Daily Archives: May 18, 2010

Superman and the Mole Men

Directed by Lee Sholem
Produced by Barney A. Sarecky
Written by Richard Fielding
Starring George Reeves & Phyllis Coates
Music by Darrell Calker & Walter Greene
Cinematography Clark Ramsey
Editing by Albrecht Joseph
Distributed by Lippert Pictures Inc.
Release date(s) November 23, 1951
Running time 58 min.
Country United States
Language English

I love the old Superman TV show of the 1950s. I remember getting up early to watch this show, as well as the Three Stooges, The Thunderbirds and Rocky & Bullwinkle as a kid. The show still holds up pretty well today despite the dodgy special effects.

Superman Meets The Mole People was a theatrically released B movie and introduced George Reeves as Superman and Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane. It was later edited into two half hour episodes for the first season of the TV show.

The film is perhaps not as good as the TV show that followed it. Perhaps this is because it does not feature the familiar “Is it a bird…” introduction that the TV show has, or because we do not see Jimmy Olsen (Jack Larsen) and Perry White (John Hamilton). Maybe it’s because we don’t really see all that much of the ‘man of steel’, as like in the TV show Clark Kent has a bigger role than Superman. This is much more noticeable in a sixty minute feature film than it is in a half hour TV show episode.

This film itself deals with similar themes as the film The Day The Earth Stood Still, in that the small town of Silsby is whipped up into hysteria when some small mole human hybrid creatures are spotted. The townspeople (and Lois’) first reaction is that the mole people are horribly ugly and thus must be destroyed but as ever Superman provides a voice of reason. The mob leader Corrigan also does not seem all that bright, as he tries to shoot Superman on three separate occasions. You’d think that after seeing bullets ricochet off him the first time he would have given up trying.

The mole people themselves look really creepy. They look like bald-headed little people with John Howard-esque eyebrows. After one of them is shot by the townspeople they try to gain revenge by using their Electrolux vacuum cleaner/laser gun. This shows just how dodgy the special effects were, just like in the scene where Superman flies up to save one of the mole people who has been shot and is falling from the top of a dam that he is on for some inexplicable reason. The flying is ‘animated’ and looks really dodgy. Still I could point out all of the flaws of this low-budget B-grade film but that does not mean that it is not entertaining. The film is enjoyable if only for the previously mentioned dodginess and the warm performance of George Reeves as Clark Kent/Superman.

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This Is Spinal Tap

Directed by Rob Reiner
Produced by Karen Murphy

Written by Christopher Guest
Michael McKean
Harry Shearer
Rob Reiner

Starring Rob Reiner
Michael McKean
Christopher Guest
Harry Shearer
Fran Drescher
Bruno Kirby

Music by Christopher Guest
Michael McKean
Harry Shearer
Rob Reiner

Cinematography Peter Smokler
Editing by Kent Beyda & Kim Secrist
Distributed by Embassy Pictures
Release date March 2, 1984
Running time 82 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Many people claim that This Is Spinal Tap is one of the funniest movies of all time and that it was the first ever mockumentary, yet in my mind it is one of the most overrated films ever made.

Even though Spinal Tap is at times a very funny movie it cannot live up to the hype that its’ fans give it. Perhaps it is a case of familiarity breeding contempt as over the years we have seen many of the best jokes over and over again and the more I hear them the less funny they are.

The thing that irks me about This Is Spinal Tap is how it is hailed as the first ‘mockumentary’ yet it was preceded by Neil Innes and Eric Idle’s The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash by five years. This would have been known to at least one of Spinal Tap’s creators, Harry Shearer, who was a cast mate on Saturday Night Live in 1979. The Rutles movie was partly financed by SNL’s producer Lorne Michaels and features cameos from SNL’s (then) cast members John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Gilda Radner, Al Franken and Bill Murray.

Still, This Is Spinal Tap does feature Squiggy as one of the band members, whilst Nanny Fran acts as the bands publicist. This is one of those movies which I guess everyone has to watch once, but if you watch it anymore than that it quickly wears out its welcome.