TV. The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Episode One. A team fights to survive against monsters and rampaging natives.
Sci-fi fun and facts! The Journey to the Far Side of the Sun meets the Invaders starring Roy Thinnes.
Journey to the Far Side of the Sun starred Roy Thinnes who also starred in a remarkable science-fiction series broadcast on television, The Invaders, in the sixties and later remade starring Scott Bakula in the nineties also with Roy Thinnes.
Doppelgänger (1969 film) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Doppelgänger Film poster for US release, featuring alternative title Journey to the Far Side of the Sun
Directed by Robert Parrish Produced by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson Screenplay by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson
Tony Williamson Story by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson Starring Roy Thinnes
Patrick Wymark Music by Barry Gray Cinematography John Read Edited by Len Walter Production
Century 21 Cinema
Distributed by Rank Organisation (UK)
Universal Pictures (US) Release dates
27 August 1969 (US)
8 October 1969 (UK) Running time
101 minutes Country United Kingdom Language English Doppelgänger is a 1969 British science-fiction film directed by Robert Parrish and starring Roy Thinnes, Ian Hendry, Lynn Loring and Patrick Wymark. Outside Europe, it is known as Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, which is now the more popular title. In the film, a joint European-NASA mission to investigate a planet in a position parallel to Earth, behind the Sun, ends in disaster with the death of one of the astronauts (Hendry). His colleague (Thinnes) discovers that the planet is a mirror image of Earth.
The first major live-action film of Century 21 writers-producers Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, noted for Thunderbirds and other 1960s "Supermarionation" puppet television series, shooting for Doppelgänger ran from July to October 1968. Using Pinewood Studios as the principal production base, Parrish also filmed on location in both England and Portugal. The professional relationship between the Andersons and their director became strained as the shooting progressed, while creative disagreements with cinematographer John Read resulted in his resignation from Century 21.
Doppelgänger premiered in August 1969 in the United States and October 1969 in the United Kingdom. Although the film in general has been praised for the quality of its special effects and set design, the plot device of the parallel Earth has attracted criticism, with some commentators judging it to be clichéd and uninspired in comparison to the precedent established by earlier science fiction. In addition, although Doppelgänger has frequently been interpreted as a pastiche of major science-fiction films of the 1960s, including 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), some of the devices and imagery used have been dismissed as weak imitations of the originals. It has been termed a cult film.
Actors and props from Doppelgänger would re-appear in a later Anderson TV series, UFO. Although the Andersons incorporated adult themes into their script in an effort to distinguish the film from their children's TV productions, cuts to more mature content, in this case a shot of a pack of contraceptive pills, were required to permit an A and, later, PG certificate from the BBFC. The film has had only a limited DVD run.
Plot In 2069, the unmanned Sun Probe locates a planet lying on the same orbital path as Earth on the opposite side of the Sun. Dr Kurt Hassler (Herbert Lom) of the European Space Exploration Council (EUROSEC) has been relaying the spacecraft's flight data to a rival power in the East; after tracing the transmissions to Hassler's laboratory, Security Chief Mark Neuman (George Sewell) catches the scientist in the act and kills him. EUROSEC director Jason Webb (Patrick Wymark) convinces NASA representative David Poulson (Ed Bishop) that the West must be the first to send a mission to investigate the planet. With EUROSEC member states France and Germany unwilling to provide financial support, Webb obtains majority funding from NASA; American astronaut Colonel Glenn Ross (Roy Thinnes) and British astrophysicist Dr John Kane (Ian Hendry), the head of the Sun Probe project, are assigned to the mission.
Launched from the EUROSEC Space Centre in Portugal in the spacecraft Phoenix, Ross and Kane spend the first half of their six-week round trip in stasis with "Heart Lung Kidney" machines managing their life functions. Three weeks after launch, the astronauts are revived in the planet's orbit. Scans for the existence of extraterrestrial life are inconclusive, and Ross and Kane decide to make a surface landing. As the astronauts descend through the atmosphere, an electrical storm damages their Dove lander shuttle, which crashes in a mountainous region that is revealed to be Ulan Bator, Mongolia. When an air-sea rescue unit returns Ross and Kane, the latter critically injured, to the Space Centre, it is apparent that the Phoenix mission has come to an untimely end after three weeks and that the astronauts have returned to Earth.
Neuman and EUROSEC official Lise Hartman (Loni von Friedl) interrogate Ross, who denies that he aborted the mission. Shortly after, Kane dies from his injuries. Eventually, Ross concludes that he is not on Earth, but indeed on the unknown planet – a Counter-Earth that is a mirror image of his. (Signs of this reversal include a clock whose hands move anticlockwise, a tape deck's reels that turn clockwise and an oscilloscope that scans from right to left. In addition, while driving at night, Ross almost collides with another vehicle that he believes to be on the wrong side of the road.)
Many at EUROSEC, including Ross's wife, Sharon (Lynn Loring), are baffled by the astronaut's claims that all aspects of life on the planet are reversed. However, Webb's view starts to change when Ross demonstrates the ability to read aloud from a sign, without hesitation, when it is reflected in a mirror; Webb is later convinced of the truth when X-rays from Kane's post-mortem examination reveal that his internal organs are positioned on the "wrong" side of his body. Ross conjectures that the two Earths lie parallel, inferring that his counterpart from this world is experiencing similar events on the far side of the Sun.
Webb suggests that Ross recover the flight recorder from Phoenix and return to his Earth. EUROSEC builds a replacement for Dove designed to be compatible with the reversed technologies of Phoenix. Modifications include the reverse-polarisation of the electric circuits, although no one is certain that the differences between the two Earths extend to the direction of current. Ross christens the new shuttle Doppelganger, a German word denoting a duplicate of a person or object.
Lifting off and entering orbit, Ross attempts to dock with Phoenix. However, Doppelganger experiences a technical malfunction, indicating that current is constant after all. The shuttle detaches from Phoenix and loses contact with EUROSEC, falling through the atmosphere towards the Space Centre with Ross struggling to disengage the automatic landing control. EUROSEC is unable to repair the fault from the ground, and Doppelganger crashes into a parked spacecraft. Ross is incinerated in the collision and a chain reaction destroys much of the Space Centre, killing personnel and destroying all records of Ross's presence on the Counter-Earth.
Many years later, an elderly and embittered Jason Webb, long since dismissed from EUROSEC, has been admitted to a nursing home. In his dementia, he spies his reflection in a mirror mounted in front of a window. Rolling forwards in his wheelchair, and reaching out to touch his reflected image, Webb crashes through the mirror and dies.
Production As his first contribution to live-action film, Gerry Anderson had directed Crossroads to Crime, a 1960 B feature, for Anglo-Amalgamated. Talent agent Leslie Grade had since approached Anderson with a proposal for a film starring actor Arthur Haynes, but discussions between Grade and Anderson had not produced a commission. In the summer of 1967, during the production of Anderson's Supermarionation television series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Universal Pictures executive Jay Kanter arrived in London from the United States. Planning to establish a European production office, Kanter expressed his willingness to provide funding for promising film ideas. Lew Grade, brother to Leslie and Anderson's financier at his TV distributor ITC Entertainment, arranged a meeting with Kanter for Anderson to pitch a story concept concerning the hypothesis of a "replicated" or "mirror" Earth. According to Anderson, he "thought, rather naïvely, what if there was another planet the other side of the Sun, orbiting at exactly the same speed and the same size as Earth? That idea then developed into the planet being a replicated Earth and that's how it ended up, a mirrored planet ... We were perfectly poised – I was Lew Grade's golden boy and the [Century 21] studio was a big success story."
Writing With the assistance of scriptwriter Tony Williamson, Anderson and his wife, Sylvia, had drafted a 194-page treatment long before the initial meeting with Kanter. The Andersons had originally intended to film the script as a one-hour drama for ATV; Sylvia explained that since the concept "was too good for a television play, I suggested to Gerry that we try to develop it as a movie." Responding to claims that Doppelgänger had "dark" scripting, Gerry stated that he wanted the film to have an interesting and entertaining premise. He also discussed the significance of the title, which was suggested to him by Century 21 co-director John Read: Doppelgänger being "a German word which means 'a copy of oneself', and the legend goes that if you meet your doppelganger, it is the point of your death. Following that legend, clearly, I had to steer the film so that I could end it illustrating the meaning of that word."
When Kanter expressed dissatisfaction with the draft, Gerry hired Donald James, a novelist whom he considered "a classy writer with a good reputation", to strengthen the characterisation. Although the film retained its original 2069 setting, the scenes set on the Counter-Earth underwent significant changes while James completed his revisions. Fundamentally, the characters of Ross and Kane switched roles: in the Andersons' draft, it was Ross who is injured in the Dove crash and Kane who was interrogated at the EUROSEC Space Centre. In scenes absent from the finished film, Kane is diagnosed with brain damage as a result of his apparent insanity, while Ross regains consciousness to find that the accident has left him blind. The return mission to Phoenix fails due not to an electrical fault, but to a structural defect in the second Dove module, which disintegrates in the atmosphere of the Counter-Earth with Kane trapped inside. EUROSEC Headquarters is left intact, and Kane's funeral is attended by his wife, the Rosses and Jason Webb.
