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cinemalover

Zap!....Pow!....Boom!....Movies based on comics

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Lester Dent's DOC SAVAGE, and Will Eisner's THE SPIRIT, are my two all time favorite fictional charecters! Both of them have been sadly neglected by HOLLYWOOD!

Each one should literally have had dozen's of adaptions on film, both live and animated!

 

Doc Savage directly inspired the entier Super Hero genre that was to come in the early 1930's! Eisner meantime is the father of the American comic book! The most influiential catooniest/writer in the History of the medium! Many plans for movie, and TV adaptions over the past 4 decades for both characters never came to be!

 

The 1986 ABC TV Piolt for THE SPIRIT was mediocer at best. The Spirit is a character of the 1940's, and to have him running around in the present day, just does not work! When I was a kid I loved George Pal's DOC SAVAGE: THE MAN OF BRONZE back in 1975, but there were plenty of inaccuracies in the film. To my knowledge, neither of these Warner Brothers Productions have been released on official DVD anywhere!

 

Here are two big post's I wrote about Doc Savage, on another board awhile back in 2005. They are pretty in depth.

 

First Post:

 

As Professor William Harper Little John would say, ?Well I?ll Be Super Amalgamated!? ?Holy Cow!? To quote Colonel John Renwick, was I ever happy to see this post! DOC SAVAGE is the greatest adventure hero of all time, period! In-fact, along with Maxwell Grant's (Walter Gibson) THE SHADOW, these two extraordinary characters inspired the entire super-hero genre that was to come! They are directly responsible for it!

 

Simply put with out "THE MAN OF BRONZE", DOCTOR CLARK SAVAGE JUNIOR, there would have been no "MAN OF STEEL" SUPERMAN (Clark Kent), since Doc himself was the original Superman! Somehow years later, Superman seemingly moved right into Doc's "FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE!" There would have been no BATMAN either, since Batman is essentially a amalgamation of Doc Savage and The Shadow!

 

Years after the fact, Ian Fleming's James Bond blatantly stolen all of Doc's gadgets and took credit for them! What a jerk! Benjamin J. Grimm?s ?THE THING? of Fantastic Four fame, also finds his true origin?s in Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Blodgett ?Monk? Mayfair from among Doc?s aids! As do his frequent quarrels with partner Johnny Storm, echo Monk?s habitually "stormy" relationship with worst enemy/best friend crack Harvard Lawyer General Theodore Marley ?Ham?Brooks! Again even INDIAN JONES is heavily influenced by the world of Doc Savage!

 

Unfortunately, HOLLYWOOD has failed "The Bronze Knight Of The Running Board" and his equally worthy Fabulous Five. If you ask me, there should have been literally dozens of Movies and TV shows based on Doc Savage over the years! He is the most influential and heavily ripped off literary character ever created, but that character himself and his fantastic adventures has been sadly ignored!

 

Not that plans were not made. TV's popular "Riflemen" Lucas McCain (Chuck Connors), was supposed to be the first big screen Doc way back in 1966. This never happened as the Quinn-Martin production of "THE THOUSAND HEADED MAN", was cancelled. Then in 1968 Quinn- Martin obtained the rights to produce a DOC SAVAGE weekly Television series. That idea also fell through.

 

In 1970, ITC International had a plan for a future Doc syndicated show. That changed in 1971, while several studios were bidding for the rights to make a feature film, producer George Pal was granted the exclusive rights to produce a series of motion pictures based on the Savage novels.

 

Eventually, TV's former Tarzan 6' 5' 230 lbs. RON ELY was chosen for the part. Pal set out to film DEATH IN SILVER in 1972, and was well into production of the picture as a serious minded adventure, when for some unclear reason he decided to scrap it and make THE MAN OF BRONZE first?

 

After the opening few sequences, someone (I have forgotten who it was) who had a vested interest in the production demanded that the remainder of the picture be more light hearted, and humorous fair, and somehow proceeded to turn a very promising production into something that more or less resembled TV's 1960's BATMAN! This was his intention apparently.

 

Warner Brother's after delaying release for some half a year in 1975, stupidly killed the picture at the box office by demanding it be re-edited (it was cut by nearly an hour!) removing some good action sequences, and released it with a very unexpected G-rating!

