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Superman and the Mole Men is an independently made 1951 American black-and-white superhero movie, produced by Barney A. Sarecky, directed by Lee Sholem, and featuring George Reeves as Superman and Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane.

The movie was released by Lippert Pictures Inc. and at only 58 minutes, is the shortest "Superman" film. The film was originally created by National Publishing (now DC Comics) as a "calling card" in their bid to bring Superman to television for the first time. Its theatrical release was originally planned only as a last resort to recoup the production budget if the networks passed on the project.

The story concerns reporters Clark Kent and Lois Lane arriving in the small town of Silsby to witness the drilling of the world's deepest oil well. The drill, however, has penetrated the underground home of a race of small, bald humanoids who, out of curiosity, climb to the surface at night. They glow in the dark, which scares the local townfolk, who form a mob intent on killing the strange visiters. Only Superman can intervene to prevent a tragedy. Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, the Daily Planet offices and city of Metropolis are absent from the movie.

This is the first feature movie based on any DC Comics character. Previously, two live-action, multiple chapter serials from Columbia Pictures Inc., based on the Superman comics feature and radio program, featuring Kirk Alyn as Superman and Noel Neill as Lois Lane, had been shown in weekly installments in movie theaters. Two additional serials based on DC's Batman, the first featuring Lewis Wilson as Batman and Douglas Croft as Robin/Dick Grayson, and the second featuring Robert Lowery as Batman and Johnny Duncan as Robin/Dick Grayson, were also vended by Columbia (1943 - 1950).

Kirk Alyn, who played Superman in Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950), was originally to have reprised his role but he wanted too much money and was replaced by George Reeves. Reeves, was 37 at the time had been in impressive 'A'-list productions as 'Gone With the Wind', 'The Strawberry Blonde', 'Lydia', and 'So Proudly We Hail!' After returning from the war his career had stalled. Reduced to supporting roles, or leads in 'B' films and serials, 'Superman and the Mole Men' represented yet another minor film, but Reeves hoped the exposure from both film and television might jump-start his flagging career. The success of the film gave a "green light" to produce the Adventures of Superman for television.

The muscular, athletic, and graceful Alyn (he was a dancer before taking up acting) brought an energetic grace to Superman, and he played Clark Kent as earnest and cartoonishly mild-mannered. Reeves' portrayal of Superman/Clark Kent turned the traditional dynamic on its ear. The ruggedly handsome Reeves, with his broad smile and lantern jaw, turned Clark Kent, not his caped alter ego, into the central figure of show. Reeves' Clark was charming, confident, and (occasionally) rather two-fisted and willing to wade into danger in his business suit and glasses. While Reeves wore a padded costume to accentuate Superman’s physical power, his deep voice and the easygoing authority he projected made him the definitive Superman for a generation.

Phyllis Coates became the second actress to portray Lois Lane, replacing Noel Neill who had play Lois in the serials. Coates' version of Lois redefined the role. She was was a much more hard-edged, no-nonsense reporter and closer to the original version of Lois in the comics. Coates was simultaneously beautiful and fiercely determined, not to be outdone by Clark Kent, she was Kent's equal and her version of Lois Lane who didn't fall head over heels for Superman. Some have said that her version of Lois Lane was far ahead of its time and that she became a trendsetter on behalf of women's equality in the 1950's, much the way Jerry Siegel's version of Lois was in the 1940's comics.

Robert Maxwell produced the first season of The Adventures of Superman. A number of television critics have called these episodes the "Dark Series" of Superman, since they had more of a film noir approach to their production. In general, those episodes were more action-packed, had a more violent edge, and were far more dramatic. The first series of episodes were actually filmed in 1951, but did not air until 1952. When the decision was finally made to proceed with a second season, a year had passed and Maxwell had moved on to a producing job on Lassie. Whitney Ellsworth assumed the role of producer and immediately began making changes to make the show much lighter in tone. Ellsworth approached Coates to begin filming the second season in 1953, but personal issues and a signed deal with MCA to do a pilot with Jack Carson forced her turn turn down his offer, even though Ellsworth offered her a salary nearly five times what she had been making for the first season. Coates recalls that she also felt the series was not continuing as she had hoped it would, appearing less imaginative and having less production value. When Neill resumed the role in 1953, her version of Lois was a much gentler one, who developed a friendship with Clark Kent and a very familiar attraction to the Man of Steel. Though Noel Neill is the Lois Lane everyone remembers, Coates version of the character remains a fan favorite, and some say the best portrayal of the Daily Panet reporter.


