As the headline on the Daily Planet tells the public: "Mechanical Monster loots bank!" In fact, a scientist has an army of these flying robots able to steal anything in sight. Police are set up everywhere to guard an exhibition of rare jewels, but it's no use. When a robot crashes into the building, it steals all the precious stones in sight, while the policemen's bullets harm it no more than flies. Clark and Lois are at the exhibit. While Clark phones in the story from a booth, Lois stows away in the robot's compartment. Clark sees that Lois has gone missing and decides to change into Superman there in the phone booth. Superman follows the monster, while his X-ray vision allows him to spot Lois inside. His attempt to get Lois out fails. The robot knocks him onto some power lines, losing the jewelry and (nearly) Lois in the process. The robot returns to the scientist's hideout with Lois, but no jewelry. She refuses to tell the scientist where it is. He retaliates by tying her up and ... Written by
This cartoon is the first Superman story in which Clark Kent changes into his Superman costume inside a phone booth. See more »
When the flying robot lands at the House of Gems, the number 5 is clearly visible painted on his back. In all subsequent shots, however, the robot is labeled as #13. See more »
Up in the sky, look! It's a bird. It's a plane. It's Superman!
Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, this amazing stranger from the planet Krypton, The Man of Steel: Superman! Empowered with X-ray vision, possessing remarkable physical strength, Superman fights a never-ending battle for truth and justice, disguised as a mild-mannered newspaper reporter, Clark Kent.
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'To Tell The Truth,' This Is Still Good Superman Stuff 67 Years Later!
This 1941 animated introduction to Superman had a different "take" on it in that they explain that when the baby from Krypton crash-landed on earth, the infant was taken to an orphanage and raised. What happened to the Kent family? Well, that's not in this version. However, the rest of the story is familiar Superman adventure stuff with, of course, Lois having to be rescued. It's good, too - not dated in the least.
The introduction of Superman/Clark Kent as an adult "Superman" is almost word-for-word the same one they used a decade later in the famous television series (i.e. "Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive," etc.)
After that two-minute introduction, we get into the crime story which is an interesting one and way ahead of its time. Remember how popular the "transformers" were in the '80s? Well, here we are in 1941 with the same thing, a robot which turns into an airplane and back to a robot, all the while stealing money. The "mechanical monster," as labeled by the press, is one a number of them created by its criminal inventor. After robbing a bank, robot number five's next task is a big one: take the $50,000,000 worth of jewels on display at the "House Of Jewels." In an obvious goof, "5" turns into "13" after he robs the jewels.
This production must have really looked cool to kids and adults 67 years ago because it still looks good today in 2008. It features some great artwork. Then again, a classy animated production is no surprise when you know and have seen the work of either of the Fleischer brothers, Max or Dave, who first became noticed with some extremely clever animated work way back in the silent film era ("Koko The Clown" and "Felix The Cat," as two prime examples). Max and Dave Fleischer went on to make numerous famous Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons, and then Dave got into directing the early Superman animated shorts.
This one has been restored and looks great, too. I saw it as part of the Popeye The Sailor Volume 2 (1938-1940) DVD.
The voices of Clark Kent and Lois Lane were odd because they sounded so much different from all the Kents and Lanes I've heard through the decades. This Kent voice was noteworthy because it had the recognizable voice of Bud Collyer, who became quite famous in the 1950s by hosting two extremely popular TV shows: "Beat The Clock" and "To Tell The Truth."
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