Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975) Poster

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Heroes and Trainwrecks
curtis martin10 July 2003
I was fourteen years old when Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze opened in the theaters back in 1975, and I couldn't have been more excited about it. I had been reading the paperback reprints of Kenneth Robeson's 1930's pulp action stories for years by that point, and was anxious to see the fantastic visions they had produced in my young head splashed across the big screen.

When my Dad took me to see the movie, I was practically frothing at the mouth like a mad dog. We bought our tickets, bought our popcorn and took our seats. The lights went dim, and the music of John Phillips Souza filled the theater as the film began. The opening scene was set in a frozen wilderness, perhaps the North Pole. Ron Ely, as the title character, appeared at the peak of a snow dune, riding a snowmobile bearing the "Doc Savage" logo from the books. Ron didn't have the widow's peak that the heavily-muscled guy on the paperback covers did, but.well, maybe that would look stupid on a real person anyway. And I came to this conclusion without having seen even one Jack Nicholson movie. "This is ok so far," I told myself.

Then a Gary Owens-ish voice-over boomed from the screen, announcing: "This is Doc Savage: the Man of Bronze." Ron Ely smiled, and his perfectly white, perfectly straight teeth glistened with a goofy, animated glint just like the effeminate pretty-boy Tony Curtis had played in The Great Race. Before my young mind could even come to terms with this blasphemous incongruity, the soundtrack broke into a male chorus right out of a Dudley Do Right cartoon:

Peace will come to all who find, Doc Savage! Doc Savage! He's a friend to all mankind, pure of heart and mind! Who will make crime, Disappear? Doc Savage! Doc Savage! Conqueror and Pioneer, Thank the Lord he's here! Doc made a vow, that helps us all! Our hero has come! Let's all join in the big parade! Go bang your drum, and raise your flag, 'cause history is being made!"

When that song was over, I felt sick. What had they done? Oh my god, my Dad is going to think I'm a homo for making him take me to this! Once the story actually began, however, I was able to breathe a bit easier. The action of the first few scenes was great. The period look was right. The apelike Monk, natty attorney Ham, and the rest of Doc Savage's adventurous crew had been perfectly brought to life by a superb cast of character actors.

But after that first sequence, involving Doc and his crew chasing after a mysterious Indian assassin (taken almost verbatim from the original novel), the whole movie took a huge nosedive into painful TV-quality mediocrity. Then, about halfway through, I cringed in my theater seat as "Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze" got even worse. What had been a mere disappointment quickly devolved into a painfully campy comedy that made the goofy opening seem like Eugene O'Neal. At one point, one of Doc's foes, an evil assassin, is shown sleeping in a gigantic rocking baby's crib and sucking his thumb.

Since the 1930s pulp adventure "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was such a huge hit only five years after "Savage" was released, it's popular to for film buffs to say that "The Man of Bronze" was simply ahead of its time. Well, for the most part, that's simply bulls***. George Pal and company had a chance to beat Steven Spielberg to the punch, it's true. Unfortunately, neither Pal nor Director Michael Anderson had access to the resources (or talent) that the post-Close Encounters of the Third KindSpielberg would enjoy five years later. As a result, Pal and Anderson cranked out a half-assed, mixed up piece of junk that couldn't decide whether it was trying to be a revival the adventure serials of the 30s, or of the "Batman" TV series of the 60s.

Still, as bad as it is, the film does hold a bizarre kind of fascination for me now as an adult. I always catch it when it's on TV. I've seen it many more times than I have any of the Indiana Jones movies. When people ask me why I love bad movies so much, I explain the phenomenon this way: you can only watch a train chug by without incident so many times before you get bored, no matter how powerful the locomotive pulling it is or how cool the cars look. But how many times could you watch one derail, crash, burn, and explode into a million useless pieces?

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Well, yes, it _is_ camp...
Gislef13 August 1999
The problem is that the movie rode in on the coattails of the 60's-created concept that comic books could only be done as "camp" (i.e., the 60's Batman show) for TV and movie. Thus you have combat sequences with subtitles (come on!), a cluelessly unromantic Doc Savage (he was uncomfortable around women in the pulps, not an idiot), Monk Mayfair in a nightsheet (a scene guaranteed to give you nightmares for several nights), and the totally hokey ending with the secondary bad guy encased in gold like a Herve Villechez posing for an Oscar statute. And when they're not doing booming Sousa march scores, the tinkly little "funny" music undercuts much of the drama.

Even as such, this movie is...okay. It's fun, and when it stays serious it's a very accurate representation of the pulps. Except for Monk, as has been mentioned before: he's hugely muscled, not obese. And Long Tom, who is supposed to be a pale scrawny guy with an attitude, not Paul Gleason with an (inexplicable) scarf.

