Tommy Bond

Superman (1948, Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr), Chapter 12: Blast in the Depths

Blast in the Depths resolves the previous chapter’s cliffhanger with a reveal–something happened the viewer didn’t get to see, changing the outcome. It’s a cheat, but Superman hasn’t had a decent cliffhanger so it doesn’t really matter. In fact, the serial’s structured not to have them.

Pretty soon the action ends up back at Pierre Watkin’s office; he’s happy his staff has finally captured some of the Spider Lady’s goons. Blast is when I realized I’m not sure there’s ever been a cop in Superman. They’re always off-screen.

Watkin sends Noel Neill on assignment. She ends, no surprise, kidnapped. Kirk Alyn and Tommy Bond go after her–after missing her kidnappers walking right past. There’s a lengthy, not particularly suspenseful sequence with Alyn and Bond roaming the Depths looking for Neill.

When they do find her, the goons knock out Bond and presumably Alyn. The chapter ends with him unable to save Neill because it’d reveal his secret identity. Though it’s unclear why Alyn didn’t use any of his powers earlier to save the day. The script leaves a lot to be desired.

CREDITS

Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr; screenplay by Arthur Hoerl, Lewis Clay, and Royal K. Cole, based on an adaptation by George H. Plympton and Joseph F. Poland and characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; director of photography, Ira H. Morgan; edited by Earl Turner; produced by Sam Katzman; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Kirk Alyn (Superman/Clark Kent), Noel Neill (Lois Lane), Pierre Watkin (Perry White), Tommy Bond (Jimmy Olsen), Carol Forman (Spider Lady), Herbert Rawlinson (Dr. Graham), Forrest Taylor (Professor Arnold Leeds), Nelson Leigh (Jor-El), Luana Walters (Lara), Edward Cassidy (Eben Kent), and Virginia Carroll (Martha Kent).


Superman (1948, Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr), Chapter 11: Superman’s Dilemma

Superman’s Dilemma has a scene where Kirk Alyn, as Superman, talks to a conscious Noel Neill. She’s telling him how Tommy Bond stupidly has gotten himself in trouble with the goons again. Bond’s apparently trouble-proof to some degree, however; at the end of the previous chapter, he was being held hostage. At the beginning of this one? Free as a bird. He, Alyn, and Neill have their joint scene with Pierre Watkin, who informs them the only reason he cares about them living or dying is so they can dig up a story before the cops.

The opening cliffhanger resolution has another unconscious Neill–the second rescue has her passed out too, but this time Alyn waits around for her to regain consciousness.

There’s some more with Spider Lady Carol Forman forcing good guy scientist Herbert Rawlinson to help her. George Meeker apparently tortures him (but very courteously).

Neill and Bond get into trouble at the end because Neill hijacks Alyn’s story assignment and schemes a way to get him arrested. If only Neill put her powers to good.

There’s a fun, gentle screwball sequence in the Daily Planet newsroom with Neill sneaking around Alyn and hiding his hat. The acting from Neill and Alyn is good in it–not Bond, but he’s got problems throughout Dilemma–and it’s a shame there isn’t more like it in Superman. Bennet and Carr direct comedy better than anything else.

CREDITS

Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr; screenplay by Arthur Hoerl, Lewis Clay, and Royal K. Cole, based on an adaptation by George H. Plympton and Joseph F. Poland and characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; director of photography, Ira H. Morgan; edited by Earl Turner; produced by Sam Katzman; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Kirk Alyn (Superman/Clark Kent), Noel Neill (Lois Lane), Pierre Watkin (Perry White), Tommy Bond (Jimmy Olsen), Carol Forman (Spider Lady), Herbert Rawlinson (Dr. Graham), Forrest Taylor (Professor Arnold Leeds), Nelson Leigh (Jor-El), Luana Walters (Lara), Edward Cassidy (Eben Kent), and Virginia Carroll (Martha Kent).


Superman (1948, Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr), Chapter 10: Between Two Fires

Between Two Fires does indeed feature two fires. The opening fire is when Noel Neill has been knocked out and captured. Kirk Alyn–and a nicely animated Superman–save her. Of course, the rescue does come with Alyn’s most unlikely change of outfit. And Neill’s asleep for the whole thing, so no dialogue between her and Alyn, not as Superman or Clark Kent.

