Monday, December 5, 2011
Superman aka "The Mad Scientist" (1941)
Nominated for an Oscar for "Best Animated Short Subject" in 1942, but beaten out by Disney's Lend a Paw, this beautifully drawn short released by Paramount and shown in Technicolor, was produced by Max Fleischer, and directed by his brother Dave Fleischer. It's based on the Superman comic strip created by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster, and as seen in Action Comics and Superman Magazine. Unlike other versions of the story of Superman, in this episode we learn that after crashing on Earth the last survivor of the planet Krypton was found by a passing motorist who took the uninjured child to an orphanage, where as he grew up he found he was possessed by amazing physical powers.
As the series of shorts progresses you can see how the animation process was honed and developed over time. As each short was released the drawings seem a bit cleaner and backgrounds more detailed.
I always seem to find something in films or shorts to pick on. In this short, after Kent changes into Superman he sticks his head out of the doorway of the stockroom to peek down the hallway, when I'm assuming he could have just used his X-ray vision to look through the wall to see if anyone was around, but that's just me throwing a wrench into the works. Don't forget, I'm not trashing the short. I just seem to pick up on the strangest things.
The voices for the characters were provided by Clayton "Bud" Collyer (Clark Kent/Superman), Joan Alexander (Lois Lane), and Jackson Beck (Narrator/Perry White) but the names were never shown in the credits.
Unlike other serials you won't have any problem watching multiple episodes in one sitting as each is an individual adventure rather than a continuing storyline. With 17 cartoons in total for the series, and with a running time between 8 to 10 minutes each, this episode is the first one in the series. Overall this a great collection of animated shorts to watch. A must see for fans of the early days of animation or admirers of the Superman character.