SUPERMAN 188-Min. Extended Version -- Coming to Blu-Ray!

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AndyDursin
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Re: SUPERMAN 188-Min. Extended Version -- Coming to Blu-Ray!

#16 Post by AndyDursin » Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:53 pm

We'll never know what Donner might've produced, but IMO the Lester material in Niagara Falls is much more effective than Donner's ridiculous unused sequence of Lois jumping out the window of the Daily Planet to prove Clark is Superman. For all the fans who continuously chide Lester's involvement (even though he was already involved in 1's production as an uncredited liason between Donner and the Salkinds), that Donner sequence was wisely reshot and is much too broadly played for my liking. The Niagara Falls sequence got the point across in a more "believable" manner that wasn't quite as cartoonish.

I never really noticed Marc McClure's appearance(s), but Margot Kidder definitely looks drastically different in the footage shot between I and II. She looks quite "healthy" in the Donner sequences but gaunt and quite pale in the Lester scenes, not to mention that wig she has on. Was she starting to have "issues" at that time? She looks like a frailer, different woman, and not in a good way. Has to be one of the reasons they moved on from her in III.

Eric Paddon
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Re: SUPERMAN 188-Min. Extended Version -- Coming to Blu-Ray!

#17 Post by Eric Paddon » Sun Oct 15, 2017 9:23 pm

Just finished going through it. I'd note that one other minor point is that on the end credits the "Next Year Superman II" line does not appear.

This is fascinating to see at last in a widescreen HD format when the only other way to see it this way is from pan/scan TV recordings. You do gain an appreciation for why scenes need to be shortened in the final theatrical print and how they can drag.

Story wise I was reminded of how they hit all the right notes in this film. Put gravitas and authority in the beginning for the origin tale and then gradually introduce the lighter tone after we've been grounded in the establishment of the mythos of Superman so that in the end even if much of the actual plot with Luthor isn't too different from what we'd seen a decade earlier on the "Batman" TV series, we don't feel like the film has abruptly shifted off course or anything like that.

The only flaws in the film to me are that I really don't care for Valerie Perrine. Ann-Margret, who was also on the list for the part would have been a better choice. Also, the film suffers from something that I see too often in films shot in England where Brit actors or expatriates are playing American parts and they do it too broadly and forced. The generals who react dumbfounded to the missiles going off course are a classic case in point. Everyone seems to be from a Brit's idea of Texas or the wild west.

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Re: SUPERMAN 188-Min. Extended Version -- Coming to Blu-Ray!

#18 Post by KevinEK » Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:39 pm

One of those generals is played by Bruce Boa, who I immediately recognized from multiple other parts he did around the same time.
He was General Rieekan in Empire Strikes Back and he played an exasperated Colonel in Full Metal Jacket who castigates Joker about his helmet decoration.
But his best appearance in my memory was as an American guest, Mr. Hamilton, on Fawlty Towers, in the Waldorf Salad episode. I always liked Boa (who is no longer with us) and I didn't mind his accent.
But this situation was common - American films shot in London always wind up getting a few interesting American accents into the equation - happens in Star Wars and the Raiders movies too.
Of course, they work to find Americans or Canadians living in London too - this certainly helped keep Shane Rimmer going for a while...


Many of the Lester decisions made for Superman II were strong ones - namely, the Paris opening and the extended battle in the Fortress, which needed a lot more oomph than the small portion Donner had actually shot. The Niagara Falls work would have been in a Donner version, but would have been radically different. Based on the strength of the first film, and on some of Donner's other movies, I hope he would have adjusted the opening to remove the nonsensical jump out the window. The jump into the rapids does work better on about five levels - and it's a lot more believable in how Clark is able to make it look like he kind of saved her but not really. My instincts say that if Donner had not been fired, he likely would have reshot anywhere from a third to half of what he had done in his first pass, and would have added the other material to the shoot. And Brando could have done his ADR to clean up his scenes as well.

I still enjoy the Lester Superman II - I just wish that there was some way to go ahead and include the repowering scene, as crude as it is. That's always been the gaping hole in the middle of the movie.

