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No SUPERMAN II SE? What a disappointment...

No SUPERMAN II SE? What a disappointment...

Old 04-04-04, 02:19 PM
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Is the tv version of Superman 2 ever aired on tv still?

I seem to have recalled seeing the 'kid get killed' scene on just about all tv showings of it. I have never really seen the entire theatrical cut btw,so really I am not sure what is added or missing.

Anyway I prefer the original to the sequel based on all its problems. It is too obvious now when viewing it. Yet even before I knew of the production issues. Something always seemed 'off' about the film compared to the original. It does have some memorable scenes,I will give it that .But being 'superior' to the original? Not even close. Maybe had it not had such troubling production problems. It would have been the masterpiece many claim it too be.

Also another reason for no Donner cut is pretty obvious. He never finished the film and only got about 75% done before being fired. So inserting the other 25% as shot by the other guy would make for a not so great viewing experiance.

The best they could probably do,is release the theatrical version on one disc. Then the Donner scenes as both extra deleted scenes,as well as an option to watch them all edited together in sequence,though still incomplete. This way you can at least see what his version 'would' have been like.
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Old 04-04-04, 02:30 PM
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The SUPERMAN CINEMA site goes down occasionally, but give it a day or two and it should be up and running again.

As for Julie's comments, the differences and anamolies in SUPERMAN II are well-detailed on SUPERMAN CINEMA. Your feelings that something never seemed quite right with SUPERMAN II is absolutely how I felt when it first released.
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Old 04-04-04, 02:38 PM
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In answer to DrOBoogie1's question about it not being the 25th anniversary, that link I provided above actually explains that the Salkinds chose to release Superman II in France, Norway and Spain six months BEFORE its American release, effectively making it a 1980 film. (I never heard that one before!) But I suppose it would make more sense to choose 2006 as the year for a 25th anniversary release. (Especially since I'm skeptical WB would have enough time to properly create a special edition for next year.)

And yes Mr. Cinema, I remember that scene with the kid so well, I thought it WAS in the original theatrical version, and was rather disappointed to not see it on the DVD:

"But he was just a boy..."
Ursa: "Who will never become a man!"

And the other scene that has to be restored is the one where
Superman destroys the Fortress of Solitude.
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Old 04-04-04, 04:31 PM
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If you look close you'll notice Lois Lane's hairstyle change from time to time even though it's during the same event.
It'll be slick black like in part 1 and then dry dark brown.
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Old 04-04-04, 05:11 PM
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I have read that Superman Cinema site abit from time to time,but have'nt checked it out in awhile. Soooo much information,so little time,lol.

Still interesting none the less.

I only own the original on dvd so far. Not sure if I will ever get part 2. Love the fight in the streets near the end. But its not really a rewatchable film in my opinion.
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Old 04-06-04, 10:51 PM
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You never realise how big and impossible a job it is to tackle a picture, because if you did, you would probably never do it," proclaims director Richard Donner. "I knew I had a major picture with major problems, but you surround yourself with very talented people, you have an approach and you're going to correlate all of those suggestions and thoughts hopefully-into some sense of objectivity, and you go out and make it."

The "impossible" picture in question is 1978's Ilya and Alexander Salkind-produced Superman, the motion picture that introduced modern audiences to the legend of the Man of Steel and, combined with The Omen, put Donner on the Hollywood map, establishing him as one of the hottest directors around. That streak has continued, with such box office hits as The Goonies, Lethal Weapon, Scrooged and Lethal Weapon 2. Donner was also supposed to have directed 1981's Superman II, and in fact did helm about a third of that film, but difficulties with the producers led to his dismissal and replacement by director Richard Lester.

"My original [Superman] contract was to deliver two films," Donner explains, "so therefore everybody who signed was told that they were doing two films". We started both and shot everything with Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Ned Beatty and Valerie Perrine for both pictures, and then we realised that if we were going to deliver the first one by Christmas, we had to stop and put all our efforts into that. Having completed everything with those actors, we put Superman II on the side and put all our efforts into the first film. Superman was a success, and the Salkinds, for whatever reason, chose not to bring me back. After I waited to hear for six or eight weeks, I got a telegram that said, 'Your services are no longer needed.'

