The Biggest Superhero Films That Didn't Happen, Part 2
Comic Books, Film
By the time you read this, I’ll be under anesthesia, or possibly already home whimpering like a traumatized puppy.
Which is to say, it’s time for another round of dental surgery.
Perhaps not quite as scary as the above photo, but plenty bad enough. I’m dreading it. This just seems to be going on and on. I think my dentist isn’t going to be satisfied until I have an entirely bionic jaw.
So this week’s column is a very hit-and-run entry.Â Mostly just some internet stuff I found here and there that I thought was worth sharing. I normally wouldn’t do a column of nothing but links but it’s all I have time for, and I hate to miss a Friday. Here’s what I’ve bowled out on YouTube the last week or two.
We’ll start with a fun one I found out about from Dick Cavett, of all people. A clip from Blood on the Sun, starring James Cagney and Sylvia Sidney. The reason this is of interest to us is because this is, I think, the earliest American-made martial arts action movie. Cagney actually was a black belt in judo and helped choreograph the fight scenes.
It was made in 1945, so it’s a rootin’ tootin’ wartime piece of U.S. propaganda that’s occasionally quite racist, but it’s still a lot of fun. James Cagney is Nick Condon, a tough reporter in pre-war Japan, trying desperately to get the scoop on the Tanaka Document, a blueprint for Japan’s plan for world domination. As luck would have it, Nick’s also a black belt, so there are quite a few scenes of him opening up a can of Oriental whup-ass on Tojo’s minions and other evil secret police types trying to stop him from getting the Tanaka Document into the hands of the Western powers. Check out this clip to see Cagney hand the head of the Japanese secret police a serious beat-down.
And here is the Cavett column that got me interested; it’s worth reading all by itself. Who’d have thought Dick Cavett was as geeky about this sort of thing when he was a kid as I was? (Of course I still am, really, and from the tone of Cavett’s column he still is too.) His pitch was so good that I ended up ordering it for us, for the whopping sum of seventy-five cents plus shipping. And you know what? It really is that much fun, especially for those of you reading this that have an interest in pulp adventure (you know who you are.) The movie’s fallen into public domain so you can find it almost anywhere on DVD for $1.75 or thereabouts.
Speaking of martial arts and exploitation films, here’s a bit from one of my very favorite ones of the 1970’s– the so-bad-it’s-genius Jim Kelly epic, Black Belt Jones.
Taste the awesome in this clip here.
A little closer to home, this clip is probably the most fondly-remembered of the Bruce Lee fight scenes from The Green Hornet. Unless you count the Batman crossover one where he kicked Burt Ward all over the room.
Speaking of Burt Ward, someone assembled this wonderful montage of Batman fight scenes from the 1966 series, including the very first one from the pilot.
How about some cool cartoons? Somewhere out in space live The Herculoids. Or check out Frankenstein Jr. vs. The Shocking Electrical Monster. Perhaps you’d enjoy this vintage Space Ghost short, back when he was the galactic Dirty Harry. The first Justice League cartoon I ever saw. The first Teen Titans cartoon I ever saw. The original opening credits for the Hanna-Barbera Fantastic Four. And here are the credits for possibly the greatest adventure cartoon ever: Jonny Quest.
This clip is so deranged I don’t want to spoil it with a description; you really should see it for yourself. But it made me laugh so hard it frightened the cat.
And finally, Adventure House has a whole page of free downloadable pulp-magazine PDFs. I’d especially recommend Charles Beaumont’s wonderful reminiscence, “The Bloody Pulps,” originally published in Playboy and later included in Peter Haining’s terrific anthology The Fantastic Pulps.
That should be enough to keep you folks entertained while I am recuperating. See you next week, bionic jaw and all.
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