The Green Death sequences, for instance, are remarkably gruesome and not something I'd recommend for children. But they are very close to the feel of the pulps. When the writers and producers get it right, they do get it right - I'll give them that.

But if the producers had done Doc with the loving care and scripting of, say, Reeves' first two Superman movies, think what we might have had then. I think the problem is the movie's schizophrenic. There's a definite sense of trying to do a 30's homage, but they're also trying to give in to the "heroes must be camp" attitude that Batman created. One gets the impression there was a sober, pulp-style first draft and then someone came in and said, "Hey, let's make it funny - it worked with the Batman show 8 years ago!"

But Doc lives on, thanks to Earl MacRauch and Buckaroo Banzai. If MacRauch ain't doing a homage to Doc Savage in that movie, the man is truly demented. So when the series actually gets on TV (allegedly mid-season in '99-00), Doc Savage, updated to the 90's, will live once more.
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Disappointing, and I know why...
mhfca29 May 2006
I was fortunate enough to meet George Pal (and still have my DS:TMOB poster autographed by him) at a convention shortly after the release, and asked him why he chose to do the film "camp". Before he could answer, two studio flacks intercepted and lectured me on how the studio "knew best" and how "no one will take such a film seriously". I had been reading the Bantam reprints for a couple of years thanks to a friend (ComiCon attendees of the 1970s will recall Blackhawk and his band? I was in a couple of years of that with him), and had higher hopes than what we got.

The flacks insisted that no high adventure would ever be done seriously, and so doing 'camp' was the only way. Several other fans jumped in on my side, with Pal listening as best he could. At the end of the little event, Pal came up to us and apologized, wishing he could have done more and better.

STAR WARS put the lie to the flacks, and a year after Pal's death, Spielberg and Lucas proved that Doc Savage could have easily been the next major movie franchise...if it hadn't been for the flacks.

Tear out the memory or history of Doc, and the film would have been worth a 6/10 rating as nothing more than a mindless popcorn seller.

But destroying the legacy like that was no less an abomination than killing a baby in the crib.

Doc Savage can still come to the screen, and survive the inevitable comparisons by the ill-informed to Indiana Jones, but it would have to be done in all seriousness and earnest to reclaim the glory that we should expect from the First American Superhero.

SIDENOTES: Yes, there was a second script for ARCHENEMY OF EVIL, and it's a lot more serious. Yes, there was simultaneous footage shot, but mostly establishing shots and very little with actors. And, yes, there _is_ a one-sheet of Ron Ely leaping over a brick wall and blasting at something over his shoulder with a specially built bronze pistol. Ely's wearing a duster over a button down white shirt with a bronze tie, and the words "DOC SAVAGE: ARCHENEMY OF EVIL...Coming Next Summer!" POSTSCRIPT: If anyone knows who the studio flacks were that accompanied George Pal in 1975 to San Diego for the convention, smack the idiots up the side of the head and call them the idiots that they are. At the time, they were doing dorkknobs and Fu Manchu in stripes and baggy canvas pants, and carrying Paramount portfolios.
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Better than Average Superhero Flick
artzau8 July 2001
Out of the 30s came a number of superheroes, some of which are still with us, e.g., Batman, Superman, etc. The comics still have their followers and collectors. If I'd saved all my funnybooks from that era, I no doubt would be a wealthy man today, but I didn't and am not at all wealthy. However, the 30s was also the time of pulp heroes, e.g., the Saint, and Doc Savage. I remember seeing the paperbacks (called pocketbooks back then) with Doc Savage on the cover, usually draped in a torn shirt, showing his hyperdeveloped upper body and sculpted hair, his face in a contorted grimace suggesting pain or constipation. I never read any of the books and in fact, was living in South America when this film was released. In fact, it was a crazy friend and fellow colleague anthropologist who touted the film to me and got me curious. So, when it showed up on the late show, I watched it with interest. Ron Ely was an excellent choice for the title role. He had been a TV Tarzan (one of the better ones, BTW) and handled the action quite well. The story? Well, high adventure, whatever that means. Sadly, the thrills of the 30s do not always play well into the present day. They certainly didn't back in the late 70s when I saw this film. It was fun, entertaining but not particularly memorable. The good guys were good and the villain was villainous. Good triumphed but not without a struggle. What more can I say? There have been some schlock films which play on this theme. Some suffer from terrible writing, some from terrible acting and direction-- some from both. This film comes out a bit better than average in my estimation. Fun to watch but like yesterday's Chinese blue plate special, not very memory-provoking.
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We shall not see its like again
el pig10 April 1999
We so often talk of cinema landmarks - Kane, The Godfather, A Bout de Souffle. One film however is too often overlooked by "serious" film critics. I am talking of course about the classic Doc Savage (M.o.B.)

