Celebrating 40 years of ‘Superman’
Four decades ago, the world was dazzled by Richard Donner ’s big-budget 1978 version of Superman, which catapulted Christopher Reeve to stardom and was, for a time, the highest-grossing film in the history of Warner Bros.
Now, Fathom Events celebrates this milestone by bringing the Man of Steel back to the big screen, as the original theatrical version of Superman will be screened at selected theaters nationwide – including the Regal Greensboro Grande Stadium 16.
For many people – yours truly included – Superman was, and remains, wonderful entertainment – featuring Oscar-winning special effects, John Williams’s unforgettable (and Oscar-nominated) score, and a star-studded cast. I vividly recall the first time I saw it, at the Quaker Bridge Mall on Route 1 in lovely Laurel Township, New Jersey.
There had been considerable hype regarding the $3-million payday afforded top-billed Marlon Brando, as Superman’s father Jor-El, and even at my age as I watched him I couldn’t help but wonder: “What’s the big deal about Brando?” (Sometimes, I still wonder.)
Nevertheless, an hour into the film occurred a moment that would have long-lasting ramifications on me: The scene introducing master villain Lex Luthor, played by Gene Hackman, who to this day remains my favorite actor – and his wicked and wily performance as Luthor is still a big reason why. Yes, it’s true: I can still quote entire passages of Luthor’s dialogue at will.
“There’s a strong streak of good in you, Superman, but then nobody’s perfect … almost nobody.”
Of course, Superman wouldn’t be Superman without Christopher Reeve, whose deft dual turn as Superman and Clark Kent is the glue that holds the film – and its three sequels – together. In addition, there’s Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, Jackie Cooper as Perry White, Glenn Ford (I may be the last journalist to have seen him alive) and Phyllis Thaxter as Ma and Pa Kent, Terence Stamp as General Zod, Valerie Perrine as Eve Teschmacher, Susannah York as Superman’s mother Lara, Trevor Howard and Maria Schell as Kryptonian elders, and Ned Beatty – who I was delighted to spend time with at the 2006 RiverRun International Film Festival – as Luthor’s bumbling henchman Otis.
This year marks not only the 40th anniversary of the movie but also the 80th anniversary of the character, originally created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who made his debut in the first issue of Action Comics.
As an added bonus, the feature will be preceded by Max Fleischer’s animated Superman short Mechanical Monsters, which hasn’t been shown in theaters since its original release in 1941.
Fathom Events’ 40th-anniversary screening of Superman will take place 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday, and 7 p.m. Dec. 3 at Regal Greensboro Grande Stadium 16, 3205 Northline Ave., Greensboro. Tickets for all screenings are $13.34 (general admission). This presentation is rated PG. For advance tickets or more information, you can visit the official Fathom Events website: www.FathomEvents.com.