The Mechanical Monsters (1941) Poster

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'To Tell The Truth,' This Is Still Good Superman Stuff 67 Years Later!
ccthemovieman-110 October 2008
This 1941 animated introduction to Superman had a different "take" on it in that they explain that when the baby from Krypton crash-landed on earth, the infant was taken to an orphanage and raised. What happened to the Kent family? Well, that's not in this version. However, the rest of the story is familiar Superman adventure stuff with, of course, Lois having to be rescued. It's good, too - not dated in the least.

The introduction of Superman/Clark Kent as an adult "Superman" is almost word-for-word the same one they used a decade later in the famous television series (i.e. "Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive," etc.)

After that two-minute introduction, we get into the crime story which is an interesting one and way ahead of its time. Remember how popular the "transformers" were in the '80s? Well, here we are in 1941 with the same thing, a robot which turns into an airplane and back to a robot, all the while stealing money. The "mechanical monster," as labeled by the press, is one a number of them created by its criminal inventor. After robbing a bank, robot number five's next task is a big one: take the $50,000,000 worth of jewels on display at the "House Of Jewels." In an obvious goof, "5" turns into "13" after he robs the jewels.

This production must have really looked cool to kids and adults 67 years ago because it still looks good today in 2008. It features some great artwork. Then again, a classy animated production is no surprise when you know and have seen the work of either of the Fleischer brothers, Max or Dave, who first became noticed with some extremely clever animated work way back in the silent film era ("Koko The Clown" and "Felix The Cat," as two prime examples). Max and Dave Fleischer went on to make numerous famous Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons, and then Dave got into directing the early Superman animated shorts.

This one has been restored and looks great, too. I saw it as part of the Popeye The Sailor Volume 2 (1938-1940) DVD.

The voices of Clark Kent and Lois Lane were odd because they sounded so much different from all the Kents and Lanes I've heard through the decades. This Kent voice was noteworthy because it had the recognizable voice of Bud Collyer, who became quite famous in the 1950s by hosting two extremely popular TV shows: "Beat The Clock" and "To Tell The Truth."
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X-Ray Vision Alone Worth The Price Of Admission !!!!
ironfistditto4 August 2003
This is the only Superman short in which I have seen this X-Ray Vision method used, and I must say if it can put wonder and amazement in the heart of a 20 year old black kid from New York in the year 2003, imagine what it did for people in 1942 !! This is a truly priceless and classic peice of American animation.
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Other than the Robots' having a problem with switching 'Jersey Numbers' , we can not find anything major to criticize! (Schultz really digs 'artifical life/intelligence!)
John T. Ryan31 January 2009
BEING the second entry into the Fleischer Brothers Studios' line of SUPERMAN Cartoons, 'The Mechanical Monsters (Fleischer Studios/Paramount Pictures Corporation, 1941) was released for theatrical exhibition to the movie going public in November of 1941. This gave it the distinction of being on the theatre screens when the Sunday morning sneak-attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th.

CLEARLY this would mark an abrupt change of direction that the series would be taking as the Fleischer animation operation would join in with the rest of Hollywood in the War Effort. The story lines from hence forth would be as populated with Nazi Soldiers, Imperial Japanese Agents and 5th Column Saboteurs as the were with all of those Mad Scientists.

MUCH in the same manner as the other entries into the SUPERMAN Series, there is no wasting of time. The trouble with the giant, metal creatures are in progress of wreaking their brand of havoc on the Good Folks of Metropolis when the Cartoon Short opens. They are in the middle of an in-progress menace. Much of the necessary exposition is put into place by means of headlines in the Daily Planet. (A clever use of the visual medium; as the inclusion of any Title Cards would be considered strictly passé and a throwback to the days of the Silent Movies.) FOR all of the magnificent scientific marvels that were embodied in the invention of the giant metal robots, the Mad Scientist is concerned only in looting bank vaults, pillaging jewelry establishments and repelling attacks from Tommy Gun wielding Uniformed Coppers. Perhaps this is due to poor pay, working conditions and lack of employment opportunities for brilliant, albeit Mad Scientists that they are forced to supplement their meager incomes through such unlawful means.