This film is not only exciting but also seriously explores the issue of exploitation of the developing nations by US imperialism. Not to mention kung-fu.

It also possessed the greatest soundtrack in film history (until of course Queen's breathtaking work on Flash Gordon). Although a bit of a rarity, this film is well worth seeking out - it will repay the effort of your search ten-fold.
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Perfect camp
Macholic8 November 2003
Outragously entertaining period piece set in the 30s, it is a spin on the classic cliffhanger series, as much as "Raiders of the Lost Ark", only done on a low budget and much campier by director Michael Anderson. The opening scenes laces liberal amount of gothic art nuveau, predating Batman by two decades. Starring Ron Ely (Tarzan) as a perfectly cast hero and the gorgeous Pamela Hensley as the local latina Mona tagging on to our hero on a goldhunt in the non-existent latin american country of Hidalgo. Best line, our hero to Mona, holding a fist to her chin just as you expect him to be tender with her and give her a hug: "Mona, you're a brick!"

Paul Wexler's ham-and-cheese blackhat, Captain Seas is a an absolute delight. Expect a little "Raiders..", a dash of "Batman", a little "The Lost World", a little "Lost Horizons" and a whole lot of campiness and you'll get it just right. Watch out for cult favorite Michael Berryman in a small part as undertaker and enjoy the campy use of John Philip Sousa's patriotic music. A prime candidate for DVD release, it is certainly overdue. An unmissable treat for the whole family. 9/10
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Cult fantasy romp.
andrea jones13 April 2003
I was brought up on Doc Savage,and was petrified by the green death as a child but even then as now, I found it thoroughly entertaining.I have made countless friends and colleagues watch this film and have been most amused by the diversity of reactions,granted they mostly think I'm odd but there you are. "I don't know what it is about the Doc, but he always gets the girls" has to be the ultimate line when you look at his sad band of men. This film is a classic spoof on all the super hero genre,and was way before it's time,it is not to be taken seriously, move over Austin Powers. Ron Ely is a God.It is unfortunate that this film hasn't been released on DVD in the UK. I don't think it should be remade and bastardised, like I said it's a classic,it cannot be done without Ron.(like the Italian job without Mini's and Michael Caine). I give it 10/10.
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A classic of bad cinema
isotope211225 February 2003
Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze is a horrible movie. Poorly scripted, over-acted, and just plain silly. That being said... it is actually an enjoyable movie on some level. This movie begs to be watched in a group with an ample supply of cheap beer. It's one of those movies like "Santa Claus conquers the Martians" or "Yor, the Hunter from the Future"... so bad it is almost good. If you have the right group of people this movie is a blast to watch. It's campy. It's fun. It has a theme by Sousa. If you're looking for a good movie though, look elsewhere. 3/10.

BTW, I've heard rumors some studio is exploring the possibility of a remake...
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Weak directing & writing drag down a good cast
shakspryn28 September 2017
Michael Anderson, the director, did some fine movies, but stumbled badly here, and the sometimes cliché-ridden script didn't help matters. The huge problem with this movie is that a lack of respect was shown for the character of Doc Savage and his chums. No movie about a superhero can succeed if the filmmakers seem to snicker and jeer at their own lead character! The approach to Doc was much like the approach to "Batman" in the 1960's TV series--making the hero appear silly, not heroic. Amazingly, Ron Ely nearly makes the film work, despite the wrongheaded direction.

It's similar to how filmmakers, trying to cash in on James Bond, didn't understand that the magic of Bond movies was, they took themselves seriously. The humor was not aimed at the story being told. The Matt Helm movies didn't take themselves seriously, and neither could audiences. Doc Savage could have been a classic! Making it a farce is an example of what not to do with a superhero!
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Bronzed But Buffonish
flapdoodle6421 March 2008
The 1930's was the heyday of Tarzan, the Lone Ranger, the Shadow, the Spider, the Green Hornet, Captain Midnight, Gene Autry, Flash Gordon, and eventually Superman and Batman. A great pantheon of pop culture heroes flourished in pulp magazines, comic strips, radio shows, and movie serials.

The 1960's gave us Adam West as Batman, Derek Flint, Maxwell Smart, 007, and many other hero spoofs(not to mention the theater then unfolding in the socio-political realms); the concept of the hero emerged from this period battered and shaken.

The early 1970's saw the emergence of a new type of rather angry anti-hero: Dirty Harry, Shaft, Billy Jack, Superfly, etc.

