Alternate Title: Superman: The Movie
Character Names: Superman/Clark Kent
Reviewed by Wallace Harrington (firstname.lastname@example.org), Michael George O'Connor (Lukesky500@mindspring.com) & Joyce Kavitsky (Kavitsky1@verizon.net)
When Christopher Reeve put on the famous blue, red and yellow suit he
looked exactly like he had walked right out of the pages of a Curt
Swan-Murphy Anderson drawn Superman comic book. There could not have been a better choice for the Man of Steel. Six feet four inches tall, weighing 188 pounds, Reeve commited himself to a two-month regimen that would have tested the dedication of a heavyweight contender, under the watchful eye of athlete-actor Dave Prowse (who played Darth Vader in Star Wars), to develop the muscular frame to carry off his portrayal of Superman. Reeve says about the training: "I thought I was in good shape originally. But by the time we went before the cameras, I was ready to challenge Muhammad Ali!" Mornings were devoted to roadwork, followed by two hours of weight lifting and another ninety minutes on the trampoline, all of it augmented by a special high-protein diet. "I put on thirty pounds, all muscle," Reeve said in a 1981 interview in DC Comics Superman II The Movie Magazine. "In fact, I found muscles I never
knew I had." None of the other "Supermen" have ever been as good as Reeve. Reeve talks about his role: "Like most people my age, I was brought up on Superman. I knew the classic stance -- hands on the hips, cape blowing in the wind, bullets bouncing off his chest. That's the way six and a half billion people have loved Superman, and I wouldn't dream of changing it, except to give the role greater dimension." Who does Reeve think Superman is? According to a January 1979 Playgirl magazine interview Reeve said: "The thing that's fun for me as an actor - in terms of going back to who I think Superman is - is that he's three people at the same time. He's Superman, who he has learned to be through instructions from his father; he's Clark Kent, which is a very deliberately invented disguise to mask his true identity; and then he's the person underneath the two characters, when he's neither Superman nor Clark Kent."
Still, it was Reeve's portrayal of Clark that truly carried the picture. Reeve slicked down his hair, rounded his shoulders, stooped his height, and raised his voice to more appropriately play the mild-mannered reporter. It was this portrayal that made it plausible that this high-voiced man who kept adjusting his glasses on the bridge of his nose could walk among men without anyone suspecting that, when he stood tall, he was, indeed, the Man of Steel. In an interview with Future magazine in February 1979, Reeve described Superman's human persona Clark Kent by saying: "He invents the whole
Clark Kent personality, but he's not very good at it at first. We see
him the first day on the job learning what you're supposed to do as a
reporter, how to go on assignment and all that stuff; the first day he
meets Lois; the first scene in Perry White's office. Then the next time
you see him he's a little better at it, and then he becomes a damn good
reporter. We tried to get away from things that are cut-and-dried and
into the learning process. And he's learning to be Clark Kent, he's also
learning how to be Superman. I think that discovery can be interesting."
The plot of this first blockbuster in the Superman movie series starring
Reeve went like this: On the distant planet of Krypton, millions of
light years away from Earth, a brilliant scientist named Jor-El warns
his peers that their world will soon explode. Although doomsday will
arrive too quickly for Jor-El and his wife Lara to escape, the scientist
builds a spaceship large enough to carry their infant son to safety. The
spaceship containing the infant from planet Krypton lands on Earth, and
the child is subsequently raised by a farmer named Jonathan Kent and his
wife Martha. Clark Kent grows into a handsome, strapping youth, shy to
girls, but a joy to his adopted parents, and very obviously possessed of
incredible powers. Carrying the mysterious green crystal from his native planet, young
Clark Kent travels to the North Pole and attempts to unravel his past.
Some instinct tells him to hurl the crystal into the ice and, seconds
later, a majestic structure grows in its place! This is the Fortress of
Solitude. Once young Clark Kent is inside he activates the crystal which
creates a ghostly image of his natural father. For the next twelve years
the boy is spirited into the universe, where he receives great
scientific knowledge and cultural wisdom from the projection of Jor-El.