 

The film was very loosely based on the first Doc Savage story THE MAN OF BRONZE published in February 1933, and contained some minor and a few major incongruities! Even as a kid I recognized that Doc's Bronze helicopter should have been an Auto-Gyro! The date of the story was way off too! Firstly, the film takes place in 1936. That's much to late for this adventure to take place! The literary tale takes place in 1931! Doc's hair was supposed to be bronze slightly darker than his skin, not blonde! His eye's Gold-Flecked, not Blue!

 

Never the less, Ely feature wise bore a staggering resemblance to way Doc looked on the covers of the Street and Smith pulps of the 1930's! My major quips with the picture were Major Thomas J. "Long Tom" Roberts dark hair, which should have been blonde, and the made up name of the lost Indian tribe Doc's father discovered in the dense Central American Jungle! I knew that they had to be Mayans, because Doc and his fab five often communicated with each other using ancient Mayan! This way the villains never had a clue what they were saying to each other! That was disappointing!

 

None the less, as a wide eyed nine year old, I still loved DOC SAVAGE THE MAN OF BRONZE when I first saw it! This was probably the first movie I ever attended for repeat showings! To my knowledge This movie has not been released on DVD so far? I for one would certainly buy it if it were! Somewhere hidden away in the Warner Brother?s vault is ton?s of discarded footage from DEATH IN SILVER, and what a great DVD extra this would make!

 

I still like the film as pure entertainment, and to some extent I feel it has gotten a bad rap. It has managed to emerge as something of a minor cult classic today, which I think is great! Some have dismissed it as pure camp, which I disagree with! It still has it?s merits! Not the least of which is this is the only theatrical version of Doc Savage that has ever been released over the years! Therefore it is must viewing for any Savage fan!

 

DOC was already my hero, even at nine! I knew him from the paperbacks, and the Marvel Comics color, and black and white series. (I actually had seen a number of the original pulps as well!) My friends and I never imagined for a second the film would flop! This never even entered our heads!

 

We couldn't wait for the planned sequel DOC SAVAGE: ARCH ENEMY OF EVIL! It was expected to be based on the Dent novel ?SECRET IN THE SKY? and according to George Pal would have contained allot of the unused footage from both the productions of DEATH IN SILVER and THE MAN OF BRONZE! Regrettably, it never was made! Though Pal was determined to make another Doc Savage picture in 1979! Unfortunately, he died in early 1980, before that project could ever get off the ground! NBC had aired THE MAN OF BRONZE as a possible series pilot in 1977.

 

There have been several other plans since the 70's to bring Doc back to the big and small screens including in animated form! Not the least of which was the glaring exclusion of Doc, Monk and Ham from the 1991 production of Dave Stevens THE ROCKETTEER! Who did you think designed that Rocket pack anyway? Why "The Man of Bronze" of course! Read the books and there all in their!

 

Other than a short lived and very well done Radio program in 1985, nothing has to date, ever come of the rest! There have been several different comic adaptations since then, published by several companies. Even new Savage novels! At present though Doc is about as low profile as you can get! What a shame!

 

Most recently CASTLE ROCK ENTERTAINMENT it appears canceled it's plans for a big budget DOC SAVAGE feature! When will the original super-hero, and the most sadly neglected major fictional character ever created finally receive his proper respect and just due in the movies? I hope it still happens one day!

 

Second Post, Response.

 

?Let us strive every moment of our lives to make ourselves better, and better, to the best of our ability. So that all may profit by it. Let us think of the right, and lend our assistance to all who may need it. With no regard for anything but justice! Let us take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage. Let us be considerate of our country, our fellow citizens, and of our associates in everything that we say and do. Let us do right to all, and wrong no man.?

 

The Doc Savage Oath ( March, 1933)

 

Ktrek,

 

I have audio CD?s of all the episodes from the FEAR CAY and THE THOUSAND HEADED MAN radio broadcast?s. I do not have any of the others. I felt these were both very good. I was anxious to hear more of them. If you have them, boy would I be interested! Incidentally, this was not the first Doc Savage radio program, as there were two others back in the 1930's and ?40's! I have not heard any of the originals! Surely at least some of them must still exist?