FURTHERMORE no one ever has truly explained just what makes these eggheads so 'Mad', anyhow! ALL kidding aside, the short is fast moving, well plotted and rendered in such a manner as to be an animated equivalent of a museum quality painting from one of the Dutch Masters. (No, Schultz; I didn't mean the Cigars!) 'MECHANICAL MONSTERS' comes complete with all the accoutrements that are needed in a series entry. First of all, the above mentioned renegade scientist is there for starters; along with some spectacular method of exacting the plunder on an otherwise helpless Metropolis. The regular Daily Planet gang gets involved in the natural manner; coming to the danger with hopes of getting "a Scoop!" MISS LOIS LANE, in order to have a chance to "Scoop the other Scoopers" gets a little too close and is abducted unwittingly by the baddies; having slipped and fallen into the iron giant's convenient and cavernous trunk space. (What's an Editor to do? She seems to get caught up in similar fashion time and time again! SPEAKING of recurring patterns, Superman manages to save the day, saving Miss Lane and her headline story. All's well that ends well, especially in Metropolis; as the episode closes out with a wink from Clark Kent to the audience.

WE suppose that we could brand the Superman Cartoons as being formula and even clichéd, but that may not be fair, either; for after all, the Fleischer/Famous Studios' productions were essentially blazing new trails in the field of the animated movie. Whereas here to for, virtually all of the animated cartoon out put was done using highly caricatured human characters, anthropomorphic talking animal's characters or both. The idea of writing an action-adventure story featuring realistically rendered human characters in fantastic, albeit serious short subjects hadn't been done before, unless it would be highly obscure.* THE Fleischer SUPERMAN Series changed all of that by paving the way for so many of those adventure cartoons that we have enjoyed over the years on Saturday morn. Like most of the rest of this series, we rate it very high on the scale.

NOTE * We can think of Walt Disney's FANTASIA (Walt Disney Productions/RKO Radio PUctures/1940) as being an exception; several of the segments having been done in a realistic style. Are there any others? POODLE SWCHNITZ!!
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sbibb110 July 2004
The second of the Superman cartoons released by the Fleischer brothers on November 28, 1941.A fleet of robots are terrorizing gotham. They strike at a jewel exhibit and make off with all the jewels. Luckily Clark Kent and Lois Lane are at the exhibit. When Kent steps away to phone in the story, Lois Lane hides in one of the robots, and gets taken back to the villians hideout. It is Superman to the rescue.

This cartoon is one of 17 Superman cartoons made by the Fleischer brothers in the early 1940s. All Superman cartoons made during this time are available on VHS and DVD and all are in the Public Domain. Invest the time to look for a DVD that features all 17 cartoons for one price, and there are several available.
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Another great Superman cartoon
preppy-316 October 2004
Another mad scientist has constructed a bunch of giant robots to rob banks and jewelry for him. They also can transform themselves into planes and fly to their targets (!!!). Lois Lane hitches a ride on one of the robots. The scientist discovers her and is ready to boil her alive in lava. Superman has to rescue her but he's attacked by the scientists' multiple robots...

Another great animated short. I was surprised by the violence (you see a large bunch of policeman shooting at the giant and Superman takes quite a beating from the robots) but it's still perfect for kids. Also they show Superman using his X-Ray vision--that sequence alone was just unbelievable!

Fast, fun, full of action. Just great! A 10.
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Superman To The Rescue!
Ron Oliver1 April 2000

Another mad scientist has sent his creations to terrorize Metropolis. Giant flying robots are pulling off daring bank robberies & jewel heists. When intrepid reporter Lois Lane is carried off by one of the robots, it's Superman to the rescue. But can even he stand up to the pounding he's about to receive from THE MECHANICAL MONSTERS?

This was another in the series of excellent cartoons Max Fleischer produced for Paramount Studio. They feature great animation and taut, fast-moving plots. Meant to be shown in movie theaters, they are miles ahead of their Saturday Morning counterparts.
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"Take One Step and She's Doomed!"
utgard1413 December 2013
I love the Fleischer Superman cartoons. The animation is smooth and fluid with vivid colors. The distinct art-deco style, vintage science fiction imagery, and use of noirish shadows gave them a look unlike any other cartoons. The music and voice work is superb. They're fun, accessible, enduring animation classics.