Clark Kent is then returned to his adopted planet, where he begins his
spectacular career as the Man of Steel. After growing into an adult, Clark Kent becomes a reporter for the Daily Planet newspaper. There he meets Perry White, the
tough managing editor; Jimmy Olsen, a cub reporter; and journalist Lois
Lane. Possessing abilities inherited from Krypton, Clark Kent dons a
colorful costume and swings into action as Superman, costumed in a
form-fitting blue uniform, with red cape and boots. The amazing stranger
from the planet Krypton flies through the air and rescues people in
trouble. In addition to his flying skills, Superman possesses great
strength and X-ray vision. He is on our world to fight for "truth,
justice, and the American way." These incredible powers are greatly
needed, it turns out, for the Earth is being threatened by a power-hungry
scientist named Lex Luthor. Reeve talks about his role: "In a sense, Superman is a stranger in a strange land, a solitary man with incredible powers, trying to fit
into his adopted planet. He has warmth and a great sense of humor. And
while he has sworn to uphold truth, justice, and the American way,
there's nothing self-conscious about him. That's simply what he believes
in." Superman was originally released on December 15, 1978 to the world.
And now the story.
As the first scene unfolds, Jor-El (Marlon Brando) reads the charges of the insidious
plot of General Zod, his companion Ursa and their evil associate Non, to
orchestrate a military coup placing Zod as the absolute ruler of
Krypton. Krypton had evolved to a near utopian society, and the thought
of a "Supreme Ruler" was considered an act of insurrection. One by one,
the council declares the trio guilty. Left as the only remaining council
member to vote, Zod implores Jor-El to reconsider. In a flash of light,
Zod (Terence Stamp), Ursa (Sarah Douglas) and Non (Jack O'Halloran) are projected into the Phantom Zone, here a mirror-like prism that holds their bodily essences, which slowly heads out into cold, dark space. Only their screams of sorrow can be heard as the crystal disappears into the distance.
Still, the council has other business to deal with. Jor-El not only
prosecuted Zod, but also delivers a stern warning to the council that
seismic disturbances within the planet are harbingers of the ultimate
destruction of Krypton and tells them that the planet needs to prepare
for worldwide evacuation. Fearing the unknown, the council warns Jor-El
that his theories are unproven, and that, should he spread these rumors,
he too will be held for insurrection. Jor-El swears that he will not
say a word, and that neither he, nor his wife, Lara, will attempt to
leave the planet. However, Jor-El did not make that same promise for his
small son, Kal-El, and the scoffed prophet of Krypton decides to send
his only son to earth. Jor-El places the infant in the star-shaped
capsule, as well as a green crystal containing all of the amassed
knowledge of Krypton. Jor-El and Lara launch the ship and watch as it
lifts off high above the surface of Krypton just as a new set of tremors
hit the planet. The quakes crumble the buildings, eventually fracturing
the planet itself into bits. Safe inside the capsule, the young Kal-El
is taught, through Jor-El's voice, about Krypton. It takes over two years to complete that
journey which ends, almost by luck, in a wheat field outside the small
Kansas town of Smallville.
Swerving to avoid the screaming meteor, which plows into the field beside them, Jonathan (Glenn Ford) and Martha Kent find that they have a flat tire. Looking into the field, the couple sees the burning wreckage of a capsule, half-buried in a crater. As they approach to investigate, the young Kal-El (Aaron Smolinski) emerges, naked and unhurt, from the wreckage. The boy simply smiles and extends his arms to the couple, an open expression of affection. As Jonathan begins to repair the flat tire, Martha (Phyllis
Thaxter) warns him not to over-exert himself and damage his already weak heart. In the same breath, she asks Jonathan if they might keep the young boy, much as a child might ask to keep a newfound puppy. Just then, the truck collapses off of the tire jack. Frustrated, Jonathan looks at the wheel as slowly the infant lifts the truck over his head, and again smiles warmly at Jonathan.
