Doc Savage...The Man of Bronze (1975)

G | 100 mins | Adventure | 6 August 1975

Director:

Michael Anderson

Producer:

George Pal

Cinematographer:

Fred Koenekamp

Editor:

Thomas McCarthy

Production Designer:

Fred Harpman

Production Company:

Warner Bros., Inc.
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HISTORY

       On 25 Aug 1971, DV reported that producer George Pal had acquired film and television rights to the character “Doc Savage,” the hero of 181 pulp novels written between 1933 and 1939 by Lester Dent, under the pseudonym “Kenneth Robeson.” The film rights had previously been controlled by Herb Klynn of Format Productions, as noted in a 15 Feb 1967 HR brief.
       George Pal intended to make several Doc Savage films before transitioning to a television series “if the price is right,” with the first project slated to be a feature film titled Doc Savage: Archenemy of Evil, according to the 25 Aug 1971 DV. However, the initial project was changed to Doc Savage…The Man of Bronze, as noted in a 7 Nov 1973 Var article that announced that Warner Bros. would distribute the picture.
       Although casting director Nessa Hyams searched nationwide for an unknown actor to play the lead role, Ron Ely, known for playing “Tarzan” on the television series of the same name (NBC and CBS, 8 Sep 1966--10 Sep 1969), was eventually cast. Gordon Douglas, who was first attached as director, was forced to leave the film due to schedule conflicts after production was delayed from mid-Dec 1973 to mid-Jan 1974, and Michael Anderson was hired as his replacement, according to a 28 Nov 1973 DV news brief. While the Jun 1974 Warner Bros. Rambling Reporter stated that Walter Scharf was hired to compose original music for the film, Scharf did not receive onscreen credit, and John Philip Sousa’s marches were adapted by Frank De Vol in ... More Less

       On 25 Aug 1971, DV reported that producer George Pal had acquired film and television rights to the character “Doc Savage,” the hero of 181 pulp novels written between 1933 and 1939 by Lester Dent, under the pseudonym “Kenneth Robeson.” The film rights had previously been controlled by Herb Klynn of Format Productions, as noted in a 15 Feb 1967 HR brief.
       George Pal intended to make several Doc Savage films before transitioning to a television series “if the price is right,” with the first project slated to be a feature film titled Doc Savage: Archenemy of Evil, according to the 25 Aug 1971 DV. However, the initial project was changed to Doc Savage…The Man of Bronze, as noted in a 7 Nov 1973 Var article that announced that Warner Bros. would distribute the picture.
       Although casting director Nessa Hyams searched nationwide for an unknown actor to play the lead role, Ron Ely, known for playing “Tarzan” on the television series of the same name (NBC and CBS, 8 Sep 1966--10 Sep 1969), was eventually cast. Gordon Douglas, who was first attached as director, was forced to leave the film due to schedule conflicts after production was delayed from mid-Dec 1973 to mid-Jan 1974, and Michael Anderson was hired as his replacement, according to a 28 Nov 1973 DV news brief. While the Jun 1974 Warner Bros. Rambling Reporter stated that Walter Scharf was hired to compose original music for the film, Scharf did not receive onscreen credit, and John Philip Sousa’s marches were adapted by Frank De Vol in place of an original score. A 12 Jul 1974 HR brief noted that Daws Butler would perform “the voice” of “Monk’s” pet pig, “Habeas Corpus,” but Butler was not credited onscreen. Habeas Corpus was played by Mr. Hawg, a trained pig that was fed bacon, eggs, and ham sandwiches on set, according to the Mar 1974 issue of Warner Bros. Rambling Reporter.
       1 Feb 1974 HR production charts stated that principal photography began 23 Jan 1974. According to a 24 Jan 1974 HR brief, filming began in Grand Junction, CO, although the majority of the twelve-week shoot took place at the Burbank Studios. The film last appeared in HR production charts on 5 Apr 1974, and a 9 Apr 1974 DV item announced that production had wrapped.
       According to a 10 Apr 1974 HR news item, the budget was originally $1.5 million; however, Warner Bros. upped the cost to $4.5 million. The studio had already committed to a sequel written by Joe Morhaim, that was expected to go into production by late summer 1974. According to the Aug 1974 issue of Warner Bros. Rambling Reporter, Pal had recently returned from a location scouting trip for the sequel in Lake Tahoe, CA, but no further information on the project could be found as of the writing of this Note.
       Doc Savage…The Man of Bronze received mixed reviews from critics. While Kevin Thomas’s 7 Aug 1975 LAT review praised Ron Ely, “newcomer” Pamela Hensley, the adapted score from Frank De Vol and Fred Harpman’s art direction, Michael Anderson’s direction was criticized as lacking in “style and snap.” In a 1 May 1975 HR review, Daphne Davis called the film “second rate junk food,” but stated that Pal chose the ideal Doc Savage tale to begin the series, while the 7 May 1975 Var review cited “execrable acting, dopey action sequences, and clumsy attempts at camp humor” as the film’s primary weaknesses. As noted in a 2 Feb 1976 LAT news brief, Doc Savage…The Man of Bronze won “Best Fantasy” at The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films Awards.
       Although a 24 Nov 1975 DV news item stated that a Doc Savage television series was in development at Twentieth Century-Fox Television, the series never went into production. According to an 11 Jul 1999 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel news item, Arnold Schwarzenegger was announced to play Doc Savage in a film to be directed by Chuck Russell, written by Frank Darabont, and produced by Castle Rock Entertainment; however, as writing of this Note, no such film has been produced. More recently, a 15 May 2013 Stirling [UK] Observer news brief reported that Shane Black was attached to direct a Doc Savage film for Sony Pictures.