This second cartoon in the Superman series is about an inventor who has built giant robots to commit robberies. The robots can fly like planes and opens banks like tin cans. Did I mention they are also SUPER FRICKING COOL!!! Pardon me geeking out but these robots are just awesome to watch. Anyway, back to the plot: Lois gets into trouble (naturally) and finds herself captured by the inventor. This, my friends, looks like a job for Superman if there ever was one. Supes must tangle with electrical wires, giant robots, and molten metal to save the day. Look at this cartoon! I mean, really, as you watch just take it all in and savor it. The rich details, the creativity, the's just beautiful.
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The Mechanical Monsters was another worthy Superman cartoon by Max and Dave Fleischer
tavm2 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This, the second Superman cartoon made by Max and Dave Fleischer, was another exciting adventure that provided enough entertainment for a 6-minute short. In this one, giant robots rob jewels for their master. When Lois and Clark find out, the former of course has to investigate. So when Superman arrives in the nick of time to save her, he does so with no real danger to himself as evidenced when he uses his cape to siphon the molten lava meant to kill Ms. Lane. Also, this was the first time Supes uses his x-ray vision on film. I thought this was a little better than the first one so on that note, The Mechanical Monsters comes highly recommended.
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Neil Welch25 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The Mechanical Monsters, the second Superman cartoon from the Fleischer studio, shows us quite clearly that a pattern is being followed.

We see a bank which has been broken into, and what appears to be the shadow of an aircraft flying from the scene. We follow the shadow until it arrives at the secret hideout of an unnamed crook, at which point we discover that it is a robot with a aeroplane propeller at its neck. The robot - number 5 - opens a hopper in its back and deposits the proceeds of the robbery in a receptacle, at which point it joins more than 20 (going by the numbers painted on them) other robots, awaiting the next crime.

The Daily Planet headlines the robbery on its front page, and also features an article about the House of Jewels exhibition. Lois and Clark attend the exhibition but, when robot 5 smashes into the building, having been unharmed by a hail of police gunfire, Lois drags Clark to "safety." Clark ducks into a phone box, where he actually makes a phone call to report the crime, but Lois sneaks back to the robbery and manages to climb into the robot's hopper. When Clark realises she is gone, he realises that "This is a job for Superman" and changes in the phone box.

Flying after the robot, he uses his X-ray vision to spot Lois in her hiding place. He flies down and tries to pry the hopper open, but it isn't easy. The robot flips over, the hopper opens and the jewels fall out (although Lois manages to hang on), and Superman tumbles down and becomes entangled in power lines below.

When the robot arrives at the secret base, the crook demands to know from Lois what happened to the jewels and, being unhappy with the response, he ties her to a hoist in order to lower into a vat of molten metal in the smelting works in his basement(!) (OK, so it's a cave). Superman, having extricated himself from the power cables, beats in the reinforced door but the crook powers up all the robots and sets them onto him. They are no match for him, however, and he catches Lois as she is about to fall into the molten metal, spreads his cape wide to deflect molten metal which is being poured onto them, and flies off with Lois and the crook. The flight to prison, Daily Planet front page, and knowing wink to the audience are an exact replay of the ending of the first cartoon.

Some points to note: The Robots themselves are clearly the inspiration for the flying robots at the start of Sky Captain. My word, don't those policeman expend some ordnance on the utter futility of trying to damage the robot! The establishing shots at the World of Jewels are far too long. This short sees the first use of X-ray vision in a film. Superman falling and getting caught up in the power lines is, to be frank, a bit weedy of him. Superman's bounding into the crook's lair after breaking through the door is badly conceived - it appears quite effeminate. On the other hand, the rescue from molten metal is pretty good and, again, the effects animation is excellent.

Overall, another very enjoyable one reeler, although it suffers from similarities with its predecessor.
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The Mechanical Monsters: Vintage Kyptonian action
Platypuschow24 December 2017
The Mechanical Monsters see's the return of our favourite superhero as this time he takes on a villian with a small army of giant robots he uses in his jewellery heists.

Alike the others this is quaint and highly nostalgic, with action happening in time with the music, cheesy one liners and Lois Lane there simply to be saved.

