Superman III Movie Minute #1 – Busy Day in Metropolis

SUPERMAN III MOVIE MINUTE #1 – Busy Day in Metropolis

Fire and Water Network All-Stars Chris Franklin and Rob Kelly are back with SUPERMAN III MOVIE MINUTE, where they analyze, scrutinize, and you’ll-believe-a-man-can-fly-ize the Man of Steel’s third big screen adventure starring Christopher Reeve, Richard Pryor, Annette O’Toole, and Robert Vaughn, five minutes at a time!

In minutes 00:00-5:00, we get the opening credits, our introduction to Gus Gorman, and wacky hijinks on the streets of Metropolis.

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Opening theme and closing theme by John Williams.

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Thanks for listening!

19 responses to “Superman III Movie Minute #1 – Busy Day in Metropolis

  1. Welcome back, guys! I’m really looking forward to listening to your commentary on this movie that I’ve never seen; I figure this has got to be the preferred SUPERMAN III experience.

    Loved your hypothetical fan-casting for Brainiac and Mr. Mxyzptlk! Some really interesting choices there. If you’ll allow me to suggest a few of my own.

    For Brainiac… Steven Berkoff, who played other villains around this time in OCTOPUSSY (1983) and BEVERLY HILLS COP (1984). He has a naturally menacing look, like a knockoff Rutger Hauer, a very distinctive, almost detached voice, and eyes that look like he’s always scanning you.

    For Mixxy… bear with me, Michael Keaton. Yes, he might be the definitive Dark Knight for a lot of people, but in the early ’80s he was a fresh-faced comedian known for expressive, manic performances. 1983 was dead center in his run of NIGHT SHIFT, MR. MOM, and JOHNNY DANGEROUSLY. Think about it.

  2. Yay! Superman Movie Minute is back!
    I really enjoy Superman III. It’s an incredibly fun movie.
    As you both pointed out, Richard Pryor sold movie tickets, so once he expressed interest in being in a Superman film, the producers saw dollar signs. Pryor’s comedy performance required no expensive special effects and no lengthy post production.
    Superman III was the first movie my best friend and I were allowed to go see together without our parents, so i have a great deal of nostalgia for it.

  3. Regarding the alternate opening, I have this weird thing where occasionally I’ll dream I’m watching a movie and it starts to go different from the way it is supposed to. It doesn’t happen often, but enough for it to be a thing. So imagine falling asleep with the television on back around 2000/2001 and the television version of Superman III comes on and you’re in that hazy state between asleep and awake and an alternate version of the opening credits starts playing and you have no idea if it is a dream or not.

    It was weird.

    Somewhere in this house I have a taped version of that television cut. The music is pretty much the one they play at the end of the film. Chris is totally right about the hazy thing happening when the credits are supposed to be rolling and it gives this drug trip of a scene an even trippier vibe.

    In fact, that’s how I can justify this scene. Some guy ate a handful of mushrooms before heading out in the morning to wherever he was going and this is all him hallucinating.

    As much as I will defend this movie on a number of fronts, this opening scene is not one of the hills I will choose to die on. I’m not even going to attempt to climb it. It’s just bad idea followed by bad idea followed by the promise of a decent action scene followed by a decent save followed by more bad ideas.

    I’m with Rob on the seeing eye dog. I’m glad he said something.

    As far as fan casting goes, I’m with you both as far as Helen Slater is concerned but if I had to choose an alternate it would have been Michelle Pfeiffer, who had just played a teenager a year earlier in Grease 2, so it works. At least for me. As for Brainiac, I would have gone for Ben Kingsley. Yeah. I know. Gandhi had come out the previous year, but the Salkinds liked to bank on names and he would have been a name. As for Mxy…I’m going to go really obvious and say Robin Williams. Not because of his comedic genius, which is evident, but he and Reeve were friends and attended Julliard together, so it would have been interesting to see the two get to work together on screen.

    Great first episode, fellows. Glad to hear that I am not the only one that wants to add “Star Spangled” to Pierre Spengler’s name.

  4. “Blue Collar” is one of Paul Schader’s greatest films and a great fable for the plight of the American worker in the late 70s/early 80s and a wonderfully evocative snapshot of the fall of the automobile industry. Yaphet Kotto, Harvel Keitel, and Richard Pryor give it their all as the three central characters whose environment and circumstances pit them against each other. I strongly recommend it!

    Also, agreed that Christopher Reeve wanted to try his hand at comedy. I submit Noises Off! and Switching Channels at Reeve’s respective attempts at pratfall and rom-com. One works a bit better than the other, in my opinion.

    I think Richard Lester’s work on two of the greatest films of all time – A Hard Day’s Night and Help! – demonstrate his understanding of 60s comedy and slapstick. I’d suggest those too.

    1. I admit I have never seen Switching Channels, but I am hoping the one you say ‘works a bit better’ is Noises Off. I may be biased because I played Lloyd (Michael Caine’s role) in a college production of the play. I think the movie is hilarious.

      1. First off, everyone was playing second fiddle to Mark Linn-Baker in NO! He stole that movie from under everyone. Reeve was pretty good in that, but I think he seemed more at ease in SC.I really think had he not been typecast he could have been the 80s rom-com king.

  5. Superman 3 would have been an even bigger train wreck if they had added Supergirl, Mxy, & Brainiac.

    One of the main problems with the film is you can obviously see that the budget has been reduced. The star power in this installment is of a much lower wattage. Even a kid I knew that Robert Vaughn was the level of actor you cast when you couldn’t afford Hackman. Annie Ross was primarily known as a jazz singer.