Then it’s Tommy Bond’s chapter for a while. He’s out trying to get a story and happens upon some of the goons. He follows them, bursting in without any thought, and gets promptly captured.

It takes Alyn and Neill a while to find out Bond’s missing. Bond’s hanging out with captive scientist Herbert Rawlinson who is using the phone lines and Morse code to try to get rescued.

Unfortunately, Neill ditches Alyn to burst in without any thought and gets locked into a room with, you guessed it, another fire. And cliffhanger.

Even with poorly executed material (Earl Turner’s editing is terrible in Fires), Bond makes a fairly solid lead in his subplot. He at least gets to interact with people. Alyn and Neill’s team-up to cover the phone service interruption–no one at the phone company knows Morse code, apparently–has no dialogue between the stars.

Neill getting into trouble with the second fire requires so much stupidity and carelessness on her part, Superman breaks its disbelief suspension. Of course, why Alyn keeps trusting her to get him when there’s trouble has got the disbelief suspension primed for failure.

Superman’s consistently bumpy; between chapters and during them.

CREDITS

Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr; screenplay by Arthur Hoerl, Lewis Clay, and Royal K. Cole, based on an adaptation by George H. Plympton and Joseph F. Poland and characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; director of photography, Ira H. Morgan; edited by Earl Turner; produced by Sam Katzman; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Kirk Alyn (Superman/Clark Kent), Noel Neill (Lois Lane), Pierre Watkin (Perry White), Tommy Bond (Jimmy Olsen), Carol Forman (Spider Lady), Herbert Rawlinson (Dr. Graham), Forrest Taylor (Professor Arnold Leeds), Nelson Leigh (Jor-El), Luana Walters (Lara), Edward Cassidy (Eben Kent), and Virginia Carroll (Martha Kent).


Superman (1948, Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr), Chapter 9: Irresistible Force

Again, a Superman chapter where the title really has nothing to do with the content. Unless the Irresistible Force refers to Superman vs. train, which is one of the serial’s better composite effects sequences. At least ones involving Kirk Alyn and not the cartoon Superman fill-in.

But after resolving the previous chapter’s cliffhanger, Alyn vanishes for most of Force. It’s a Spider Lady and goons episode. They’re plotting to kidnap a scientist (Herbert Rawlinson) from under Noel Neill’s nose, replacing him with bad guy scientist Charles Quigley in makeup.

Whether it’s Rawlinson as Quigley as Rawlinson or just Quigley as Rawlinson, the make-up on the imposter is actually pretty darn good. Neill knows something’s up and is trying to figure it out. Too bad she acts like a complete idiot and gets busted.

Spider Lady Carol Forman has her own reveals as she executes the kidnapping herself. The serial goes for surprising but it’s hard to get jazzed up about anything involving Forman and her band of thugs. They’re exceptionally slight villains.

Force also introduces a facet of Alyn’s x-ray vision. He can see through Quigley’s disguise from a photograph. Not sure how the yellow sun makes that one happen but it does.

There’s very little action with the kidnapping; once Force finally does get going, it’s already time for the finish.

CREDITS

Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr; screenplay by Arthur Hoerl, Lewis Clay, and Royal K. Cole, based on an adaptation by George H. Plympton and Joseph F. Poland and characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; director of photography, Ira H. Morgan; edited by Earl Turner; produced by Sam Katzman; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Kirk Alyn (Superman/Clark Kent), Noel Neill (Lois Lane), Pierre Watkin (Perry White), Tommy Bond (Jimmy Olsen), Carol Forman (Spider Lady), Herbert Rawlinson (Dr. Graham), Forrest Taylor (Professor Arnold Leeds), Nelson Leigh (Jor-El), Luana Walters (Lara), Edward Cassidy (Eben Kent), and Virginia Carroll (Martha Kent).


Superman (1948, Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr), Chapter 8: Superman to the Rescue

Superman to the Rescue fails to feature one thing–Superman to the rescue. The cliffhanger resolution goes from sped-up film fistfight to Kryptonite gas filling a room. Tommy Bond saves himself–lucking out because apparently a convener belt is poorly designed–while Kirk Alyn’s Superman stumbles out of the gas cloud.