Despite remaining unenthusiastic with the script, Kanter agreed to commission it as a film on the condition that he reserve the right to select a "bankable" director. Anderson would have selected David Lane, who had directed the two Thunderbirds film sequels, Thunderbirds Are Go (1966) and Thunderbird 6 (1968). After a ten-week delay to filming, Robert Parrish, an American director whose latest project had been shelved, accepted the role. Parrish's film career up to 1968 had included co-editing Body and Soul (for which he had shared the 1947 Academy Award for Best Film Editing) and co-directing the 1967 James Bond spoof, Casino Royale. Anderson remembered Parrish as being "very ingratiating", stating that he "told us he loved the script and said it would be an honour to work with us. Jay Kanter gave Bob the thumbs up and we were in business." Although the box office failure of Casino Royale had prompted Anderson to question Parrish's ability, he stated that Doppelgänger could not have been made without his recruitment: "It wasn't a question of, 'Will we get on with him?' or, 'Is he the right man?' He was a name director, so we signed him up immediately."
Casting Supporting cast Actor Character Keith Alexander Flight Director Peter Burton Medical Technician 1 Anthony Chinn Air-Sea Rescue Operator Nicholas Courtney Medical Technician 2 John Clifford Gantry Technician Peter van Dissel Bonn Delegate Mallory Cy Grant Dr Gordon Alan Harris Public Relations Photographer Jon Kelley Male Nurse Annette Kerr Female Nurse Martin King Dove Service Technician Herbert Lom Dr Kurt Hassler Philip Madoc Dr Pontini George Mikell Paris Delegate Clavel Basil Moss Monitoring Station Technician Norma Ronald Secretary Pam Kirby Vladek Sheybal Psychologist Dr Beauville John Stone London Delegate Jeremy Wilkin Launch Control Technician Heading the cast of Doppelgänger is Roy Thinnes in the role of Colonel Glenn Ross of NASA. Anderson, who perceived a likeness to fellow American actor Paul Newman, cast Thinnes as the male lead after viewing his performance in the television series The Invaders (1967–68). In the Andersons' draft script, Ross's first name is Stewart, and he is said to have been the first man to walk on Mars. In a 2008 interview, Thinnes said, "I thought [Doppelgänger] was an interesting premise, although now we know that there isn't another planet on the other side of the Sun, through our space exploration and telescopic abilities. But at that time it was conceivable, and it could have been scary." To conform to the script's characterisation of Ross, and to the detriment of his respiratory health, Thinnes ended up smoking many packets' worth of cigarettes in the course of the production. Reporting on Thinnes' intention to demand a non-smoking clause in his next film contract, in September 1969 Australian newspaper The Age stated, "He smokes about two packets a day, but the perpetual lighting up of new cigarettes for continuity purposes was too much."
Ian Hendry stars as Dr John Kane, British astrophysicist and head of the Phoenix project. Hendry, who had appeared in the television series The Avengers (1961–69) and, according to Anderson, "was always drinking", performed the stunt sequence depicting the aftermath of the Dove crash while drunk: "... he was pissed as a newt, and it was as much as he could do to stagger away. Despite all that, it looked exactly as it was supposed to on-screen!" In the draft script, Kane's first name is Philip, and he has a wife called Susan. In scenes deleted from the completed film, a romance between Kane and Lise Hartman, a EUROSEC official portrayed by Austrian actress Loni von Friedl, is played out at Kane's villa and on a beach in Portugal.
Lynn Loring stars as Sharon Ross, the Colonel's wife. The role of the female lead had first been offered to Gayle Hunnicutt, who quit at the start of the filming after unexpectedly falling ill. Hunnicutt's withdrawal resulted in the casting of Loring, Thinnes' wife since 1967 and star of the television series The F.B.I. (1965–74). Had she remained in the role, Hunnicutt would have appeared in a nude scene scripted to distance the tone of Doppelgänger from that of earlier Anderson productions. In a 1968 interview in the Daily Mail newspaper, Anderson expressed his intention to change the public's perception of Century 21, who, in his view, had been "typecast as makers of children's films". On rumours that Doppelgänger would receive an X certificate from the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) for adult content, he replied, "We want to work with live artists doing subjects unsuitable for children." For the final cut of the film, the original nude shots were replaced with softer alternatives depicting Sharon stepping into and out of a shower.
The draft script describes Sharon as the daughter of a United States Senator, and she is said to be in a romantic affair with EUROSEC public relations officer Carlo Monetti. In the completed film, Italian actor Franco De Rosa briefly stars as Paulo Landi. The affair is implied in one scene but not explored further, prompting Simon Archer and Marcus Hearn, authors of What Made Thunderbirds Go! The Authorised Biography of Gerry Anderson, to suggest that De Rosa starred in a role "all but cut from Doppelgänger". In a deleted scene, on finding Paolo and Sharon in bed together at the Rosses' villa, Glenn angrily ejects the couple from the room and throws them both into a swimming pool. Archer and Hearn note an additional subplot concerning the Rosses' attempts to conceive a child and the deceit of Sharon, who has been using birth control pills to inhibit pregnancy without Glenn's knowledge.
Completing the main cast, Patrick Wymark stars as Jason Webb, director of EUROSEC. Having selected him on the basis of his performance as John Wilder in the television series The Plane Makers (1963–65) and The Power Game (1965–70), Anderson stated that Wymark's acting impressed him as much as Hendry's, but also that his similar drinking habits resulted in slurred lines on set. During the filming of one scene, Wymark "had to list these explanations ... and on take after take he couldn't remember that 'two' followed 'one'. We had to do it over and over again." Archer and Hearn identify Wymark's portrayal of Webb, a character described as "John Wilder (2069 model)" in publicity material, as the dominant performance of the film. The draft script describes Webb as a former British Minister of Technology, who is now romantically involved with his secretary, Pam Kirby.
Among the supporting cast, George Sewell stars as Mark Neuman, a German Operations Chief in EUROSEC who uncovers Dr Hassler's dealing with Communist China and whose parallel self directs the interrogation of Ross after the Dove crash. His surname in the draft script is Hallam. Finally, Ed Bishop stars as David Poulson, a NASA official. Bishop replaced English actor Peter Dyneley, who had voiced characters for Thunderbirds (1965–66), after the producers decided that Dyneley bore too much of a resemblance to Wymark and that scenes featuring both the characters of Poulson and Webb would confuse audiences.
Filming Fifteen weeks of principal photography commenced on 1 July 1968 at Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire; shooting wrapped on 16 October having run alongside that for Joe 90. In September, location shooting in Albufeira, Portugal was accelerated for completion in two weeks as opposed to a month after politician Marcello Caetano deposed incapacitated Prime Minister Antonio Salazar, Parrish fearing that the coup d'état would cause the production of Doppelgänger to fall behind schedule. Filming in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire used the exterior of Neptune House (now part of the BBC Elstree Studios) as a double for EUROSEC Headquarters in Portugal. Heatherden Hall (part of the Pinewood complex) appears as the old Webb's nursing home.
The designers used forced perspective and metallic materials, besides other modifications to the set, to realise the EUROSEC teleconference scene at a cost lower than that of filming with actual monitor screens.
To create the illusion of the parallel Earth – apparent in images such as reversed text – both quickly and cheaply, the production staff inverted the film negatives using an optical process known as "flop-over". This technique saved the time and money that would otherwise needed to have been spent in building sets and props with specially reversed elements, or organising road closures to film cars driving on the "wrong" side of the road. However, the scenes set in or around the parallel EUROSEC Headquarters required careful rehearsal and co-ordination with cast and crew prior to filming. The incorporation of the flop-over technique results in some continuity errors: for example, the terminals of the Heart Lung Kidney machines onboard Phoenix are seen to be connected first to Ross and Kane's left wrists, then their right.
The production staff encountered difficulties in realising a scene at the start of the film depicting an international teleconference being conducted using high-resolution viewing monitors. Due to both the limited use of colour TV at the time of production, and the need to avoid black-and-white so as to honour the futuristic setting of Doppelgänger, it was decided to position the actors playing the conference delegates behind the set and cut the "screens" out of the set wall. Silver paper was added to reflect the studio lighting, producing a realistic impression of a high-resolution image. Altered eyelines strengthen the audience's perception that each delegate is facing a camera rather than the other actors in the scene, and are in different locations around the world. Archer and Hearn promote the teleconference scene as an example of how Anderson "proved once again that his productions were ahead of their time."
