Extortionists with a super-powerful bullet-shaped flying rocket car threaten destruction to Metropolis. At first they seem to defeat even Superman, but their capture of Lois Lane spurs him to new efforts... Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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! 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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LOOK, UP ON THE SCREEN! It's a Bird , it's a Plane , it's a Max Fleischer SUPERMAN Cartoon!
ONCE again we must take the old 'Way-back Machine' into our not so distant past. Our destination would be Chicago, Illinois in January of 1979. The Windy City location is the Film Center of the Art Institute; for this is where we had our first viewing of one of those Paramount Pictures' SUPERMAN Cartoons. In this case it just happened to be 'The Bulleteers'.
PRODUCED by Max Fleischer and directed by his brother Dave Fleischer, it just happened to be a part of a Fleischer Retrospective that was put together by the intelligentsia who made up the School of the Art Institute's Film Program. Other items on the agenda included samplings of OUT OF THE INKWELL with Koko the Clown, BETTY BOOP's on screen evolution and of course some great old B & W Popeye Cartoons. It was a mid-winter's evening well spent!
BUT please let us have a brief interlude here in order to claim the privilege of doing a little EDITORIALIZING. Thank You.
IT really strikes us as being both ironic and laughable that the contents of these Animated Short Subjects had only a short time earlier been regarded by these same forces in Academia as being strictly trash. Now ('79) a few short years later, these same "Cartoons" are proclaimed to be "Art". And I am JTRyan. End of Editorial *
ANYHOW, back to the subject at hand.
TODAY'S subject, THE BULLETEERS (Fleischer Brothers Studios/Paramount Pictures Corporation, 1941), which struck us instantly as being stunning, visually exciting and having a good deal of content beyond that of the expected and requisite Action Scenes.
COLOR work, character design, backgrounds all meticulously rendered to be brought to life by the Fleischer Magic touch. Application of their Rotoscope animation system and the Table Top 3 Dimensional process are in evidence.
ALL of these visual elements are blended in a most harmonious manner and in the proper style as to be living, moving counterparts of Superman on the printed page. The care exercised in layout and design has essentially created animated pages right out of Action Comics. Superman Comics or the Superman Sunday Color Comic Strip! The level of accuracy in style is just that meticulous.
OUTSTANDING musical scores were a hallmark of these Superman Cartoons and this BULLETEERS is certainly no exception. We can thank Fleischer's Musical Director, Sammy Timberg, for a most befitting Superman Opening Theme as well as the moody and exciting incidental music throughout.
AND while we're on the subject of Sound, we must make note of the clear, clean and properly full-volumed dialog recording. The crisp elocution is rendered in truly beautifully rich tones as clear today as they were when released in 1941.
FURTHERMORE the selection of Mr. Bud Collyer and Miss Jane Alexander to give voices to the Superman saga was perhaps the closest choice to perfection. The pair had done the characters on the Mutual Radio Network's SUPERMAN Radio Show and their choice provided a sort of marriage of all three media; Comic Books/Comic Strip (Printed Page), Radio Show (Electronic & Airwaves) and the Cartoon Shorts (Motion Pictures). The sound of Bud Collyer's signing off, for example, sounds fresh and vital today.
ONE caveat is in order. It would be helpful to anyone's viewing of any of the Paramount/Fleischer-Famous Studios Cartoons that you do so be screening not more than one at a time. They just were not designed for multiple running.** If you can, try to see them with other viewers.
IT's probably too much to ask to have a big screen in a real theatre/auditorium setting; as we did it; but don't give up! After all, there must be some of the intellectually elite near you who are about tom see the light and can include some of these in the local Collegiate Film Festivals.
AS for our rating, I say it's a SSSS picture! (That's Four S's for top Superman Episode!) Me buddy, Schultz strongly disagrees. (He says that the Rating should be higher!)
NOTE * We are put in mind to recall a good friend of ours, the Late Mr. Noel Roy, Chicago Out of Print Book Dealer and proprietor of Acme Book Store on Clark Street. Mr. Roy had dubbed certain segments of our elitist Academians as being members of the Stupidgencia rather than Intelligencia.
AND by the way, since we're openly venting pet peeves, in a related field we have a riddle! QUESTION: What is the difference between Obscenity and Art? (DO you Give UP?..................Okay ..Read Below!...........) ANSWER: A Federal Grant!
NOTE ** The only thing that we can think would be a good example would be watching too many 3 Stooges Shorts in a row; when they are ones featuring Joe Besser! That's even worse than any other; but you do catch the meaning, no?
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