Noel Neill shows up just in time for the scene to end and Alyn, Neill, and Bond to go back to the Daily Planet. Pierre Watkin gets to yell at them a bit–they missed the story but at least they rescued Bond–before it’s time for Carol Forman’s Spider Lady to take over the plot.

She’s going some infighting to deal with before she can try to steal the Reducer Ray. Superman’s supposed to be guarding it. Unfortunately, she’s able to figure out his plan to safely transport it. Oddly, no one notices Superman’s not doing anything to help with the transportation. Alyn’s in Clark Kent garb for most of it.

Lots of back and forth with Forman and her goons as they plan and execute said plan.

It’s a fairly boring chapter. Even if Alyn up, up, and awaying is a little pricey, it’s not like Neill and Bond couldn’t be doing something. Instead, Forman’s a supervillain with a dysfunctional work place. Yawn.

Alyn does have a solid action sequence in the last third. Not really the cliffhanger, which is forgettable and doesn’t need Alyn; so in the lead up to the cliffhanger.

But Rescue is still incredibly tedious.

CREDITS

Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr; screenplay by Arthur Hoerl, Lewis Clay, and Royal K. Cole, based on an adaptation by George H. Plympton and Joseph F. Poland and characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; director of photography, Ira H. Morgan; edited by Earl Turner; produced by Sam Katzman; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Kirk Alyn (Superman/Clark Kent), Noel Neill (Lois Lane), Pierre Watkin (Perry White), Tommy Bond (Jimmy Olsen), Carol Forman (Spider Lady), Herbert Rawlinson (Dr. Graham), Forrest Taylor (Professor Arnold Leeds), Nelson Leigh (Jor-El), Luana Walters (Lara), Edward Cassidy (Eben Kent), and Virginia Carroll (Martha Kent).


Superman (1948, Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr), Chapter 7: Into the Electric Furnace!

Into the Electric Furnace starts with Noel Neill in trouble and ends with Tommy Bond in trouble. In between, Pierre Watkin yells at Neill, Bond, and Kirk Alyn for not working together in their attempts to capture an escaped mad scientist (Charles Quigley) before the cops.

Quigley’s working with Spider Lady Carol Forman. Their acting ability is on about the same level, making Forman’s one scene this chapter rather tedious. At least when George Meeker is condescending to his evil supervillain mastermind boss, he’s giving an adequate performance. Quigley wobbles between a passable bad and an intolerable one.

Bond ends up in trouble because Neill tries again to scoop Alyn. They have a scene together–Neill and Alyn–where they agree not to try to scoop one another a few minutes before. It’s kind of nice for Neill and Alyn to have a scene with Watkin bossing them or Alyn rescuing Neill. In the former, Watkin’s too bombastic for anyone to get any space. The latter, however–the Superman rescues Lois scenes–always have bad post-action scenes. This time Neill doesn’t even wake up for her rescue. She does get her first animated flying stand-in though.

The chapter’s cliffhanger–the one with Bond the damoiseau in distress–is a result of Alyn being really bad at toggling between foolish newspaper reporter and superhero.

Superman’s got no balance. Its cast is mostly wasted; except Watkin. Watkin always gets the good material. Maybe everyone just needs to sit behind a desk and yell.

CREDITS

Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr; screenplay by Arthur Hoerl, Lewis Clay, and Royal K. Cole, based on an adaptation by George H. Plympton and Joseph F. Poland and characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; director of photography, Ira H. Morgan; edited by Earl Turner; produced by Sam Katzman; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Kirk Alyn (Superman/Clark Kent), Noel Neill (Lois Lane), Pierre Watkin (Perry White), Tommy Bond (Jimmy Olsen), Carol Forman (Spider Lady), Herbert Rawlinson (Dr. Graham), Forrest Taylor (Professor Arnold Leeds), Nelson Leigh (Jor-El), Luana Walters (Lara), Edward Cassidy (Eben Kent), and Virginia Carroll (Martha Kent).


Superman (1948, Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr), Chapter 6: Superman in Danger

Superman in Danger opens with another fine action sequence from directors Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr with the animated flying Superman. It leads into another really short scene between Noel Neill and Kirk Alyn.

