“You Will Believe: Superman’s 40th Anniversary”

Superman is a 1978 superhero film directed by Richard Donner starring Christopher Reeve as Superman based on the DC Comics character of the same name. David Anderson and David Lawler discuss the 40th anniversary restoration and re-issue of this classic film.

© Frequent Wire, David Lawler and David B. Anderson copyright 2018 for all original vocal and audio content featuring David Lawler and David B. Anderson. This podcast, “You Will Believe: Superman’s 40th Anniversary” is not affiliated with Warner Bros., DC Comics, Tollin/Robbins Productions, or Millar Gough Ink. Any and all images, audio clips, and dialogue extracts are the property of their respective copyright owners. This blog and podcast was created for criticism, research, and is completely nonprofit, and should be considered Fair Use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. section 107. It is not an official product, and it should not be sold nor bought; this is intended for private use, and any public broadcast is not recommended. All television, film, and music clips appear under Fair Use as well.

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“More Different, Less Different”

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In the run-up to our July 17th premiere podcast, “Extreme Cinema: Action and Exploitation Movies with Andrew La Ganke & David Lawler”, we present this oldie-but-goodie; analysis of Jon Schnepp’s intriguing documentary, “The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?”.  “Extreme Cinema” will explore the work of lesser known celluloid heroes like David A. Prior, Larry Cohen, Albert Pyun, William Lustig, Jim Wynorski, and many more!

Vintage Cable Box: “All Night Long, 1981”

New VCB Logo

“I’m not a fire you can put out!”

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All Night Long, 1981 (Gene Hackman), Universal Pictures

Burned-out corporate bulldog Gene Hackman has a nervous breakdown and throws a chair out of his office window. Rather than being fired on-the-spot (like most people), he is demoted to a night manager’s position at his company’s all night drug store chain. He lives in a Stepford-like suburban bedroom community. At a funeral, he meets Barbra Streisand’s Cheryl, telegraphed as a bit of a free-spirit that people find odd. In my case, I would find her annoying and keep my distance, but I’m not in this movie. Hackman is intrigued. He discovers his idiot son (Dennis Quaid) is screwing Cheryl on the side. He takes exception at this and tells his son to stay away from her. Quaid is supposed to be 18, but he looks a lot older.

At his new job, Hackman comes across all manner of eccentric character – people who do their shopping in the middle of the night, strange men who shop-lift pantyhose, conspiracy nuts, and incompetent rent-a-cops. I’ve worked night shifts all my life. I’m kind of a night person. In fact, as I write up this review, it is three in the morning. Cheryl pops in, tells Hackman Quaid is upset at his being “grounded” from sex. He is immediately taken with her. She is a bit of a tease. They start spending time together, because her firefrighter husband spends most of his nights on duty. This sets up an interesting conflict between Hackman and Quaid. Hackman moves out of his house, and his wife is contemplating divorce.

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Hackman nails the mid-life crisis neuroses, but Streisand’s flighty extrovert with aspirations of being a country/western singer, can grate. What is essentially a romantic comedy for insomniacs with interesting fleshed-out characters is overshadowed by the presence of Barbra Streisand. The film was originally cast with actress Lisa Eichhorn as Cheryl. The film was directed by Jean-Claude Tramont, the husband of Streisand’s agent at the time, Sue Mengers. A few weeks into filming, Eichhorn was fired and replaced with Streisand. I can only speculate Tramont wanted a bigger budget and Mengers convinced Streisand to take the role. Eichhorn complained about her dismissal and the producers invented a story about her having no chemistry with Hackman, which killed her film career.

All Night Long plays like a mid-sixties sex comedy. Streisand’s character reminds me of Marilyn Monroe from The Seven Year Itch and she is always the focus of every scene she is in, even granted this is a movie about Gene Hackman and his character’s woes. The script has many amusing moments and good performances, but lacks the single-character focus you would expect from a small domestic comedy like this. Despite my complaints, I really did enjoy this movie the many times it played on cable television, mainly for Gene Hackman, one of our great treasures in cinema. Even with all the behind-the-scenes intrigue, he’s having so much fun in this movie.

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties. 

NEW PODCAST: “More Different, Less Different”

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This is BlissVille, Misadventures in BlissVille, and tonight we’re going to be discussing Jon Schnepp’s 2015 documentary, “The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?”.

Narrator: Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Man 1: Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird.
Woman: It’s a plane
Man 2: It’s Superman!
Narrator: Yes, it’s Superman, strange visitor from another planet who came to earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands. And who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never ending battle for truth, justice and the American way. And now another exciting episode in the adventures of Superman.

I love Superman. He is a true super-hero, because he has super powers. He’s from another planet. He’s incredibly strong. He can fly. As much as I love Batman, he’s not a true super-hero. He bought his powers. He’s a billionaire. Batman is the capitalist super-hero, whereas Superman is more of a socialist. There’s a great line in “Kill Bill 2”; David Carradine’s monologue toward the end, he tells Uma Thurman that the visage of Clark Kent is the disguise, and that Superman, or Kal-El is the reality.

I watched a couple of the old Superman tv show episodes with George Reeves last weekend, to prime alongside the documentary. They’re pretty silly by today’s standards, but they were enough to entertain people back then, and still nowhere near as silly as Burton’s conception of the character. The show ran from 1952 to 1958, 104 episodes, killed George Reeves’ career, and then 20 years later, we have Christopher Reeve, whom is still the standard for the character.