    If they had ponied up the big bucks for stars as the villains I would have cast Warren Beatty (Brainiac) & Michael J. Pollard (Mxy) for a Bonnie & Clyde reunion. Pollard did play the imp on the Superboy TV series later. Personally, I can’t why you’d pair up those villains in the first place.

    Unfortunately, several of the 3rd installments of the superhero franchises are pretty mediocre.

    Superman 3
    Spider-Man 3
    Iron Man 3
    Batman Forever
    Dark Knight (3) Rises

  6. This opening clusterfuck was filmed in downtown Calgary, but I can’t see enough landmarks to say what street or avenue. It might be 7th Avenue, aka Stephen Avenue.

    The nostalgia for me are those yellow phone booths, which stand out for me as the dominant phone monopoly of the time – AGT (Alberta Government Telephones), a provincial Crown corporation. Everything was bright yellow with them in the 70s, booths, repair trucks, the works. There is an SCTV skit, from the early 80s, when the troupe was filming in Edmonton, that has John Candy speaking out of the same style of phone booth.

    AGT is long gone, privatized as Telus. Telus, interestingly, after it consumed AGT, made the debut of it’s logo on a repainted AGT repair van in a scene of an episode of X-Files, in about 1996, that was filmed in the Crow’s Nest Pass of Alberta.

    And that’s my Superman III local filming trivia you never cared about update.

  7. I haven’t watched this film in years — if not decades — but when I saw this in the theaters back in 1983, the opening sequence was the only part of this movie that I liked. I was fourteen and I thought the tone worked well, much better than the rest of the film which couldn’t decide whether it was a comedy or an action. It certainly didn’t pull off an action-comedy hybrid. And as a 14-year-old, yes, I certainly enjoyed the nerd summer of 1983.

    As far as casting goes, I read in an interview (in ComicScene) with the S3 screenwriters where they described the Gorman character as “impish”. So in my mind, my train of thought went Gorman – impish – Mxyzptlk, so I always thought Mxyzptlk should have been played by… Richard Pryor. I hadn’t thought before about who would have been a great choice to play Brainiac in 1983, but off the top of my head I would go with Martin Landau. I think he could pull off the cold intensity of the alien techno-dictator.

    Well, I hope the rest of S3 Movie Minute is enjoyable for you. Try to make the most of it!

  8. Finally getting around to this!

    I haven’t seen this in many years so I will be reliving it with you. Perhaps when all is said and done I will need to actually rewatch.

    Love the idea of dream casting!

    Brainiac – it needs someone who can play serious but also demented in a logical way. I am going John Hurt. He can channel some controlled malevolence. But can also do staid if he needs it.

    Mr. Mxyzptlk – given the time we are talking about, I am going with … Tom Hanks. He was young and fresh off his time on Bosom Buddies and Family Ties. He is about to do all those awesome early comedies he did – Bachelor Party, Splash, etc. At that point, he has the energy, looniness, and physicality to pull it off.

    That robot lady still scares me.

    And I will watch Annette O’Toole in Cat People 100 times before I would watch her in Superman III once.

    Thanks again for doing this!

    1. One of Annette O’Toole’s best early roles comes in the underrated cult classic Smile (1975) starring Bruce Dern & Barbara Felton. It’s a trenchant comedy centering on a local beauty contest.

  9. I agree with Chuck Colletta on Mxy, with Michael J Pollard as he owned the character on the later Salkind produced Superboy series.

    Braniac is another matter though. You need someone that can be cold and calculating, that can stare you down with barely a glance – I give you Robert Lansing.

    Have fun,

    Brian Hughes
    3rd Degree Byrne

  10. In preparation for this podcast, I watched Superman III for the first time in a few decades. That’s 2+ hours I am never getting back. I did it however, because I know the two of you had to watch this movie multiple times and I didn’t want you to suffer alone.

    Okay, so it wasn’t all bad. I remember it being a lot better when I saw it in the theater as a 12 year old. I’m sure I saw it when the aired it on television a couple years later, but that may have been the last time. Good or bad, I am looking forward to listening to you two discuss the merits of the film and sharing some behind the scenes knowledge.

    For fan casting, I had two ideas for Mr. Mxyzptlk (I spelled that phonetically) my first thought was Billy Crystal. He has an impish look to him. Then I realized my true choice would have been Martin Short. I think he has a frenetic energy to him that would make him a great Mxy. And, like Gordon Tolton said above, the filmed at least one scene in Canada. Martin wouldn’t even have to worry about crossing the border when he left the SCTV set.

    As for Brainiac, I would have liked to see Jurgen Prochnow play him. He could play menacing, but he had a stare I think would work well for a cold unemotional villain.

  11. This was a fun start and it’s great to have Superman Movie Minute back! I’m not sure if I’ve seen this movie since I saw it in the theatre way back when so it will be fun to relive the memories (if I still have memories of certain scenes) of the movie. Mostly I remember the tone being super goofy one minute, then incredibly dark the next.

    I’m really enjoying your and the commentators fan-castings of Brainiac and Mr.Mxyzptlk. Though he’s known more for TV, I would have liked to see Robert Stack as Brainiac. I think that voice alone is worth the price of admission.

    This was a great start and I’m looking forward to the rest! Keep up the great work!

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