      The following title card precedes end credits: “Watch for Doc Savage’s next thrilling adventure The Arch Enemy of Evil.” End credits include the written statement: "Filmed at The Burbank Studios, Burbank, California."
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
4 Aug 1975
p. 4800.
Daily Variety
25 Aug 1971
p. 1, 8.
Daily Variety
28 Nov 1973.
---
Daily Variety
9 Apr 1974.
---
Daily Variety
1 May 1975.
---
Daily Variety
24 Nov 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Feb 1967.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jan 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 1974
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Apr 1974
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Apr 1974
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jul 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 May 1975
p. 21.
Los Angeles Times
7 Aug 1975
p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
2 Feb 1976.
---
Milwaukee Sentinel
11 Jul 1999
p. 3.
Stirling [UK] Observer
15 May 2013
p. 34.
Variety
7 Nov 1973
p. 36.
Variety
7 May 1975
p. 52.
Warner Bros. Rambling Reporter
Mar 1974.
---
Warner Bros. Rambling Reporter
Aug 1974.
---
Warner. Bros Rambling Reporter
Jun 1974.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Co-Starring:
The Fabulous Five
The Fabulous Five
The Fabulous Five
The Fabulous Five
[and]
The Fabulous Five
Introducing
as
+

PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A George Pal Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward
MUSIC
The Doc Savage march music by
Adpt by
Lyrics
Mus ed
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Asst to prod
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Man of Bronze: A Doc Savage Adventure by Kenneth Robeson (publication date undetermined).
DETAILS
Release Date:
6 August 1975
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 6 August 1975
Production Date:
23 January--early April 1974 in Grand Junection, CO, and Burbank, CA
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
2 May 1975
Copyright Number:
LP44709
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision equipment
Duration(in mins):
100
MPAA Rating:
G
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24053
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1936, Clark Savage, Jr., better known as “Doc” Savage, retreats to his well-appointed igloo in the Arctic Circle to study, invent, and relax. One day, Doc senses trouble after he receives thought waves from his brain trust, the Fabulous Five, who are: Ham, a legal genius who graduated from Harvard University; Monk Mayfair, the greatest living chemist who has a pet pig named Habeas Corpus; Renny, a world-renowned engineer; Johnny, an accomplished geologist and archeologist; and Long Tom, an electrical wizard. Doc returns to his penthouse apartment in New York City where the Fabulous Five awaits him with the news that his father, Professor Savage, has just died in Hidalgo, Mexico, after contracting a rare tropical disease. From a neighboring skyscraper, a shirtless assassin with the image of a green snake on his chest, aims an elephant gun at Doc, who paces before a large window. Ham informs Doc that Professor Savage sent a letter on the day of his death, which is now stored in Doc’s safe. As Doc unlocks his safe to retrieve the letter, the shirtless man fires several shots, but Doc and his friends are saved by the refractive glass window that causes objects to appear five inches to the left of where they actually are. Doc goes after the assassin, but when he catches up to him on the ledge of the neighboring building, the man loses his balance and falls to his death. Johnny studies the dead body in the alley, unable to identify the tribal insignia on his chest. While Johnny remains with the body, the others rush back to Doc’s apartment, where a fire has destroyed all of the documents ... +


