Saturday, November 17, 2012

Reign of the Supermen #450: Kirk Alyn

Source: Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950) movie serials
Type: Film
The first screen Superman, Kirk Alyn (born John Feggo Jr.) brought an undeniable squared-jawed earnestness to both his Superman and his Clark Kent, though the old movie serials were pretty old-fashioned, not to say primitive, and he wasn't allowed to fly in the flesh in the first of them (I actually like how he turns into an animated Superman when he needs to, it's a fun effect). Some clips are available on You-Tube, so I'll let them speak for themselves. I think THIS ONE features a good pot-pourri of Superman action, Daily Planet business, and Lois Lane as a victim of the Spider Lady (about time someone 'ported the Queen of the Underworld into the comics!). You might also enjoy the B-movie origin of Superman, complete with exploding Krypton and Clark's childhood.

The serial was a huge success and another was soon made, this one featuring Atom Man, a villain who turned out to be none other than Lex Luthor. Actor Lyle Talbot wore a bald cap for the role, and we'd wait until, what, Smallville?! before a screen Lex would actually show up to set with his own bald head. Oh vanity! Serials were disappearing by the 50s, the form really showing up on television, and Alyn WAS offered the television show. Alas, he made George Reeves' day be declining.
Sadly, Alyn's career didn't really take off after that, though he did play Blackhawk at the movies! So after a lackluster string of uncredited jobs on tv and film through the 50s and 60s, he retired from the business, though he would, later in life, trade on his connection to the Man of Steel. He played Lois Lane's dad in the 1979 Superman film and "Pa Cant" in the 1981 Superman spoof Superbman: The Other Movie (which I now realize Reign should get to someday). He passed away in 1999, age 88.

What the hell, movie poster? Wanted to bring in the Captain Marvel fans too?


Boosterrific said...

I had heard somewhere that the Superman costumes designed for the early black and white appearances were created to get the appropriate contrast on the screen and were not, in real life, color appropriate. (Much in the same way that early television makeup required women to wear blue lipstick for the cameras.) I would therefore guess that the Superman poster was created by someone who had seen the costume in preparation for the filming but was unaware of Superman's comic book origins.

Siskoid said...

That's a great theory! I buy it!

Matthew Turnage said...

I've seen that photo of Kirk Allyn reading a Superman comic before, but not in some years. I now recognize that issue as being Superman #51, which happens to be the only original pre-1950 comic I own. More significantly, however, it has the dual distinction of being the last issue of Superman to feature the Siegel/Shuster byline as well as the first issue to feature Curt Swan's art on the character he's most identified with. Cool that a photo done as a gag ended up having such an historic issue.

Siskoid said...

Nice detail, Matt! There's a reason behind those googly eyes!