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As with many of the early episodes of the Adventures of Superman, the movie is adult-themed, with a good deal of conflict and violence, or the threat thereof, and is played with total seriousness by all the actors; Reeves' Superman, in particular, is all business, displaying none of the humor that the character would develop over time in the television series.

The sympathetic treatment of the strangers of the movie, and the unreasoning fear on the part of the citizenry, has been compared by author Gary Grossman to the panicked public reaction to the peaceful alien Klaatu of the movie The Day The Earth Stood Still, which was released the same year. Both movies have been considered retrospectively as a product of (and a reaction to) the "Red Scare" of post-World War II era. Grossman also cites a later movie, perhaps inspired by this one, named The Mole People (1956).

The movie's original screenplay was by "Richard Fielding", a pseudonym for Robert Maxwell and Whitney Ellsworth. Robert Maxwell (January 31st, 1908 – February 3rd, 1971) was an American radio and television producer, screenwriter, and entertainment executive. He was one of the producers (and a writer and director) of The Adventures of Superman radio show and a producer of several TV series, including the early episodes of both Adventures of Superman (1951–1954) and Lassie (1954–1957; executive producer 1957-1958). Fredric Whitney Ellsworth (November 27th, 1908 – September 7th, 1980) was an American comic book editor, and sometime writer and artist for DC Comics during the period known to historians and fans as the Golden Age of Comic Books. He was also DC's "movie studio contact," becoming both a producer and story editor on the TV series The Adventures of Superman. Both also wrote episodes of the Superman radio and TV series using the name Richard Fielding, a pseudonym that they also shared with Maxwell's then wife, Jessica Fielding Maxwell.

Superman and the Mole Men was filmed in a little more than 12 days on a studio back lot and over a year after this film's release, was split up and used to make a "two-parter" to close the first season of Adventures of Superman (1952): Adventures of Superman: The Unknown People: Part I (1953) and Adventures of Superman: The Unknown People: Part II (1953). Some elements of the original movie were trimmed when converted for television, including some portions of a lengthy chase scene and all references to the term "Mole Men".

The title cards used in the movie were generic, with low-grade animation of comets sailing by Saturn-like ringed planets. The theme music used had a generic "science fiction sound", with nothing suggesting a specific Superman theme. The movie's original film score by Darrell Calker was removed when Superman and the Mole Men was re-cut into the two-part Superman TV episode. It was replaced with "canned" production library music used in the first season of the Superman television series.

The laser-like weapon of the Mole Men, which they retrieve from their subterranean home in order to defend themselves and rescue their injured comrade, was a prop made by adding metal shoulder braces to one end of an Electrolux vacuum cleaner body; for the ray's "gun barrel" a standard metal funnel was attached to the other.

The movie was first released as a VHS version by Warner Home Video on July 22nd, 1988, coinciding with the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Superman character that year; the movie was also released at the same time as a LaserDisc. Both the two-part TV episode and the full feature movie are on the 2005 first season DVD release for Adventures of Superman. During 2006 the movie was released as a bonus feature on the 4-Disc Special Edition of Superman: The Movie. Subsequently, Superman and the Mole Men was repackaged for its 2011 Blu-Ray box set release.

During the DC vs. Marvel comics crossover event, Marvel super villain the Mole Man and his minions attempt to capture the Batcave, only to be opposed by the Incredible Hulk. Superman then joins the fight, prompting Hulk to comment "Superman versus the Mole Men. This should be interesting".

Who is the natural father of Daily Planet editor Perry White's son Jerry?

Lex Luthor
Jerry Olsen
Bizarro Perry White
Adam Strange



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