Adventures of Superman - Seasons 3 & 4
  • Adventures of Superman - Seasons 3 & 4
  • Adventures of Superman - Seasons 3 & 4

Adventures of Superman - Seasons 3 & 4

5.0 2
Director: George Blair, Harry Gerstad, Philip Ford

Cast: George Blair, George Reeves, Harry Gerstad, Philip Ford

     
 

The producers of The Adventures of Superman, in an amazing leap of faith in the longevity of their program and its appeal, and the future of broadcast and home-viewing technology, chose to shoot the series in color starting with the third season, even though they were only printed in black-and-white until 1965. And to cover the increased costs --…  See more details below

Overview

The producers of The Adventures of Superman, in an amazing leap of faith in the longevity of their program and its appeal, and the future of broadcast and home-viewing technology, chose to shoot the series in color starting with the third season, even though they were only printed in black-and-white until 1965. And to cover the increased costs -- including the need to shoot entirely new stock footage, build new sets, test every article of wardrobe and set decoration to see that it photographed well in color but also in the black-and-white that would be printed for at least a decade, and redesign and reconceive the Superman costume, etc. -- they limited the 1955 season to 13 new episodes instead of the usual 26. A similar strategy was followed for the fourth season, and the two have been combined in one five-platter package by Warner Home Video. The series by this time was oriented more toward preteens than to the wider family audience that the first two seasons had been aimed at; the actors portraying criminals played their roles much more broadly, for comic-relief effect, and the plots reflected the increasingly juvenile level of the comic book itself, which, in the mid-'50s, seemed aimed at challenging elementary-school readers. However, the best of the episodes -- and that's easily half of what's in this set -- also contained ideas and humor that could appeal to any teenagers or adults watching, so that they wouldn't tune out. With the "deez, dem, dose" dialect employed by the actors portraying mobsters, we also got fascinating elements of science fiction, in a story called "The Deadly Rock, and human interest by the gallon in "The Wedding of Superman" and "The Girl Who Hired Superman" (of which the latter also included pretty good crime and suspense elements). The full-screen (1.33:1) film-to-video transfers are a bit uneven in quality but always impressive, either for their sharpness and detail or the depth of their color in certain scenes. Some sequences also show a surprising amount of wear and blemishes, and other sequences, such as the ten-minute mark in the episode "Superman Week, seem washed out and grainy. The most interesting and entertaining moment from a technical standpoint comes from that episode, which includes a television interview with the Man of Steel; it's a transcendent moment in the melding of time and technology to see the black-and-white image of Superman on the screen in the middle of the color setting for the rest of the shot. Despite the low-level of sophistication in the plotting, there are some entertaining episodes in these two seasons. "The Seven Souvenirs, which introduced Phil Tead to the cast (he would later play a very different recurring character), offers an intriguing mystery and also an early look at a manifestation of the cult of celebrity. Generally it's all satisfying viewing, and the sound has also been handled well; the score (which is sometimes amazingly lush, as in the action scenes from "The Talking Clue") is as sharp as the dialogue, and one can now hear not only the slight flubs in lines that crept in (the budget was stretched so thin that retakes were avoided unless absolutely essential) and also the little under-the-breath remarks that came out of various characters. Oscar-winning editor Harry Gerstad, who had handled the second season's assembly of shows, did what he could as a director on many of these episodes under the circumstances, which mostly meant letting some talented character actors, such as Harry Tyler, Leonard Mudie, and Charles Watts and, especially, Sterling Holloway and Phil Tead, do what they do best. And there are some recognizable future stars in among the guest casts, including Chuck