Monday, November 15, 2010

Movie Monday - Atom Man vs. Superman, Chapters 8-11

Here begins Part 3 of our extensive recap of 1950's Atom Man vs. Superman. And in the tradition of Batman and Robin (and since it's Saturday night and I don't begin my first official day on the new job until 3:30 tomorrow afternoon), I'm going to designate this episode as the official Atom Man vs. Superman drinking game. For the sake of self-preservation, I'm not going to drink a whole shot every time I drink, but just take a swallow from this Nyquil I've mixed up (vodka, Chambord, Blue Curacao, and Grenadine--It's purple and really tastes like Nyquil).

So, the ground rules: Drink when the narrator mentions that Superman is "once more" using his X-Ray Vision. Drink when a sequence reuses footage from the previous serial, or when it uses stock footage from a real disaster. Drink when Jimmy is knocked out. Drink when Lois smiles inappropriately. Drink when Perry White can't find a match to light his cigar. Drink when Luthor announces his plans on police band radio. Drink when the Planet plants a fake story. Drink when either Superman or Luthor recognizes a trap, then decides to walk right into it. I could come up with more, like when Superman invents a new power to solve his current problem or when they reuse sets or props from other serials, but those eight will do.

So, when we last saw Superman, he was being dumped into the back of a fake ambulance after being knocked out by Luthor's fake kryptonite. As Chapter 8, "Into the Empty Doom," opens, the ambulance wails away, watched by a mysterious stranger. Could it be the deadly Professor Stone, come to be a real villain?

Nah, just an Innocent Bystander, apparently (gratuitous plug).

Once in Atom Man's secret cave headquarters, Superman is revived and forced to stand under the Main Arc. As Atom Man is preparing to send Superman into the Empty Doom, he asks if Superman has any last words. Superman channels his Inner Arnie and says, "I'll be back."

After Superman has disappeared, Atom Man begins to remove his mask. Will we finally see on-screen proof that Luthor is Atom Man, or will the director continue to play coy? Coy.

Back at the Daily Planet, Lois and Jimmy realize that both Superman and Clark are missing. Then Lois has a frustrating bout with her "darn newfangled typewriter," so Jimmy plugs it in for her. Yes, this will be important later.

With Superman out of the way, a new crime wave strikes Metropolis, and though ghostly Superman tries to stop it, he can't actually do anything.

Meanwhile, Perry White has also noticed the missing Clark, and decides this means that Clark Kent=Superman. He orders Lois to write up the story, which Lois surprisingly balks at. Apparently, all those times she tried to prove Clark was Superman, she was just a dog chasing cars. She heads out to her desk, and Perry searches for a match. DRINK!

So Lois heads out to start on the story. Ghostly Superman tries to grab the paper out of her typewriter, but fails. I think they meant him to seem insubstantial, but the film is misaligned, so he's clearly grabbing several inches to the side. The Empty Doom screws up your depth perception!

She finishes the story and hands it in, but before Perry can get the front page replated, Clark calls in to say he's on the trail of a hot story. Turns out Jimmy Olsen can imitate Clark's voice perfectly, almost as if Kirk Alyn were doing a voiceover. Jimmy and Lois flirt a little afterward, because there are still flashes of romantic chemistry between the two. I wonder if Noel Neill and Tommy Bond ever hooked up off the set?

Suddenly, Lois's typewriter starts typing by itself. Superman has apparently visited that creepy old ghost in the subway, because he can now concentrate his superpowers to move the keys of Lois's electric typewriter. He tells Lois that Atom Man's HQ is in Cave Mountain (the same one where they found "bare rock walls" before). He tells her to go to the police, but she just grabs Jimmy and heads there herself. She even channels her inner action hero by knocking out a guard with her purse.

But once in the cave, she and Jimmy are caught by Atom Man and his thugs. He gives Lois a sporting chance, telling her one of two switches will free Superman, while the other will doom him forever. She tries reading the thugs' faces while reaching for the switches, but one thug stays stone-faced, the other smirks no matter which switch she contemplates, and Atom Man is just a glittery helmet. So she chooses lady AND tiger and throws both at once.

BOOM! goes the Chapter 9, "Superman Crashes Through!"

Lois and Jimmy are knocked out by the blast. Atom Man orders his thugs to dispose of the bodies. So they drag Lois and Jimmy outside, where they run into a couple of repairmen from the electric company. Atom Man has apparently been tapping into power lines illegally, the fiend. The thugs learn not to mess with the power company. These guys obviously belong to the union, because they beat the crap out of the thugs, who run away. And once again, when the union toughs explore the cave, they only find bare rock walls.

Back at the Daily Planet, Superman types another ghostly message to Lois with the power of his crotch.

When Perry sees the message, he phones up a friend at the press association and says he needs help. Soon, headlines appear that Superman has returned from the Empty Doom and will appear on television live to prove it. Luthor doesn't believe it, but he turns his fancy big-screen TV on anyway.

We see Superman stop a couple of thugs in footage reused from the previous serial. DRINK! Is Superman really back?

No, it's just a fake story planted at Superman's request--DRINK!--abetted by a television station (not Luthor's) showing old newsreel footage of Superman's exploits.

But Luthor wants to be sure, so he sends one of his henchmen into the Empty Doom to take a look around and see if Superman's still there. Which of course, he is. There's a chase in space!

