Jeff Corey

Superman and the Mole-Men (1951, Lee Sholem)

Superman and the Mole Men is somewhat hard to watch–and not because of the goofy mole people costumes. The bad guys in the film aren’t the mole men, but the evil redneck townspeople who hunt them down. Mole Men runs less than an hour (a theatrical pilot for the “Adventures of Superman” TV series) but the constant hounding of the cute little mole men and unrelenting viciousness of main villain Jeff Corey makes it constantly uncomfortable.

The other problem is how ineffectual Superman’s presence is to quelling the viciousness. While George Reeves is pretty good as Superman, except the fists to hips stance, Robert Maxwell’s script doesn’t know what to do with him. Being super has nothing to do with Superman’s role in the picture. So an added frustration is knowing Superman should be saving the little mole men, but isn’t because Maxwell’s got him giving nonessential speeches.

As Kent, Reeves’s wink-wink performance doesn’t play well. When he’s giving a straight performance as a newspaper reporter, he’s a lot better. Phyllis Coates is barely present as Lois Lane; she’s not very good. Besides Corey, the best supporting work is from Walter Reed.

Clark Ramsey’s photography is weak. Sholem’s direction is competent enough. Mole Men‘s real villain is its small budget. The mole men had been running around ten minutes before I realized their sweatsuits were supposed to be their fur.

Darrell Calker’s score is nice.

Mole Men isn’t good, but it’s definitely has some good things about it.



Directed by Lee Sholem; screenplay by Robert Maxwell, based on characters created by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel; director of photography, Clark Ramsey; edited by Albrecht Joseph; music by Darrell Calker; produced by Barney A. Sarecky; released by Lippert Pictures.

Starring George Reeves (Superman / Clark Kent), Phyllis Coates (Lois Lane), Jeff Corey (Luke Benson), Walter Reed (Bill Corrigan), J. Farrell MacDonald (Pop Shannon), Stanley Andrews (The Sheriff), Ray Walker (John Craig), Hal K. Dawson (Chuck Weber), John Baer (Dr. Reed), Frank Reicher (Hospital Superintendent) and Beverly Washburn (Child).

This film is also discussed in Sum Up | Superman.

Mickey One (1965, Arthur Penn)

Mickey One is what happens when you mix an American attempt at French New Wave and a director (Arthur Penn) experienced in television directing. Arthur Penn did eventually shed those old TV trappings, but certainly not at this point in his career. He’s got lots of shots in Mickey One–its editing is so frantic and the camera angles, while mostly familiar TV ones, never return once cut from–and it actually reminds of a Michael Bay movie. Really.

The story is intentionally complicated (that French New Wave attempt), with Warren Beatty maybe on the run from the mob and maybe not. Beatty’s a stand-up comic of the Hennie Youngman variety and Beatty’s terrible at delivering the jokes. The role requires something Beatty can’t bring to it, some depth, while all his inflictions are the same (except when he’s trying an accent, which are some painful moments).

The film’s interesting mostly because I kept waiting for something tricky to happen. After a while, Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge becomes a serious possibility. The film’s intentionally absurd, intentionally nonsensical, but it isn’t done in any sort of admirable way. There’s a bunch of fluff, swirling and mixing, and there’s nothing underneath. It runs short, around ninety-two minutes, and it really moves–because it doesn’t have scenes for the most part, just the ends of them, another pointless stylistic choice. It is an incredibly different film, but it’s also an example of when being different isn’t the same as being good. That observation made, it’s a passable way to spend ninety minutes, just a shockingly empty film from Arthur Penn, whose great works are usually 20,000 fathoms deep.



Directed and produced by Arthur Penn; written by Alan M. Surgal; director of photography, Ghislan Cloquet; edited by Aram Avakian; music by Eddie Sauter; production designer, George Jenkins; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Warren Beatty (The Comic), Alexandra Stewart (Jenny), Hurd Hatfield (Castle), Franchot Tone (Rudy Lopp), Teddy Hart (Berson), Jeff Corey (Fryer) and Fujiwara Kamatari (The Artist).

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