During the course of the production, the creative styles of Anderson and Parrish came into conflict. Anderson remembered that on several occasions Kanter was called on to mediate: "[Sylvia and I] both knew how important the picture was to our careers, and we both desperately wanted to be in the big time." During one session, Parrish refused to follow the shooting script, having determined independently that not all the scripted scenes were essential to the plot. When Anderson reminded Parrish of his contractual responsibilities, the director announced to the cast and crew, "Hell, you heard the producer. If I don't shoot these scenes which I don't really want, don't need and will cut out anyway, I'll be in breach of contract. So what we'll do is shoot those scenes next!" Anderson discussed how the production of Doppelgänger presented new challenges, explaining, "I had worked for so many years employing directors to do what I told them ... Suddenly I came up against a Hollywood movie director who didn't want to play and we ended up extremely bad friends." In his 2002 biography, Anderson stated that his sole regret about the film "[was] that I hired Bob Parrish in the first place." Sylvia Anderson comments that Parrish's direction was "uninspired. We had a lot of trouble getting what we wanted from him."
One dispute among the founders of Century 21 – Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, Reg Hill and John Read – emerged from the filming of other scenes, including one in which the character of Lise Hartman bathes in a shower. Read, the director of photography, had complied with Parrish's instructions to light the sequence in silhouette. Anderson, who had intended the scene to display full-frontal nudity from actress Loni von Friedl, demanded a re-shoot, insisting that Read honour his obligations not just to Parrish as director but also to his Century 21 partners. According to Sylvia Anderson, "Gerry was very keen to show that he was part of the 'Swinging Sixties' and felt that seeing a detailed nude shot – as he visualised it – was more 'with it' than the more subdued version." Anderson clashed with Read and Parrish for a second time when special effects shots of Phoenix were filmed with a hand-held camera: "I knew enough about space travel to know that in a vacuum a spacecraft will travel as straight as a die ... [Parrish] told me that people were not familiar with space travel and therefore they would expect to see this kind of movement." Refusing to re-film the scenes on the basis that Parrish's instructions had precedence over Anderson's, Read resigned from both Century 21 and the production of Doppelgänger at the Andersons' and Hill's request. Anderson elaborated: "Clearly John was in a difficult position. I do now understand how he must have felt, but in my heart I feel he couldn't play a double role."
Dove (right) exits Phoenix (left) as Ross and Kane prepare to land on the planet. In general, reception to the scale model and special effects shots has been positive, and the designs of the Phoenix and Dove spacecraft have been praised. The Doppelganger shuttle that Ross uses to return to Phoenix is identical to Dove.
The production base for special effects was Century 21 Studios in Slough, Berkshire, which had been prepared for filming on the last Supermarionation series, The Secret Service. Supervising director Derek Meddings oversaw the shooting of more than 200 effects shots, including the destruction of EUROSEC Headquarters at the end of the film. A six-foot (1.8 m) Phoenix scale model, which emulated the design of the NASA multi-stage Saturn V rocket, had to be rebuilt after unexpectedly igniting and nearly injuring a technician. For authenticity, the effects staff mounted the shots of the Phoenix lift-off outdoors in a section of the Century 21 car park so as to film against a genuine sky backdrop. Archer and Hearn describe the sequence as "one of the most spectacular" of its kind produced by Century 21. Sylvia Anderson, who considers it indistinguishable from a Cape Kennedy launch, comments that she is "still impressed by the magic of the effects. Technology has come a long way since the early Seventies, but Derek's effects have endured."
Although Century 21 had constructed a life-size Dove capsule in Slough, it could not be used for filming at Pinewood Studios due to an arrangement with the National Association of Theatrical Television and Kine Employees (NATTKE) to build and use such props exclusively on-site. Once the original had been incinerated, carpenters at Pinewood re-built the prop, although Anderson remained disappointed with the finished product, which he considered inferior. Reviewing the scale models of Doppelgänger, Martin Anderson of the entertainment website Den of Geek describes the Phoenix command module as "beautifully ergonomic without losing too much NASA-ness", and the Dove lander module as "a beautiful fusion of JPL gloss with classic lines". He argues that the Phoenix launch sequence stood as the finest example of Meddings' work until his contributions to the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker, and praises his efforts all the more for the absence of computer animation in the late 1960s.
Post-production Composer Barry Gray recorded his score, his favourite of all his musical contributions to the Anderson productions, in three days from 27 to 29 March 1969. Fifty-five musicians attended the first studio session, with 44 at the second and 28 at the last. The track titled "Sleeping Astronauts", which accompanies the scenes of Ross and Kane's journey through the Solar System, features an Ondes Martenot, played by French ondiste Sylvette Allart. Archer and Hearn credit "Sleeping Astronauts" as "one of the most enchanting pieces Gray ever wrote", and state that the soundtrack, which has never been released commercially, evokes a "traditional Hollywood feel" that is in contrast to the 2069 setting of Doppelgänger. The inspiration for the title sequence, set inside the secret laboratory of Dr Hassler, was the espionage theme embodied by the character: in what Archer and Hearn describe as an imitation of the style of 1960s James Bond films, a miniature camera is seen to be concealed inside Hassler's artificial eye.
UK Doppelgänger film poster
When production on Doppelgänger ended in October 1968, all 30 episodes of Joe 90 had been completed and the Andersons' upcoming television series, The Secret Service, had entered pre-production. The final cut was given a mediocre reception by Universal Pictures executives, causing the film's release to be postponed for a year. It received an A certificate from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) on 26 March 1969, dispelling rumours of an X rating and fulfilling the Andersons' objective that Doppelgänger be suitable for children accompanied by adults. To secure an A certificate, brief cuts were made to shots of contraceptive pills, shortening the running time from the original 104 minutes.
Doppelgänger opened at the Odeon Cinema in London's Leicester Square on 8 October 1969, having premiered on 27 August in the United States. On 1 November, it debuted in Detroit, Michigan, commencing a second round of presentations in American cinemas. The film received a disappointing box office reception on general release.
British distributors Rank released the film under its original name in the UK and the rest of Europe. The title Journey to the Far Side of the Sun was adopted in the United States and Australia, since it had been determined by Universal that the audiences of these countries might not understand the meaning of the term "doppelganger". Simon Archer and Stan Nicholls, authors of Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Biography, concede that Journey to the Far Side of the Sun – which has superseded Doppelgänger as the more popular title – provides a clearer explanation of the plot, but argue that it lacks the "intrigue and even poetic quality of Doppelgänger".
TV broadcasts Two prints of Doppelgänger in its original 35 mm format, for UK release, are known to exist. One is retained by the British Film Institute (BFI), the other by Fanderson, the official fan society dedicated to the Gerry Anderson productions. The original prints of Doppelgänger position Ian Hendry before Roy Thinnes in the opening credits; in the Journey to the Far Side of the Sun format, Thinnes is billed before Hendry. Certain UK prints alter the final scene featuring the old Jason Webb with the addition of a short voice-over from Thinnes in character as Ross, who is heard speaking a line that he says to Webb earlier in the film: "Jason, we were right. There are definitely two identical planets."
In the UK, Doppelgänger has been aired on TV under the title Journey to the Far Side of the Sun and has been formatted accordingly. Broadcasts have often contained inverted picture due to a mistake made in transferring the original print to videotape. Prior to a screening in the 1980s, a telecine operator viewed the print and, being unfamiliar with the premise of the film, concluded that the scenes set on the parallel Earth had been reversed in error. An additional "flop-over" edit restored the image to normal, which became the standard for all broadcasts but compromised the plot: if Doppelgänger is screened in this modified form, the viewer is led to conclude that the parallel Ross has landed on the non-parallel, normal Earth.
Home video Previously available in laserdisc format, Doppelgänger was released on NTSC Region 1 DVD in both 1998 and, in digitally-remastered form, in 2008. The 2008 release included PAL Region 2 for the first time, although the film is marketed as Journey to the Far Side of the Sun rather than Doppelgänger. No additional material is present on the Region 1 releases, but the Region 2 version features a film trailer. Whereas the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has certified the film G since its 1969 theatrical release, with the 2008 home video release the BBFC re-rated Doppelgänger PG from the original A for "mild violence and language".
A Blu-ray version will be released in Region A on 7 April 2015 under the Journey to the Far Side of the Sun title.
Reception Since its original release, Doppelgänger has had a mixed critical reception in both the UK and the US, although Archer and Nicholls argue that it has acquired cult status. Gary Gerani, co-writer of Pumpkinhead (1988), ranks the film 81st in his book Top 100 Sci-Fi Movies, praising Doppelgänger as a "fine example of speculative fantasy in the late '60s". He expresses satisfaction with Thinnes' and Wymark's performances, the characterisation (and the themes entailed, including adultery, infertility and corruption) and the "Fourth of July-style" special effects, calling the film "enigmatic".
1960s and 70s
There were some great sequences and the special effects were outstanding. Perhaps the mistake I made was in insisting that we incorporate "Gerry's view of the future", where everybody is squeaky clean and everything is sparkling and shining and sanitised. Unfortunately that isn't what most people see as humanity's natural state ...Star Trek was similar but succeeded because it had a philosophy attached to it. It also had believable people with good characterisation.