"Things got so bad between the producers and I," Donner continues in a voice laced with disappointment, not bitterness, "that they wanted an arbiter, and they suggested [director] Dick Lester. I knew Dick, so it was just wonderful. The deal stipulated that he wasn't allowed to attend dailies or be on the set unless he was invited, and he turned out to be a charming, delightful guy, and we had a great time together. Anything Salkinds had to say to me, they would go through him and the same back from me. That was his function on the film, and we became great friends. But, that turned into him taking over Superman II without picking up a phone and calling me."

What went so terribly wrong between Donner and the producers that this situation ever arose?

"God knows," he sighs. "We had the task of making that film out of my office. I had a secretary, an assistant and a wonderful editor. Things were a mess throughout the making of the entire film. Every time we wanted to do something, their production department would cancel it, bills weren't paid, people wouldn't deliver products and we had to hustle, rob, beg, borrow and steal. Superman is a tribute to many dedicated folks, I'll tell you that. But, that's show biz!"

In a sense, it was that predilection towards "show biz" on the Salkinds' part that may have led to Donner's involvement.

"As was their custom, whoever was hot was who they used," offers the director. "The Omen had just come out and I got a call one morning and some guy said, 'This is Alexander Salkind.' I said, 'Yes...' 'You don't know who I am 'No.' 'Have you ever been to Cannes [film festival]?' 'No.' I thought it was someone trying to sell me a story or something. He said, ' I'm a film producer.' I said, 'Oh, really Who was this guy? So, he said, 'Did you see The Three and Four Musketeers?' I said, 'Yes,' and remembered what had happened on that.

"They made one picture called The Three Musketeers," Donner explains, "but they shot enough footage to make The Four Musketeers, and they didn't want to pay the actors for the second picture. Now, there's a requirement I believe called 'The Salkind Clause ' that says you must declare how many pictures you're doing when you're shooting. Anyway, he said, 'We're doing Superman and we want you to do it. We'll pay you a lot of money.' 'Terrific, I like a lot of money, but I don't know anything about the film.' He said he would send me a script."

Literally 30 minutes later, a messenger delivered a light-hearted 500 page screenplay written by Richard and Leslie Newman and Robert Benton based on Mario Puzo's more humorous story treatment which encompassed the stories of both Superman films.

"It just didn't work for me," he admits. "So, I said I didn't want to do it. They called back and insisted, and suggested they fly me out to Europe to talk to them.

"My agent and I flew over on the agreement that if I did the film, I could bring in a new writer. They resisted that idea, but ultimately agreed to it. I wanted to use Tom Mankiewicz [who discussed the film in STARLOG #69]. He has been a friend for 20 years, but we had never worked together. He's tops, so I agreed. Tom came on to the picture and we were off."

Donner pauses for a moment, gathering his thoughts concerning those early days of the project. "The picture had been prepared for a year in Rome," he says. "When I came on, we had to throw out the entire preparation, because we couldn't use it. It was originally going to be directed by an Englishman [Guy Hamilton] and produced by two Russian-Frenchmen the Salkinds, and yet they were doing a classic American fable without an American eye looking at it. When I agreed, I decided that I really wanted to ... not altruistically, but I was concerned that Superman shouldn't get screwed up. So, I said, 'Yes, I'll do it.' I never realised the challenge I was taking on. "

When I arrived at Shepperton Studios and saw the preparation, I asked them to show me the flying material. I watched it and was stunned to see a man walking along who's jerked off the ground by two wires, and then landing out of control. That was the first thing we had to correct. Then, we had to cast the role, and they wanted to use Robert Redford or something. I said, 'Redford is not Superman.' They had all these other names, including Muhammed Ali! We had lots of problems like that."

Casting would have been a nightmare, Donner notes, if Christopher Reeve hadn't entered the picture.

"We had seen just about every actor imaginable from television to motion pictures and everything else," he details. "Nobody fit the costume. Nobody could wear the 'S' and be believable. Nobody could fly. If you saw Bob Redford flying, it would be Bob Redford flying.