Time passes and we see a teen-age Clark, who is the frustrated equipment manager of the Smallville High football team. [The actor chosen to play the teenaged Clark, Jeff East, is a perfect fit for the roll looking like a young Christopher Reeve. In fact, Reeve's voice was dubbed in over East's strong southern accent in the film]. After taking care of the equipment, young Clark has some fun racing a train. On the train are two other Superman alumni: Kirk Alyn, who had played Superman in two serials in 1948 (Superman) and 1950 (Atom Man vs. Superman), and Noel Neill, who had played Lois Lane in both of those serials as well as in the Superman television series from 1953-57. In this film, they play young Lois Lane's parents who ignore her when she points out the train window at the boy speeding by. With characteristic playfulness, Clark whizzes past the train and leaps across its path with a loud "Yahoo!", and speeds down the road to his house trailed by a cloud of dust. Jonathan Kent approaches his smirking son. Clark describes his frustration at having to sit on the sideline, cleaning equipment when he could be the star, scoring touchdowns. Reassured by his father, Clark
challenges Jonathan to a race to the barn. But as Jonathan starts up the
hill he is stricken with a heart attack and collapses on the path.
Clark, for all his powers and abilities can only watch as his second
father, the only father he really knew, dies. The death of Jonathan Kent
marks a turning point in Clark's life.
When Clark turns eighteen, as recorded in earth years, the green crystal
that Jor-El sent along to teach him calls him to make another journey, a
pilgrimage, to learn who he is and why he is here. Among the deserted
wastes of the frozen north, Clark sees the aurora borealis and throws
the green crystal. A crystalline building rises up from the glaciers.
Upon entering the new structure, Clark finds the green crystal, and
placing it in the appropriate place on a crystalline control panel, a
vision of Jor-El appears before him in this Fortress of Solitude. The
spectral projection of Jor-El takes Clark on a twelve-year sojourn,
breaking the bonds of time and space. On this journey, Kal-El learns not
only the facts of Kryptonian life, but also Kryptonian philosophy. As the godly countenance of Jor-El fades a familiar figure stands before us dressed in blue, red and yellow. No longer is this a boy, but a thirty-year-old man, mature, wise, and confident with the knowledge of why he is here and what he has to do. Effortlessly, silently, the figure, amazingly powerful yet graceful, lifts off and flies directly at us, sweeping away at only the last minute.
The Daily Planet is fluttering from the ambitious city beat reporter
Lois Lane (Margot Kidder), to Editor-in-chief Perry White (Jackie Cooper) and finally to Clark Kent. Kent is introduced as the new reporter for the Planet who Perry
describes as, "a reporter that not only has a snappy prose style, but is
the fastest typist I have ever seen." Clark Kent is smitten with Lois
Lane immediately. As timid and meek as Clark Kent is, Lois is brash and
bold. [Movie critic Rex Reed is seen making a quick cameo entering the Daily Planet building in the revolving doors when Lois says hi.] While Clark walks Lois home after his first day at the Planet, a mugger draws a gun on the couple and forces them into an alley. Clark tries to talk the mugger out of taking Lois' purse. When he refuses,
Lois tries to outwit the robber, by first dropping the purse then kicking
him. As he falls, his gun goes off and Clark sweeps up the bullet,
pretending to faint. Lois, of course, is amazed that Clark would faint
in that situation. But, picking up his hat, Clark looks at the audience,
smiles, and drops the bullet into the trash.
Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) is introduced through his dimwitted henchman,
Otis (Ned Beatty) who is unaware that he is being followed. Otis leads a
detective through Grand Central Station, down into the train tunnels and
to the entrance to Luthor's lair 200 feet beneath the city streets.
Luthor uses the piston driven door to his lair to push the detective in
front of an oncoming train. His only other partner in crime is Miss Eve
Teschmacher (Valerie Perrine) who is frustrated at living below the
streets of Metropolis.
Superman performs his first public heroics the next night. When Lois is
taking a helicopter gusty winds lift a ground cable, which becomes
caught on one of the helicopter's skids. The helicopter powers up, but
cannot gain altitude and spins out of control smashing through the
rooftop waiting room and crashing on the edge of the Planet building.
Clark blithely emerges from the building, notices people screaming and
pointing at the roof. As the chopper teeters, the passenger door opens
and Lois falls out, hanging only by the seat belt. Now Clark sees that
Lois is in trouble and looks around for a place to change into Superman.