— Gerry Anderson (1996 and 2002)
In a review published in The Times in October 1969, John Russell Taylor praised the concept of the film as "quite ingenious" but suggested that the title and pre-release marketing had revealed too much of the plot for the film to sustain the interest of its audience. Commenting in New York magazine in November, Judith Crist introduced Doppelgänger as "a science-fiction film that comes up with a fascinating premise three-quarters of the way along and does nothing with it." She praised the production as being "nicely gadget-ridden" and raising questions on the conflict between politics and science, but criticised the editing. Variety magazine cited a confusing plot, and related the crash of the Dove module to the coherence of the scriptwriting in its declaration that, "Astronauts take a pill to induce a three-week sleep during their flight. Thereafter the script falls to pieces in as many parts as their craft."
In his 1975 work A Pictorial History of Science Fiction Films, Jeff Rovin stated that the film was "confusing but colourful", and commended it for its "superb special effects". Although it was argued to be better than average for the genre in The Miami News in September 1969 and The Montreal Gazette in April 1972, a December 1969 edition of the Pittsburgh Press dismissed it as "a churned out science-fiction yarn ... Let's hope there's only one movie like this one", and ranked it among the worst films of the year. The The Montreal Gazette review maintained that, although the quality deteriorates towards the end of the film, "until then it's a reasonably diverting futuristic melodrama."
Post-1970s In a 2008 review for Den of Geek, Martin Anderson praised Robert Parrish's direction and Derek Meddings' effects. However, the dialogue, which was described as "robust and prosaic", was stated to sit "ill-at-ease with the metaphysical ponderings". Anderson also expressed concern about the editing, stating that every effects shot precedes another shot "with that 'Hornby' factor, slowing up the narrative unnecessarily". Doppelgänger is awarded a rating of three stars out of five, and is summarised as "an interesting journey with many rewards". Glenn Erickson, commenting in 2008 on the website DVD Talk, argued that Doppelgänger "takes an okay premise but does next to nothing with it. We see 100 minutes of bad drama and good special effects, and then the script opts for frustration and meaningless mystery." He complained of unappealing cinematography, comparing it to the premise of Thunderbirds in so far as "people stand and talk a lot", while defining the script as being composed of "at least 60 percent hardware-talk and exposition ... How people move about – airplane, parachute, centrifuge – is more important than what they're doing."
Made as a science-fiction thriller by imagination producers Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, events since its filming may well demand the dropping of the word "fiction" from its description. In today's space terminology it almost rates as science – and pure reportage through film. Still it evolves as a fascinating motion-picture entertainment.
— Southeast Missourian (1970)
On the subject of effects, Erickson asserted that sequences such as the "thuddingly generic, drama-challenged main rocket launch" detract from the human factor of the film. Other design elements were criticised: viewing the costumes as dated, Erickson added that "the actors are defeated by the Barbie doll house surroundings", and suggested that the visuals of Doppelgänger match an ethos of "the future will be a shopping mall". Despite judging Doppelgänger "good" (a rating higher than "fair" but lower than "excellent"), Erickson argued that the opportunities presented by the parallel Earth concept were squandered in the determination to turn the production into "an excuse to show cool rocket toys".
Doppelgänger is given a rating of two-and-a-half stars out of five in a negative review published on the Film4 website, which praises the effects work and costume design but criticises the scenes with the character of Dr Hassler for their irrelevance to the main plot, and the subtext of the Rosses' troubled marriage as an unnecessary diversion from the narrative. Although Ross and Kane's mission through space is described as a "brief, trippy light show", the review questions the originality of having a parallel Earth as the focus, and the depth of the script's vision: "Anderson's has to be the cheapest alternate Earth ever. Whereas audiences might expect a world where the Roman Empire never fell or the Nazis won World War II, here the shocking discovery is that people write backwards. That's it." Doppelgänger is only recommended for fans of the Anderson productions, and is considered "an occasionally interesting failure".
Director Robert Parrish has made some extraordinarily expressive movies ... but must have run up against too many uncontrollable elements on this show – namely, producers that dictate every detail as if all the actors have strings attached to their heads and arms.
— Glenn Erickson (2008)
Gary Westfahl of the webzine SF Site asserts that the use of a near-perfect parallel Earth is uninspired, referring to the setting as "the most boring and unimaginative alien world imaginable". Among other reviews, TV Guide magazine describes Doppelgänger as a "strange, little film" with an "overwritten script", and considers the subplot concerning Dr Hassler's treachery to be distracting. It awards a rating of two stars out of four. To Chris Bentley, writer of episode guides on the Anderson productions, Doppelgänger is a "stylish and thought-provoking science-fiction thriller".
Sylvia Anderson suggests that American audiences, who were less familiar with the Supermarionation productions of Century 21, were more enthusiastic. She explains, "It was all too easy to compare our real actors with our puppet characters and descriptions such as 'wooden', 'expressionless', 'no strings attached' and 'puppet-like' were cheap shots some of the UK critics could not resist ... Typecasting is the lazy man's friend, and boy, were we typecast in Britain." On her feelings about Doppelgänger, she commented in 1992, "I saw it on TV a couple of years ago and I was very pleased with it. I thought it came over quite well."
Interpretation Archer and Nicholls cite among possible causes of the commercial failure of Doppelgänger its "quirky, offbeat nature" and the loss of public interest in space exploration after the Apollo 11 mission. The subject of the July 1969 Moon landing dominated a contemporary review in The Milwaukee Journal, in which Bennett F. Waxse noted comparisons with Doppelgänger: "... the spacemen find a few bugs in their 'LM' and crash on the planet. And do they ever have their hands full in getting back to Earth!" Writing that the proliferation of technical dialogue hampers the acting, he concluded, "... the makers of this space exploiter may get lots of mileage at the box office, but Neil, Buzz and Mike did it better on TV."
Webb meets his death in a scene stated to imitate the visual style of the 1968 Stanley Kubrick film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Critic Glenn Erickson suggested that Doppelgänger is "infected with '2001-itis'", referring to the old Webb as a "feeble asylum patient" who "sits in a wheelchair in a corridor resembling Dave Bowman's holding cell on the alien planet beyond the Star Gate."
It has also been suggested that the 1968 releases of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Planet of the Apes established an unattainable standard for other films of the science-fiction genre. Erickson argues that the film is inferior to 2001 for its depiction of a realistic "working future" in which humans remain attached to commercialism. Comparing the visual style of Doppelgänger to that used by film director Stanley Kubrick, he notes similarities in the use of close-up eye shots and various "psychedelic" images, regretting that "all these borrowings are fluff without any deeper meaning." Film4's review describes the final scenes featuring the character of Jason Webb as "hell-bent on recreating the enigmatic finale of 2001 by using a mirror, a wheelchair and a tartan blanket."
Martin Anderson discusses connections between Doppelgänger and other science-fiction films of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Solaris, acknowledging a "lyrical" tone in the dialogue. Ultimately, however, Doppelgänger "doesn't bear comparison with Kubrick or [Solaris director Andrei] Tarkovsky." Comparing Doppelganger to 2001, Rovin writes that the effects of the former "[occasionally] outshine" those of the latter." He goes onto state that the film "attempts to kindle a profundity similar to that of  in its abstract philosophising about the dichotomy of dual worlds, but fails with a combination of meat-and-potatoes science fiction and quasi-profound themes." He suggests that it is "neither a kid's film nor a cult film", but rules that "the elements that comprise the finished effort are more than individually successful."
Erickson contrasts perceived failures on the part of the script with the efforts of Nigel Kneale for the 1958 BBC serial Quatermass and the Pit and the 1964 film adaptation of the 1901 H.G. Wells novel The First Men in the Moon. Both Douglas Pratt and the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London liken the concept of the alternative Earth to the plot of "The Parallel", a 1963 episode of the American television series The Twilight Zone: in the episode, an astronaut returns to Earth to find that his world has undergone many changes – some trivial, some drastic – and concludes that he has arrived in a parallel universe. Critic S. T. Joshi compares the theme of duplication in Doppelgänger to the premise of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), in which characters' fears that their relatives have been abducted and replaced with alien impostors are vindicated with the appearance of the Pod People, an extraterrestrial species with the power to create doppelgangers that are nearly indistinguishable from humans.
Legacy Despite the polarised critical reception and commercial failure of Doppelgänger, Lew Grade offered the Andersons further opportunities to film in live action. Their first television series not based on puppetry was UFO, which premièred in the UK in 1970. Doppelgänger is considered an immediate precursor to UFO, and has also been described as a "trial run" for the Andersons' second live-action series, Space: 1999. UFO featured actors, costumes, props, locations and music that had previously appeared in Doppelgänger. Of the film's cast, Ed Bishop, Keith Alexander, Cy Grant, Martin King and Jeremy Wilkin had previously had an association with the Andersons: all had provided voices for Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons except Alexander, who had voiced characters for the penultimate Supermarionation series, Joe 90. With 11 other cast members, all but Grant and King appeared in at least one episode of UFO, in which Bishop had in the lead role of Commander Ed Straker.
