7.5/10
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3 user 1 critic

The Adventures of Superboy (1961)

| Action, Short | TV Short
Jimmy, Clark Kent and Lana Lang's friend, is ashamed that his father works as a doorman at the Smallville theater. His opinion changes when Superboy is able to thwart a robbery with Jimmy's... See full summary »

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(comic strip created by: Superman), (characters) | 2 more credits »
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
John Rockwell ...
Superboy / Clark Kent (as Johnny Rockwell)
Bunny Henning ...
...
Mr. Drake
Monty Margetts
Charles Maxwell
Robert Williams ...
Police Chief Parker
Richard Reeves ...
Shifty
Yvonne White
...
Jake
Jimmy Bates
Ray Walker ...
Theater Manager
True Ellison ...
Donna (as Trudy Ellison)
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Storyline

Jimmy, Clark Kent and Lana Lang's friend, is ashamed that his father works as a doorman at the Smallville theater. His opinion changes when Superboy is able to thwart a robbery with Jimmy's father's help. Written by Philip R. Frey <rhindle@hotmail.com>

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Action | Short

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(Westrex Recording System)

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Star John Rockwell was dumbfounded when he received his Superman costume, which was gray and brown. He was told that since the pilot was to be filmed in black and white, the gray and brown costume would read better on-screen than the traditional red and blue Superman outfit. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Killed By Kellogs Cornflakes
24 February 2010 | by (Portland, OR, United States) – See all my reviews

Considering the era, it's intended audience, and budgetary realities, this is a pretty good pilot film. The story is nothing profound, but is reasonable fare for a Superboy story, emphasizing human drama and subplot over super-heroics. Nonetheless, it treats Superboy and his world with far more dignity than many of the comic mag stories of the time. It's dramatic value is on par with an average 'color' episode of George Reeves' show, yet possesses none of the 'camp' tendencies associated with the color years.

The casting of John Rockwell as Clark/Superboy was fairly inspired, as this actor possessed good looks similar to many teen idols of the era, yet was able to project sufficient earnest and heroic qualities so as to be credible as the boy of steel. Superman adaptations hinge upon the actor playing the man of steel, and I think Rockwell could have made this series profitable.

If this show had been picked up, it could easily have had crossover appeal between kids and teens. Just prior to this there had been a series of successful teenage monster/scifi films, Teenagers From Outer Space, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Teenage Frankenstein, and Teenage Caveman to name but a few. Teens paid money to see those flicks at the drive-in, so it seems likely they would have watched Teenage Superman at home for free.

The other cast members are good, but they don't, IMO, have the appeal of the actors who played Lois, Jimmy, Perry, and Inspector Henderson on George Reeves' show. Nonetheless, they might have developed a chemistry had they been given the chance.

Jake Rossen writes that Wheaties cereal was interested in sponsoring this show, but that Kellogs, which was still sponsoring reruns of the Reeves show in many markets, used their clout to keep this series from being picked up. This sounds plausible, and it is the only reasonable explanation I have heard as to why National Comics went to the trouble and expense to produce this only to have it shelved. This pilot is as good or better than many shows playing for the same markets in the early 1960's.

The concept for this show was recycled in the late 1980's in syndication, featuring a handsome young Superman, and it was generally well received.

Then in 2001, Time-Warner revamped the concept again, this time adding Dawson's Creek type melodrama and angst into the mix with the teen idol looks. This show, Smallville, has been a hit in syndication and with the alternative TV networks. In that context, this 1961 Superboy pilot seems ahead of its time.

I saw this on youtube a year or so back, and I think there are some inexpensive copies to be found for home video. Fans of the old time Superman, old time TV and movies, and of the George Reeves show should watch it, since we all tend be an obsessive bunch and it will be interesting and fun. Don't pay too much and you won't be disappointed.


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