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96.44 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
12 hr 10 min
P/S 10 / 78
178.96 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
12 hr 10 min
P/S 11 / 162

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by neil-4769 / 10


The Mad Scientist is the first of the cartoons the Fleischer brothers animation studio made for Paramount. Released in 1941, this film has a very strong look of Shuster's art in the early strips - not surprising, as work started on the film less than two years after Superman's first appearance in Action Comics.

The film kicks off with a brief reprise of Superman's origin before introducing us to Clark Kent and Lois Lane being briefed by newspaper editor Mr White - a threatening letter (complete with inkblots!) has been received from a mad scientist - if his demands are not met by midnight, he will unleash his worst! Sniffing a scoop, Lois commandeers the story for herself and flies off (in an aeroplane! she is an accomplished pilot) to accost the scientist.

The scientist is sitting in his observatory/laboratory, his comedy crow on his shoulder, waiting for midnight to arrive, when Lois arrives. Her surreptitious sneaking into the lab is rather spoiled by the noise of her aeroplane landing and the scientist rapidly overpowers her and ties her up so that she can observe him unleashing his deadly ray on the city, where it destroys a road bridge.

It is at this point that Clark realises that "This is a job for Superman!" in the first film presentation of a well-loved cliché which is still in use today. The scientist's ray is undermining a skyscraper, but Superman saves it from toppling it over by pushing it back upright. It starts to topple the other way, but Superman pulls it back to equilibrium by heaving on the flagpole(!).

The scientist turns up the ray and it smashes Superman to the ground. He recovers himself and starts to fly up the beam, punching it out of the way with a succession of left-rights. The scientist turns up the beam even more, flooring Superman once more, but the Man of Steel again recovers himself and pursues the beam back to the barrel from which it issues, which he ties in a knot. This causes the ray gun to back up, and tremendous pressures start to blow the scientist's machinery - and the observatory - to pieces. The scientist flees, Superman unties Lois and escapes with her in the nick of time, pausing only to pick up the scientist and dump him in jail. The next edition of the Daily Planet features the scoop under Lois' byline, and Clark delivers his first ever trademark wink to camera.

Some points to note: Superman's chest insignia features a red "S" on a black background with a yellow outline for the shield. Although the opening title/origin sequence shows Superman leaping a building at a single bound, he undoubtedly flies during the body of the film (except for the transit from the observatory back to the city, which is a leap). In the opening sequence, Superman stands for Truth and Justice, but not yet The American Way. Sammy Timberg's score is somewhat dated, but still highly enjoyable, and his Superman theme is the first of a number of memorable stirring themes. Bud Collyer's vocal performance delivers its trademark drop in level during the "This is a job for Superman" speech. The effects animation is absolutely gorgeous. The comedy crow is, perhaps, a misjudgement. The Fleischers had been producing Popeye and Betty Boop cartoons for some years, and perhaps old habits died hard. Apart from this one touch, this cartoon - like all the others - is pretty straight-faced all the way through. The newspaper is the Daily Planet - the Star has already gone by now.

The fairly recent restoration makes this attractive cartoon something which bears up well to modern viewers.

Reviewed by winner5510 / 10

may seem archaic to younger viewers today, but was decades ahead of its time when released.

A few notes on the historical importance of the Fleischer Superman cartoons.

1. The Superman cartoons formed the first action/adventure/sci-fi cartoon series ever, thus setting the stage for all anime, Saturday morning TV action 'toons, video games and such to come.

2. The Superman series quietly helped disseminate art-deco and other modernist design styles into popular culture.

3. "The Arctic Giant" episode predates the 'giant dinosaur' film cycle by some ten years; the design of the Arctic giant itself was clearly an inspiration for Toho's Godzilla design.

4. The drawing style for the Superman comic books was rather rough, as with most action comics of the type of that era. The Superman cartoons, on the other hand, present a smooth-line style, using dark shadows for modeling. This style was to have a great impact on the "illustrated novel" comic book style that developed in the late '70s - roughly about the time the series was rediscovered by comics/cartoon fans.

5. Fleischer studios apparently simply ignored the Superman live-action serials of the time. Thus rather than pursing convoluted plots only resolved by dialog, they chose a compressed narrative style, with hardly any dialog, which emphasizes the plot as realizable only through action.

6. Because of this compressed narrative style, the Fleischer story writers were the first to be confronted with the perennial Superman dilemma - namely, how to actually threaten a character who is all-powerful and invincible at least to the extent of creating a plot-motivating conflict. They are not always successful - the episode about the escaped circus gorilla is especially unconvincing - but the effort is fascinating, especially since the comic book Superman writers would not really confront the problem until the 1970s (having used the kryptonite ploy to evade the issue for 20 years).

7. Interestingly, the Fleischer Superman series, with its stronger violence and deeper themes, and its commitment to a kind of visual realism, is clearly intended for a more mature audience than the comic books or the live-action serials - despite the fact that it appeared just as major studio cartoon workshops began resigning themselves to entertaining younger audiences.

8. "The Eleventh Hour" episode, with Superman acting as saboteur in a personal war against Japan, was released nearly 3 weeks BEFORE Pearl Harbor. The Fleischers thus had Superman join the fight against Fascism world-wide before the US was finally drawn into the battle.

