Superman and the Mole-Men (1951)

58 mins | Adventure | 23 November 1951

Full page view
HISTORY

Following the film's onscreen credits, voice-over narration introduces the character "Superman" as the sole survivor from the planet Krypton, who, after being reared on earth, uses his super-human powers as the "valiant defender of truth justice and the American Way." According to a 19 Sep 1951 HR news item, the film was shot in part at RKO-Pathé Studios, where RKO producers Bernard Luber and Robert Maxwell were to produce the film; however, the onscreen credits and all reviews of the film list only Barney A. Sarecky as the film's producer. The extent of Luber and Maxwell's involvement in the released film is undetermined. Although the CBCS credits actor Paul Burns with the role of "Doc Saunders," the part was played by Harry Harvey in the released film.
       Superman and the Mole-Men was the first feature-length film based on Superman. Following the film's theatrical release, it was edited into two thirty-minute segments, which were retitled The Unknown People and subsequently aired on television beginning in the fall of 1952. The character of Superman first appeared in the 1938 Action Comics magazine Superman . Various series and sub-series of the Superman comic have been in print continuously since then. Superman radio adventure serials ran successively in syndication from 1938 to 1951 on Mutual network and on ABC. From 1941 to 1943, Paramount produced a series of animated cartoons featuring Superman, Lois Lane and other characters from the comics, and in 1948, Columbia produced a series of fifteen theatrical live-action Superman serials starring Kirk Allyn.
       A total of 104 The Adventures of Superman episodes were produced for television, beginning with the ... More Less

Following the film's onscreen credits, voice-over narration introduces the character "Superman" as the sole survivor from the planet Krypton, who, after being reared on earth, uses his super-human powers as the "valiant defender of truth justice and the American Way." According to a 19 Sep 1951 HR news item, the film was shot in part at RKO-Pathé Studios, where RKO producers Bernard Luber and Robert Maxwell were to produce the film; however, the onscreen credits and all reviews of the film list only Barney A. Sarecky as the film's producer. The extent of Luber and Maxwell's involvement in the released film is undetermined. Although the CBCS credits actor Paul Burns with the role of "Doc Saunders," the part was played by Harry Harvey in the released film.
       Superman and the Mole-Men was the first feature-length film based on Superman. Following the film's theatrical release, it was edited into two thirty-minute segments, which were retitled The Unknown People and subsequently aired on television beginning in the fall of 1952. The character of Superman first appeared in the 1938 Action Comics magazine Superman . Various series and sub-series of the Superman comic have been in print continuously since then. Superman radio adventure serials ran successively in syndication from 1938 to 1951 on Mutual network and on ABC. From 1941 to 1943, Paramount produced a series of animated cartoons featuring Superman, Lois Lane and other characters from the comics, and in 1948, Columbia produced a series of fifteen theatrical live-action Superman serials starring Kirk Allyn.
       A total of 104 The Adventures of Superman episodes were produced for television, beginning with the re-edited Superman and the Mole-Men . George Reeves also starred in the syndicated series, which was televised from 1952 to 1957 and became one of the most popular series in the early days of television. Phyllis Coates initially reprised her role as "Lois Lane," but was later replaced by Noel Neill, while Jack Larson portrayed the character "Jimmy Olson" on television.
       Reeves, who had been in motion pictures since 1939, became so identified with the role of Superman that he appeared in very few other films after the series became popular. When he had a brief appearance in From Here to Eternity (1953, see above entry), according to modern sources, audiences found it humorous, even though his role was intended to be serious. After that film, Reeves appeared in only two films. He died in 1959, by what the Los Angeles County coroner ruled as a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
       Other live-action Superman television series include, among others, Superboy , broadcast from 1988--1991; Lois and Clark , broadcast in 1990s and starring Dean Cain and Teri Hatch; and Smallville , which focused "Clark Kent" as a teenager and broadcast beginning in 2001 on the WB network. There have been numerous animated Superman television series, including Superman , The New Adventures of Superman and Super Friends .
       A Broadway musical based on the character entitled It's a Bird . . . It's a Plane . . . It's Superman opened in 1966. Warner Bros. released a series of four feature films beginning in 1978 with Superman , starring Christopher Reeve as "Superman," Margot Kidder as "Lois Lane" and directed by Richard Donner. In Mar 2005, Warner Bros. began production on a feature film entitled Superman Returns , directed by Bryan Singer. At that time, the studio was also developing Batman vs. Superman , with Wolfgang Petersen attached as the director. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 1951
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Sep 1951
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 1951.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 1951
p. 4.
Variety
12 Dec 1951
p. 6.
Variety
8 Jul 1987.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
Orig scr, Orig scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd eng
Sd cutter
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr clerk
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the comic strip "Superman" by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, copyrighted by DC Comics (1933--1988).
DETAILS
Release Date:
23 November 1951
Production Date:
1951 at RKO-Pathé Studios
Copyright Claimant:
National Comics Publications, Inc.
Copyright Date:
4 November 1951
Copyright Number:
LP1267
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
58
Length(in feet):
5,223
Length(in reels):
6
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15395
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