 

Another interesting foot note is Columbia pictures showed some interest in producing a Doc Savage adventure serial in the late 1930's! Easy to understand why it didn't happen. After all, how could Doc possibly be "The Man Of Bronze" in black and white? Wouldn't it have been great if the series had materialized?

 

Yes, the James Bama paintings were very striking, and impressive! Unfortunately, Bama forever altered the perception of what Doc was supposed to look like. He added the Widow?s peak, and the older harsher appearance that has become part of the Doc Savage tradition. This is far from the way Doc was depicted in the pulp illustrations.

 

Doc was actually very handsome youthful in appearance, with dimples, and had a comparatively conventional hair style on the often equally impressive Street and Smith covers! I can?t for the life of me recall an artist?s name at the moment?). I?ve always resented the fact that brilliant as they were Bama?s painting's presented Doc's features so differently! I never cared much for the ?widows peak?, and I still don?t, to this day!

 

Also bare in mind, that Doc along with his cousin Patricia, and his five famous assistants, were all taking the here to fore unknown medicinal herb, from FEAR CAY, that prolonged youth, and thus were ageing much slower than ordinary mortals were! So Doc definitely would not have look so old as he did, on the first Bama cover, and many of the others that were to follow!

 

I neglected to mention that another note worthy error in the 1975 movie version of DOC SAVAGE: THE MAN OF BRONZE, concerned Doc?s secret ?Crime College? in up state New York! This was a hidden institution were Doc engaged in brain surgery techniques that he himself developed, and rehabilitated harden criminals. In the movie though, there is a big flag waving and bronze letters at the front gates proclaiming it as the DOC SAVAGE REHABILITATION CENTER!

 

Now this would never be the case, since in the original stories, the college was not even known, (for good reason) to the authorities! Worse still, the decision was made to depict "The Chrysler Building", rather than the 86th floor of what was clearly defined by Lester Dent as "The Empire State", as Doc's headquarters! Long time Doc fans balked at this!

 

The amazing biography DOC SAVAGE: HIS APOCALYPTIC LIFE, by Phillip Jose? Farmer first published in 1972, is still the definitive biography on Doc and his crew. However, it is not the only one, more recently another book was published called THE BRONZE AGE (in believe in 1991?) Unfortunately, I have never run across a copy, and don?t have the publisher, or the authors name handy.

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Hopefully Hollywood will be spending more time on various superheroes and not always do the old "Superman, Batman, Spider-Man" routine. ;)

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Actually, REED RICHARD'S did know VICTOR VON DOOM in College in the original FANTASTIC FOUR Comic series, back in the early 1960's. In addition, GWEN STACY was killed by THE GREEN GOBLIN in 1973, not by THE SHOCKER.

 

MARY JANE WATSON, soon took Gwen's place as PETER PARKER'S main love interest, though FELICIA HARDY (The Black Cat), certainly gave her a good run for her money! After a long engagement, Peter and Mary Jane, were eventually Husband, and Wife.

 

I always loved THE BLACK CANARY and her fishnets! She looked great In JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED! Ollie too! Interest in THE GREEN ARROW character, has certainly been revived by this season's SMALLVILLE as well.

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Well I'm by no means an expert on comics, but even I have heard that many of them have something like "alternate realities" or different universes, or stuff like that, which allow new comic book authors to revisit stuff that was explained somewhat different in earlier incarnations -- years or even decades back.

 

If comic book writers themselves re-write comic-book history, why not the screenwriters of the comic-book movies? ;)

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Cinemascope,

 

A new big budget movie version of SHAZAM, The original Captain Marvel, was supposed to have been released last year? I think it has been completed?

 

At one time Dwain "THE ROCK' Johnson, was expected to be cast in the role of "The Big Red Cheese"! Not sure who eventually got the part? I have not heard anything about the project in a long time?

 

There was also talk of Bruce Campbell, portraying Will Eisner's THE SPIRIT! Campbell is today clearly much to old for the part. The only way to do THE SPIRIT right on the big screen is to have a fully animated version, not live action.

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You're right about RR knowing him and Doom doing crazy experments in college (which he got kicked out for), but they never went on that space trip together.