Producer George Pal had accurately predicted the sci-fi craze of the 1950's, and so he produced the first picture of that cycle as well as producing the classic and best versions of 'War of the Worlds' and 'The Time Machine'. George Pal correctly understood that by the mid-1970's the collective unconscious of America was hungry for a return of the old school hero, 1930's style.

George Pal knew that to make an adventure of this sort with a hero like Doc Savage that you had to somehow acknowledge the absurdity of it all. Unfortunately, while Indiana Jones and the Rocketeer gave the audience the equivalent of a knowing wink, Doc Savage's director stopped just an inch short of having Doc Savage slip on a banana peel. This film, then, is an uneasy mix of authentic 1930's style pulp magazine adventure and ham-fisted attempts at camp.

The single worst thing in this film is the soundtrack, a creative but ultimately dreadful batch of John Phillip Sousa marches, including a custom Doc Savage lyric, which is especially loathsome. It is indeed fortunate that a good many parts of this film managed to escape this score.

Negatives aside, this film will be mildly enjoyable to fans of pulp magazines, old comics, radio and serial heroes, etc. Fans of Doc Savage should be mollified by the many elements of the source material which were faithfully realized, and that compared to more recent super-hero flicks, the writers took relatively few liberties. Overall, the cast is pretty good, and Ron Ely looks exactly like the vision of Doc Savage on the covers of the original pulps. I think he pulls off the role pretty well. And there are old style cars, airplanes, clothes, and fight scenes, so it's a pretty fun ride.

George Pal might have missed the mark here, but not by much. Just a year after this film came 'Star Wars,' which was basically a retooling of the old Flash Gordon serials. In 1978 came 'Superman, the Movie.' Two years after that came the 1st Indiana Jones flick, set smack dab in the 1930's, just like Doc Savage. All of these latter productions, however, benefited by taking their source material or inspiration just a little bit more seriously than Pal did.

But since 'Doc Savage,' more1930's throwback films have flopped than succeeded, at least commercially: 'The Legend of the Lone Ranger,' 'The Phantom,' 'The Rocketeer,' 'The Shadow,' and 'Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.' All of these were big budget affairs. For some reason, certain persons amongst us are irresistibly drawn to that long lost decade, when imagination populated the world with mythic heroes. Too bad these heroes usually remain one step beyond our reach.
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grendelkhan17 April 2003
This film is wrong in so many ways. It was done on the cheap, the script is bad, the dialogue is horrid, the action non-existant, the acting a travesty, and the music was completely out of place.

The film is loosely based around the first Doc Savage adventure, but makes a mess out of every element. As adventure, it is boring; as camp, it isn't funny. Ron Ely is physically imposing, but has little charisma and no acting talent. There are some fine actors in the roles of Doc's assistants, but their parts are so badly written. Ham and Monk, the comic highlights of the pulps, don't even make a fifth-rate Oscar and Felix.

The Sousa music is fine for a concert or marching band, but doesn't fit an adventure story. A nice John Williams score, ala Indiana Jones would have been far better.

Doc Savage was one of the best of the pulp adventure heroes. Sure, the stories were formulaic, but anything put out on a monthly basis for so long is going to be. There was still a great amount of imagination and character in those stories. There are none of these things in this movie.

Forget this film. Go down to your favorite used book store and hunt up "The Man of Bronze", "The Fortress of Solitude", "The Devil Ghengis" or any other the numerous other Doc Savage books. The James Bama covers alone are worth it.
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Great fun!!!!
reve-214 October 2000
This is a VERY entertaining movie. A few of the reviews that I have read on this forum have been written by people who, apparently, think that the film was an effort at serious drama. IT WAS NOT MADE THAT WAY....It is an extremely enjoyable film, performed in a tongue in cheek manner. All of the actors are obviously having fun while entertaining us. The fight sequences are lively, brisk and, above all, not gratuitous. The so-called "Green Death", utilized on a couple of occasions, is not, as I read in one review, "gruesome". A couple of reviewers were very critical of the martial arts fight between Doc and Seas near the end of the film. Hey, lighten up... Again, I remind one and all that this is a fun film. Each phase of this "fight" was captioned, which added to the fun aspect. The actors were not trying to emulate Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan. This is NOT one of those martial arts films. Ron Ely looks great in this film and is the perfect choice to play Doc. Another nice touch is the unique manner in which the ultimate fate of the "bad guy" (Seas) is dealt with. I promise you that if you don't try to take this film very seriously and simply watch it for the entertainment value, you will spend 100 minutes in a most enjoyable manner.
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If you ever enjoyed pulp comics ... avoid this movie.
conejito_andarin22 October 2001
Fantastically putrid. I don't mean to imply above that only a few people should avoid "Doc Savage." Almost every demographic group would be bored by this trivial, TV-movie-quality production. It's a little like the 60's "Batman" TV series, except it's not funny. Even accidentally. You're better off taking a nap.
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Henry Kujawa17 September 2008
I dug this out and watched it tonight. I honestly think it must be 20 years since the last time I saw it. I remember it being a seriously flawed film. I don't remember it being THIS bad!!!!!