Ripping open his shirt, for the first time revealing the family crest,
the S in a pentagram that Jor-El wore on Krypton, he races into a
revolving door emerging as Superman, and leaps up, up and away to save
Lois who has just lost her grip and falls as spectators point and
scream. A blue streak catches her in mid-air. "I've got you, miss," says
the polite superhero. "You've got me!" screams Lois. "But who's got
you?" After Superman and Lois land on the pad, Lois says, "Who are you?" In a calm, serene voice, Superman says simply, "A friend." Silently lifting off, Superman flies away and Lois faints. In the course of the evening, Superman catches a cat-burglar trying to scale the side of a building, captures three robbers that had eluded a police chase, saves the President aboard Air Force One when lightening strikes the wing, and rescues a scared kitten stuck in a tree for a small girl.
Headlines of newspapers around the world reported on the amazing man
that could fly. Perry tells his reporters that he wants Superman to be
linked to the Planet; they need to find out everything they can about
him. But, it is Lois who finds a slip of paper from the "Friend" to meet
her at her apartment at 8, and she decides that she will get the first
Dressed in a blue chiffon evening gown, Lois fears that Superman has
stood her up and dejectedly plops down at her table. But, when Superman
arrives, she becomes quite flirtatious. During the interview, Superman
tells Lois where he is from, what powers he has, and that lead can block
his x-ray vision. To determine how fast he can
fly, Superman suggests, "Why don't we find out?" Lifting Lois, they fly
out over the city. This scene is charming, with panoramic views of the
harbor and Lois learning to fly while reciting Can You Read My Mind, a
poem showing how infatuated she is with Superman. When they return to Lois's apartment, they realize that they hadn't timed the flight so she still didn't know how fast this stranger could fly. With a confusion typical of any first date, when neither wants to leave, Kal-El flies off with a polite, "Good night." Lois, giddy as a schoolgirl says, "What a super man....Superman!" And with that, Lois has named the new hero. Within seconds of the "super-man" having flown off, Clark appears at Lois's door to go out for a hamburger. Lois is still quite confused by the last few minutes. As she leaves to get her coat, Clark is pleased with her reaction; and in that room stands the most implausible love triangle ever contrived. In a moment of resolve, Clark takes off his glasses, stands up straight and calls to Lois, about to tell her right then that he is Superman. But good sense returns and he quickly reverts to his Clark Kent persona.
Back in Luthor's lair, all have read Lois's interview and each is impressed with different parts of the story. While Eve Teschmacher is taken with Superman's size, and honesty, Luthor has already calculated Krypton's position and predicted that radioactive fragments of the planet - Kryptonite - might have landed on earth. He picks up a copy of National Geographic and show his accomplices a photo of a native of Addis Ababa holding a green rock: Kryptonite. More than that, Luthor hatches his most daring plot. He will direct two military missiles to strike a stress-point in the San Andreas Fault sending much of California into the sea. To accomplish this, he hijacks an Army missile on its way to a secret testing ground. Faking a car crash, a scantily clad Miss Teschmacher distracts the escort team, lead by Larry Hagman (of Dallas and I Dream of Jeannie fame). While the soldiers are trying to revitalize her, Otis climbs onto the missile trailer and reprograms the launch code, but he enters the wrong launch vectors. Luthor manages to stop a second Navy missile convoy over a bridge by blocking its way with an 18-wheeler. While he and Otis are arguing with the naval commander, Miss Teschmacher sneaks onto the trailer and reprograms the missile's launch codes.
Meanwhile, Lois has been sent to interview the head of an Indian nation that has just sold a conglomerate a large portion of desert land at incredible prices, and Jimmy (Marc McClure) has been sent out to get pictures.
Perry calls Clark into his office to give him a pep talk. As Clark listens to Perry ramble on about his career and how to pursue a story, a sharp, piercing whistle audible to only one person standing on two legs cuts the air. On the carrier wave, Luthor begins to taunt Superman telling him that he has hidden a canister of propane-lithium compound and will release it into the water of Metropolis. With Perry still lecturing, Clark backs out of the office, edges over to an open window and eases himself out of the window changing into Superman.
From this point on, the special effects are exemplary. Superman circles
the city following the sound wave to Luthor. Landing on the street above
Luthor's lair, Superman starts spinning at super-speed and bores through
the street. As Superman makes his way towards Luthor's hideout, he is
put through a number of indurance tests....bullets, fire and ice.
Superman passes with flying colors. "I think he's coming, Mr. Luthor"
says Otis as we see the steel door buckle, then fall into the office.