Special effects elements from Doppelgänger that were recycled for UFO included the scale models of Phoenix and Dove . Futuristic cars (which consultants from the Ford corporation based on the chassis of the Zephyr Zodiac) and jeeps (adapted from British Leyland Mini Mokes) were also re-used. Neptune House, one of the filming locations for Doppelgänger, became the face of the Harlington-Straker Film Studios where the SHADO Organisation is headquartered. Tracks from Barry Gray's score that were recycled for UFO included "Sleeping Astronauts" and "Strange Planet", the latter serving as the ending theme music. The teleprinter images that served as the focus of the film's titles formed a creative element that was imitated in the opening titles of UFO.
In a retrospective of Anderson's career published on the IGN website, it is stated that the discussion of politics and economics in Doppelgänger contrast with the conventions of 1960s science fiction. Furthermore, such aspects are reflected in the atmosphere of UFO in so far as the characters "were constantly having to deal with the pressures of having to show progress under the scrutiny of accountants and elected officials, much the same way NASA was starting to in the US." Commenting on the parallels between the film and the television series, Martin Anderson makes another connection to Kubrick: turning his attention to the scripting, he argues, "the most interesting common ground between the two projects remains the bleak ending(s) and the slight flirtation with the acid-induced imagery and mind fucks of 2001."
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I don't normally like gory horror stuff, but the Walking Dead has been so riveting in its portrayal of human interactions and how they deal with a bizarre reality that I had to post this.
The Super Guide to the Fleischer Superman Cartoons
by Ross May
from Superman Homepage
This article is from Superman Homepage...a great site for all things Superman. Take a look when you can, you won't be disappointed, I'm certain!
Fleischer Studios, later called Famous Studios after being acquired by Paramount, produced seventeen Superman cartoons and were shown to audiences between 1941 and 1943. For those not acquainted with the history of entertainment, it was typical for movie theatres to show at least one short cartoon before the feature film, which has since been replaced with straight advertising. This was the original venue for the Superman cartoons, though they have appeared on television since then.
Superman's original medium was, of course, comic books, and his second venue was a radio program that began in 1940. Superman's first moving picture appearance, animated or live action, was in this series of cartoons. Their importance in making Superman publicly renown can not be understated. With only the comic books Superman would have been popular with children in America, but the radio and cartoon serials made the character so well known that he was soon recognized by all of North America, and then the entire world. Thanks in part to these cartoons his fame would snowball to create his lasting success and international stardom.
The cartoons are available today on VHS and DVD. The following text is what Bosko Video, a company specializing in the release of classic cartoons, has to say of the collection from its DVD release of the serials:
The character "Superman" was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. He first appeared in the 1938 June issue of "Action Comics," and was an immediate success with the public. Paramount Studios obtained permission to make a series of cartoons based on the comic strip. They contracted with Max and Dave Fleischer to produce them as the Fleischers were making the other cartoons Paramount distributed. The pilot cost $50,000. This is three times what "Popeye" cartoons of that time cost. Subsequent cartoons in the series had a budget of $30,000. Cost for all 17 of the "Superman" cartoons was $530,000. The familiar phrases, "Look, up in the sky!" and, "Faster than a speeding bullet," were created by the Fleischer Studio for these cartoons. These cartoons had the luxury of using pencil tests, and a special effects department that had been created for "Gulliver's Travels." The elaborate shading on the characters, the expert cutting of the action scenes, and the stylized designs of the backgrounds makes this one of the most elaborate and sophisticated fantasy cartoon series ever produced by any studio. They remain a landmark in animation history, and a legacy for generations. This series was transferred from original 35mm prints and negatives. Never before have prints of this quality been available from ANY source, including laser disk. We hope that you enjoy adding them to your collection.
The Voices and CharactersSuperman/Clark Kent: Clayton 'Bud' Collyer
Lois Lane: Joan Alexander
Narrator & Perry White: Jackson BeckNowhere in the credits (within the cartoons) are the voice actors listed, but they were likely never upset over that fact, especially Bud Collyer.
Bud Collyer had been the voice for Superman and Clark Kent on the radio program since its beginning, and he actually insisted on not being credited there, feeling that he would not be able to get any other roles. Not only was Collyer's concern very real, he correctly realized that any and every Superman actor would be typecast, something that has since been a component of the fabled "Superman Actors' Curse." Fans have loved Collyer's work for the way he was able to make Clark have a slightly higher pitch than his own voice, while his Superman possessed a deep, rich sound. Typically, the voice of Clark switches mid-sentence to Superman when he speaks, "This looks like a job for Superman!" Collyer would voice Superman for years on the radio series and return to the character for television cartoons, voicing him for the last time in the late 1960's. Starting in the 1940's, a mandate was passed from the comic book publisher stating that every attempt was to be made to create a faade that Superman was a real person. This ensured that Collyer would not be credited anytime in the foreseeable future. This mandate would continue for years and cause actor George Reeves much strife when he made public appearances as the man of steel, because he was never permitted to tell children that he was merely an actor playing Superman, and not Superman himself. Bud Collyer, however, relished his anonymity, which was easy to maintain since he only provided the voice of Superman.
The Superman radio program had run through two women who voiced Lois Lane already when Joan Alexander took the role. In fact she lost it after three months, and it was Bud Collyer who insisted that she be allowed to win it back by blind audition, which she did. Alexander was recruited along with Collyer from the radio program to voice her character for the cartoons. She succeeded her previous voice actors in being the longest running voice for Lois, continuing in the radio program and brought back with Collyer for future Saturday morning cartoons starring Superman. Though Lois has few lines in the cartoons, Alexander takes those sparse quips to make the character truly sound like a smart and witty female reporter.
Jackson Beck was the only recurring voice actor not brought over from the radio program. Instead, he started out working with Superman in the cartoons before crossing over to the radio adventures. Beck used his grand, booming voice to its full extent when providing the introductions as the narrator, not unlike Collyer's own method and tone when speaking as Superman. Most listeners require a trained ear and instantaneous comparisons to be able to tell that the narrator's terrific voice comes from the same man providing for the Daily Planet's editor Perry White, who, though solid and clear, is probably unmemorable to most listeners and is just an extra character, albeit a recurring one. That was probably the intention of Beck and the studio. In 1942 Beck was taken on at the radio program as a recurring character, and in 1943 a new narrator was required there, to which he was well acquainted with doing. Also of note, Jackson Beck served for a time as the vice president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Actors. Like Collyer and Alexander, Beck was invited to reprise his character's role for television cartoons until the late 1960's.
There are, of course, other characters who speak in the cartoons. Most, if not all, additional male voices were provided by Collyer and Beck. Besides Lois there were only three other female characters ever heard - the woman's voice calling out, "It's a bird," Jane Hogan in 'The Mummy Strikes,' and the title character in the final cartoon 'Secret Agent,' who seems to have usurped Lois's regular position as strong willed woman and damsel in distress. It is likely that Alexander voiced all of these.
The Introductions and Famous PhrasesEach cartoon opens first with the Paramount mountain and insignia, then changes to a picture of a darkened sky where Superman, as a blur, flies by several times before leaving the letters 'Superman' on the last pass. It is when he is flying that the audience hears the "It's a bird! It's a plane!..." quotations. Interestingly, this phrase has been constantly misquoted, even in the information provided by Bosko Video. Most people start the phrase by saying, "Look, up in the sky!" What is actually said between two men and a woman is:"Up in the sky, look! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman!"
The voices are provided by each member of the cast. The more familiar, "Look, up in the sky!" was used later on the radio program.
Here are the original credits for the first Superman cartoon as they appeared in theatres. A space represents a change in shots.
A Max Fleischer Cartoon
TechnicolorBy Arrangement with
comic strip created by
Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster
Dave Fleischer directed the first nine cartoons, all of which were produced before the studio was bought by Paramount and turned into Famous Studios. In the four earliest of these, his name is displayed alone on the final panel. There, a small, ringed planet can be seen underneath his name. In fact, the symbol looks exactly like the structure atop the Daily Planet building! Why this addition is present remains unknown. From the fifth cartoon on the director's name appears on the animators' and writers' shot in the credits, permitting no room for the symbol.
Not mentioned in these credits is scriptwriter and artist Jay Morton, who created the famous Superman introductions, descriptions, and taglines for these cartoons. It was he who wrote the, "It's a bird! It's a plane!..." line, as well as the following:
"Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!"
"Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to soar higher than any plane!"
"Faster than a streak of lightening! More powerful than the pounding surf! Mightier than a roaring hurricane!"
The numbers represent which episodes each quote appears in. As you might expect of the visual/audio medium, each sentence is represented with the object being described. The 'speeding bullet' sentence uses the same sky background as the one Superman zooms across. Indeed, there is no picture of a gun, and the small object hurtling in this instance is similarly coloured to those Superman flying shots, so the audience must decide for themselves whether the object being seen is actually a bullet or Superman speeding faster than one.
Some people say that the radio series is where Superman's famous phrases come from, but this is not the case, though it is understandable why there is confusion. Even in the comic books Superman was given various descriptions and exclamations of being "faster than X," or "greater than Y." The radio series took the concept of those descriptions and incorporated them into the narrator's introductions. Some of the descriptions come extremely close to being the same as the now famous lines, such as, "Faster than an airplane, more powerful than a locomotive, impervious to bullets." Jay Morton likely read the comic taglines and listened to the radio introductions as a basis for his own lines. It just happens that his phrases became the most popular, and were then adopted by the radio program and eventually by the comics as well.