Superman catches the thug and tosses him away into oblivion, then rides down the beam back to Earth. One of Luthor's thugs pulls out the synthetic Kryptonite, but it has lost its potency over time. Superman slaps it out of the thug's hand, then knocks Atom Man's head clean off!

DAMN, Supes is hardcore! Oh, it's okay. It's just a robot (convenient). Later, Clark Kent shows up at the Daily Planet, claiming he was saved from the Empty Doom by Superman. He and Perry cook up a plan to prove Luthor is Atom Man.

Perry chews Lois out in front of the entire newsroom, so Lois quits and goes to work for Luthor's TV station. On her first day, doing man-on-the-street interviews for the cameras, there's a robbery in a nearby jewelry store. Clark and Jimmy run off after the robbers, while Lois hands her mike off to a random bystander and steals the Planet car to give chase. Thugs shoot the tire out, and Superman has to stop the car from crashing. Lois gets out, thanking him while smiling as if nothing has happened (DRINK!), and Superman says, apropos of nothing, "You can thank Clark Kent." For what, exactly?

Meanwhile, Jimmy has chased the thugs to a trainyard, where he gets his foot caught as a train approaches. He's doomed! Doomed, I tell you!

Oh, look, Chapter 10, "Atom Man's Heat Ray." Wow, we don't seem to be drinking much so far. The opening theme music has changed slightly for some reason. And Superman once more stops a train instantly without derailing it. But while he's busy saving Jimmy, the thugs coin-teleport away. Clark and Jimmy suspect it was no accident that the robbery happened so close to one of Luthor's TV trucks, or as Clark says, "Luther's" TV truck.

Luthor suspects the same thing and pledges to help catch the crooks. He hires a couple of mooks to get caught robbing a payroll trailer the next day.

Lois visits the Daily Planet, where it's revealed that her quitting was all a ruse. Only now,Lois thinks Luthor is telling the truth. Unfortunately, a thug standing outside the door overhears and tries to blackmail them. He orders Clark to open the safe. Clark tries to fight, but is knocked through the door to Perry's office. Jimmy is knocked out, too. DRINK!

Clark changes to Superman and confronts the thug. The thug shoots, but Superman just lets the bullets bounce off his chest. And looking at his smile, I'd guess he's been drinking a lot more than I have. Plus, he decides to ricochet one of the bullets off his hand, knocking a light fixture down on the thug's head. Ouch!

Superman races out and changes back to Clark. When Lois finds him out on the window ledge, he gives the lamest excuse in the history of lame Clark excuses, which is not something I say lightly.

The next day, the mooks and FGD-Alpha rob the payroll trailer. The mooks get caught, but Alpha flees, pursued by Clark, Lois and Jimmy. Alpha calls Luthor, who tells him to let himself be seen, then lead them into the trap. He lets the trio see him, then ducks into a doorway. As the three reporters enter the room, Alpha hides behind a crate marked "Rubber Life Raft" and coin-teleports away. A steel door slides down to trap the three reporters, and then Luthor pumps in poison gas.

Now, I know I'm not a brilliant criminal mastermind or anything, but it seems kind of counter-productive to me to set up a fake robbery to prove my innocence, only to kill the reporters who were set up to be the witnesses.

Oh, well, who cares? Welcome to Chapter 11, "Luthor's Strategy." Glad to know he has finally come up with one. And I'm still (mostly) sober, darn it.

Clark changes to Superman and inhales all the gas in the room. Then he punches a hole in the steel door and blows the gas outside. He forces the steel door open and carries Jimmy and Lois outside onto a sidewalk covered with dead pigeons and passers-by (okay, not really, but that would be funny).

Later, Clark and Jimmy try to convince Perry that the entire scheme is a big scam being pulled by Luthor to divert suspicion away from him. Perry toys with his cigar and says he doesn't believe it. Could we be about to drink?

Nope, it cuts away to two of Luthor's thugs in a TV truck outside listening in. Drink denied! They report the conversation to Luthor, who is unhappy that Kent is so smart. Funny how Clark is so smart while Superman is so stupid. In order to throw Clark off the trail, Luthor gives a press conference in which he displays letters he claims to have received from Atom Man, threatening him. And then Atom Man's voice sounds in the room and stuff starts blowing up!

Notice Lois on the left, wearing a Flash Gordon-looking outfit. She's practically a superhero herself in that dress. BTW, is it drink-worthy if it's Luthor planting the fake story in the Planet? I think so. DRINK!

Back at the Planet, Clark is telling Perry he's still not convinced of Luthor's innocence when Jimmy rushes in with a teletupe (sorry, teletype) story about a lfood (sorry, flood) upstate. Cue the stock footage! DRINK! Okay, maybe I got a little buzz going.

Lois and her cameraman set up to film, while Superman flies around sving people from hte stock footage. Look, more crates marked "Rubber Life Raft." They actually have a purpose this time, tohugh, as Superman uses them to save people from the rising waters.

Then a cop drives up to Lois's crew and tells them to clear out because the dam's about to burst. The men want ot leave, but Lois offers this rousing sentiment: "Let's make this an epic of TV reporting." Not quite a St. Crispen's Day speech, but what do you want on this budget?

So the dam bursts nad Lois's crew flee to higher ground (it appears to only be about a foot higher, but still...), but Lois stays womanning the camera until hte water is rushing down upon her, at which point she leaps into the truck, and can't get it started.


To Be Concluded Next Week!

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