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A man wearing a lead mask threatens Perry White and his staff and
claims he has 10 other men running around the city with the same mask -
which Superman's eyes can't penetrate - and all them have a "different
up their sleeves." His plan is to bring down both the Daily Planet and
This was a memorable episode. I actually remember watching this spooky (to me as a small boy in the 1950s) episode. It wasn't just the scary masks, but seeing Clark Kent dangling above a vat full of acid is pretty dark stuff for this usually-lighthearted show.
The crooks imitate the old serials, tying Lois Lane to the railroad tracks, putting Perry White on a treadmill with a buzz saw approaching and leading Olsen up in the mountains with, unknown to him, no brakes on his car. "I've always liked these imaginative, old-fashioned ways of getting rid of ones enemies," boasts the head crook.
"You'll never get away with this," says Clark in one of the many clichés used in this dramatic episode. It may not be scary anymore, but it is still a good show.
I also liked the episode. It was full of adventure from start to
My favorite scene: when Clark Kent goes into the tub of acid as Kent and comes out as Superman!!! I think that part was very well done.
I think there were a few goofs in the ep as well, however. Lois Lane, White, & Olson all ask Superman (when he rescues them) about the other two, but no one asks about Kent? Also, when the one crook says to the other (in Jail)that they saw Kent sink into the acid. They clearly left before Kent went in the acid.
Despite these few minor flaws, it was a great show!!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was one of the 3 episodes that George Reeves directed (the 3 final
episodes)Reeves did his best to liven up what had become a rather lame
children's show in the final seasons. The story involves a group of
gangsters wearing lead masks,(recycled props from "The Man in the Lead
Mask" from season 2) who kidnap Clark, Lois, Jimmy, and Perry White.
Each of them is placed in their own "peril". Lois is tied to the train
tracks, Jimmy is driving a car on a mountain pass with no brakes, Perry
is tied to a log about to be split by a saw, and Clark is suspended
over a vat of acid. Superman, of course, comes to their rescue, in the
nick of time.
As I mentioned, Reeves did his best here. Compared to most of the other color episodes, this one was more exciting. The problem is, there are just too many flaws in the episode to make it really top-notch. First of all,when the men in the lead mask appears, and threatens to carry out his plot, Jimmy tells him that Suerman will rip the masks off. The man answers that he can't because they're locked on, and he's the only one with the key.This explanation is just accepted by all, including Clark, who laments to Inspector Henderson, in a bit of really stilted dialogue, that "only the ring leader has the key". Totally preposterous. There is no reason that Superman wouldn't be able to rip off the masks, other than if he did, there would be no story. Then we get to the "perils'. Clark is suspended over a vat of acid. The crooks conveniently leave just before he goes into the vat, allowing him to change into Superman. Just wondering... what would Clark have done had the crooks not left? Also, his costume is soaking wet from the acid, but then a second later is completely dry. Superman saves Perry from a buzz saw by bracing up against it. But his body never touches the saw! What was that all about? Jimmy's car is out of control on a mountain (in what actually was a well-shot scene)His car goes over the cliff, and he is hanging onto a ledge, where Superman pulls him up. As he is approaching Jimmy you can hear Reeves say "I see", which makes no sense, whatsoever. Obviously not part of the script, but what was it?
The episode isn't bad, and is one of the better of the color episodes, but still pales in comparison to the excellent first and second season episodes.
