10 big DVD boxed sets: ”Superman Ultimate Collector’s Edition”
VITAL STATS Six movies (four Christopher Reeve films, 2006’s Superman Returns, and George Reeves’ 1951 Superman and the Mole-Men); 17 Fleischer Studios cartoons; 14 discs; $99.98; out Nov. 28. CREATIVE ACHIEVEMENT Look! Buckling your bookshelf! It’s a doorstop! It’s the new OED! No, it’s a super-set that offers twin testimony to Reeve and Richard Donner. Jettisoned after shooting the 1978 Superman and 70 percent of the sequel, the director gets his own back here with the inclusion of the long-awaited Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut and its deliciously testy commentary track. EXTRAS All films except Returns and Mole-Men have commentary tracks; ’70s making-of TV specials; featurettes on the Fleischer WWII-era cartoons and the Superman mythos; screen tests; deleted scenes; Marlon Brando solemnly intoning the lyrics to ”Camptown Races.” THE BEST The Donner cut of Superman II, arguably superior to the official Richard Lester version. THE WORST Everyone here acknowledges that III and IV were pretty pathetic, but the set’s true dog is The Adventures of Super Pup, a surreal, unaired 1958 TV pilot featuring midgets in dog masks, made before Reeves’ untimely death. VERDICT Fourteen discs for $100? This is the Man of Steal. — Ty Burr
5 THINGSYOU DIDN’T KNOW…
1. Reeve’s weight trainer was David Prowse, fresh from playing Darth Vader in Star Wars.
2. Before hiring Reeve, exec producer Ilya Salkind was so desperate he auditioned his first ex-wife’s dentist. (The screen test is included.)
3. Keenan Wynn — cast as Perry White — arrived at a London airport and had a heart attack. Jackie Cooper, the first actor Donner called who picked up the phone, was his replacement.
4. Brando told Donner he planned to play Jor-El as ”a bagel” or ”green suitcase.”
5. President Jimmy Carter, his family, and Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster attended the very first screening. The latter two burst into tears.
5 More… Super-Themed Titles
1. Supergirl (1984) A camp classic starring Helen Slater and Faye Dunaway. (Nov. 28)
2. Superman: The Theatrical Serials Collection (1948-50) Superman’s film start, with Man of Steel Kirk Alyn. (Nov. 28)
3. 12:01 (1993) Groundhog Day crossed with a sci-fi thriller: Jonathan Silverman has 24 hours to save the world… over and over! (Nov. 28)
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) The deluxe two-disc set sports extras like a sword-fighting documentary. (Dec. 5)
5. Rocky (1976) Sylvester Stallone’s classic packs a punch on this collector’s edition. (Dec. 5)