Review - Superman: The 1948 & 1950 Theatrical Serials CollectionBy Steve Younis
I'm so glad these serials have finally been released on DVD. For years they were only available in poor quality fan-made VHS tapes available at comic conventions and through fansites online, with the 1991 VHS release from Warner Bros. having long sold out.
"Superman" and "Atom Man vs Superman" stand as the biggest selling, most popular serials ever made, and at a time when serials were on the way out, making room for the new craze called "Television".
This DVD collection does a fine job of collecting the first live action Superman for all fans to enjoy. The DVD box art is a nice montage of images from both serials, highlighted by a metalic shine that really brings the cover to life. It's great to see a color image of Kirk Alyn too, with the serials themselves all being in black and white.
The four discs are split in to two color variations, blue for the "Superman" serial, yellow/red for the "Atom Man vs Superman" serial. Disc 1 has an image of Kirk Alyn as Superman, Disc 2 has Noel Neill as Lois Lane. Disc 3 has Tommy Bond (camera in hand) as Jimmy Olsen, while the 4th and final disc has Kirk Alyn as Clark Kent.
The serials are both well crafted multichapter cliffhanger adventures, with 15-chapters a peice. While they were made on a shoestring budget, with animation inserted for Superman's flying escapades, there's no denying Kirk Alyn's charm as the Man of Steel.
I won't go in depth into reviewing the actual serials themselves, as you can read chapter descriptions already posted elsewhere on this website.
While Kirk wasn't listed in the credits (due to the producers telling fans that no actor could play the part, so they went and hired Superman himself), his performance in both roles (Clark Kent and Superman) perfectly mimicks the Superman of the late 1940s comic books.
While many fans remember Noel Neill best for her portrayal of Lois Lane in the 2nd to 6th seasons of the TV series "Adventures of Superman", it is here, in these Serials that she first played the part, starting her nearly 60 year span of Superman related work.
The villains are menacing, with Carol Forman (as the Spider Lady) and Lyle Talbot as one of the best ever Lex Luthors. The villainous plans and tools are laughable by today's standards, but any fan sitting down to watch these serials will enjoy Superman's adventures from his earliest days (10 years after his debut in the comics).
"Superman - The 1948 & 1950 Theatrical Serials Collection" contains a great documentary as way of Special Features. Titled "Saturdays with Superman", the documentary has comments from Noel Neill, and historians Bob Burns, Donal Glut, Gary Grossman, Jim Harmon, and Jan Henderson all lending their expert opinions and knowledge to enrich the viewer's experience.
Superman - The 1948 & 1950 Theatrical Serials Collection
Starring: Kirk Alyn
Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, NTSC
Number of discs: 4
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: November 28, 2006
Run Time: 518 minutes