I am absolutely aghast that a project with this much potential should have been mistreated so reprehensibly. Who am I to blame for this? The 2 guys who wrote (and I use that word loosely) the script? The casting directors who so terribly miscast at least 3 major characters in the story? (Only 2 of them are among "the amazing 5".) The director, who clearly refused to take it seriously, and kept shoving awful music on top of bad writing & bad acting everywhere? (I LIKED the theme song-- but it should never have been used all the way throughout the entire film!) Don Black, who should be ASHAMED at some of the lyrics he wrote for that music?

It figures that I should pull this out, less than a week after re-reading the comic-book adaptation. The first 15-20 minutes of the film more-or-less (really, LESS) parallel the first issue of the comic. As I watched it tonight, I kept wondering-- why was ALMOST every single detail changed? Doc showing up, then using his wrist-watch remote-control to open the safe, and the sniper's bullet missing him by 5 inches because the refractive glass, were just about the only things left the same. I mean, if you're gonna do an "adaptation", WHY in God's name change EVERYTHING???

Once they leave Doc's HQ, virtually NOTHING is as it was in the comic (which, given Roy Thomas, I figure probably follows the book). I read somewhere they actually combined elements of 2 different novels into one movie. Again-- WHY? I've heard it was changed because they weren't able to secure the kind of budget they wanted. I look at the film, and think... LACK OF MONEY in NO WAY explains what I saw on the screen!!

You know, when people complain about Joel Schumacher, they should really take a look at this thing. The best thing I can say is, I think it would make a great double-feature with the 1966 BATMAN feature-- and probably a great triple-bill with that and the 1980 FLASH GORDON. All 3 films are "silly". Maybe we can "blame" the 1966 film (and TV series) for this. Some fans have complained over the years that Adam West's BATMAN ruined the image of comic-books in the minds of generations of non-comics fans. I think the same could be said for Hollywood. I'm reminded of how many really, really BAD films based on "classic" characters have been made over the years, especially (it seems to me) in the late 70's & early 80's. Charlie Chan, Fu Manchu, Tarzan, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, The Lone Ranger-- all "murdered" by Hollywood types who think, "OH, comic-books! So you know it's supposed to be STUPID!" More like they're the "stupid" ones. What a waste of potential.

Let me say some good things... Despite the script and the directing, Ron Ely is GREAT. When I read a DOC SAVAGE story, I don't think of the James Bama paintings, I think of Ely. Bill Lucking (who later was a regular on THE A-TEAM) is terrific. Eldon Quick (who I've seen somewhere else, but can't recall where) is terrific. Paul Gleason-- who I absolutely HATED with a passion and a vengeance in THE BREAKFAST CLUB ("teachers" like the one he played should be banned from ever teaching anywhere), may be the best of the "amazing 5" in the film. Pamela Hensley-- though her part was almost unrecognizable from the original story-- is terrific. Before she let her hair down, I also realized she looked a HELL of a lot like "Ardala Valmar" from those awful John Calkins BUCK ROGERS strips I just read the other day. She's got a big nose like Ardala-- only not quite as pronounced. The comics Ardala actually looked more like the 1936 movie Princess Aura-- or Cher. Or maybe Streisand. Take yer pick. (Ardala actually got plastic surgery in the George Tuska strips-- after, she was stunning!)

Paul Wexler, funny enough, I saw just last week in a GET SMART episode. I wonder if he was anything like the character he was supposed to be playing? I don't know, because that character sure wasn't in the movie the film takes its title from.
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Far too camp
roltzero19 March 2006
I started reading the Bantam paperbacks in 1968 as a boy in England. They are a tremendous read and for years they promised, '..And there's a feature motion picture and a television series in his future' and for years I waited, only to be disappointed by this far too camped up film version. If they wanted to be amusing they only needed to treat it seriously, the far fetched aspects would have made strangers laugh and fans overjoyed. As for casting, Ron Ely's okay but Clint Walker would have been my choice (certainly when I started reading the books anyway) as for the 'Monk' in this movie, casting is appalling, the fellow is fat, Monk was like ' a good looking gorilla' and therefore an Ernest Borgnine, Bob Hoskins look-a-like would have been more suitable. No mention of Ham ever having a moustache in the books, but Renny was good casting. Having said that, like other commentators I usually watch the first half-hour and the last ten minutes which are set in period New York and do retain the flavour of the books. The rest of it is sadly clap-trap. And why in the film 'Rocketeer' did they substitute Howard Hughes for Doc Savage (as it is Doc who appears in the graphic novel) that might just have rekindled his cinematic career.
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What Were They Thinking???
hokeybutt17 November 2004
DOC SAVAGE: THE MAN OF BRONZE (1 outta 5 stars)