In 1936, Clark Savage, Jr., better known as “Doc” Savage, retreats to his well-appointed igloo in the Arctic Circle to study, invent, and relax. One day, Doc senses trouble after he receives thought waves from his brain trust, the Fabulous Five, who are: Ham, a legal genius who graduated from Harvard University; Monk Mayfair, the greatest living chemist who has a pet pig named Habeas Corpus; Renny, a world-renowned engineer; Johnny, an accomplished geologist and archeologist; and Long Tom, an electrical wizard. Doc returns to his penthouse apartment in New York City where the Fabulous Five awaits him with the news that his father, Professor Savage, has just died in Hidalgo, Mexico, after contracting a rare tropical disease. From a neighboring skyscraper, a shirtless assassin with the image of a green snake on his chest, aims an elephant gun at Doc, who paces before a large window. Ham informs Doc that Professor Savage sent a letter on the day of his death, which is now stored in Doc’s safe. As Doc unlocks his safe to retrieve the letter, the shirtless man fires several shots, but Doc and his friends are saved by the refractive glass window that causes objects to appear five inches to the left of where they actually are. Doc goes after the assassin, but when he catches up to him on the ledge of the neighboring building, the man loses his balance and falls to his death. Johnny studies the dead body in the alley, unable to identify the tribal insignia on his chest. While Johnny remains with the body, the others rush back to Doc’s apartment, where a fire has destroyed all of the documents in the safe. Doc comes to believe that his father did not die of a tropical disease but was murdered. Meanwhile, Johnny returns to Doc’s apartment in a daze, claiming he was knocked out in the alley and the assassin’s body disappeared while he was unconscious; however, he was able to retrieve a solid gold knife left behind by the assassin. The next morning, the Fabulous Five join Doc on a trip to Hidalgo. Before leaving, Doc sends out an unmanned, dummy airplane, and a man in a biplane soon appears, firing shots until it explodes. Having fooled the assassin, Doc and the others board their intended airplane, and Doc reminds them of their oath: “To do right to all and wrong no man.” Borden, the assassin who blew up Doc’s unmanned airplane, reports to Captain Seas aboard his yacht, anchored somewhere in the Caribbean. Borden asserts that Doc and his cohorts are dead, and confirms that he dumped the body of the first assassin in the East River. Upon arrival in Mexico, Doc and his crew meet with the president of Hidalgo, who offers his condolences, assuring Doc that Professor Savage was beloved by the locals. El Presidente explains that Doc’s father was so influential with one particular tribe that they gave him a tract of land in the jungle, although the land is uninhabitable. Ham asks to see the deed, but the paperwork has gone missing from the office of Don Rubio Gorro, a local official. El Presidente invites Doc’s group to stay at his estate, and Doc requests that an autopsy be performed on his father. Later, Gorro calls Captain Seas to inform him that Doc is alive and in Hidalgo. Angry at Borden for failing to kill his targets, Seas murders him by sending two, floating green apparitions that resemble snakes to attack Borden in his quarters. The next day, the coroner provides Doc with an autopsy report, explaining that a strange substance that he was unable to identify was detected in Professor Savage’s skin tissue. Doc examines the material under a microscope and sees a glowing green substance emerge. The substance floats in the air and forms the same snake-like apparitions that killed Borden. Doc tries to shoot the snakes, to no avail, then forces them out of the room using a fan. Later, Karen and Adriana, Seas’s female companions, arrive at the president’s estate and invite Doc to dinner on Seas’s yacht. After joining Seas for dinner, Doc and the Fabulous Five find themselves in danger when the wait staff hold them at gunpoint. Poised to light a cigarette, Long Tom aims his “lighter” at the chandelier above the dinner table and destroys it with a laser