Once again, a group of crooks walks around with lead masks (can't be seen by Superman). They kidnap the whole Planet crew and put them in cliffhanger situations (one literally) like the old Saturday afternoon serials. White is put on a log, heading for a buzz saw. Lois is tied to a railroad track. Clark hovers over a vat of boiling acid. And Jimmy's car is tampered with and he is literally hanging over a cliff after jumping out at high speed. I always wondered why Superman wouldn't just melt the lead helmets with x- ray vision; or, perhaps just pull them apart without hurting the people. Just start eliminating as many as possible and throw a monkey wrench into the plot. That would be way too easy, I guess. This was a fun, creative episode, and well worth watching. It was the next to last episode of "The Adventures of Superman."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For me this is one of the all time best episodes and the scene where Superman comes out of the acid is worth the price of admission. That said, I've always wondered how Clark Kent would have explained getting out of the acid without giving his Superman identity away. Then it hit me: George Reeves always played Kent as a guy who could think fast on his feet, so his explanation might have been that Kent & Superman agreed ahead of time to have Superman masquerade as Kent and have the crooks kidnap him, thinking he's Kent (which of course is how Kent/Superman played it anyway.). That way, Superman would have found out the kidnappers' plans for Jimmy, Lois, & Perry and he would start the race against the clock to save them. That would have been a plausible story that Kent/Superman could have pulled off.
WINDING down its uneasy way down a twisting, unsure path towards an
unsure destination, an unknown time, the ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN reached
a point which seemed to be neither here nor there. Whereas, no one
figured that it would go on forever (which it has in a re-runs sense),
neither were they aware that this was their next to last episode to be
FOLLOWING a hiatus after the next episode, the decision was reached to go on with 13 more half hours to be aired in the 1959-60 season. Reeves would be back in the Super-suit; as well as continuing to direct at least some of the episodes (George also had lined up a full series for his directorial skills as well as another personal appearance tour as Superman.
THEN two events interceded. The first was the death of John Hamilton in October of 1958. Story has it that the Show must indeed go on; as the National Comics Production Company is said to have lined up Pierre Watkin as replacement. Mr. Watkin, after all, had originally essayed the role in the two serials, SUPERMAN (Columbia Pictures, 1948) and ATOM MAN VS SUPERMAN (Columbia, 1950).
EVERYTHING came to a crashing halt in June of '59 with the sudden and still mysterious death of Mr. Reeves.
THE point of all of this previous expositional material being that no one but no one knew that this would be their next to last episode. It was also the second of three installments to be directed by George, himself! There surely must have been some psychic energy flowing as to the subject matter of Episode # 103.
'THE PERILS OF SUPERMAN' did both a sort of parody of the Theatrical Film Serial (also called Cliff Hanger or Chapter Play); production of which had been ended the previous year. The story had situations in which Superman was called on to save Lois Lane (Miss Noel Neill), Mr. Perry White (Mr. John Hamilton) and young Jimmy Olsen (Master Jack Larson) from far flung and nearly simultaneous Serial-type death traps. They were subject to the buzz saw on the logs, the mechanically tampered auto brakes & steering and such.
THE Serial theme was well done and manage to be both amusing and yet served to enable the bad guys almost to get away with their nefarious scheme. Almost that is! THE notion that a show's episode could be intended to serve as an homage to a film type or genre certainly never occurred to our innocent, youthful minds back in the 1950s. Although there is no dedication in the credits or anywhere, it was certainly so; as the last of the Movie Serials had come down the pike in the two or so years prior to the filming of this PERILS episode.
THEY were THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN Africa (Columbia, 1955) and KING OF THE CARNIVAL (Republic, 1955). Oddly, both had June 1955 releases, within a couple of weeks of each other.* WHEREAS the SUPERMAN Show was not a Serial, but rather a Series, there was not a direct correlation; other than the two Columbia SUPERMAN Serials previously mentioned.
FAMILIARITY with the Movie Serial was certainly a qualification that big George possessed; as he doubtless had grown up on them and even starred as the title character in one, before taking on the Superman duties. It was as another 'Man of Steel' in THE ADVENTURES OF SIR GALAHAD (Columbia, 1949), that Reeves had first hand, on hands experience with the form.
NOTE: * The two last chapterplays were both rehash of previous serials from the salad days of the cliffhanger. CAPTAIN Africa had John Hart in the role, which used plenty of long shots from Columbia's 1943 THE PHANTOM. It could be properly called a knockoff of the Lee Falk, King Features Syndicate Phantom Comic Strip. KING OF THE CARNIVAL had Harry Lauter in a rehash of the carnival theme using tons of footage from Republic's DAREDEVILS OF THE RED CIRCLE, 1939.
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