 

 

You sure Gwen wasn't killed by The Shocker? I have been wrong before, but I thought I remembered that one. Tough to keep all the supervillans straight. I stopped reading comics in the early 70's and I don't think PP and MJ were hitched at that time.

 

Yeah, BC was my dream girl in the comics. She and GA had a really cool kinda "Thin Man" superhero relationship--except I don't remember them belting back a few while fighting crime!

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Arkadin,

 

Yes, Gwen Stacy was heaved off the George Washington Bridge, by the original GREEN GOBLIN! (Harry Osborne). Spidey caught her with his webbing before She hit the drink, but her neck snapped, and she died! An unforgettable moment in comic book history!

 

A couple years later in 1975, Gwen turned up alive! But this was in reality a clone whipped up by THE JACKAL, just to torment poor Peter! Another highly memorable story line! I still have the original issues!

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Wow. I'm looking all this stuff up and it's bringing back quite a flood of memories. Any good classic comic sights Gagman?

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Arkadin,

 

We could be talking all night here! I know of many classic comic book sites, but don't have any of the links handy. Beware most of them are chuck full of Spyware, and even an occasional virus! So be careful searching around!

 

I used to love DAREDEVIL AND THE BLACK WIDOW, CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE FALCON, and all those other great titles back in the 70's! You know what I still do! Those were the days! Most of those comics were so well written!

 

I think I have every AVENGERS issue from about 1969-1980! The Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye, AVENGERS, not Steed, Cathy Gale, Mrs. Peel, Tara King, Purdey, Gambit etc! Though I certainly love them as well! In-fact THE AVENGERS is my all time favorite TV show! There are tons of sites devoted to this fantastic series all over the net!

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The Avengers were cool. I have some of those old ones. Sounds like you were mostly a Marvel man. Ever get into the old DC stuff? I used to love The Spectre, Dr. Fate, Capt. Midnight, etc.

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Arkadin,

 

Oh yah, THE SPECTER! Talk about a powerful dude! Those books were pretty eerie!

I read allot of the DC titles too. Hey, back than comics were only 15 to 20 cents a piece! Today I have no idea what they cost? Maybe it's just me, but I always liked The JUSTICE SOCIETY, better than the JUSTICE LEAGUE?

 

I still buy an occasional special one or two shot's like BATMAN/THE SPIRIT, that came out just last year. Also have almost every DC-Marvel Team Up comic, like BATMAN/CAPTAIN AMERICA, BATMAN/SPIDERMAN, DAREDEVIL/BATMAN, SUPERMAN/FANTASTIC FOUR, SUPERMAN/SILVER SURFER, and The four part JUSTICE LEAGUE/AVENGERS from a few years back.

 

There was even a time when Superman and Captain America were combined into one character, called THE SUPER SOLDIER! You see elements of both costumes in the character. Another Wild one was JLX, an amalgamation of X-Men, and the Justice League! Or how about BRUCE WAYNE: AGENT OF SHIELD! I love these amazing company crossovers! I have dozen's of them!

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Well I am not familiar with most comic-book titles but I do wish "Supergirl" didn't have such a troubled story of appearing and disappering from print several times. As the female counterpart to the most popular of all superheroes, she could very much help set forth a positive example for young women everywhere.

 

And in the meantime, we'll just have to keep waiting for a decent Supergirl movie one of these days.

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Yes, I always was more interested in the Justice Society. The Green Lantern was one of the few guys that existed in both demensions.

 

There was a guy on my hockey team who was a big comics fan who bought a nice one piece stick that was green. He nicknamed it "Hal" (for Hal Jordan/Green Lantern) and scored a lot of goals with that thing.

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The Justice Society was shown in the old "Super Friends" cartoons? I remember watching some of those and wishing there were more women in there... guess I always believed in "equal opportunity" ;)

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Another comic character that was turned into a rousing serial was Spy Smasher. He was a character with the same comic company that published Captain Marvel. The serial was produced by Republic, which made consistently entertaining cliff-hangers. They made the best minatures in the business.

 

Message was edited by: dum dum

cinemalover

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I never heard about "Spy Smasher" before, but I'd certainly like to know more about him!

 

So you think Republic Pictures made the best miniatures in movies? :)

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