenter, but I really think that your view on Donner is unfair. Like I said, he really was “just” a journeyman director, but maybe the best one who ever was and honestly, I think it came from his lack of pretension. He probably could’ve made a big Oscar winning Apartheid drama (since he obviously cared about such topics, judging by the socially aware easter eggs that he snuck in most of his movies), but instead we got LETHAL WEAPON 2 and I’m okay with that, considering how it turned out. I can see how someone would prefer Lester over Donner and Lester was good enough to not disagree with that. I just think it’s unfair to completely dismiss Donner’s output. His filmography in the 30 years between THE OMEN and 16 BLOCKS has incredible few actual failures, with most of his weaker stuff still being at least solid. And you can’t make so many movies that are still regarded as classics without knowing what you are doing.

  41. Best journeyman director? Robert Wise. There’s a guy who would hop from genre to genre, half the movies he did to placate a studio or replace someone, and just leave behind a string of consistently amazing classics.

    Would Sidney Lumet be one? He seems like he could be but also was fairly consistent with the types of movies he did.

    For more modern guys I would probably rate Joe Johnson or Martin Campbell over Donner, but Donner was good.

  42. I hope people don’t think I’ve been maligning Richard Donner, who directed one very good movie and several good ones. He’s certainly better than, say, Chris Columbus; almost (though not quite) at the level of a Barry Levinson.

  43. Best journeyman director? Robert Wise. There’s a guy who would hop from genre to genre, half the movies he did to placate a studio or replace someone, and just leave behind a string of consistently amazing classics.

    ALL American film directors pre-1970’s were “journeyman” (with a couple exceptions like Wilder and Aldrich who produced their own films) because that’s how the studio system worked. So that’s a really, really (really) deep pool you’re attempting to crown a ‘best’ from.

    That said, Michael Curtiz usually gets dropped as the ‘ultimate’ journeyman due the large breadth of disparate genres he excelled in, overall quality average, prolific rate, length of career, etc. I’m not saying I agree or disagree, just merely reporting on the critical consensus.

    Would Sidney Lumet be one? He seems like he could be but also was fairly consistent with the types of movies he did.

    I’m struggling to understand what ‘type’ you’re referring to. Dramas?
    I mean, he made Murder on the Orient Express and Dog Day Afternoon back-to-back…

  44. Character dramas…not action movies, not sci fi, not horror or whatnot. I don’t think there’s as much distance between Murder and Dog day as you imply…in the end, like most of his movies, they’re pretty much character dramas of mostly conversations. even when he would do a suspense movie like Guilty as Sin…a 90’s suspense movie even…there’s no awesome Hitchcock/DePalma elaborate scenes are cool violence, it’s pretty much…people having conversations which bored the piss out of me as a kid. Prob better than I remember it but I wanted to see some damn blood.

    I wonder if there’s a huge difference in numbers of journeyman directors vs artistes today or not. Probably, but I think we’ve elevated directors now where we act like everything they’re doing is a statement when it’s really “yo we want a horror movie, sure put in some bullshit about trauma if you want, but i want some ghosts in this flick and eight jump scares.” Even our signature direcors end up getting sucked into making comic book Marvel movies.

    But back then, there were plenty of signature directors too even beyond the ones you mentioned…Hitchcock, Hawks, Wyler, Ford, Wilder, Lean, Kazan, etc. But yeah, a deep pool but I’d still say Wise is one of the tops. And not sure about critical consensus, I feel like Wise gets a lot of due…the guy has made too many stone cold classics in a wide variety of genres. And to me at least, I find more of a variety in style with Wise.

  45. Robert Wise suffered from a two-front attack. One of the few things Sarris and Kael agreed on was their mutual hatred of him (Sarris especially never passed up a opportunity to bemoan what a smug, vapid, stylist he thought him to be) so the ‘hip’ crew fell in line. And the stodgy ‘classic Hollywood’ set hate him because he’s the man that ‘destroyed’ Magnificent Ambersons (by cutting it the way the studio wanted–as was his job at the time–and shooting the additional footage so the ‘new’ continuity made sense) thus depriving the world of the second best studio movie ever made (so they think).

    Oh, and he also made the Sound of Music, which people love to pull out like some sort of irrefutable trump card.

    Personally, I think he’s made more absolute classics than the majority of directors have that are merely good. And even his movies that are mediocre to bad are never less than completely watchable. But it’s not an argument I waste much breath or many pixels on anymore.

    And I wasn’t attempting a full list of every director in the studio system that eventually produced their own projects, merely a couple of examples of people from the studio era that never could be construed as ‘journeymen’. Whereas, all on your also incomplete list could very comfortably wear that label at one point in their careers or another (with the exception of the double-listed Wilder)

  46. Well sure at some point almost every director was probably a journeyman, at least if they started in the studio system so that doesn’t count. Spielberg got assignments and made tv shows and didn’t really wan to make a b-movie about a shark, most of the other greats of that era came up working for Corman. No one’s coming in and suddenly directing their first movie with a real budget and stars unless they’re very lucky (like Tarantino) or doing it super cheap. I would never say no director came out a full fledged autuer, but no one thinks of Hitchcock as a studio hack because he had to start somewhere in the business, or Copolla for being forced to make a mob soap opera.

    Wise however, was a journeyman from begin to end, that’s what I’m talking about. Unless anyone wants to argue he finally got to make his passion project, Rooftops.

  47. Wise however, was a journeyman from begin to end, that’s what I’m talking about. Unless anyone wants to argue he finally got to make his passion project

    Wise made several passion projects. Haunting was solely financed using his West Side clout, and Sand Pebbles using Sound of Music (and it lost so much money he was forced to so “Star!” as basically punishment)

    Even Donner (where this all began) had Inside Moves…

    So if that’s going to be the criteria–then, yeah–it’s probably going to have to be Curtiz. As he held no other passion than to be a rich, powerful movie director.

  48. Well if we’re going to get that pedantic, Curtiz had his own production company where he selected and produced films of his choosing. A journeyman doesn’t necessarily mean simply hack for hire. Donner was a journeyman director but he still could pick projects that interested him. And Curtiz did have a preference for projects that interested him more than others.

  49. Well, when you finally decide on a definition just let me know…

  50. Hi Jojo, I feel like such a dipshit writing in false-authoritative smart-ass internet style, but after sitting out the week I’ve decided to return and say that were I a person who actually enjoyed that type of thing I’d affect a typing-format harshness about MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS over-obsession and say that it is only allowed by people who are as familiar with the works of Booth Tarkington as they are Orson Welles, and that you also have to mourn equally for the total loss of the first ALICE ADAMS movie if you’re going to stress about the lost Welles cut.

    All valid, but not one without the other – or so my stupid, absolutely isolated fussy cultural views that I’m embarrassed to have would have me to think.

    Tarkington was something of a “Journeyman” writer, and was as adept at breezy teenagerdom as he was at miserabilist stories of the blindsided’s pain during the dissolution caused by a life based in business.

    Any Booth Tarkington fans out there?!

    It pains me greatly to try to communicate online but I really like this place, so I’m going to keep on a-trying.

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