9. It is true that the cartoon series defines its character and history differently than the comic book version; but this was when the Superman mythos was still in development, and the Fleischers pursued possibilities for the character the comic book writers had not yet considered (for instance, his ability to fly, his invulnerability, the curiously playful relationship between Clark and Lois - which in the cartoons has a real edge of adult romantic attraction that was unavailable to the comic book writers).

It is easy to see why the Superman series did not salvage the Fleischer studios from their ultimate dissolution - they are dark, violent snippets of science fiction drama at a time when audiences were coming to expect cartoon animals playing gags on each other. But it is more difficult to figure out why it lasted for as many episodes as it did. My guess is that the Fleischers realized they were breaking new ground, and were willing to give it as much a chance for success as possible. Unfortunately, they were literally decades ahead of their time. As a particular animated cartoon style, we would not see its like again until the Warner Bros. Batman television series of the 1990s - and by then the idiom was simply accepted as one of many available to animators and cartoon artists.

Reviewed by redryan6410 / 10

The Finest Ingredients of Artwork, Animation, Original Musical Score & Ideal Voice Actors don't guarantee fine Recipe, unless you have Master Chefs Max and Dave Fleischer!

That Arguably All-American Genre of the Super Hero was still a new and still growing staple in the Comic Books publishing field in 1941. Coincidental to the looming and rapidly gathering clouds of War. The numbers of super hero features their proliferation continued as sort of psychological protective response to the Axis threat.

Admittedly, their roots go much deeper into literary figures and the Great Depression gave them the first propagating stimulus; but it was still World War II that stimulated the colorful Magazines or Periodicals (Comic "Book" being an obvious malapropism.).

As an example, typical comics' covers of 1941-45 would feature war related illustrations that weren't related to any of the internal stories' content, except in the broadest, most general sense. Heavily symbolic illustrations on Action Comics with Superman saving a Tank crew, Detective Comics with Batman & Robin presenting a G.I. with a new rifle, USA Comics with Captain America kicking Hitler in the nuts, Whiz Comics with Captain Marvel airlifting Refugee Kids to Freedom and Marvel Mystery featuring Sub-Mariner sinking a U Boat while The Human Torch burns the wing off of a Messerschmitt.

There is little wonder that the Super-Hero would soon move off of the comics page to the daily newspaper strip, Radio Programs, Movie Serials and the Animated Cartoon Short. (Television was still off in the not too distant future.) And leading the parade was that Strange Visitor from another Planet, the Man of Steel (Himself),Superman! The first roll on the Monopoly Board landed Superman on Mutual Radio's Network in 1940. This gave the World The Adventures of Superman 15 minute daily serialized program. The cast featured Bud Collyer's multi-ranged vocals voicing both the mild mannered, high pitched Clark Kent as well as the richer, deeper and powerful Superman. Miss Joan Alexander did Lois Lane with Announcer ("….The Adventures of Syue-Puhr-Man!") Jackson Beck did Perry White. (As for Cub Reporter, Jimmy Olsen, he didn't appear until later in the decade, originating on the Radio, not in the comics, as Jimmy, the Office Boy.)

When the deal was struck between Superman's copyright owner, DC Comics/National Comics Publications and the Fleischer Brothers Animation Studios, tendering the rights to produce the first Superman animated series, the decision was made to retain the services of Mr. Collyer, Miss Alexander and Mr. Beck to reprise their voice characterizations.

So the first cartoon was on the drawing board. Not surprisingly, it would contain the obligatory origin sequence. But in dealing with this in a rapid, sort of re-cap style; Max & Dave and company avoided using-up a whole cartoon; thus allowing the story of 'The Mad Scientist' (alternate & possibly working title). As for this story it is sort of typical, but gained in status by being the first with Superman (or any other Super Hero, for that matter).

OUR STORY (at last)………………..The Editorial Offices of THE METROPOLIS DAILY PLANET are inundated with reports of wanton destruction of bridges, buildings and urban infrastructure of the City. The Editor (called oddly enough, "Chief" wants Clark Kent to investigate, but spunky Lois Lane, Girl Reporter, is determined to scoop Kent, only to be taken hostage by the Evil, Mad Scientist. (Is there any other kind?) Superman shows up, saves Lois from being consumed in molten metal and apprehends the villainous (Is there any other kind?) renegade genius. Lois gets scoop and by line. Clark establishes a series long custom of winking at the audience as ironic conversation about the adventure fills the Planet's Editorial Office.

WE feel obligated to two neat, little touches that made for a much better first episode. First is the use of the Mad Doctor's pet anthropomorphic cuddly vulture. Secondly we salute the eerie, hauntingly bizarre voice of the MAD SCIENTIST; which we just discovered was provided by Mr. Jack Mercer, famous for Popeye's gravely voice.

The series hasn't a real klunker in the whole bunch; though naturally, some individual cartoons will be found to be better than others. We noticed that the shorts produced at the Fleischer Studios auspices seem superior to those made after that notorious coup-de-tat that transformed the animation house into Paramount's Famous Studios.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Warning! Achtung! Cuidado! When you get your Tape or Whole DVD Set, do not attempt to view multiple shorts, one after another. Doing your watching in this manner tends to render them seemingly repetitive, monotonous and boring even; kinda like attempting a 3 Stooges marathon of shorts featuring Joe Besser. Try instead to do your viewings interspersed with other features.

After all, this is truly "…..Truth, Justice and the American Way!"

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