Connors and Paul Burke, the former two years away from doing The Rifleman (and still mostly associated with "heavy" roles at the time) and the latter a decade out from the series Twelve O'Clock High and the movie The Thomas Crown Affair. Disc four is chock-full of great episodes: "Jimmy the Kid, with Jack Larson's Jimmy Olsen impersonated by a career-criminal double; "Dagger Island, an early take on Survivor about relatives on a deserted island contending for an inherited fortune; "The Wedding of Superman, something of a companion episode to the second-season "Jimmy Olsen, Boy Editor, this time presenting an unusual female-oriented episode told from the point-of-view of Noel Neill's Lois Lane (one wishes heartily that the second reel looked at beautiful as the first, but some of the shots are washed out; it is an acting tour de force for Neill, however, and a rather beautiful episode); "Blackmail, which gave Robert Shayne's Inspector Henderson the center stage; a fascinating human interest story, "The Girl Who Hired Superman, with guest star Gloria Talbott; and "The Deadly Rock, a superb kryptonite-related story that alludes to events seen in the second-season episode "Panic in the Sky" (as well as having the distinction of featuring as a guest star Robert Lowery, who played Batman in the 1949 serial Batman and Robin). But there are also excellent episodes on disc three: "The Unlucky Number, with John Berardino as a guest star and "The Big Freeze, which was an unusual story hooked around the suspense surrounding an election. The fifth platter is loaded up with special features, leading off with "Adventures of Superman: The Color Era," which tells how the producers came to shoot seasons three, four, five, and six in color, and features interviews with Jack Larson and Noel Neill. The main focus concerns the changes that overtook the series, and one of the best moments comes when screenwriter David Chantler appears discussing the juggling act that he had to do in the authoring of screenplays about a nearly invulnerable character. "Faster Than a Speeding Bullet: The Special Effects of Adventures of Superman" is highlighted by interview segments with Thol "Si" Simonson, the special-effects genius behind the series, who finally gets the recognition he is due. And there are excerpts from the new Superman documentary Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman, dealing with the character from his initial comic-book conception to the 2006 movie incarnation. Each platter opens to a simple, easy-to-use two-layer menu, although the first disc opens with a somewhat annoying promo reel pushing the new incarnation of the Man of Steel. Each episode gets the same four chapter markers matching opening credits, first half, second half, and end credits.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
After releasing the first two seasons on DVD in individual box sets, Warner has combined the 1954 and 1955 episodes in one collection. That's because the third and fourth seasons of The Adventures of Superman were scaled back from 26 half-hour installments to 13. Season 3 saw several changes, most notably the switch from black-and-white cinematography to color, which allowed the few viewers then in possession of color TVs to see star George Reeves in the familiar red-and-blue costume. A less appealing change was the gradual shift to more juvenile story lines and hapless villains. This was dictated by sponsors' concerns and was clearly an effort by producer Whit Ellsworth to make the series more kid-friendly. The show's altered tenor is evident in such episodes as "The Bully of Dry Gulch," which finds Lois (Noel Neill) and Jimmy (Jack Larsen) menaced by six-gun-toting cowboys in a small western town. Similarly silly is "Flight to the North," in which a country bumpkin named Sylvester J. Superman -- played by erstwhile baseball player and future Rifleman star Chuck Connors -- is annoyed when dopey crooks confuse him for the Man for Steel. But there are some good episodes, too, including the floridly melodramatic "Dagger Island" and a delightful fantasy, "The Wedding of Superman," in which an unconscious Lois dreams that her longtime crush finally pops the question.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/20/2006
UPC:
0012569763159
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
1
Time:
11:46:00
Sales rank:
18,717