Dreadful, dreadful movie... based on the pulp magazine/paperback series by Lester Dent/Kenneth Robeson... about a super-heroic adventure hero in the '30s and his five assistants, all experts in some field of endeavor that allows them to combat evil. It was a pretty hokey series... but kinda fun to read when I was a teenager. I knew they made a movie version in the '70s, starring Ron (Tarzan) Ely... but I never got a chance to see it. It never played in theaters where I lived and was never shown on TV. Now that I have finally seen the film I can understand why. The plot and characters are never treated seriously... it's all kind of tongue-in-cheek and campy... kind of like the old Batman TV series... only without the benefit of being funny... or having any visual flair. Corny dialogue, cheesy special effects, dumb stereotypes, crummy action scenes and bad, bad acting. Actually, I find it kind of fascinating in its badness... what could they have possibly been thinking? Arnold Schwarzenegger was rumoured to be starring in a modern-day remake... but I don't imagine that would have turned out to be much better.
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Light, but a lot of fun.
Albert Ohayon10 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
***Possible spoilers***

I recently watched this movie with my 11 year old son and was pleased to see that he laughed in the right places and was thrilled by the action sequences. Ron Ely is just right as Doc. Cool, calm, almost always in control(and with an occasional twinkle in his eye). What more can one ask for? I have never read a Doc Savage book, so I don't know if it is faithful to the source but I enjoyed the light tone and derring-do. Many people have compared this movie to Raiders of the Lost Ark, which I don't think is fair. The difference in budget is astounding(Raiders must have at least 10 times the budget). Doc Savage does not have the extensive location work that Raiders has. Special effects are also at a minimum but come on people, the story is a lot of fun and the humor is just right. The Sousa music is catchy(love that theme song- Every time I watch the film, I end up humming the theme for days).The best way to approach this film is to just RELAX and enjoy. Highlights include the exciting opening sequence where the fabulous five and Doc chase the Indian sniper throughout the rooftops of New York and the VERY funny fight sequence between Doc and Captain Seas. Not as good is the villain who sleeps in a giant crib (really!). Overall a great movie to watch on a rainy day. I give it 7 out of 10.

Doc Savage, Doc Savage...thank the lord he's here!
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Doc Savage - Hilarious for all the wrong reasons
bobbie1y13 March 2004
When I watched this I had to admit to myself that this was truly the worse film I had ever seen. It even bet the one I had watched once about a boxing milkman named Ernie. My friend was adamant it was a spoof but it isn't. It's truly hilarious though as it's so bad it's funny. I just couldn't stop laughing when the evil genius and his evil friend laughed in a wicked fashion for about 30 seconds! It's camp with every stereotype available. Like the lawyer, geeky archaeologist and fat chemist with a pig. Oh yes the ginger fat chemist with a pig. Just so so wrong. If this film was a spoof I'm sure it would be a comedy classic it's just grin-inducing comedy. Surely someone was trying to be funny with this? Or were the 70s that bad?
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If it was a spoof - where were the laughs? If it was an attempt at a straight film with laughs then it is a real mess
bob the moo13 March 2004
Doc Savage returns early from his fortress of solitude in the Antarctic as he senses something is wrong. He arrives at his home to find the members of the elite Amazing Five group all waiting for him with news that his father has died and that his last words are in a letter in his safe. One failed assassination attempt by a mysterious Indian and a fire later and Doc is left with no letter and no information. Along with the Amazing Five, he sets out for the Caribbean where they must confront the evil plot of Captain Seas and the threat of the mysterious `Green Death'.

I can vaguely remember seeing this film years ago and thought I'd better be fair to it and see it again before reviewing it. The film immediately hits you with a style that I can only hope was tongue in cheek; the Amazing Five are not the usual geniuses you'd expect and Savage himself is so wooden and all-American that he can only be a send up of that type of comic book character. The plot is nonsense of course - just an excuse to pit Savage against the typically evil and driven bad guy Captain Seas. If you can watch more than half the film and really give a toss about where it's going then you are likely taking it all too seriously!