Luthor feels that Superman is one of the few that could appreciate the
scope of his plan and shows how he plans to use two nuclear missiles to
strike a stress point on the San Andreas Fault resulting in the western
coast of California sinking into the ocean. That would turn the desert
land he had just purchased into coastal property, making Luthor a very
wealthy man. Asked if this is another plot in the back of his mind,
Luthor says, "No, it's happening now," and the two missiles launch,
quickly veering onto their programmed course.
Sitting in the Army control chair is John Ratzenberger (Cheers). The Army missile Otis had erroneously reprogrammed heads east while the Navy missile heads west, towards the fault. Superman is enraged by Luthor's bravado and acts to destroy the
missiles. Using his x-ray vision, Superman scans the rooms and sees that
Luthor is sitting on a lead box. Assuming that is where Luthor has
hidden the missile destruct device, Superman throws Luthor aside. "Don't
open that", Luthor says. The box does not hold a destruct device, but
contains the Kryptonite Luthor stole in Addis Ababa. The Kryptonite
immediately weakens Superman. Luthor casually walks over to Superman and
wraps the Kryptonite-necklace around his neck. As Luthor walks out, Miss
Teschmacher asks where the second missile is heading. "Hackensack, New
Jersey," says Luthor. "But Lex, my mother lives in Hackensack." Luthor
looks at his watch and shakes his head.
Superman calls to Miss Teschmacher for help. She tells Superman that she'll help him only if he saves her mother first. Agreeing, Teschmacher jumps into the water, pulling Superman to the side of the pool. She looks at the Kryptonite necklace, ponders a second, kisses Superman, then lifts off the Kryptonite managing to throw it directly into the lead piped sewer of Metropolis. Superman launches himself up and through the roof. The sequence in which
Superman chases the Army missile is truly brilliant. Superman flies
parallel to the missile to avoid its detection systems, then slips
behind it. Straining against the missile's exhaust, he reaches then
finally grabs the missile, pushing it up and out into space. However,
the Navy missile has reached its target. The nuclear blast on the San
Andreas Fault produces the huge earthquake Luthor had anticipated, and
within seconds bridges sway, train tracks collapse and large dams crack.
One-by-one, Superman resolves each catastrophe: he stops a school bus
from falling, allows a train to pass over his back, and prevents a flood
when a dam breaks.
Lois Lane had been interviewing one of the Indian chiefs who had sold
large tracts of desert to Lex Luthor. On her return, an earthquake hits,
exploding a gas station. Just when she thinks the worst is over, a
sinkhole opens engulfing Lois's car and burying her. After Superman saves
Jimmy from falling from the ruptured dam, he hears Lois's muffled screams
and speeds to her. When he arrives, he finds the car buried, pulls it
from the sinkhole and finds Lois's dead, suffocated body. He is too
late. Once again, with all of his powers and all of his abilities,
someone close to him has died. Her body lays at his feet. With a primal
scream, Superman takes off flying high above the earth. There is a
pause, as if wrestling with the words of his conscious, and then he
acts. Superman begins spinning around the earth in a east to west
direction turning back time. The viewers see the flood receding, the dam
reassembling, and Lois's car reappearing from the sinkhole. After
starting the planet back into its original orbit, Superman lands behind
Lois's car, opens the door, looking so relieved that she is sitting there
After saving Lois, and making sure that she and Jimmy are safe, Superman takes off to complete one final task. As he leaves, Lois notices that Clark is never there when Superman is. "No, that's the silliest thing," she ends. "I think he likes you." says Jimmy. "Clark, well..." "No," and Jimmy nods up to Superman. "Oh, well Superman likes everybody, Jimmy" says Lois dismissing Jimmy, but hoping that is true.
Among a jumble of spotlights, Superman lands in the courtyard of Metropolis prison, carrying Luthor and Otis by the scruff of their jackets. Luthor, promises that there is no jail that can hold him, while the police lead him to an awaiting jail cell. The warden thanks Superman, but the ever-gracious Man of Steel says, "No, warden, we're all in this together."
In outerspace, Superman flies over the earth keeping watch. In a
graceful sweep, he flies into our line of sight. Superman simply looks
at us and gives a warm smile. We may not see him, but we know that he
will always be there, watching over us.
