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‘Superman on Film, Television, Radio, and Broadway’ (review)

Written by Bruce Scivally
Published by McFarland


Bruce Scivally’s Superman on Film, Television, Radio, and Broadway is a super book! There’s no more appropriate way to describe it.

First published in 2008, the version I reviewed doesn’t seem to have been updated in any way as Henry Cavill is nowhere to be found, and yet there is a 2022 copyright date for a cover photo. Whatever. As I’ve written before, one can’t review what isn’t there, only what is, and in the case of this book, what is there is choice!

Hardly a page went by that didn’t tell me something I didn’t know. Every single major iteration (and a handful of minor ones) of the Man of Steel gets covered equitably, with the author being on point pretty much all the way as far as I could tell. (Let’s not bring up my thoughts on Ray Middleton.)

Having read a score of scholarly books, articles, and websites on the subject, I consider myself not an expert, but certainly well-versed in the history of Superman. Long before I ever even saw a comic book, Superman, in the form of George Reeves, was my hero. Although he died months after I was born, the reruns were a constant through my first decade and like kids of the previous decade, I donned dishtowel and jumped off of rocks whilst making a “Whooooosh” sound.

I’ve read behind-the-scenes stuff on The Adventures of Superman for many years, but the author’s succinct history of the series and its “pilot,” Superman and the Mole Men, offered new to me details on the actors, the sets, the effects, and the politics of it all. Equally succinct and not exploitative is the section on Reeves’ untimely death.

The same can be said for the coverage of the later Christopher Reeve’s life-changing accident, detailed after solid coverage of his own four Superman movies and their sadly diminishing returns.

If Reeves and Reeve are the book’s centerpieces, we also get the stories of Bob Holiday’s Broadway Superman, Bud Collyer’s radio and cartoon Superman, Kirk Alyn’s serial Superman, as well as Lois and Clark, Superpup, several Superboys, and one Supergirl.

Everything herein is of course, in the manner of a McFarland and Company book, extensively documented with 18 pages of footnotes and an eight-page bibliography.

If you’ve ever spent an afternoon or evening enjoying any version of DC’s flagship character, Superman on Film, Television, Radio, and Broadway is a book to kick back in bed with for a—yes, I’m going to say it again—super read!

Booksteve recommends.


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