beam. With their attackers temporarily distracted, Doc and his crew use their various skills to fend off their captors, then jump into the ocean, using small aqualungs to swim away undetected. The next day, Doc goes to Gorro’s office, but the official is not there. Gorro’s secretary, Mona Flores, recalls that when she first got the deed for Professor Savage’s land in the jungle, she made copies of it and mailed the documents to Doc in New York City. She remembers that the deed was signed by the Quetzamal tribe, which is believed to be extinct, although some say the tribe can be found “over the edge of the world.” Mona offers to guide Doc into the jungle, and in the morning, Gorro spots her riding away with Doc and his group and reports it to Seas. While camping in the jungle, Doc saves Mona from a menacing green snake by throwing a knife at the serpent's head. As Doc extracts the snake’s venom and stores it in a vial, Johnny determines that the snake matches the painting he saw on the dead assassin’s chest in New York. The group goes to the village where Mona was raised, and she finds Don Jose, an older man who reluctantly agrees to lead Doc to the Quetzamal tribe. Although Mona professes her love for Doc, he insists that she stay behind, explaining that he once had a fiancée whose life was put in danger because of his work; ever since, Doc has pledged to remain single so that he does not endanger another woman. Setting out on horseback, Don Jose guides the men to the edge of a steep canyon. He says the Quetzamal live at the bottom, but there is no way to get down. After Don Jose leaves them there, Doc discovers a coded message left behind by his father, naming a rare tropical bush that the men find nearby. Doc and the Fabulous Five ride their horses past the bush and onto a narrow ridge that leads down to the bottom of the canyon. Observing from afar, the men spot the Quetzamal tribe members, all with a snake insignia on their chests, toiling around a pool of molten gold. Doc sets out alone to introduce himself to the tribesmen, while a group of Captain Seas’s operatives ambush Doc’s friends and lead them to a cave at gunpoint. Already inside the cave is Mona, who apologizes to the Fabulous Five, explaining that she followed Doc and was discovered. Seas appears to taunt the captives, and Ham accuses the villain of unlawfully exploiting the Quetzamal tribe and Doc’s inheritance by exporting the gold. Although Seas plans to use the tribe’s “green death,” a potion that takes the form of floating snakes, to kill Doc’s group, Chief Chaac refuses, saying the Quetzamal tribe cannot use it for anything but self-defense. Unfazed, Seas orders Kulkan, one of the tribesmen, to prepare the potion, and sends Chief Chaac into the cave with the other hostages. Monk orders his pet pig to bite off his restraints, then frees the rest of the group. However, before they can escape, the green death infiltrates. Although the apparitional snakes bite them all, Doc appears outside the cave, restrains Seas, and demands that his friends be let out. When the Fabulous Five emerge with Mona and Chief Chaac, Doc saves their lives with an antidote he created from the snake’s venom. The green death emerges from the cave as well, sending the tribesmen and Seas’s thugs running for their lives. Doc overpowers Seas just as the pool of gold erupts. Doc joins his friends as they take cover inside the cave. Gorro is killed by the molten gold, but Seas survives. Later that day, Chief Chaac thanks Doc for saving his tribe and grants him the deed to their land. Doc accepts the gift, promising to devote his life and newfound wealth to the pursuit of justice. Mona says goodbye to Doc, and they kiss. Doc and his cohorts ride away with Seas, whom they send to the Doc Savage Rehabilitation Center, where an acupuncture surgery is performed on the captain’s brain to remove his evil nature. Afterward, Seas is taught good citizenship, an honest trade, and returned to society. That Christmas, the once-corrupt Seas helps raise money for the poor, while Doc continues to fight injustice. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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