International man of mystery Diabolik and his sensuous lover Eva Kant pull off heist after heist, all while European cops led by Inspector Ginko and envious mobsters led by Ralph Valmont are closing in on them.
John Phillip Law,
Mexico, 1840s. When the new Spanish Governor begins to grind the peasants under his heel, wealthy landowner Don Diego Vega follows in his late father's footsteps and becomes Zorro, the ... See full summary »
Tarzan (Lord Greystoke), already well educated and fed up with civilization, returns to the jungle and, more or less assisted by chimpanzee Cheetah and orphan boy Jai, wages war against poachers and other bad guys.
Manuel Padilla Jr.,
Doc Savage, the man of bronze, was raised from childhood by a team of scientists to become the original "super" hero of the 1930s. A man of great mental and physical strength, he went around the world battling larger-than-life villains.
In the Fabulous Thirties, Doc Savage and his five Amazing Adventurers are sucked into the mystery of Doc's father disappearing in the wilds of South America. The maniacal Captain Seas tries to thwart them at every turn as they travel to the country of Hidalgo to investigate Doc's father's death and uncover a vast horde of Incan gold.Written by
The 1930's was the heyday of Tarzan, the Lone Ranger, the Shadow, the Spider, the Green Hornet, Captain Midnight, Gene Autry, Flash Gordon, and eventually Superman and Batman. A great pantheon of pop culture heroes flourished in pulp magazines, comic strips, radio shows, and movie serials.
The 1960's gave us Adam West as Batman, Derek Flint, Maxwell Smart, 007, and many other hero spoofs(not to mention the theater then unfolding in the socio-political realms); the concept of the hero emerged from this period battered and shaken.
The early 1970's saw the emergence of a new type of rather angry anti-hero: Dirty Harry, Shaft, Billy Jack, Superfly, etc.
Producer George Pal had accurately predicted the sci-fi craze of the 1950's, and so he produced the first picture of that cycle as well as producing the classic and best versions of 'War of the Worlds' and 'The Time Machine'. George Pal correctly understood that by the mid-1970's the collective unconscious of America was hungry for a return of the old school hero, 1930's style.
George Pal knew that to make an adventure of this sort with a hero like Doc Savage that you had to somehow acknowledge the absurdity of it all. Unfortunately, while Indiana Jones and the Rocketeer gave the audience the equivalent of a knowing wink, Doc Savage's director stopped just an inch short of having Doc Savage slip on a banana peel. This film, then, is an uneasy mix of authentic 1930's style pulp magazine adventure and ham-fisted attempts at camp.
The single worst thing in this film is the soundtrack, a creative but ultimately dreadful batch of John Phillip Sousa marches, including a custom Doc Savage lyric, which is especially loathsome. It is indeed fortunate that a good many parts of this film managed to escape this score.
Negatives aside, this film will be mildly enjoyable to fans of pulp magazines, old comics, radio and serial heroes, etc. Fans of Doc Savage should be mollified by the many elements of the source material which were faithfully realized, and that compared to more recent super-hero flicks, the writers took relatively few liberties. Overall, the cast is pretty good, and Ron Ely looks exactly like the vision of Doc Savage on the covers of the original pulps. I think he pulls off the role pretty well. And there are old style cars, airplanes, clothes, and fight scenes, so it's a pretty fun ride.
George Pal might have missed the mark here, but not by much. Just a year after this film came 'Star Wars,' which was basically a retooling of the old Flash Gordon serials. In 1978 came 'Superman, the Movie.' Two years after that came the 1st Indiana Jones flick, set smack dab in the 1930's, just like Doc Savage. All of these latter productions, however, benefited by taking their source material or inspiration just a little bit more seriously than Pal did.
But since 'Doc Savage,' more1930's throwback films have flopped than succeeded, at least commercially: 'The Legend of the Lone Ranger,' 'The Phantom,' 'The Rocketeer,' 'The Shadow,' and 'Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.' All of these were big budget affairs. For some reason, certain persons amongst us are irresistibly drawn to that long lost decade, when imagination populated the world with mythic heroes. Too bad these heroes usually remain one step beyond our reach.
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