The Superman animated short films listed above are truly spectacular classics. Commonly known as the "Fleischer Superman cartoons" are part of a series of seventeen (17) animated Technicolor short films, released by Paramount Pictures between 1941 and 1943. They are based upon the comic book character Superman and are seen as some of the finest animated cartoons produced during The Golden Age of American animation (1930s-40s).
"NEW MUSIC" SOUNDTRACKS
These 8 animated films feature new music composed and recorded by John Pritchard with keyboardist Adam Holzman adding highly creative tracks to 5 of the films. Each soundtrack has been selected to provide an alternative cinematic experience and avoid rehashing the characteristic adventure theme music of the original cartoons. The new soundtracks provide minimal dialogue and musical motifs to advance the storyline. Instead the music aims to provide more presence to the engaging film noir style of the Fleischer Brothers' imagination and celebrate the sheer visual beauty of their unique work. These are some of the greatest animated films ever made. While the Superman cartoons were originally made for Saturday matinees during World War II, they can be appreciated today as high forms of art, like any Picasso or Van Gogh.
THE ORIGINAL SUPERMAN SERIES BY THE FLEISCHER BROTHERS ON DVD
Catch the original animated adventures on DVD with the complete 1941-1943 Paramount Superman cartoon classics! Legendary animation innovators Max & Dave Fleischer were the first to bring Superman to theater screens, only four years after the comic book hero's debut. Capturing the comic book spirit better than any live action film with the stunning early art-deco look of the original Superman/Action Comics era, these stylish adventures proved so powerful that they influenced every Superman production afterward. Now restored to their best possible quality, these 17 animation masterpieces are presented in superbly clear quality! FEATURING: Superman (Pilot), Mechanical Monsters, Billion Dollar Limited, The Arctic Giant, The Bulleteers, The Magnetic Telescope, Electric Earthquake, Volcano, Terror on the Midway, Japoteurs, Showdown, Eleventh Hour, Destruction Inc., Mummy Strikes, Jungle Drums, The Underground World, & Secret Agent.
"Superman (aka. The Mad Scientist) - 1941" 10:20 min. New soundtrack by John Pritchard
The original 1941 soundtrack was composed by Sammy Timberg and can be heard at the bottom of this page via YouTube.com.
This animation is the very first cinematic adventure of Superman.
Opening narration: "In the endless reaches of the universe, there once existed a planet known as Krypton, a planet that burned like a green star in the distant heavens. There, civilization was far advanced and it brought forth a race of "supermen," whose mental and physical powers were developed to the absolute peak of human perfection. But there came a day when giant quakes threatened to destroy Krypton forever. One of the planet's leading scientists, sensing the approach of doom, placed his infant son in a small rocket ship and sent it hurtling in the direction of the Earth just as Krypton exploded. The rocket sped through star-studded space, landing safely on Earth with its precious burden: Krypton's sole survivor. A passing motorist found the uninjured child and took it to an orphanage. As the years went by and the child grew to maturity, he found himself possessed of amazing physical powers. Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound... the infant of Krypton is now the Man of Steel, SUPERMAN. To best be in a position to use his amazing powers in a never-ending battle for truth and justice, Superman has assumed the disguise of Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper."
September 26, 1941
Director: Dave Fleischer
Animation: Steve Muffati, Frank Endres
Story: Seymour Kneitel, I. Sparber
Musical Arrangement: Sammy Timberg
A mad scientist sends a letter to the Daily Planet threatening to use a destructive ray on the city at midnight. Lois already has a lead on the story, and knows that he is operating high atop a mountain. She pilots an airplane to get the scoop on the story, but is captured by the villain. The scientist uses his ray to destroy a bridge, and a newsflash describing the incident is listened to by the Daily Planet staff. Clark goes to a stockroom to change into Superman and leaps out a window, but as he is flying to the source of the ray it hits the Daily Planet building, causing it to fall over. Superman corrects the building and then takes on the beam itself, punching away the energy. The scientist turns his machine to full power, but that only thwarts Superman for a while before he reaches the source and twists the pistol of the machine, causing an overload. Superman rescues Lois and the scientist from the building as the weapon explodes. Superman tosses the villain in jail and Lois writes up the story for the Daily Planet.
This cartoon was nominated for an Academy Award. It was nominated under Short Subjects: Cartoon. It lost to "Lend a Paw", a 1941 Pluto cartoon by Disney. This was one of only five nominations Fleischer Studios ever received, and the studio never won an Academy Award. This is rather a shame considering their work is so highly regarded.
The Daily Planet Building looks nothing like its usual self. There is no ringed planet on top and it very much resembles the Empire State building in New York City. This structure is not seen again in the series, and the more familiar Daily Planet building is first seen in 'the Arctic Giant.' Perhaps the Daily Planet's offices were moved after this building was damaged?
Lois looks noticeably different in this first cartoon compared to the rest of run. To be frank, she does not look very attractive. The artists must have realized this and made her look more comely.
If Lois knew where the mad scientist and his weapon were, would it not be smart to give the location to the police? Honestly, she endangered the entire city!
The mad scientist is a textbook example of the Superman villain. He wears a white scientist's outfit, is almost completely bald,* and writes in his note that he wants revenge on, "those who laughed at me and failed to heed my warnings." *(Many a Superman villain is bald or near bald. Just three of his bald adversaries include Mr. Mxyzptlk, the Ultra-Humanite in his first body, and after a time, Lex Luthor.)
Clark Kent changes into Superman in the stockroom. This is not as infamous as having him change in a telephone booth, but it was used in the comics and in his early years Superman changed more often here than anywhere else.
The mad scientist has a pet bird that is closest in resembling a vulture. The bird is the only example in the series of an anthropomorphic animal, that is, an animal with unnatural human-like qualities. Such animals are common in cartoons (the Mickey Mouse series is based around it) but it was decided that the Superman cartoons should omit them from then on.
The mad scientist's weapon makes the instruments used by Dr. Frankenstein in the Boris Karloff movie look positively mundane. A person needs to see this cartoon in order to understand how ridiculous it looks. The name of it is also laughable, "the electrothanasia ray."
Written by Ross May from his "Super Guide to Fleischer Brothers Superman Cartoons" located at SupermanHomepage.com created by Steven Younis. Used by permission.
"SUPERMAN" WITH 1941 SOUNDTRACK
Disclaimer: SUPERMAN and all related elements are the property of DC Comics.