Clark Kent helps a pretty blonde Federal agent escape a gang of Nazi saboteurs, and lets himself be captured to learn their plans. The blonde, pursued again, falls into the gears of a drawbridge... Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This was the last of the seventeen Superman shorts and the only one not to feature Lois Lane. However, Joan Alexander, who had played Lois Lane in the earlier shorts, has an uncredited role as the unnamed Secret Agent. See more »
Now look here, Kent, you can't pick your assignments. Hurry over and cover that consumers' meeting.
But nothing! That's final.
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A superb cartoon crime thriller with amazing animation
"Secret Agent" was the 17th and final Superman cartoon produced by Paramount Pictures. Made in 1943, it came at the end of a run that started with nine cartoons produced by the Fleischer brothers who left Paramount in 1942. In contrast with the other Superman cartoons, this one is essentially a straight-ahead action-crime thriller with less of an emphasis on Superman and more on a group of spies and saboteurs trying to stop a gorgeous blonde (an undercover Fed) from getting her list of names to Washington DC. There are high-speed car chases, shootouts with the police, and a climax on a moving bridge platform. Other than a relatively brief display of Superman's powers, there are no science fiction elements. It all takes place at night in richly detailed urban settings. It's an astounding, breathtaking work and indicates a possible direction American animation could have taken had it followed the lead of American comic books the way the Superman cartoons did.
What if the filmmakers here had used this same style of animation to do a series of Batman cartoons in the 1940s, film noir style? What if an entire animated theatrical feature had been done in this style? Think of the possibilities. Perhaps American animation wouldn't have been stuck for decades in the Disney/Hanna-Barbera mold which ultimately dominated American animation. As it is, it took Japanese animators some 40 years after "Secret Agent" to show us how crime thrillers could be presented vividly in animation with THE PROFESSIONAL: GOLGO 13 and CRYING FREEMAN, although with considerably higher quotients of bloodshed and violence.
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