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Doc Savage:  The Man of Bronze
(1975 Film)

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Doc Savage:  The Man of Bronze (1975):  Set in the year 1936.  For the most part, this film was well-done in concept; not so much in execution.  I'm always a bit forgiving with superhero shows.  Still, I think a really great new Doc Savage movie should be made.  What do you think?

Advantages:

The filming is terrific.

    Definitely not a cheap production.  After all, it was put out by Warner Bros. studios so you know there has to be some decent production values here.  There is a lot of wide, outside filming to really open it up.  I also like the nice, clean elaborate sets and all of Doc Savage's cool things like his car, helicopter, plane, etc.  The camera work was really well done.  They weren't trying to do anything experimental or weird with the way one scene went to another.  They were just making a good movie.  I like that.  There's honesty to that.  And after all, honesty is what the character of Doc Savage is all about.

The cast was wonderful.
   
    I could see all of these men and women on merchandising.  I don't know how much of that was actually made when this movie was out, but appearances and acting-wise they made the grade.  Ron Ely is a cool action actor.  He looked the part and I really could believe he was a "man of bronze."  The Fabulous Five, his sidekicks, were all great as well. 

    I think of all Doc's underlings, Paul Gleason as Long Tom was given the biggest billing.  He was definitely the biggest name of all the actors in the FF.  However, we don't really see that much of him or his character doing anything of major consequence.  The sidekicks with the most screen time are Monk (played by Michael Miller) and Ham (played by Darrell Zwerling).  Monk is the short, fat guy who is the world's greatest chemist.  He has a pet pig named Habeas Corpus.  Ham is an uppity lawyer who always makes remarks on Monk and his pig.  They're still friends, though, and by the end we see that Ham loosens up.  We do NOT, however, see much of the members Renny (played by Bill Lucking) or Johnny (played by Eldon Quick).  It seems that Renny, Johnny, and Long Tom are really included in the movie just to satisfy fans of the Doc Savage books.

    Paul Wexler as Captain Seas, the villain, is funny.  I can never take him too seriously.  They made the movie purposely campy just so he wouldn't seem too scary.  And at the end of the movie he lives, and is reformed.  That's a neat thing that they did.  Certainly unexpected.  I thought he was going to die for sure.  A nice twist to the movie.

    Captain Seas had two women with him all the time.  Complete bimbos.  Adriana (played by Janice Heiden) did not have a speaking role, but she looks great!  Karen (played by Robyn Hilton) is the one that spoke and really gives us the strong impression of her bimboisms.  Blonde and busty.  What a tramp!  Everything that she says and does is really put-on, because she forces her femininity.  What a funny character!

    Doc's "woman" of the picture was played by Pamela Hensley.  It says in the credits "Introducing Pamela Hensley" although she had already been in TV and movies for five years.  She would later play a very popular part as the evil Princess Ardala in the "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" feature film and subsequent TV series.  They did a really great job of making her look and act Hispanic.  If I didn't know, I would've assumed she WAS Hispanic.  She really did that great of a job.  Completely different from her Princess Ardala character.

    Don Rubio Gorro (played by Bob Corso) is the sidekick to the evil Captain Seas.  He's a tiny Latino guy, and they poke fun at him often for being so small throughout the picture.  On numerous occasions he's shown in an overside cradle sucking his thumb.  Although funny, it really didn't fit the picture.  You're left wondering:  "What the heck is that all about?"

    The other actors are great, too, but I've highlighted the major players.

Disadvantages:

The campiness.
   
    Could this movie be any cheesier?  It's like they were trying hard on purpose to make it so hokey that people wouldn't want to watch it.  It flopped at the box office upon it's release, but it wouldn't have if it was made a bit more believable.  There are a lot of cool things in this movie, but even I had a hard time overlooking some of the hokeyness.

    For instance, some of the things the actors were made to say.  I bet you they all thought:  "What?"  The patriotic speech Doc gives to the Fabulous Five before boarding his plane.  Some of the cheezy things Doc was made to say anyway.  The over-the-top silliness of Captain Seas.  The extremely over-the-top Don Rubio Gorro character who is a bit too much like Pee Wee Herman humor.  It was a little confusing at times whether this movie was meant to be a comedy or an adventure.  In moments of the film, it would go too far in one direction or the other.  There wasn't a really good blend.  But with a movie like this, you do have to love it for it's individual parts.  It is not all bad or all good.

    Another hokey thing is that, after only a few minutes, Mona deeply loves Doc Savage.  Come on!  That doesn't happen in real life no matter what.  There wasn't a real romantic connection between the two.  She was just meant to be the eye candy.  Still, the actress that played her did a magnificent job!  It's just too bad that she wasn't given more importance.

    Perhaps the one thing I thought strange is that Doc Savage's father died, and he didn't seem too upset about it.  He was just too darn cool about the whole thing.  Didn't he feel a need for revenge?  There wasn't really a motivation for his character.  And the exact details of his father's death never were really focused on.

The theme music

    God, this is awful!  They used John Phillip Sousa marching music and worked in really pompous Doc Savage lyrics to tell us all how good and cool he is.  What old fart came up with the idea to do that?  "Thank the Lord he's here!"  Yeah...right.  Hey, folks, this was set in the 1930s.  If anything, have a 1930s-era sounding soundtrack.  No matter what the heroes were doing, they'd go into playing this march music.  In the fight scene on the boat, it made the action feel more like a comedy scene than a real knock-down, drag-out brawl.  And that they played the same theme music over and over.  One or two more tunes would've been nice.

Trivia Bits:

    This movie was supposed to be the first in a series of films based on the popular "Doc Savage" pulp novels.  However, poor box office results cancelled plans for any further film productions.

    It is said that a sequel had been filmed in the Lake Tahoe area simultaneously with the principal photography for this first film.  However, due to the lack of success with this first film, the sequel was never completed.

    Doc Savage's real name:  Clark Savage, Jr.

    Monk's real name:  Lt. Colonel Andrew Blodgett Mayfair

    Ham's real name:  Brig. Gen. Theodore Marley Brooks

    Long Tom's real name:  Major Thomas J. Roberts

    Renny's real name:  Col. John Renwick

    Johnny's real name:  William Harper Littlejohn