At 10 minutes in length there isn't much to see but it makes up for it being a nice slice of old school wartime entertainment.

The Good:

Highly nostalgic


The Bad:

Very short

Somewhat cheesy

Things I Learnt From This Short:

Every good villian needs a moustache

A villians lair isn't complete without a lava pool

I'm suddenly genuinely curious whether the police actually had tommy guns
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A Great Series of Shorts
CageRage16 June 2010
When it comes to plot and dialog, the Max Fleischer Superman cartoons pale in comparison to pretty much any modern superhero cartoon, even Batman: The Brave and the Bold is better written (I ought to write a review for that underrated show sometime, but not now). However, it's clear that's not the point of these cartoons. The point is to dazzle. To blow your mind with some of the most beautiful animation ever committed to celluloid. And almost all of the shorts succeed at that perfectly. Other than some very, very, very, very, very minor lapses that are easily ignored, the movements are fluid and grand on a level that would make the head of any MadHouse Studios animator explode.

I chose to review them on the "Mechanical Monsters" page because it's my favorite (aside from perhaps The Artic Giant, but that's probably just my love of Godzilla). I mean, come on: it's Superman fighting a bunch of robots, how cool is that?
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Still Makes for a Great Superman Story.
Johnny H.8 March 2018
The Mechanical Monsters has been remixed and retold dozens of times since its 1941 release: Hayao Miyazaki got inspired to use elements for the Lupin the Third Part II t.v. series, and his 1986 feature film Laputa: Castle in the Sky. The Iron Giant pays homage to this short in its title character AND through Superman's influence on that film's title character; suffice to say The Mechanical Monsters has become immortalized in popular culture just like The Man of Steel himself.

77 years on and does this film still hold? Yes; absolutely. I have no doubt in my mind this one still holds up. And besides, I've always loved Superman just as much as I do these shorts.
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My personal favorite Superman cartoon
betina-189545 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The second in this wonderful serious is the best. This cartoon is also one of the cartoons i remember the most. If you read my review of the previous cartoon, you will know i owned a dvd with most of these cartoons on it. This one is one of the cartoons i remember very well from my childhood, because it used to scare the crap out of me when i was a kid, for some reason. I think i just thought the robots were scary. Anyways on to the cartoon.

The story is about this evil scientist, crime boss, og criminal rich guy. Who has build these big robots who steals jewels and cash for him at night. The story about robots flying around and stealing gems, jewels, and cash is of course published by many newspapers, including the Daily Planet. Later, as Lois Lane and Clark Kent are covering the museum's exhibit for the Daily Planet, one of the robots lands in the street outside. The police tries to stop it with machine guns but the bullets can't stop the robot and it marches through the big window in the museum. As the museum visitors, including Clark and Lois, flee, the monster marches towards the jewels and steals them. While Clark phones the Daily Planet, Lois climbs into the Monster's back, just as the monster leaves the museum and takes off into the sky. Now it's up to Superman to save the day.

There's really nothing i dislike about this cartoon, other than it's dated by today's standards, but again, i can't really dislike it for that. The X-ray vision being introduced in this cartoon, is enough to love it. But this cartoon has lots of other reasons why it's my favorite. The animation is great again, it's bright and colorful. The designs of the robots, is really cool. And one of the best action scenes of this series, in the end, where superman beats the crap out of the robots is the highlight of this cartoon. It also gets pretty dark at the end, when the villain tries to commit suicide, by jumping into the lava. but then Superman grabs him, and flies off. It's also very impressive that this short inspired movies like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and Hayao Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky. As a big fan of Miyazaki, i will say, this is pretty damn awesome.