Then there’s another action sequence, involving Alyn and kryptonite, with Alyn’s best acting as Superman so far in the serial. Alyn’s got some decent stuff as Clark Kent this episode, as he tries to steal Neill’s faithful stoolie (Frank Lackteen). Neill catches on to Alyn trying to scoop her and heads out. Unfortunately, the lack of teamwork and communication put them both in danger.

Neill in real danger, Alyn in ostensible danger. Though they do get in trouble, it’s because they’ve been really stupid. In Alyn’s case, the stupid’s sort of permissible (he’s new to the reporting game, after all). Neill’s isn’t permissible. She does get a solid moment a little later when she’s once again abducted; it doesn’t last long, but it’s something.

For whatever reason, Bennet and Carr can manage to do the opening action well for cliffhanger resolution, but never the closing action for the new cliffhanger. The cliffhangers are never good. There should have been at least one by chapter six, but no.

Some rather bad audio dubbing this chapter too.

CREDITS

Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr; screenplay by Arthur Hoerl, Lewis Clay, and Royal K. Cole, based on an adaptation by George H. Plympton and Joseph F. Poland and characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; director of photography, Ira H. Morgan; edited by Earl Turner; produced by Sam Katzman; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Kirk Alyn (Superman/Clark Kent), Noel Neill (Lois Lane), Pierre Watkin (Perry White), Tommy Bond (Jimmy Olsen), Carol Forman (Spider Lady), Herbert Rawlinson (Dr. Graham), Forrest Taylor (Professor Arnold Leeds), Nelson Leigh (Jor-El), Luana Walters (Lara), Edward Cassidy (Eben Kent), and Virginia Carroll (Martha Kent).


Superman (1948, Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr), Chapter 5: A Job for Superman

A Job for Superman has the serial’s first enthusiastic use of the cartoon flying Superman. Kirk Alyn has just ditched Tommy Bond with a goofy excuse so he can put on the long-johns (behind rocks this time, not shrubbery) and he’s flying between rock outcrops to get ahead of the bad guys’ car. They’ve kidnapped Noel Neill. Then cartoon Superman flies off the outcrop and lands on the car.

It’s a good action sequence, even if its dramatically pat. Neill’s just survived her first encounter with Spider Lady Carol Forman. Forman’s proving to be a lousy supervillain, with chief henchman George Meeker challenging her every decision. Doesn’t help Forman’s always wrong.

Once Alyn rescues Neill–this time she at least gets one line of dialogue before the scene ends, so far there’s zero Lois and Superman stuff in Superman–the action moves back to the Daily Planet for some lengthy exposition setting up Forman’s next scheme. Threaten Superman publicly and tell him her plans.

Of course, turns out Alyn knowing her plans doesn’t mean he’s not going to screw up stopping them. Worse, the action sequence setting up the cliffhanger is nowhere near as good as the first one.

Alyn and Bond have a good scene together. Still no character development, but a good scene. Neill gets some lines for the Daily Planet scene; when she’s out on assignment, Superman cuts away. To that lame finale action sequence.

A Job for Superman starts iffy, gets better, goes back to iffy. The script’s way too erratic.

CREDITS

Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr; screenplay by Arthur Hoerl, Lewis Clay, and Royal K. Cole, based on an adaptation by George H. Plympton and Joseph F. Poland and characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; director of photography, Ira H. Morgan; edited by Earl Turner; produced by Sam Katzman; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Kirk Alyn (Superman/Clark Kent), Noel Neill (Lois Lane), Pierre Watkin (Perry White), Tommy Bond (Jimmy Olsen), Carol Forman (Spider Lady), Herbert Rawlinson (Dr. Graham), Forrest Taylor (Professor Arnold Leeds), Nelson Leigh (Jor-El), Luana Walters (Lara), Edward Cassidy (Eben Kent), and Virginia Carroll (Martha Kent).


Superman (1948, Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr), Chapter 4: Man of Steel

Man of Steel opens with a good scene for Kirk Alyn, as both Clark Kent and Superman, as he has to decide if he’s going to reveal his secret identity. He’s trying to convince scientist Forrest Taylor to destroy kryptonite.

