Prior to 1978, live action adaptations of super-hero comics where relegated to the realms of Saturday morning serials and, later, television. By the nature of such outlets, these efforts were low budget affairs with special effects that were crude even by the standards of the times, and were for the most part aimed at an audience consisting mainly of children. The one exception, the 1966 Batman film, isn't much of an exception at all, as it was based on the wildly popular TV show, and was even more of a broad comedy than the series itself. There is 1951's Superman and the Mole Men, however ,despite its getting a theatrical release, that film is essentially the pilot for the Adventures of Superman TV series.
Superman: The Movie was the first big budget, feature length super-hero film with state of the art special effects aimed at a more general audience that made at least an attempt to treat its subject matter seriously. The production was a bit of a gamble at the time, but it paid off. Without the success of Superman, and to a lesser extent its three sequels, it is doubtful that we would have had the spate of super-hero blockbusters that have become a staple of the summer movie season over the past decade and a half.
What, you may well be asking yourself, am I doing writing about a nearly forty year old film on a blog ostensibly about comics in Columbus, Ohio? Well, my friend, here in Columbus we love our old movies. One of our most cherished summer traditions is the CAPA Summer Movie Series. Each June through August, a variety of classic films are screened in the beautiful, historic Ohio Theater in the heart of Downtown Columbus. It just so happens that this year's series kicks off this coming weekend with a showing of Superman: The Movie.
The series has an especially strong line-up this year. Superman is followed up by the 1982 screwball comedy My Favorite Year, starring Peter O'Toole and Mark Linn Baker, better known as "Cousin Larry" on ABC's Perfect Strangers, on Wednesday, June 11, and the Humphrey Bogart film noir classic The Maltese Falcon on the following Friday and Saturday.
Other highlights include legendary child star Shirley Temple in The Little Princess, the Lucille Ball/Desi Arnez comedy The Long, Long Trailer, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, two James Bond films (The Spy Who Loved Me and You Only Live Twice), a trio of Alfred Hitchcock thrillers (North By Northwest, The Lady Vanishes and Dial M For Murder), the first remake of A Star Is Born starring Judy Garland, and a double feature of Christopher Guest directed "mockumentaries" (Waiting for Guffman and Best In Show).
Show times for Superman: The Movie at the Ohio Theater are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $4.00 ($3.50 for Seniors) and you can buy a strip of ten tickets, good for any show all summer, for $25.00.