"I met Christopher Reeve [CS#11 in New York]. I had gotten a call from someone who said, 'There's a kid who's terrific. Would you like to see him?' He was about 20 or 30 pounds lighter, his hair was a sandy colour and he had dressed in the burliest clothes he could find to make him look good. I gave him my glasses to wear, and he looked so much like the part it was unbelievable. Nobody wanted to go with Chris because he was an unknown, but the idea to me was that we should go with an unknown so that you could make it believable. It ended up just that."

As pleased as Donner was that the role of Superman had finally been cast, he was equally as happy with the casting of Marlon Brando as Superman's father, Jor-El, and Gene Hackman as arch-villain Lex Luthor, both of whom had been signed prior to Donner's joining the film.

"The interesting thing is that the Salkinds had tried to sell this project in Cannes for a couple of years, and every year there was a helicopter with a banner that said, 'The Salkinds Bring You Superman'," he says. "But, they had a tough time convincing the powers that be to give them the money, because no one was sure if they were going to deliver. Quite intelligently, they went to Mario Puzo and paid him a lot of money to write the story. So, they had Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather, now set to write Superman. Then, they went to Brando and Hackman, offered them a lot of money and gave them specific dates they would shoot, although they didn't know when, where or how. They ran a sign over Cannes that said, 'The Salkinds Bring You Superman ... Written by Mario Puzo... Starring Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman.' Overnight, they were accepted, so when I came on the picture, these two guys were going to do it. I was thrilled, because neither part could have been played better by anybody. We were also married to the dates that were promised to Brando and Hackman, and that was an awesome A" responsibility.

"Once I signed, I replaced just about everyone who had been on it because we had a different attitude about how the picture should be made. It was like 11 weeks later, or even less, that we were shooting on Krypton with Brando. Unbelievable."

Donner's intention was to bring a purist point-of-view to the film, keying in to the original Superman mythos, and avoiding the treatment given to the legend via the 1950s TV series.

"I knew the Superman legend and grew up on it," he enthuses. "I knew I didn't want to do what television had done to it. Every kid remembers the TV show. This film was in its pure form, but on a grand scale, and as we got into it, I saw it as three separate films. It was a trilogy in our eyes.

"One was Krypton," he elaborates, where we broke away from tradition, because when I came on to the project, their preparation for Krypton was exactly the way it looked in 1939 and I knew that was wrong. A very wondrous man, John Barry, who had done Star Wars and died shortly after making this film, came up with a 'modern' Krypton, which we felt was crystalline, like the inside of a stone. Then came the second part of the trilogy, which was Smallville. We didn't research the comic book all that much, but we did spend a lot of time in Norman Rockwell. We just wanted to make Smallville Kansas-America. When we got to Metropolis, we went back to the comic book.

"You really don't realise how impossible things are, but you just blindly blunder ahead, hoping that the Great God of Cinema is going to lead you to it."

Judging by Superman's critical commercial success, Donner did deed find that path, which makes fact that he didn't finish shooting sequel even more curious.

"Let me put it this way," his "all the good parts of Superman 2 are mine. Everything with Hackman Brando-well, they cut Brando because he wanted more money, Beatty and Perrine was shot by me was going to be more in the tradition of the first one. The villains were going to be much more believable. I hated the stuff they did with the villains in the small town. It looked an Englishman's point-of-view what America would look like, with the Army, the jeeps, the people ... there was no sense of size to it. It lost its sense of importance." As fans are aware, Superman II focuses dually on the romantic relationship between Superman and Lois Lane, who discovers the truth about Clark Kent, as well as the three Kryptonian villains rampaging on Earth. Donner recalls several significant differences between what was actually shot by him, and what ended up in the film under the direction of Richard Lester.

"My Superman II opens at the Daily Planet on the front page of a newspaper, 'Superman Saves So and So...' Lois is looking at the newspaper and her byline, and there is a photo of Superman in the newspaper, arms folded across his chest, in his typical pose. On the other side of the office, talking to Jimmy Olsen, is Clark Kent, sitting there with his arms folded in exactly the same pose. She looks at the newspaper, then at Clark and says, 'Oh my God!' She takes a pen and starts drawing, but we don't know what she's drawing. We cut back and we see that she's drawn a hat on Superman, a jacket and tie and glasses, and it's Clark Kent. just then, Perry White calls Clark into Lois' office and says, 'I'm sending the two of you on a honeymoon scam at Niagara Falls. You're going to pose as a married couple,' and he leaves. She goes over to Clark, gives him a nudge and says, "That'll be terrific, Clark. We can fly up there,' and gives him the eye. He doesn't know what she's talking about.