Superman: The Movie was released as 143 minutes in its original
theatrical form. For its first release on video in 1980 it was cut to
127 minutes to fit a two hour cassette. Since that release, it has been
released on video about five times in its full 143 minutes and twice on
LaserDisc (the latter being in widescreen). The ABC and CTV extended
television versions in the 1980s added an additional 44 minutes of
unused footage making the film 187 minutes long or 3 hours and 17
The film was originally budgeted at $25 million, but before the makers
finished getting the bugs out, like finding ways to hide the apparatus
used in the flying sequences, the cost had gone up to $55 million and
some claim even higher. It took four years, 1000 people, eleven separate film units, three studios, filming on three continents and in eight countries and over a
million feet of film. This would make the film one of the most
expensive films ever made. In January 1979, American Cinematographer reported that Richard Donner was determined and committed to two years of exhausting, absorbing,
richly rewarding effort. The word "Verisimilitude" became important to
him. Donner said: "It's a word which refers to reality. I had it painted
on big signs which were sent to every creative department - wardrobe,
casting, special effects, you-name-it. It was a constant reminder that
if we gave in to temptation, and parodied Superman, we would only be
fooling ourselves." Reeve says in an interview in Starlog Number 20 from March 1979 about the budget of the film: "I think this is the first time a movie has
really traveled first class in all departments. There's never been a
film like this -- from a technical point of view, even from a script
point of view. There was no expense spared and no amount of time or
trouble kept us from giving the audience something exceptional." [For more information about the making of the film, check out our The Making of Superman/Superman II review.]
The meticulous attention given to detail payed off in 1978 when the film was nominated for three Academy Awards in America, better known as Oscars for: Roy Charman and Gorden K. McCallum for "Best Sound"; John Williams for "Best Original Score"; and Stuart Baird for "Best Editing". The film did not win in any of the
categories. Superman did, however, receive the "Special Achievement
Award" for Visual Effects from the Academy. The National Board of Review
of Motion Pictures also nominated Superman for "10 Best Films" of 1978.
At the British Academy Awards of the same year the film recieved the
"Michael Balcon Award for Outstanding British Contribution" and
Christopher Reeve received an award in the "Most Promising Newcomer"
category, a category that is not in the American Academy Awards.
When Superman came out in 1978, Warner Bros and DC Comics teamed up to release a lot of memorabilia and merchandise in support of the movie using images of Reeve. The memorabilia included three magazines that contain behind-the-scenes pictures and information and also interviews with the filmmakers and cast. These magazines were sold at movie theaters during the films opening weeks and includes promotional booklets from around the world, an oversize souvenir movie magazine made by DC Comics, and a souviner program made by Warner Bros. There was a lot more memorabilia that came with Reeve's image on it like a Topps O Pee Chee card set of 165 trading cards and 28 sticker cards, another set of 24 trading cards by Drake's Cakes, picture pins, a set of eight 8"x10" color stills and 11"x14" lobby cards of scenes from the movie, a press kit, a double album soundtrack and music book, a U.K. 7" 45 picture single, posters, a 1979 calendar, books such as Last Son of Krypton by Elliot S. Maggin and The Making of Superman by David Michael Petrou that have 16 pages of pictures from the movie, along with numerous other items. The merchandise that came out included T-shirts, a set of six Pepsi drinking glasses, a metal lunchbox and thermos made by Aladdin Industries, Mego toy action figures, mugs, an iron on decal, a tin trash can, a GAP Viewmaster of 21 3D pictures, jigsaw and mini puzzles, Super-Star "Krypton Kola" Brewing Company Premium Beer cans, and a Parks Run Giant Books coloring book.
Fans of the Superman series starring Reeve have a lot to be thankful for, like a magazine titled Men of Steel #1 published by RetroVision Magazine in honor of the 20th Anniversary of Superman: The Movie, a book called Superman: The Complete History by Les Daniels that has a chapter about the Reeve Superman movies along with an interview with Reeve, and more books about the movie series to come in the future including one by Jim Bowers. There also are pages made by fans like D.C.'s Superman Cinema and Hiphats's Superman Web Central that are online to only supply information about the series including photos, information about the films making, along with special information and pictures from scenes cut that have been on the cutting room floor for years. With the popularity of films being restored and rereleased, like The Star Wars Trilogy, fans and filmmakers also want Warner Bros. to give Superman and its sequels the same treatment of cleaning up the films' negetives and restoring the scenes originally cut out and then rereleasing it to the public. The film has been rereleased in 1998, the year of its 20th Anniversary without being restored, as part of Warner Bros. 75th Anniversary 1970s movies section. This is a treat for people who enjoyed the film in
movie theaters when it was originally released and for young fans who
have never seen it on the big screen before to get the chance to see a
young Christopher Reeve in the role that made him famous.