Special Features

Closed Caption; Three fabulous featurettes -- "Adventures of Superman: The Color Era"; "Faster Than a Speeding Bullet: The Special Effects of Adventures of Superman"; "Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman" excerpts from the new documentary produced by Bryan Singer and Kevin Burns

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
George Reeves Clark Kent/Superman
Billy Nelson Muscles McGurk,Sully
Chuck Connors Sylvester J. Superman
Claude Akins Ace Miller
Elizabeth Patterson Mrs. Peabody,Mrs. Exbrook
Gloria Talbott Myra Van Clever
Harry Tyler Mr. Bots
Henry Blair Bobby Exbrook
Herb Vigran Arnold Woodman,Si Horten
Jack Larson Kid Collins
Janine Perreau Alice
John Doucette Foster
Leonard Mudie Capt. Blood,Prof. Jody
Milton Frome Farady
Myron Healey Gunner Flinch,Paul,Capt. Mud
Noel Neill Lois Lane
Paul Burke Rosy,Matthew Tips
Peter Mamakos Markel
Phil Tead Mr. Willy,Prof. Pepperwinkle
Ralph Moody Okatee
Richard Reeves Little Jack,Stacey Tracy
Robert Lowery Gary Allen
Sterling Holloway Prof. Twiddle
Trevor Bardette Julius Caesar
Arthur Space Mr. Jasper
Ben Welden Carni,Leftover Louie Lyman
Carl Hubbard Mr. Frederick
Damian O'Flynn Gridley
George E. Stone Big George,Duke Taylor
Jim Hyland Turk
Julian Upton Barney,Claude James
Julie Bennet Sometimes Mabel
Lawrence Ryle Jake Morrell
Leon Askin Prime Minister Vallin
Martin Garralaga Pedro
Maurice Jara Red Hawk
Maurice Marsac Orresto el Centro Jones
Olaf Hytten Jarvis
Peter Brocco Spectre
Ray Montgomery Jeff
Richard Shakleton Ray Henderson
Sid Tomack Curtis,Eddie Perkins
Steven Geray Prof. Van Wyck
Tamar Cooper Woman Artist
Tom London Peter Thomas
Diana Darrin Macey
Doyle Brooks Mr. Poole
Ed Penny Policeman
Florence Lake Lona
Francis McDonald Great Horse
Frank Jenks Lazy
George Chandler Bates
Jim Hayward Gang Member
John Berardino Dexter Brown
John Eldredge Jonas Rockwell
John Phillips Man at Election Booth,Plainclothesman
Lane Bradford Joe,Guree the Bear
Leonard Carey Herbert
Lyn Thomas The Duchess
Mickey Knox Flagpole Sitter
Patrick Aherne Lt. Schultz
Philip Van Zandt Maral
Raymond Hatton Jonathan Skag,Sage Brusch
Richard Garland Steve Emmet
Rick Vallin Scarface
Ted Stanhope Charlie King
Tris Coffin Stoddard
Brick Sullivan Uniformed Officer
Charles Watts Bill Green
Charles Williams Yo Yo
Chet Marshall Prince Gregory
Dean Cromer Mickey
Ed Hinton Al,Caveman
Eddie Baker Café Owner,Guard
Florence Ravenal Mr. Cooper
George Eldredge Thomas Wingate
George Khoury Caspar
George Lewis John Hancock
Jack George Van DeGlass
Jean Lewis Woman
John Cliff A Heavy
John Harmon Clicker
Louise Lewis Woman at Accident
Mauritz Hugo Luke Palmer
Ralph Sanford Buckets
Rolfe Sedan Dr. Watts
Russ Conklin Slippery Elm
Selmar Jackson Commissioner
Vincent G. Perry Doctor
Buddy Mason Bank Guard
Dolores Fuller Lorraine
Eric Snowden Capt. Thud
Henry Rowland Luke
Jack Littlefield Boots
Jan Arvan Rigor
Jay Lawrence Track Announcer
Lyn Guild Milly
Marjorie Owens Marge
Pat O'Moore Mr. Bennet
Paul Fierro Abdul
Robert Foulk Big Tom Rufus
Steve Calvert Louie
Steve Conte 1st Henchman
Tyler McDuff Delivery Boy

Technical Credits
George Blair Director
Harry Gerstad Director
Philip Ford Director

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Customer Reviews

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Adventures of Superman - Seasons 3 & 4 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful birthday present. This DVD brought me back to my childhood and the great memories of 50's television. The Adventures of Superman was one of my favorites. Every actor in this program was a gem especially George Reeves who was my hearthrob and hero. Every production of Superman since this program pales in comparison and every actor who portrayed the Man of Steel pales in comparison to George Reeves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago