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Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Peter Files Summer Film Festival: Superman: The Mechanical Monsters


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This summer The Peter Files will feature some short films from the archives of out of copyright films from various sources.

They will vary in length and type, some will be cartoons, and some will be short and educational films of one kind or another.

In some cases, such as today's film, the characters such as Superman, are clearly trademark characters, but for some reason the owners of the films such as in this case, Paramount Pictures and Action Comics allowed the copyright on this cartoon, Superman: The Mechanical Monsters go into the public domain. Their loss is our gain and so I bring you the links to view it yourselves in either QuickTime or Real Player format.

In Superman: The Mechanical Monsters, a mad scientist unleashes giant flying robots to rob banks and loot museums. Naturally it does not take long for the Daily Planet to assign ace reporter Clark Kent to the story or for scoop hungry Lois Lane to figure out a way to nose into the story.

When Lois Lane gets into trouble in pursuit of one of the giant robots after a $50,000,000 jewel heist, Superman goes into action and saves the day. This is the early Action Comics Superman. He is not quite so invulnerable as the Superman of the 70's and after and so his efforts to fight the robots and save Lois are a bit tougher and somehow more heroic perhaps than the all powerful Supes of the comics of today.

There is something a little more appealing about this 1941 Superman, fighting for truth, justice and the American way. A Superman who is, but is only "Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound..." Yes, this Superman leaps more than flies, leaping up in a great bound then gliding as much a flying down, yes he flies, but not with the magic of today's Superman. When he fights the Massive robots he takes his hits and we are not certain he will survive all immidiate threats. Superman as it was, and perhaps as it always should have been.

That's why I picked this public domain clip to start my series. It's about 9 minutes long but packed with fun. Super-time anyone?

Animation by Steve Muffati and George Germanetti. Music by Sammy Timberg. Produced in 1941.

Director: Dave Fleischer
Production Company: Paramount Pictures, Action Comics & Superman Magazine
Audio/Visual: sound, color

For dial-up QuickTime Click Here
For Broad-Band QuickTime Click Here

Get your popcorn and soda ready, and enjoy the show!


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