The following is what the narrator tells us of Superman's origin, spoken only in the first cartoon:
"In the endless reaches of the universe there once existed a planet known as Krypton, a planet that burned like a green star in the distant heavens. There, civilization was far advanced and it brought forth a race of supermen, whose mental and physical powers were developed to the absolute peak of human perfection. But, there came a day when giant quakes threatened to destroy Krypton forever. One of the planet's leading scientists, sensing the approach of doom, placed his infant son in a small rocket ship and sent it hurtling in the direction of the Earth just as Krypton exploded! The rocket ship sped through star studded space, landing safely on Earth with its precious burden, Krypton's sole survivor. A passing motorist found the uninjured child and took it to an orphanage. As the years went by and the child grew to maturity he found himself possessed of amazing physical powers."
Kneitel and Sparber (writers of the first cartoon) might have written this back-story, but it seems more likely that Morton wrote it, as it is technically part of the introduction and seems to possess his personal flare.
Notice that there is no reference to the Kent family. In the original comics' back-story, the Kents discovered the baby Superman and did give him to an orphanage, only to return and then adopt him. The cartoon back-story would have viewers assume that Superman was raised in the orphanage. This change is probably due to time constraint more than anything else, and since the Kents would never appear it did not matter whether they existed or not.
Fans might be inclined to believe that the comment that Krypton, "burned like a green star," is an allusion to Superman's weakness, kryptonite. This could very well be the case, or it could be taken that Krypton had much plant life. Superman historians will point out that kryptonite did not appear in a Superman story until a June 1943 production of the radio program, two years after this first cartoon. Yet it seems that as early as 1939-1940 Jerry Siegel had envisioned an element called "K-metal" that would render Superman powerless. So, it is quite possible that Krypton's green colour in this cartoon is a reference to the as-yet unused kryptonite. After all, the planet is seen radiating a mysterious green light, probably not a good sign for any planet.
This is the phrase spoken after the back-story is completed. The image on screen shows Superman with his hands at his waist and his cape flapping in the wind. At the mention of Clark Kent, Superman morphs into his secret identity.
"The infant of Krypton is now the man of steel, Superman! To best be in a position to use his amazing powers in a never ending battle for truth and justice, Superman has assumed the disguise of Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper."
In subsequent cartoons, all of which did not contain the back-story, this same shot comes right after the "Faster than! More powerful than!" lines. Here is the description for the second cartoon, 'The Mechanical Monsters.'
"This amazing stranger from the planet Krypton, the man of steel, Superman! Empowered with X-ray vision, possessing remarkable physical strength, Superman fights a never ending battle for truth and justice, disguised as a mild mannered newspaper reporter, Clark Kent."
This cartoon happens to be the only episode where Superman employs his X-ray vision power, so in the remaining fifteen cartoons that same introduction is used but "Empowered with X-ray vision," is omitted.
The CartoonsFollowing is an intensive look at each cartoon. The dates provided are the release dates of each cartoon to movie cinemas. Notice that Isidore Sparber is sometimes credited as I. Sparber and William Turner is sometimes shortened to Bill Turner. These changes seem to have no reason, as each individual has enough room to display their full moniker in the credits.Superman
September 26, 1941
Director: Dave Fleischer
Animation: Steve Muffati, Frank Endres
Story: Seymour Kneitel, I. Sparber
Musical Arrangement: Sammy Timberg
A mad scientist sends a letter to the Daily Planet threatening to use a destructive ray on the city at midnight. Lois already has a lead on the story, and knows that he is operating high atop a mountain. She pilots an airplane to get the scoop on the story, but is captured by the villain. The scientist uses his ray to destroy a bridge, and a newsflash describing the incident is listened to by the Daily Planet staff. Clark goes to a stockroom to change into Superman and leaps out a window, but as he is flying to the source of the ray it hits the Daily Planet building, causing it to fall over. Superman corrects the building and then takes on the beam itself, punching away the energy. The scientist turns his machine to full power, but that only thwarts Superman for a while before he reaches the source and twists the pistol of the machine, causing an overload. Superman rescues Lois and the scientist from the building as the weapon explodes. Superman tosses the villain in jail and Lois writes up the story for the Daily Planet.
November 28, 1941
Director: Dave Fleischer
Animation: Steve Muffati, George Germanetti
Story: Isidore Sparber, Seymour Kneitel
Musical Arrangement: Sammy Timberg
A bank is robbed by a giant flying robot, who takes the money to a secluded hideout containing many other robots and where a man operates a control panel. The Daily Planet reports that a jewel exhibit will be showing rare treasures to the public and that precautions have been taken to guard them against the, "mechanical monster." At the exhibit, Clark is inspecting the gems when Lois greets him. Suddenly, one of the robots breaks into the building and begins to steal the jewels. Lois gets inside the cavity of the machine where all the gems are being placed while Clark goes to a phone booth and calls the office. Upon exiting, Clark can not find Lois so he re-enters to change into Superman. Superman then chases the mechanical monster and uses his X-ray vision to spot Lois inside the machine. He wrestles with it in the sky, which causes him to plummet to the Earth and for it to lose the jewels, but luckily Lois hangs onto the robot. Superman crashes into power lines and requires time in freeing himself from them. Meanwhile, the robot reaches its master, who is enraged that the jewels have been lost. He ties up Lois and sets her on a platform that gets closer and closer to being submerged into a giant vat of smouldering metal. Superman untangles himself from the power lines and breaks into the lair. He defeats the numerous mechanical monsters, rescues Lois and captures the inventor. Lois writes up the story for the Daily Planet.
January 9, 1942
Director: Dave Fleischer
Animation: Myron Waldman, Frank Endres
Story: Seymour Kneitel, Isidore Sparber
Musical Arrangement: Sammy Timberg
A billion dollars worth of gold is being shipped via train to the National Mint. Lois boards the train and says goodbye to Clark, as she is going to write a report on the event. An armoured car filled with masked men chases after the train. Two of the men board the train and wrestle the conductor and an armed guard. Lois hears gunshots and goes to the engine to investigate. She tries to stop the train but can not. At a station, a signalman waves a red lantern but the train speeds by. He uses Morse code to alert other stations that the train is running wild. The Daily Planet also receives this message and Clark decides to change into Superman. He reaches the train just as the criminals have diverted the tracks so it will collide with explosives. Superman uses his bare hands to move the tracks back onto the main course. The criminals then blow up a bridge as the train is crossing it, but Superman expertly guides it all back onto the track. Finally, the villains throw a bomb that destroys the engine and coal car, but not before Superman rescues Lois. The train begins rapidly rolling downhill, but Superman pulls it forward. The masked men use tear gas and gunfire on him, but he is undeterred and brings the train cars to their destination with the gold. Lois writes about the event for the paper.
February 27, 1942
Director: Dave Fleischer
Animation: Willard Bowsky, Reuben Grossman
Story: Bill Turner, Ted Pierce
Musical Arrangement: Sammy TimbergIn Siberia, scientists discover a giant dinosaur frozen in ice. They bring it America and display it in a museum, still encased in ice. The Daily Planet's editor receives a call from a professor saying that the monster might still be alive. At the museum Lois is getting a tour of the refrigeration unit when a can of oil falls into a generator, causing serious malfunctions. Workers race to get the system working again while the ice thaws and the dinosaur awakens. It breaks free of the ice and destroys the building, trapping Lois inside. The Daily Planet receives word of the event, and Clark changes into Superman. He frees Lois of the rubble, then uses a boulder to fix a dam that the creature broke. The dinosaur lumbers through a river and breaks through a bridge, which Superman supports and ties up with thick metal cords. Lois enters a sporting arena and reaches an upper level to take photographs of the beast. Superman hurls a metal cord from the bridge at the dinosaur, tying it up. It is close enough to Lois that it catches her in its mouth, but Superman pries its jaws open and rescues her. Superman subdues the creature and Lois writes about the adventure, saying that the dinosaur will be on display.
March 27, 1942
Director: Dave Fleischer
Animation: Orestes Calpini, Graham Place
Story: Bill Turner, Carl Meyer
Musical Arrangement: Sammy TimbergPolice headquarters are destroyed by the Bulleteers - three men who pilot a high tech bullet car/plane. The next day, from high atop a mountain outside the city, the Bulleteers announce that if they do not receive all the funds from the city treasury they will continue to destroy power plants, firehouses, and municipal buildings. Lois interviews the mayor who says that the city will not give in to any threats. Meanwhile, the buildings said to be targeted are barricaded and sentries are posted. The Bulleteers read in the Daily Planet that their demands shall not be met so they go out in their rocket and destroy a power plant, causing a blackout in the city. Lois, who was working late, drives off to investigate while leaving Clark behind. Clark changes into Superman and hits the rocket vehicle before it can punch through the treasury, but the ricochet causes it to fly wildly and breaks apart a building, sending heavy debris onto Lois's car. Superman saves her, and is then buried himself when the vehicle succeeds in toppling the exterior of the treasury. The Bulleteers park it and get out to loot. During this time Lois sneaks into the rocket vehicle and tries to sabotage the controls. The Bulleteers return and take to the sky, kidnapping Lois. Superman frees himself and goes after them, dismantling the vehicle. Superman saves the occupants as it crashes to Earth. Lois, once again, writes about the event for the Daily Planet.