As for Margot Kidder, I don't know that her problems were in full bloom yet - those certainly became evident in the 1990s. But I have to acknowledge she's worked consistently through the years, including lately. She'll never be a lead again, but she does work in character roles. My understanding of why they didn't want her around in Superman III was that she was actively bad-mouthing the producers for having fired Donner. She was open about this then, and had no problem voicing it again in the documentary material they put together in 2006. They didn't take her contempt for them lying down and she found herself essentially in a walk-on role in III as a result - including with a horrible peeling tan makeup for the end. On the other hand, Christopher Reeve made a point of including her with everyone else in IV when they all thought it was going to be a grand return to form. Of course, none of them realized the reality of Cannon Films until it was too late...

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AndyDursin
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Re: SUPERMAN 188-Min. Extended Version -- Coming to Blu-Ray!

#19 Post by AndyDursin » Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:16 am

The "Next Year Superman II" credit was cut out of the TV versions, at least the ones I have. So it not being there would be expected.

I also love Valerie Perrine. I think she's perfect in it :)

Eric Paddon
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Re: SUPERMAN 188-Min. Extended Version -- Coming to Blu-Ray!

#20 Post by Eric Paddon » Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:26 am

I'll trade Valerie for A-M any day! :)

One other nitpick. Since E.G. Marshall did all his scenes in the original II shoot why didn't they just have him loop the line as the President when he's on the golf course (unseen) ? (unless II is supposed to take place after there's been a change in Administrations?)

KevinEK
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Re: SUPERMAN 188-Min. Extended Version -- Coming to Blu-Ray!

#21 Post by KevinEK » Mon Oct 16, 2017 5:10 am

In the original Donner/Mank version of the first two movies, they take place within a day or so of each other.

Superman The Movie was originally to end with the missile Superman tossed into space exploding and rupturing the Phantom Zone, and the movie would end with the villains yelling "FREE!" and flying at the camera.
Superman II was originally to begin with a brief recap and then carry on immediately into Lois doing the triple Lindy out the window. (When you see the Donner scenes, you can see it's the next day's headline showing that Luthor's scheme "Bombed", etc. - and it's during that scene that Perry announces their Niagara Falls assignment, so that wasn't from ages down the road) And II was to end with Superman turning the world back to spare Lois her pain.
(In the original ending of STM, Lois didn't die - he rescued her. When STM's production was dragging on long enough that they were risking not even making a 1978 release date, the producers chose to put all their eggs into the STM basket, knowing that they'd have to come back to II to complete it and likely do reshoots.)

In the Lester version of Superman II, there's definitely been a passage of time. Lois has been moved out of the bullpen and now has her own office at the Daily Planet.
Of course, one could argue that it makes little sense in the Donner version that Lex Luthor has already received a "Life plus 25" sentence when he just got to the prison yesterday, but that's a whole other story...

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Re: SUPERMAN 188-Min. Extended Version -- Coming to Blu-Ray!

#22 Post by John Johnson » Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:33 pm

London. Greatest City in the world.

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AndyDursin
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Re: SUPERMAN 188-Min. Extended Version -- Coming to Blu-Ray!

#23 Post by AndyDursin » Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:53 pm

I think any fan of the movie knows what it is and doesn't take it seriously as a dramatic work....it's a curiosity item. Frankly though it's still not nearly as offensive as that "Donner Cut" of II which was an incomplete editorial exercise masquerading as a finished movie!

It's too bad he had to complain because that kind of thing will prevent studios from doing a similar release like it.

KevinEK
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Re: SUPERMAN 188-Min. Extended Version -- Coming to Blu-Ray!

#24 Post by KevinEK » Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:43 pm

Agreed on the first part with Andy. Anyone looking at this version knows exactly what it is.
It's actually more of a teaching device when you compare it with the final cut.
If I were teaching a class on film editing, I'd screen scenes from the Theatrical Cut of Superman The Movie and then show the full cuts of those scenes from this version.


On the latter part, I don't think WB is really listening that much to Donner's podcast inteviews. They would have needed to let him know they were releasing it per DGA rules and it sounds like he doesn't like it but didn't raise enough of a complaint for them to not release it. If it sold well enough, I'm sure they'll do the same thing for Superman II.


And as a side note, Donner corroborates what we discussed here two months ago - the "extended edition" is really an editor's assembly - the first draft at looking at what you have before you begin cutting the movie down to size. The longer assembly cut of Apocalypse Now ran over 5 hours. The longer assembly cut of Heaven's Gate was even longer - and even when Cimino consented to let the suits look at his work-in-progress, he only had it down to 5 1/2 hours. (Eventual release length was nearly 4 hours...)

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