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     Now on DVD
Now available on DVD

In 1948, Superman became the hero of a live-action movie serial, with one new chapter showing each week at Saturday matinees in movie theaters around the country and advertised on the Superman radio show.  In keeping with the tradition established in the radio show, the actor who portrayed Superman was not revealed in the credits.  The actor in this case was Kirk Alyn, who did receive screen credit for his other role of Clark Kent.  Before Kirk was offered the role of Superman, he had been a dancer who made many appearances on Broadway.  "I had been working with barbells, so I was in good physical shape for the role."  He turned in an impressively earnest performance as Superman and Noel Neill played a perky Lois Lane.

Sam Katzman, who had made dozens of highly successful movies for Columbia, was chosen as the producer for the 1948 Superman serial and the series was directed by Spencer Bennet.  The special effects scenes of Superman in flight were animated in a style similar to the Fleischer cartoons.

The series was credited as being "Adapted from the Superman Radio Program broadcast on the Mutual Network."  It did contain such radio-show inventions as the Daily Planet, kryptonite, and the characters of Perry White and Jimmy Olsen, but Superman's origin in the movie serial was from the George Lowther novel.  In the first chapter of the serial, Superman Comes to Earth, it is revealed that Krypton, Superman's home planet, boasted a race of super men and women.  Among the leaders of the planet was Jor-el, foremost man of science, who had planned to build a mammoth fleet to rescue the population of Krypton from destruction by transporting everyone to Earth.  Krypton was governed by a council which was led by Ro-zan.  Additionally, Clark Kent's foster father is named "Eben", but his foster mother's name is never given.  She makes him his Superman costume from the fire-proof blankets that he was wrapped in while an infant travelling to Earth from Krypton.  His foster father gives him the name "Superman" and tells him that he must use his powers to fight in the cause of truth, tolerance, and justice.  Both of his foster-parents pass away before he adopts the Superman mantle.


Now on DVD
Superman became the most popular movie serial of all time and was followed up in 1950 with another 15-chapter serial, Atom Man vs. Superman.  This featured the first on-screen appearance of that brilliant scientific madman, Lex Luthor.  Luthor was played by an impressively stern Lyle Talbot, who says of the series "our approach was never to kid it - this had to be for real."

Atom Man vs. Superman had much improved special effects, with animated bullets bouncing from Superman's chest and live-action scenes of Kirk Alyn in flight.  It included many firsts, with Lex Luthor discovering the Phantom Zone and Lois Lane working as a television reporter for Luthor's TV station.

In one particularly memorable sequence, it is revealed that both Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane had long suspected that Clark Kent and Superman are one-and-the-same, but feign ignorance in order to help cover for him.

Kirk Alan's Superman with Noel Neill as Lois Lane



The Superman Movie Serials are available at the on-line Gift-Shop.

movie serials and original TV adventures!

Much more information about the Superman serials can be found in Garry Grossman's book, Superman: Serial to Cereal

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Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
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