These days, of course, there's a new Clark Kent at the Daily Planet,
played by Christopher Reeve without the "s" in his name but with the "S"
on his chest where it counts! Space Stars of Movies & TV #3, 1978
Seeing the muscular Reeve in the flesh today is almost enough to make
you believe he's capable of such superhuman feats as welding the Golden
Gate Bridge together after an earthquake. Eirik Knutzen and Peter
Rubinstein, Us, December 12, 1978.
Christopher Reeve's entire performance is a delight. Ridiculously
good-looking, with a face as sharp and strong as an ax blade, his
bumbling, fumbling Clark Kent and omnipotent Superman are simply two
styles of gallantry and innocence. Jack Kroll, Newsweek, January 1, 1979.
Christopher Reeve, the young actor chosen to play the lead in Superman,
is the best reason to see the movie. He has an open-faced, deadpan style
that's just right for a wind-up hero. Reeve plays innocent but not dumb,
and the combination of his Pop jawline and physique with his unassuming
manner makes him immediately likeable. Pauline Kael, The New Yorker,
January 8, 1979.
On screen, Chris flies like a bird - with a little help from the special
effects movie experts. Margaret Ronan, Dynamite, No. 59, 1979.
The Guy who plays Superman in the new Warner Brothers movie is
Christopher Reeve, the same guy who used to play the famed creep and
bigamist Ben Harper on the soap opera "Love of Life." Reeve is muscly, determined, ambitious, and has always been pretty much of a jock -
qualities maybe you'd expect in a Superman-type - but at the same time
there's lots about Reeve which would remind you more of mild-mannered
Clark Kent than of the guy who leaps tall buildings in a single bound.
Sue Factor, Pizzazz, January 1979.
It's a bird... it's a plane... it's Christopher Reeve in a role that will
catapult him to stardom. Fred Robbins, Playgirl: Entertainment For
Women, January 1979.
Our hero (Christopher Reeve) is really just a super cop-on-the-beat,
foiling a robbery one minute, rescuing somebody from an accident the
next, etc. This is a great premise for a comic book, where the whole
idea is for characters not to change from one issue to another and for
the adventures to occur in unconnected installments. But a movie should
be able to transcend such a premise, or at least leap over it at a
single bound, and Superman doesn't do this. Colin L. Westerbeck,Jr,
Commonweal, February 2, 1979
Helping Donner to stay on target is actor Christopher Reeve, who turns
in the first serious screen portrayal of the alien Superman and his
all-too-human alter ego, Clark Kent. Howard Zimmerman & Roscoe Pound,
Future #8, February 1979.
Christopher Reeve has become an instant international star on the basis
of his first major movie role, that of Clark Kent/Superman. Film
reviewers - regardless of their opinion of the film - have been almost
unanimous in their praise of Reeve's dual portrayal. He is utterly convincing as he switches back and forth between personae.
Starlog, No 21, April 1979.
He did an excellent job. He kept to the spirit of the character & was a
credit to the role. He also managed to do something very difficult:
create individual characters of Clark Kent & Superman. There's one scene
that shows it: when he's talking to Lois Lane, who's in another room, he
removes his glasses. He suddenly seems taller, more sure of himself. You
can see Superman oozing from every pore of him. When he puts his glasses
back on, his voice, appearance, attitude changes. Christopher Reeve did
one whale of a job. Altho I'm not surprised seeing that he's got a solid
stage background.--Kirk Alyn. Eric Hoffman, Famous Monsters #152, April
Chris Reeve in particular has got so much into his role that one person
simply said to me, "Chris is Superman!" Reeve is reportedly doing a
masterly job at separating the two personas of Clark Kent and Superman.
"Clark is just such an idiot," one man said, "but when Chris becomes
Superman you are convinced that he can do almost anything." Richard
Burton, Fantastic Films, June 1979
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