April 24, 1942
Director: Dave Fleischer
Animation: Myron Waldman, Thomas Moore
Story: Dan Gordon, Carl Meyer
Musical Arrangement: Sammy TimbergAn observatory is seen sporting a giant magnet. The magnet activates and pulls a meteor close to Earth as city residents watch including Lois, Clark, and Perry. The fiery meteor falls from the sky, rolls along a street and splashes into the harbour. Later, the scientist responsible says he is aware that the mayor has instructed him to stop his experiments, yet he tells a squad of policemen and Lois on assignment that he will continue his research. He intends to use his magnet again to attract a meteor to within a mile of the Earth for examination, then send it back into space once his work is completed. The police rush at the astronomer, but he pulls a lever which activates a wall, locking the men out. The scientist turns on his machine, bringing the comet to Earth, but the police stop the generator and break electric cords in the power room, not realizing that now the comet will strike the Earth for certain. The comet hits another heavenly body which breaks apart, sending dozens of meteors crashing into the observatory. The scientist and the police officers escape, but Lois stays behind to telephone the Daily Planet. After overhearing the phone call Clark catches a taxi to the observatory. On the way there a large meteor nearly crushes the car. Clark changes into Superman and soars to the observatory. He lifts some debris that has Lois pinned, then attacks the giant comet but is unable to stop it. Superman uses a rope and his super strength to wind up the dynamo to create electricity, then tries to reattach the broken power cords. They will not reach so he grabs each end and uses his own body as a conductor. With the power back on, Lois activates the magnet and sets it to repulse the comet, which flies back into the sky. In a darkened room in the observatory Lois rushes to a figure who she thinks is Superman and plants a kiss. It turns out to be Clark, who switches on the lights and is much amused.
May 15, 1942
Director: Dave Fleischer
Animation: Steve Muffati, Arnold Gillespie
Story: Seymore Kneitel, Isidore Sparber
Musical Arrangement: Sammy TimbergA Native American comes to the Daily Planet office and tells Perry, Lois and Clark that Manhattan rightfully belongs to his people. He insists that their paper write about this and order residents (presumably all non-Aboriginal residents) to vacate it. The three find the order to leave preposterous. The man threatens them that modern science will make them change their minds, then leaves. Lois follows the man to the docks where she steals away in the back of his motor boat. They arrive at a secret location, and the man spots her in the back. Without coercing or forcing her, he invites her into an elevator to witness something amazing. The elevator takes them to an underwater base, and there he traps her in a special chair to ensure that she will not interfere. He activates a machine that controls several cords with tuning forks on their ends planted in the ground. When charges reach the tuning forks, explosions and earthquakes result. After chaos erupts in the city Clark changes into Superman. Leaping into the sky, he notices that unnatural explosions are coming from the waterfront. He dives into the water and begins pulling out and dismantling the cords and tuning forks. The sabotage causes the machinery outside and inside the base to rupture, resulting in a hole. Water quickly gushes into the base and the scientist escapes to the surface in the elevator. Superman also goes to the surface and is ready to apprehend the man when the scientist tells him that someone is still in the base. Superman dives back into the water while the man sends a bomb down the elevator shaft. Superman rescues Lois and they escape before the bomb goes off. As the scientist makes his getaway in his motorboat, it is suddenly lifted out of the water by Superman, still holding onto Lois. Lois, as usual, writes about the event for the Daily Planet.
July 10, 1942
Director: Dave Fleischer
Animation: Willard Bowsky, Otto Feuer
Story: Bill Turner, Carl Meyer
Musical Arrangement: Sammy TimbergTremors are being felt on a populated island on which rests the volcano Mount Monokoa. Clark and Lois are sent to report from the island. Once there, Clark is not permitted to enter a restricted area because he lost his press pass. Clark goes to the police station and waits for the chief to return while Lois is told by an expert that the plan is to blast the rim of the crater facing away from the city on the island so when there is an eruption the lava will flow harmlessly into the sea. The eruptions begin before the explosives team is fully prepared, and falling boulders break a cord so they are unable to set off the dynamite. Clark hears the eruptions and changes into Superman, then stops a giant boulder from striking the city. He then gets Lois to safety and joins the broken cords, setting off the explosives. The lava starts flowing down the other side of the volcano. Later, Lois is writing about the event on her typewriter and Clark finds his missing press pass sticking out of her purse.
August 28, 1942
Director: Dave Fleischer
Animation: Orestes Calpini, Jim Davis
Story: Jay Morton, Dan Gordon
Musical Arrangement: Sammy TimbergClark and Lois are outside a circus tent as Lois laments having to cover such a boring event. When the show is about to begin she heads inside and he heads to the Daily Planet. At the circus, a monkey accidentally opens a cage containing a dangerous, giant gorilla. Workers try to catch the beast, but it is stronger than their combined strength. The circus tent is nearly evacuated when the gorilla starts lumbering after a small girl. Lois gets the girl to safety, but now the beast is following her. Meanwhile, upon reaching the Daily Planet building Clark hears several sirens. He catches a taxi and tells the driver to see what the commotion is. Upon reaching the circus, Clark discovers that frightened elephants have broken several cages, allowing lions and panthers escape. Clark changes into Superman and begins rounding up the ferocious animals and subduing the elephants. The gorilla has cornered Lois on a high wire platform, and Superman leaps high to save her. Superman and the gorilla fall and hit electrical equipment, resulting in a fire. Superman tosses the gorilla into the high wire safety net, finally stopping the animal. Superman rescues Lois from the fire and later, as always, Lois writes about the event.
September 18, 1942
Director: Seymour Kneitel
Animation: Myron Waldman, Nicholas Tafuri
Story: Bill Turner, Carl Meyer
Musical Arrangement: Sammy TimbergAmerica has built the world's largest bombing plane. Japanese agents stow away on the aircraft while it is being loaded. Later, members of the press are allowed to have a look around. Lois hides herself in a locker in order to have a firsthand account of what the plane's historic maiden flight is like. The plane takes off and the Japanese agents tie up the crew and take control. Lois exits the locker, sees what is happening, and radios the ground for help. The air force is about to send up fighter planes but the Japanese men drop a bomb on the runway, preventing them from lifting off. Clark changes into Superman, soars into the sky and enters the plane. He then rescues Lois from being let out through the bomb chute. After defeating two of the agents he is about to enter the cockpit when the last Japanese man smashes the controls, sending the plane hurtling toward the city below. Superman returns to the ground with Lois, then masterfully lowers the plane onto a city street. Later, Clark and Lois ride together on a carnival ride that resembles a small airplane.
October 16, 1942
Director: I. Sparber
Animation: Steve Muffati, Graham Place
Story: Jay Morton
Musical Arrangement: Sammy TimbergA man in a Superman costume is seen robbing stores. This person is of course not Superman, but a criminal who dresses as Superman and delivers his earnings to his boss. Several newspapers report on the Superman robberies, including the Daily Planet. Lois does not believe that Superman is the perpetrator. An office boy gives Lois and Clark two tickets to the opera, telling them that the editor wants them to cover it. At the opera Clark falls asleep. At the same opera the Superman criminal sneaks around stealing jewellery and such without people noticing it. One woman does realize and screams as the thief starts hustling away. Lois leaves her seat to investigate and runs into the perpetrator. They scuffle and she accidentally rips off his 'S' symbol. Not having seen the man's face in the light, Lois now believes Superman really is behind the robberies. She calls the police while Clark changes into Superman. On the roof, Superman faces the criminal who fires several shots from a gun at him. The criminal gets so afraid that he tries to get away and falls over the side of the building, but Superman catches him. Lois and the police see that there is a real and a phony Superman. Superman and the impostor go to see the crime boss. Once there the boss does not realize that Superman is the real deal, but after he knows he activates a trap door that drops Superman into a chasm. The two criminals push a desk over top the door and seal themselves inside a vault. Superman escapes the chasm and opens the vault, but the criminals are not there anymore after having used a torch to make a new exit. They are getting away in a car and nearly collide with a police car with Lois inside. Before the two cars can crash, Superman jumps in between them and apprehends the criminals for the police. Later, Clark is dozing off at the office when Lois returns, ready to type up her report on the event.