"Then, she says, 'You're really Superman, aren't you? And he tells her that that's ridiculous. So, she gives him the newspaper, which he looks at and recognises as himself. Then, she says, 'Before you say anything, I'll bet my life that you're Superman.' He lowers the newspaper and sees that she has moved to an open window and onto the ledge, 30 floors up. Then, she jumps out the window, and in a millennia of a second-everyone freezes-he shoots through the office, because he can't change, downstairs as a blur, with every loose piece of paper being caught behind him. He appears as a blur on the street. There's an awning, and he uses his vision to pop it out. Then, he blows upward as she's coming down, causing her to float like a leaf. She hits the awning, rolls off of it and onto a fruit stand, which we established in front of the building. Then, he's back upstairs in this second, looks down and calls out after her, 'Lois, are you all right? What did you do? She looks up at him and faints deadaway.
And here is the pic which shows Lois falling shot by the Donner crew. It's Lois's stuntwoman.

This was shot, but they chose to do that stupid opening scene with the terrorists in the Eiffel Tower.

"Another change took place Niagara Falls. Superman saves the kid and that night in the hotel room Clark's talking to Lois, who says,

"Isn't it amazing that Superman showed the way he did to save that kid"

"Yes it is, isn't it?"

"'I think it's too much of a coincidence, don't you?"

"'I don't know, What do you mean?"

" 'I think you're really Superman."

"'Oh, Lois, isn't that silly, We went through this before and you almost killed yourself. Thank god you hit that awning. You jeopardised your own life."

Lois says, "'This time Clark, I'm going to jeopardise yours." She reaches into a drawer and pulls out a gun. She says, "Clark, I believe that you're Superman so much that I'm going to take that chance!"

Clark responds "Now put that gun down... Lois, it could be loaded!" She pulls the trigger, we hear the gun go off and he stands there. Clark stands up to his full height, takes his glasses off, his chest practically ripping through the jacket and his voice goes from Clark to Superman's.

"Lois Lane, don't realise what a stupid thing you did? If I had not been Superman, you would have just killed Clark Kent."

And she says, 'What? With a blank?"

He falls down in his seat and moans looking like he's about to throw up. And that's how she found out he's Superman. It's really sickening, cause all of that was shot, and they it cut out."

Some consolation did come the fact that ABC reinserted material, edited out of the original Superman when the film was first aired on TV.

"The thing that got to me on film," he says, "and I wanted to do more of it, and I guess if I didn't have so much story I would have, is the idea of Superman appealing to our daydreams. How many of us have had a great desire to be Superman? To be impervious to pain and accomplish anything that you set out to do? Also, it seems like people are beginning help each other a little more, that's the whole point of Superman. He's there to help us, and wouldn't we all like to be him for one minute? It's a mythology that reaches what is real today. Most mythology, as you know, is period in its being. Superman just seems to have gone along with the time very well.

"As for my personal feelings?" Richard Donner closes rhetorically. "I obviously have a tremendous affection for Superman and what he stands for in my life. I owe him everything."

Tom Mankiewicz finds one of the most humorous aspects of the entire situation to have come from New York magazine's David Denby, who, upon viewing Superman II, wrote, "Well, you can tell the difference between Dick Donner and Richard Lester in terms of sophistication. Because in this picture,Superman II, Gene Hackman really had something to do, he's really wonderful, arch and so on as opposed to his performance in the first one."

"Well," smiles Mankiewicz, "I wrote a letter to David Denby and said, 'Just for your information, and this is not to denigrate Richard Lester who's a very nice man and a good director, every foot of film of Gene Hackman was shot by Dick Donner and written by me. So much for your being able to tell the difference between Richard Lester and Dick Donner.' They never printed the letter."


That's truly too bad. I bet if someone paid Donner and the people involved a hundred million dollars each they'd jump on it in a ney york minute.

For the record...Superman III is my favorite of the four films! Evil Superman>>>The Three Villians
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