In conclusion, this is my favorite cartoon of the Fleischer/Famous Studios Superman cartoon series. 10/10
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Superman versus robots
Warning: Spoilers
"The Mechanical Monsters" is a 9-minute cartoon that was made during World War II like all the other ones from the franchise. In here, Suoerman is up against an evil engineer (very forgettable villain) who throws an army of fire-spilling mechanical monsters (or robots in short) at out hero. I found it an underwhelming watch. It uses the same formula like all these. Superman seems in danger occasionally, but in the end he prevails of course and Lois, who gets kidnapped again, owes it all to him. Too generic for my taste and there are many better American cartoons from the 1940s. Even at such a small runtime, I felt it dragged a lot and I do not recommend the watch. I hope the next ones turn out better.
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Delicious cartoon
Cristi_Ciopron11 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Fleischer's snappy SUPERMAN franchise is as good as I expected it to be—that is, charming and brisk, exciting, thrilling and one of the most delightful cartoons available—in the form of these mind—blowing great—looking short installments.

THE MECHANICAL MONSTERS' villain is a scientist who invented a bunch of huge flying robots, used to rob treasures and stuff.

I love their discreet but firm way of glamorizing Lois Lane—she's not your everyday average girl next door ….

Because of shortness, the pace is, as advisable, awesome. The action requires the decided intervention of Superman.
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Superman #2
Michael_Elliott17 May 2009
Mechanical Monsters, The (1941)

*** (out of 4)

Second in the Fleischer/Paramount series has another mad scientist moving into town and bringing along his giant robots. He sends these robots out to steal money and jewelry, which gets reporter Lois involved but of course she's taken hostage and Superman must save the day. I found this film to be much more entertaining than the first because, while the stories are just a like, this one here features much more action, which makes the film overall more exciting. I really liked the monsters this time out and especially the way they were drawn. I also liked most of the action sequences including the best one, which involves Superman having to use his cape to stop some burning fluids from getting on Lois. The story itself was rather weak and unoriginal but it's good enough to make this short worth watching.
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These Superman cartoons seem amazingly overrated--and this one is certainly no exception.
MartinHafer15 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The Fleischer Brothers Studio made 17 Superman cartoons in the early 1940s. All 17 are very, very similar and suffer from very low quality animation and plots compared to contemporary cartoons. While THE MECHANICAL MONSTERS is far from the worst of the lot (that honor goes to THE MUMMY STRIKES), it's also not particularly noteworthy and is typical of the low quality of the series. While I am no fan of the Fleischers' other series such as Popeye and Betty Boop because of their incredibly similar plots, they are far superior to the Superman cartoons when it comes to animation quality. You can't fault Popeye or Boop for their quality of their animation. While in color, the Superman films lack the detailed backgrounds, characters and line drawings of the other cartoons and they just look cheap.

As for the plots, cheapness is also the case. Part of the problem is that you can't tell much of a story in only about eight minutes--no room is left for character development or depth to the villains. Another part is that the Fleischers didn't do much to create interesting plots or situations. In other words, the villain just appears and Superman beats the snot out of him...end of story.

Here, we once again we have a generic villain. He unleashes some robots that are smaller versions of the type of robots you might have seen if you'd watched SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW. But the robots are easily defeated and the whole thing is over before you can become too bored.

Now if you read through the rest of the reviews, you'll see an awful lot of 9s and 10s for this and other Superman films. Frankly, I think these incredibly high ratings come from comic book fans and not people who can objectively rate the films. Fans tend to vote their favorite things 10s mindlessly and ignore a film's shortcomings. After all, any non-zombified fan has to admit that the cartoons have rather poor animation when compared to the Looney Toons and MGM cartoons of the era. Plus there just isn't enough depth to merit such outrageous scores. It's okay to enjoy the films, but can anyone seriously consider them among the very, very best cartoons ever made?!

By the way, I saw this film on the DVD entitled "Cartoon Crazys: And The Envelope Please". This is a rather poor compilation of supposedly award winning and nominated films. Poor because several of the films are very lame and are NOT award nominated, the prints are rather bad and parts of some of the cartoons are missing!
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What Motivates These Guys?
Hitchcoc27 December 2016
I so enjoyed these cartoons when they came on. I was a child and was so pleased to know that this series predates the George Reeves offerings (which I also liked). In this one, a mad scientist (apparently part of subculture) has created something resembling Transformers. They are machines that can morph into other machines with a goal of destruction or sophisticated pillaging. Once Lois Lane gets wind of this, she manages to make her way on board one of them. This brings Superman out and he must face off against a horrible Ray created specifically to do him in. Lois, as usual, seems to cause considerable complications. One of the better of the series.
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