Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Terror of Lois Lane

Iconic AND sexy. Don't get me wrong, the bad boys like Batman turn my crank, too, but I still maintain that there's something sexy about an over-sized boy scout like Superman.

I recently saw Superman: The Movie (1978).

It was really, really WEIRD.

I had seen it before of course; seems like it was on in a constant loop during my childhood. We even had it on disc before we had it on vhs. But I doubt I'd sat and watched it all the way through in probably twenty-five years; I was in single digits and low ones at that when last Mr. Reeves and I met.

Two of my nephews wanted to watch it on Netflix's instant watch thing a few days ago, so I got it running, and soon got sucked into it myself. The opening is great: the shots of young Clark Kent, loved by his adoptive parents but ostracized by his peers was alternately sweet and heart breaking. This was for me an almost perfect metaphor for high school regardless of your planet of origin. In high school I knew I was full of amazing skills that none of my classmates could see; I was too shy, they were too busy, we were all too busy obsessing over ourselves to actually BE ourselves. Granted, I can't fly (yet. YET.), I certainly can't outrun a speeding train (though I CAN have an asthma attack and fall down faster than a speeding bullet), and crap knees keep my bounding to a minimum, unlike Clark, but I think everyone feels like they have wonderful secrets inside themselves.

He finally manages to get something of a one-up on his rude high school compatriots, and then his dad keels over dead. I think that was probably a Pretty Bad Day for the Kent clan. He then sets off to the warmest looking arctic set I've ever seen to find out how to unlock his own secrets (seriously, no visible breath and he's not even wearing a scarf for crying out loud!) . During this time span in the good ol' Fortress of Solitude, he becomes Superman, and learns to harness his own amazing powers for good; he then heads for Metropolis to become a reporter for the Daily Planet. There he meets Lois Lane, the future Missus Superman, and also Lex Luthor, who is played SO over the top by Gene Hackman that I firmly believe he had altitude-related nose bleeds all over the place then and probably still to this day. It's your basic good beats really fucking manic evil story.

But I'm not here to talk about that. I'm here to talk about Lois Lane, as portrayed by Margot Kidder. I'm here to talk about how she occasionally scared the SHIT out of me in this film. I know that she's had issues with manic depression during her life, so I have no idea if this is bleed over from that, but when Lois was called to be excitable or frantic, she was TERRIFYING. When it came to the minutiae of the role, the fine details of Lois' emotional responses, particularly to Superman, she was superb, and came across as almost heart-breakingly vulnerable.

Here she's gorgeous..

However, when she was worked up she looked like ghoul that had acquired a taste for human flesh. Part of the problem was the lipstick she was wearing (or maybe the hue on the television that I watched this on); it was a strange shade of pink that made her teeth look kinda yellow, so when she'd freak out she looked like she had a mouth full of coyote teeth. In a few scenes I was legitimately concerned for Superman's well-being; no male can survive a hardcore man eater, not even the man of steel himself!

I don't think any of this terror was Ms. Kidder;s fault, I got the impression from other performances in the role that the actors had been instructed to play their roles "big"; manic Lois was in keeping with hyper Lex and spastic Clark. But it was still occasionally pants-wetting for me.

...and here she's terrifying!

I also wanted to talk a little about Christopher Reeves, namely that he was awesome in this role. He was appropriately flustered and bumbling as Clark, and MAN could he fill out a set of red underoos as Superman! More than that, though, seeing this movie with more adult eyes I saw that the man was a legitimately gifted actor. I think he got this part not only because he looked the part, but because he was also a very talented. He gave Clark an impish quality that was nice; you could tell he kinda enjoyed giving Lois shit, whether she knew he was doing it or not.

This is an image that even now, at 32 years of age, instills me with comfort. Having never been saved by Superman, I have no idea why this is.

He also seemed a bit shy, which is an interesting idea for Superman. Batman and Superman to me have it almost switched around: Bruce Wayne is the disguise, Batman in the reality. But Superman is really Clark Kent, even if it's not entirely the Clark Kent that the world sees. Clark is more confident as Superman, but who wouldn't be? It's like trolls on the internet: it's easy to be assured and confident when no one knows who you really are. Clark just wants to be near Lois, and he'll do it as Superman if he has to.

Seriously, look at that. LOOK AT THAT!

Overall it was intersting to rewatch; now I wanna see the sequels again, mostly so I can see Clark and Lois gedditOWN. Some parts of it are genius: Superman's scream of denial when he rescues Lois too late, Lois in quieter moments, Jimmy Olsen as a huge dork, etc. Some parts are hilariously silly, like the "rock slide" that was clearly pebbles (in slow motion, no less) being poured into a puddle. The dangling helicopter scene was wonderful while Lois freaking out was the stuff of nightmares.

He really rocks that look, even with that stupid spit curl.

I will close this with one thing of note: NO ONE with glasses adjusts them that way. No one. REMEMBER THAT, HOLLYWOOD!


  1. Clark Kent adjusts them that way, Stac, and you would do well to remember it!

  2. Your description of Margot Kidder is so dead on. And the thing is...she's ALWAYS like that. No matter what role she's playing, in no matter what kind of movie, she's always kind of a terrifying figure. I love her for it!

  3. Hey Billy, thanks for the comment-- I love Tower Farm!

    Wasn't she terrifying? I don't remember having that reaction to her performance in Black Christmas, but maybe that's because her role was much more wounded and rough than it was as Lois?

    Or maybe it's just because she said "fellatio'. ;)