Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pop Focus: Doc Savage - the movie

There are so many cool things about Doc Savage, where do you start? Here's a brief checklist:
  • He's super strong
  • And super smart.
  • He's got his own crew - "The Fabulous Five" - who are all really good at different stuff and who will follow him anywhere.
  • He lives on the top of the Empire State Building.
  • And owns a submarine, a blimp, a helicopter and a superfast car.
  • He designed a "super machine pistol" that fires "mercy bullets" that don't kill bad guys, just knock them out so they can be sent to a sanitarium upstate to be rehabilitated.
  • He had a Fortress of Solitude decades before Superman knew it was cool.
And in 1975, he had a movie. I never saw it, though I was a huge Doc fan, having been introduced to Marvel Comics' black-and-white Doc Savage magazine the same year. The movie never came to my town and never seemed to turn up on TV. I had to make-do with my Marvel mags and the Bantam paperback reprints of Doc's pulp adventures. Thankfully, those were around everywhere.

My Dad told me he'd read some Doc pulps as a kid, but my search for any remaining copies in my grandfather's attic was in vain. It wasn't until years later that I saw any of the real pulps in person.

Now, of course, everything is available anytime, everywhere. Doc's novels have been republished as two-fers by Nostalgia Ventures and Sanctum Books and Will Murphy is writing a series of new Doc books published by Altus Press. There's also continued talk of a new Doc movie, possibly starring Christopher Hemsworth, who'd be great.

The first film is available on DVD and streaming on Amazon Prime, but I still haven't watched it. Maybe I know that grown-up me will disappoint child-me by finding it ludicrous. Someday.

In the meantime, here's an array of pics from the film and other Doc-focused memorabilia.




The Doc Savage pulps were a key inspiration for Superman, Batman and other Golden Age comics heroes

Doc Savage creator Lester Dent a.k.a. Kenneth Robeson
The first Doc Savage pulp adventure, adapted for the 1975 movie
The Bantam paperback version of Man of Bronze
Former TV Tarzan Ron Ely as Doc Savage in the 1975 film



Doc Savage and his Fabulous Five









Doc art by Jim Steranko, a super-Savage fan


Steranko's Super Graphics publishing house created a Doc fan club, the Brotherhood of Bronze, in the 1970s

I loved the Doc black-and-white mag published by Marvel

1 comment:

  1. The 1975 movie is very much in the campy vein of the 1960s Batman TV series. Ron Ely was a good Doc, and the movie has some good moments (the opening chase between Doc and a sniper atop a skyscraper is pretty good). Overall, though, the weaknesses are too much: a mocking tone, ineffectual villains, and a cheapness in production value that takes you out of the experience.

    Hopefully the rumors will pan out and there will be a new Doc movie with Chris Hemsworth. I hear it's being written and directed by Shane Black, who wrote "Lethal Weapon" and directed "Iron Man 3", so that might be the Doc movie I've been waiting for.

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