The Dailey Planet newspaper sends mild-mannered Clark Kent and outspoken Lois Lane to the small town of Silsby to write a story about the nation’s deepest oil well. Clark and Lois are accompanied by National Oil Company public relations representative John Craig and when they reach the well, they are surprised to find foreman Bill Corrigan dismantling it. Corrigan claims that after the home office ordered him to shut down the six mile deep well after receiving his most recent report. When Corrigan refuses to tell Clark what the report contained, the newspaperman’s curiosity is piqued. Later at the oil well, night watchman Pop Shannon hears strange noises, but fails to see two odd small-bodied men emerge from a well opening. Soon after, Clark and Lois return to the well to investigate and find Pop dead in the company office. While Clark searches the grounds, the two strange subterranean creatures appear in the office window, causing Lois to shriek in horror. Later, Corrigan and the sheriff agree with the doctor’s assumption that Pop died of a heart attack and that Lois’ story of the men with “mole” bodies is a product of her imagination. Privately, however, Clark convinces Corrigan to reveal the contents of his report: When the company began drilling, Corrigan assumed that the glowing core samples found at 30,000 feet were radium, an intensely radioactive element known to be harmful to humans. At 32,600 feet, the drill broke through into mid-air and scrapings from the drill bit revealed living organisms. Clark believes these organisms may be evidence of advanced beings living under ... +


The Dailey Planet newspaper sends mild-mannered Clark Kent and outspoken Lois Lane to the small town of Silsby to write a story about the nation’s deepest oil well. Clark and Lois are accompanied by National Oil Company public relations representative John Craig and when they reach the well, they are surprised to find foreman Bill Corrigan dismantling it. Corrigan claims that after the home office ordered him to shut down the six mile deep well after receiving his most recent report. When Corrigan refuses to tell Clark what the report contained, the newspaperman’s curiosity is piqued. Later at the oil well, night watchman Pop Shannon hears strange noises, but fails to see two odd small-bodied men emerge from a well opening. Soon after, Clark and Lois return to the well to investigate and find Pop dead in the company office. While Clark searches the grounds, the two strange subterranean creatures appear in the office window, causing Lois to shriek in horror. Later, Corrigan and the sheriff agree with the doctor’s assumption that Pop died of a heart attack and that Lois’ story of the men with “mole” bodies is a product of her imagination. Privately, however, Clark convinces Corrigan to reveal the contents of his report: When the company began drilling, Corrigan assumed that the glowing core samples found at 30,000 feet were radium, an intensely radioactive element known to be harmful to humans. At 32,600 feet, the drill broke through into mid-air and scrapings from the drill bit revealed living organisms. Clark believes these organisms may be evidence of advanced beings living under the earth’s crust. When Corrigan claims that he put a metal cap on the well opening, Clark remembers that the cap was missing when he arrived earlier that evening. Meanwhile, the townspeople spot the molemen as they wander from the well into Silsby, causing everything they touch to glow along the way. Once they reach town, Ellen, a young child unafraid of the unknown, invites the molemen to toss her ball, which then begins to glow. Meanwhile, the alarmed townspeople gather at the Hotel Silsby to discuss the situation and Clark warns them that they must treat the creatures with care. When Ellen’s mother sees the creatures, her shrieks interrupt the meeting, prompting townsman Luke Benson to incite the mob to violence. Concerned, Clark secretly changes his clothes and dons a blue and red suit with a red cape, the costume worn by his alter ego “Superman,” a being from the planet Krypton who can fly and perform other super human feat. Superman advises the mother and child to go to the hospital for decontamination and then warns Lois that a newspaper story about the incident could lead to national panic. Using hounds to track the molemen, Benson and his men corner the creatures atop the town dam. When Weber, Benson’s cohort, shoots a moleman, Superman arrives just in time to catch the creature before he falls into the reservoir and contaminates the water supply. Superman flies the creature to the local hospital, while Benson and his men continue to chase the remaining moleman. Exhausted, the frightened creature crawls into a small shack to hide, but Benson sets fire to shack to kill him. As the shack burns to the ground, the men believe the moleman is dead, however, he actually escapes under a loose floor board and hides in the brush. While the men return to town, the moleman rushes back to the mine and down the well opening. In town, the sheriff orders Benson to leave the remaining creature under Superman’s care at the hospital. Benson then locks the sheriff and deputy in jail and leads the mob to the hospital. Inside the hospital, Dr. Reed, a young interne, risks radiation poisoning to operate on the wounded creature with Superman’s assistance. After the surgery, Dr. Reed reports to Clark and Lois that the creature’s skeletal structure is remarkably similar to that of humans. After Superman has changed back to Clark, he spots the mob outside the hospital and leaves abruptly, prompting Lois to joke with Corrigan and Craig that Clark is a coward. Soon after, Superman returns to tell the mob that the moleman has the right to a peaceful existence and after deflecting bullets shot by one of the mob, wrestles their weapons from them. Meanwhile, the moleman has returned with a weapon, and approaches the hospital, flanked by two more molemen. When Superman appears, the escaped moleman gestures to the others that Superman saved their companion. Benson then points his gun in the direction of the molemen and they discharge their weapon at Benson, but Superman bravely steps in front of the gun’s ray. Superman then fetches the wounded moleman and escorts the creatures back to the well opening after which they crawl underground. As Superman, Corrigan, Lois and others gather near the well, they see the glow of the weapon’s ray and suddenly the entire well bursts into flames. After Superman pulls the humans to safety, Lois comments, “It is as if the creatures were saying, ‘You live your life and we’ll live ours.’” +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.