Certainly the film doesn't take it too serious: everything from the script, the characters and the special effects. Special mention goes to the laughable `Green Death'. I realise this film is almost 30 years old at time of writing but these are basic even by standards then! My problem with the film is that it was clearly meant as a spoof (dear God, please tell me it was meant as a spoof!). Having wooden characters, a guy sleeping in a giant cot, eccentric baddies and ludicrous plotting certainly suggests a spoof was the intention. However if it is a spoof then where are the laughs? It is all too silly to be funny and, because it draws on the sheer absurdity of the situation, it is hard to be sure as it has few outright gags. Leslie Neilson plays it straight but the laughs never stop; here I can only assuming this is a spoof.

If it isn't a spoof then, God help me, this is one of the worst things I have ever seen. Being a misfiring spoof is one thing; being a straight film that is this awful is quite another! Anyway - in keeping with the spoof idea, the majority of the Amazing Five all play it for laughs, but the idea of a slob who is also a world-renowned chemist is just silly and not funny. Ely plays it straight in what I imagine is a spoof of the heroic types. Sadly he has no comic timing and his lack of acting skills and bulky frame combine to make him seem even more wooden than he was. Gleason is the only actor I have seen since but he has a very small part here. Wexler is actually quite good, he plays it over animated and over the top that it can only be a spoof: the only time I actually laughed during the film was due to Wexler's performance (in a good way!).

Overall this is a poor film no matter what it's intentions were. As a superhero/matinee/TV series spoof it had potential but simply lacks laughs. However, if it was meant as a straight film with laughs, it is even worse and can only be described as a mess. If you are in the mood for a `camp', silly film with very low production values then this might just make you giggle in a cheesy way - but you're better avoiding it.
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Time for a new film...
jk9016 January 2006
I saw this movie when I was 15 and fell in love with it. Sure, it was campy but so much fun. I was so enthralled by the concept and the characters that I went out and read every one of the novels by Lester Dent (Kenneth Roberson). I am also still upset that they never made a sequel.

Now it's time for a new Doc Savage film! But, anyone who makes it needs to consider the following:

1. The 70s film -- while I enjoyed it very much -- was a spoof like the 60s Batman TV show. A new film should ignore it totally and start from scratch. It needs to be fun and excited -- NOT a cartoon like the original.

2. Keep it in the same 30's time period of the books like they did with the recent King Kong film. A modern version would be a disgrace.

3. MOST IMPORTANT: Do not -- I repeat, do NOT hire a muscle bound, pump freak like the Rock, as some people have suggested, to play Doc. A few years ago Arnold Schwarzenegger was up or the part of Doc Savage and thank God they dropped the project! His participation would have been a joke and an insult to the character -- and us. Remember that the Doc character was NEVER a pumped up balloon like Ah-nold and the Rock. Like Batman (in the comics, not the films), he was in excellent shape, but NOT pumped up. Doc was also a genius, and in no way, shape, or form, would ANYONE accept Arnold, the Rock or any other WWF reject or athletic pseudo-celeb as a genius. Take a look at Ron Ely in the 70's film. He was perfect for the role at that time and an actor today needs to have the same physical look he had -- AND look intelligent.

Otherwise don't waste your time -- or ours.

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Hero concept needs to be understood.
Rodney Stephen Shaw22 May 2006
Most people miss Hollywood's point of concept. If a hero can stimulate heroic deeds to the mind of a child, within the confines of the law then I, approve of the lessons being taught by Doc Savage.

In all times of conflict or war, the public and government look for heroes to decorate. The motion picture industry brings heroes to the screen for people to identify with - such as Doc Savage, James Bond, Superman, Batman, Spiderman and others. Doc Savage is remembered by more than one generation as being the 'best of the best' before James Bond, Superman or any of the others. All others that follow Doc Savage are only a part of the character, not the 'Man of Bronze'.
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Camp fun
HaemovoreRex1 May 2007
Having read many of the other reviews for this film on the IMDb there is ostensibly a consensus amongst purists that this film is nothing like the books upon which it is based. Upon this point I cannot comment, having never actually read any of the protagonists adventures previously. However, what I can say with certainty, is that it strikes me that many of the said reviewers must have surely undergone a sense of humour bypass; Let's be honest here - this film is just so much fun!

OK… I must concede the point that the film apparently is not representative of the character/s but let's put this into a clear perspective… the same individuals who are carping on about this film also bemoan the fact that the classic 1960's Batman series does not remain faithful to the original DC comic book character? Or perhaps is there STILL unrest in same persons that the 1980 film version of Flash Gordon was too much of a departure from the original series?

The point is, yes this film is incredibly camp but that's precisely its charm!

Former Tarzan, Ron Ely plays the eponymous hero in this (and bears more than a passing resemblance to Gary Busey to boot!) and is backed up by a great supporting cast who all look to be having a ball with their respective roles. Also look out for a very brief but highly welcome appearance by horror movie favourite Michael Berryman.