November 20, 1942
Director: Dan Gordon
Animation: Willard Bowsky, William Henning
Story: Carl Meyer, William Turner
Musical Arrangement: Sammy TimbergLois and Clark have been interned at Yokohama, Japan. Every night at eleven Clark changes into Superman and removes the bars from his window, then goes out and sabotages various vessels, machines, bases etc. He then returns to where he is supposed to be a prisoner and replaces the bars. Lois wonders if it could be Superman who is behind the sabotage acts. After many nights and failed attempts at catching Superman, Japanese soldiers place up signs in English warning Superman that if he commits any more acts of sabotage then Lois will be executed. Superman, however, does not spot the signs and destroys a large ship. It is only afterwards that he notices one of the signs. As Lois is about to be killed by a firing squad, Superman appears and shields her from the bullets. He defends them both from the soldiers, then takes her away. Later, Lois is getting interviewed and photographed on a ship as she is returning home. She tells the reporters that Clark Kent is still in Yokohama, but Superman promised her that he would look after him. In Yokohama, when the clock strikes eleven explosions erupt. Superman is still sabotaging.
December 25, 1942
Director: I. Sparber
Animation: Dave Tendlar, Tom Moore
Story: Jay Morton
Musical Arrangement: Sammy TimbergA security guard for a munitions plant is killed and his body is dumped into a swamp. A radio tells of the discovered body, and Lois decides to investigate by going undercover and getting a job at the plant. There, she overhears mentions of a suspicious sounding meeting. Lois listens in on a manager telling two workers that they did good work in disposing of the watchman. She also hears that dynamite charges are connected to a switch that will be thrown by the new night watchman. One of the men spots Lois and they chase her through the building. Lois is finally caught and placed inside a torpedo with dynamite. The new watchman sees what is going on and attempts to rescue Lois but is buried under scrap metal released from a heavy magnet. The torpedo is sent out to testing waters where onlookers believe that there are no explosives in it (not to mention no human). The torpedo is fired at an old barge, but Superman emerges from the scrap metal and takes the torpedo out of the water. He frees Lois, then goes after the men responsible. He decks them all and destroys watchman's switch, ensuring that the planted explosives can not go off. At the same time, one last man has taken a truck filled with TNT and driven it down a hill towards the plant, jumping out to save himself. Superman takes control of the vehicle and drives it off a cliff. Later, the criminals have been apprehended and Lois removes the watchman's hat and fake hair, revealing him as Clark Kent.
February 19, 1943
Director: I. Sparber
Animation: Myron Waldman, Graham Place
Story: Jay Morton
Musical Arrangement: Sammy TimbergAn ancient Egyptian specialist, Dr. Jordan, is found dead at a museum. His assistant, Jane Hogan, is found guilty of his murder. A colleague to them both, Dr. Wilson, calls Clark and tells him that he has important information on the matter. Clark tries to hide his scoop from Lois, but she realizes that the phone call was about something juicy so she follows him. At the museum Dr. Wilson relates the history of an embalmed king and his guards. The pharaoh was a young lad who died, and his giant warriors were so faithful to him that they drank poison so that they could protect him in death. Dr. Jordan had excavated these mummies and reconstructed their burial chamber in the museum. Studying ancient formulas, he created a serum he called the fluid of life. Dr. Jordan injected the guards with this fluid, but never reached any results. He also tried to open the outer casket of the pharaoh, which was booby trapped by poisoned needles. Clark opens the casket while anticipating the needle, causing light to emanate from a jewel on the pharaoh's sarcophagus. The light reaches the guards and animates them. One of them throws Clark into a casket, who breaks out as Superman. He rescues Lois and Dr. Wilson from being hurled into a raging fire by the guards and defeats them. Later, Clark for once writes about the story as Lois has been hurt and her arms are in bandages, looking very much like a mummy's wraps.
March 26, 1943
Director: Dan Gordon
Animation: Orestes Calpini, H.C. Ellison
Story: Robert Little, Jay Morton
Musical Arrangement: Sammy TimbergNazi soldiers in white costumes are pretending to be deities to a group of native Africans. Their base exists inside two giant hollow statues with heavy artillery. A plane containing a pilot and Lois is fired on by the Nazis, taking them down. At the crash site the dieing pilot gives Lois the coordinates of an American fleet on a piece of paper, and tells her to destroy the document. Before she can do so she is captured by the Africans, but still manages to hide it under a rock. Lois is interrogated and refuses to give any information. For this, the Nazis allow the natives to burn Lois alive on a pyre, with hopes that she will relent to save her life. The paper is found by one of the Africans, and the Nazis leave Lois to them and the fire. The Nazis radio a submarine fleet, giving the location of the American vessels. As Lois is beginning to succumb to the heat, Clark and his own pilot fly over, spotting the fire and the crashed plane. Clark parachutes onto a cliff overlooking the fire and changes into Superman. He rescues Lois and fights the Nazis on top of the statues, but a heavy door with a broken handle prevents him from entering the base. Lois disguises herself in the white costume of a fallen soldier and enters the base from ground level. She tries radioing American forces but one of the Nazis sees through her disguise. The Nazi tries to destroy the radio console but Superman enters just in time to stop him. Just as the German submarines are about to fire on the American ships, planes bomb the submarines, thus ending their threat. Adolf Hitler, alone, listens about the event on his radio.
June 18, 1943
Director: Seymour Kneitel
Animation: Nicholas Tafuri, Reuben Grossman
Story: Jay Morton
Musical Arrangement: Sammy TimbergThe Daily Planet finances an expedition led by a man named Henderson to investigate caverns that were discovered by his father. Clark and Lois accompany him, and at the entrance to the caverns Lois and Henderson depart in a boat and will meet Clark inside later. While unloading the boat inside the caverns it drifts away, forcing Lois and Henderson to chase it. Later, Clark enters the caverns and can not find his companions. He goes on foot into a large, lit cavern, and finds that they have been taken hostage by half human, half bird people, and are about to be lowered into a molten substance that will turn them into statues. Clark changes into Superman, rescues them, and exits the bird people's domain. He throws a bomb at the cavern entrance, sealing it off and preventing them from getting out. Back at the Daily Planet, Perry White commends Lois on her story before burning it, saying that nobody would ever believe it.
July 30, 1943
Director: Seymour Kneitel
Animation: Steve Muffati, Otto Feuer
Story: Carl Meyer
Musical Arrangement: Sammy TimbergClark is at a drugstore when a car crashes through the window while chasing another vehicle. The occupants get out, steal another car, and continue their chase with guns blazing. Clark jumps onto the back of the car. Police in a squad car spot the chase and save the woman driver being chased while the villains, along with Clark, get away. It turns out that the villains are saboteurs, either directly working for or sympathizing with the Axis cause. The woman was a spy who now must get a list of their names and plans to Washington. A police escort takes her to the airport but is ambushed by the villains. The woman drives through the shoot-out onto a mechanical rotating bridge where two of the saboteurs have been waiting. They trap her on it by activating the bridge. An accident causes her to fall unconscious on the tracks where giant rollers move the bridge. Meanwhile, Clark has allowed himself to be captured and tied up by the saboteurs, and once the last of them leave he changes into Superman and traps several of them in an elevator. He soars to the bridge and saves the woman by pushing the mechanical bridge back, taking the rollers off the tracks. He personally flies her to Washington, then takes back to the sky while the American flag flaps proudly in the wind.
Superman/Clark Kent: Clayton 'Bud' Collyer
Lois Lane: Joan Alexander
Narrator & Daily Planet Editor (Perry White): Jackson Beck
End NotesI hope you found these notes informative and entertaining. My personal opinion of all the cartoons is that a lot of care was put into them. Though the stories are often sub par, on several occasions they are quite fun and exciting. Strictly thinking of the artwork and animation involved, they are quite amazing to watch, particularly many of the stunts that Superman completes. His detailed actions are much more exciting than in any of the more recent Superman cartoons. If you are a Superman fan and want to experience pure, Golden Age excitement, then these cartoons will be a joy to watch.I recommend to anyone who read this article to check out the Superman Homepage information on the Superman radio program, as a lot of its history connects to these cartoons. I also recommend looking up Fleischer Studios in a search engine to find out more about the company and people who created these serials. Most importantly of all, if you have not already seen these cartoons go in search of a copy of them.
References'The Complete Superman Collection: The Paramount Cartoon Classics of Max & Dave Fleischer.' Bosko Video. 1991.Markstein, Don. 'Don Markstein's Toonopedia- Max Fleischer Studio.' - "http://www.toonopedia.com/fleischr.htm"
Rozakis, Bob. 'Kryptonite.' - "http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/bobro/105695684482145.htm. 2003".
Tollin, Anthony. 'Superman on Radio.' - "http://www.supermanhomepage.com/radio/radio.php?topic=r-radio".
I hate to say this, but this wonderful production team only made 17 episodes, which is a great treasure and a loss to all of us Superman buffs.
I will never forget the stunning imagery, the power and force of these cartoons. I do believe they stirred my heart and mind and helped me to find courage to face some pretty hefty obstacles.
Rest in peace Max and Richard Fleischer and all the crew and cast of this wonderful animation series.
My next and last Superman post will be tomorrow.
I thought all you X-File fans out here, that if you're like me, you're hoping or were hoping that the Amazon Pilot Chris Carter was making for Amazon would pan out. But alas. It has not.
So here's a trailer for a series that might have been.
Hats off to Chris for at least trying.
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