Unfortunately, Taylor’s got an assistant who’s more interested in personal profit than the well-being of the Man of Steel, which brings Carol Forman’s Spider Lady into the mix.

But not for Alyn. After the opening, he gives up the chapter to Noel Neill. For a few minutes, anyway, before she gets kidnapped. She and Tommy Bond do get a good scene together–visiting a stool pigeon, Neill has to school young Bond in proper reporting.

Once she’s kidnapped and off to Forman’s lair, Man of Steel starts to get its familiar drag. Forman’s performance isn’t good; her character is stupid too. Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr have Neill ostensibly in danger the whole time, yet when she gets to have the cliffhanger, it’s like they just remembered to do something with her. Before the cliffhanger, it’s all Forman doing expository.

Bennet and Carr’s lack of urgency hurts Man of Steel. Alyn, Neill, and Bond are all good, but the finale gives none of them anything to do. Just Forman. And she wastes anything she gets to do. It’s not entirely her fault. Spider Lady’s a weak character

CREDITS

Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr; screenplay by Arthur Hoerl, Lewis Clay, and Royal K. Cole, based on an adaptation by George H. Plympton and Joseph F. Poland and characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; director of photography, Ira H. Morgan; edited by Earl Turner; produced by Sam Katzman; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Kirk Alyn (Superman/Clark Kent), Noel Neill (Lois Lane), Pierre Watkin (Perry White), Tommy Bond (Jimmy Olsen), Carol Forman (Spider Lady), Herbert Rawlinson (Dr. Graham), Forrest Taylor (Professor Arnold Leeds), Nelson Leigh (Jor-El), Luana Walters (Lara), Edward Cassidy (Eben Kent), and Virginia Carroll (Martha Kent).


Superman (1948, Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr), Chapter 3: The Reducer Ray

The Reducer Ray drags. It opens with an okay, not great, cliffhanger resolution–with the best use of the animated Superman action so far in Superman. The resolution’s truncated so the action can get back to the Daily Planet so Noel Neill can meet Kirk Alyn (as Clark Kent). She already met Superman, but just for a moment and it has no apparent effect on her.

There’s a promising hint of Alyn and Neill bickering, then the chapter moves ahead an indeterminate period. There’s a newspaper headline montage of all Superman’s feats.

When the montage ends, Reducer Ray introduces villain Carol Forman and her stooges. Forman is “The Spider Lady.” She wears a black gown and an eye mask. She also has a giant silvery spider web in her foyer. It’s unclear why she’s such a powerful villain, but her stooges do her bidding. Including when it gets them killed, like here.

Turns out the U.S. government has a job for Superman. There’s a lot of action–and The Reducer Ray–before it’s back to Metropolis for Alyn as Clark Kent. A meteor is expected to land nearby and they’re supposed to get the story. Can he and Neill work together?

Or will she strand him on the side of the road.

Neill’s good. Alyn’s better as Kent. Especially during the bickering scenes with Neill, Tommy Bond, and Pierre Watkin. The script just doesn’t take any time with them.

Lots of Superman cartoon flying “effects.” Never too bad, but never good. If Superman’s got to fly as a cartoon, they ought to still be excited about the cartoon.

It feels long–there are a lot of people standing around in Reducer Ray, most of them new characters, most of them probably just here for the one chapter. It’s a lot to get through.

The cliffhanger involving Kryptonite is at least a shocker.

Also–Neill gets screen time but nothing to do as a reporter. Her part is to actively dislike Alyn, amusingly so, but zilch else.

CREDITS

Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr; screenplay by Arthur Hoerl, Lewis Clay, and Royal K. Cole, based on an adaptation by George H. Plympton and Joseph F. Poland and characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; director of photography, Ira H. Morgan; edited by Earl Turner; produced by Sam Katzman; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Kirk Alyn (Superman/Clark Kent), Noel Neill (Lois Lane), Pierre Watkin (Perry White), Tommy Bond (Jimmy Olsen), Carol Forman (Spider Lady), Herbert Rawlinson (Dr. Graham), Forrest Taylor (Professor Arnold Leeds), Nelson Leigh (Jor-El), Luana Walters (Lara), Edward Cassidy (Eben Kent), and Virginia Carroll (Martha Kent).


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