Tag Archives: special effects

Superman II 2.45: Things I Want to Tell You

Man, it feels like old times, right? Like, back when I was writing about the first Superman movie, I had an endless fund of boring production details to talk about, and it took me forever to get through a single scene. That drive for documentation pretty much dried up by the time they made the sequel, so I’ve been able to move along through this movie without getting too tied up on anything in particular.

But there’s a lot going on with the big New York dance number, which is giving me more than a week of material to dig into. So today, I’m going to tell you a few things that I think are interesting about this scene.

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Superman 1.98: That Dam Scene

I tell you what, today is not a good day to be living in Tinytown.

First, somebody dropped a midget missile on Li’l San Andreas Fault, which made a mess of the Golden Gate Microbridge. Then the model train set fell apart, endangering dozens of itty-bitty passengers.

And worst of all, the model of Hoover Dam has burst, and now the floodwaters are threatening to overwhelm an innocent community of dollhouses, ending playtime as we know it.

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Superman 1.62: Catching the Cat

Time Magazine — August 1, 1977:

“Even with the crane and wires, flying is not easy. Christopher Reeve, 24, who plays Superman, has to make a dozen or so passes 50 ft. in the air before he bags his cat, made suitably cooperative by the taxidermist. Every once in a while Superman is brought down for an adjustment of his ailerons. He has 25 different costumes and perhaps six different kinds of capes—for standing, sitting, flying and coming in for a landing. He is now wearing his flying cape, which is stretched out with wires so that it appears to billow in the wind.

“The changes made, he goes back into the air, accompanied by cheers from local residents who are hanging out of windows. “Hey, Supraman, why cantcha get the cat?” someone shouts in that rich blend of gravel and adenoids known as Brooklynese. “Thattaboy, Supraman!” yells another when he actually touches the dusty beast.”

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Superman 1.57: A Man Can Fly

So here’s a scene that we didn’t see in Superman: The Movie, straight from the shooting script:

The eagle bursts through a white cloud bank up once more into the clean blue air. After a short moment SUPERMAN does likewise, trailing the bird.

For a few moments we are privileged to witness this real beauty and poetry of flying as the eagle and SUPERMAN chase each other through the air doing banks, loops, and dives, swooping closely together like two beautiful fighter planes in tight formation.

The unspoken ceremony over, they silently acknowledge each other, then head off in different directions.

Obviously, that scene didn’t happen, because who has the time to choreograph eagles, but the interesting thing is that it made the cut all the way up to the shooting script. That says to me that they really didn’t know how hard it was going to be just getting Superman to fly in a credible way, without having to do a fucking raptor ballet on top of it.

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Superman 1.53: The Heights

Let’s face it, transportation in Metropolis is fraught with peril. Just seven minutes ago, a detective was pushed in front of a train, and now there’s a busted helicopter dangling precariously over the edge of a tall building. Elsewhere in Metropolis tonight, there’s going to be a car chase and a shootout on a boat, and Air Force One is going to be one engine short when it lands in Metropolis Airport. Honestly, you can’t even walk down the street in Metropolis without getting mugged. It seems like if you want to go anywhere in this town, you need to have Superman specifically move you from one spot to another. Otherwise, it’s probably best if you just stay put.

But let’s focus on the current crisis, which is Lois and the helicopter. As I talked about yesterday, this helicopter rescue scene is a very complex sequence with lots of exciting action shots, and it took twelve months to complete, using just about every method of special effects available except rubber monsters. So today I want to take a look at the helicopter that can’t fly, the rooftop that isn’t a rooftop, and the building that’s only about two-thirds of the building.

Continue reading Superman 1.53: The Heights