Best scene? Far too many to choose from but check out the hilarious facial expressions adopted by the waiter when Savage and his men commit the ultimate faux pas of ordering coke, lemonade and milk at a formal occasion! Also the often noted scene near the end of the film wherein Savage tackles his nemesis Captain Seas utilising various martial arts disciplines which are labelled on screen! – Priceless!

Simply put, the film doesn't take itself at all seriously and is all the more fun for it. Great fun from start to finish! (and you'll be singing the John Phillip Sousa adapted theme song for days afterwards guaranteed!)
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Enjoyable, But Not What it Should Have Been
TheDuck-316 November 1999
You know how Star Trek fans flocked to all the Star Trek movies, even the really bad ones? Why? To see their heroes in action one more time. That's the way I feel about Doc Savage. I am a major fanatic for the character, and the prospect of seeing Doc and his crew in an adventure was overwhelming. And the first 20 minutes of the film only heightened that feeling of anticipation. Then they decided to crib elements from a number of Doc adventures and throw them into this one movie, resulting in a somewhat disjointed film. There's a lot of promise in here, diluted by a number of unfortunate choices (the music, the "camp" elements, etc.) But the spirit of Doc is there, and that's what those of us familiar with Doc and his crew respond to. So, in my long-winded way, what I'm trying to say is that this is not a bad movie: it's just not as good as it should have been. And anyone who is a fan of Superman, James Bond, Indiana Jones, Buckaroo Banzai, and many other characters ought to check this movie out just to become familiar with the hero who provided inspiration for them all.
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A very entertaining picture
Barney Bat13 July 2002
When I first watched this film, I wasn't expecting much. I've heard it dumped on, critiqued, and panned from all sides. Boy, was I surprised! The movie is a real treat, and one of the last really entertaining movies to come out of Hollywood.

Fans of the pulp character Doc Savage tend to hate this movie, but really, it is a faithful adaptation of the character. I understand George Pal, the producer and screenwriter, was a huge fan of the Savage pulp novels, and his love really, REALLY shines through. He loves the characters so much that he doesn't hesitate to poke fun at them occasionally, but at the same time he maintains the audience's interest in the goings on.

The plot deals with Doc Savage (Ron Ely) and his Fabulous Five, comprised of Monk, a chemist, Ham, a lawyer, Rennie, an engineer, Johnny, an archelogist, and Long Tom, an electrican, journeying to South America to investigate the death of Doc's father, Professor Savage, who supposedly died of a rare tropical disease. The Professor's death was actually caused by the villainous Captain Seas (Paul Wexler), a sophistacated, villainous globe-trotter and explorer. Seas's reason for getting rid of Doc's father is....but that would be telling. Watch and find out.

This movie is fast-paced, funny, adventurous, and action-packed. Ron Ely is perfectly cast as Doc, complete with the blonde hair, massive physique, and all the litte gestures and mannerisms that go with the character of Savage. He even wears Doc's trademark white shirt and tan pants. The Fabolous Five are all well cast, too, with Darrel Zwerling standing out as the suave Ham. The interplay between Ham and Monk and the general interaction between all the team members really livens up the picture, just as it does the books.

Paul Wexler is also good as the villainous Captain Seas. He doesn't overact or chew the scenery in the slightest, and comes off as a strong bad guy. The atmosphere, both in New York at the beginning and later on in the South Amercian jungles, is well-handled, and the "Green Death" the hideous weapon with which the baddies dispose of their enemies, is really scary, thanks to Pal's special effects. I get the shivers just thinking about it.

The action highlights are many, but my favorite was the fight on the yacht midway, with Doc and his buddies battling Seas's henchmen in a great rough and tumble. The climactic fight between Doc and Seas is also good (and quite funny at the same time).

The John Phillip Sousa theme is rousing, humorous, and hummable. It lingers in the memory for a long time. I agree with another commentator that the use of the music was a master stroke.

The film really isn't campy, most of the humor derived from laughs WITH the characters, rather than at them. It's been compared to the Adam West BATMAN show, but in terms of villains, memorable characters, action, and atmosphere, it leaves BATMAN at the starting post. The script occasionally pokes fun at Doc's arsenal of gadgets and the greedy secondary villain (who sleeps in a giant cradle) but like the original Star Trek show, a little self-deprecating humor is needed to remind us that the fantastic goings-on are all in fun.

In conclusion, this is a really nifty movie, and a fitting finale to George Pal's career (it was his last picture). It's a labor of love and a job well done by all concerned.

Long live the Man of Bronze!
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