It’s 12:38 pm
Doc Savage was my first fanboy experience. My very first one…I lived in a town called Chino and met a pair of brothers who lived across the street from me. The older brother Mike,was a huge collector of two things- comic books/genre books and rock and roll records. He would shop for both on a regular basis. He bought two copies of every comic,one for collecting purposes and one that anyone could handle and read. His vinyl was recorded on cassette tapes and then carefully stored.
It was into this world that I discovered what real fantasy,adventure,sci-fi and superheroes came from. Up until I met Mike,my only foray had been The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings.
Mike gave me a huge stack of Doc Savage books to read and I was hooked after my first novel. I then read a ton of other adventurers and great writers and I became a fan for life.
But as for the Doc Savage movie,just like “Ladyhawke”, I had heard about it but never got a chance to see it. As it turned out,neither did anyone else as “Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze” was released during the same time as “Jaws”. Between that and negative reviews,it sank like a rock at the box office. But as often happens,the movie slowly grew into a cult favorite. As with Ladyhawke,when my good friends at Warner Bros. heard I had yet to see Doc,they very graciously sent a Blu Ray copy for us to review.
I also decided to have a guest reviewer sit in as well….my fellow fanboy Romey,the same guy who recommended the last review the cheetah and I did. He hadn’t seen Doc Savage in years and wanted to watch it as well.
The year is 1936 and the movie starts with Doc up in his arctic Fortress of Solitude. It is here were Doc gets away from it all,reading doing research and inventing many gadgets that will benefit mankind. Suddenly Doc looks up in surprise and then we see him race back to New York City.
Back in New York,Doc learns that his father has died in the small South American country of “Hidalgo”. His death is being blamed on some mysterious tropical illness.
Doc is in his huge 86th floor penthouse with his Fabulous Five,his most loyal friends and allies when suddenly an assassin takes a shot at Doc. Doc can tell that the shooter is part of a tribe in South America long thought gone. He can tell by the green serpent tattoo the Indian is wearing.
Doc and his friends spring into action to try and catch the would be assassin but when Doc confronts him on the other high-rise,the man falls to his death. The group assembles to exchange ideas on what has happened when Doc realizes that they have been pulled away. They rush back only to see a safe with Doc’s father’s papers has been set on fire and destroyed.
Doc and his crew decide to fly down to Hidalgo to find out exactly what happened to Doc’s father. They take off from a private airport only to have their plane attacked and shot down by yet another assassin. The plane turns out to be a decoy and Doc and his crew fly down undetected.
The pilot in turn tell the evil Captain Seas (Paul Wexler) that his mission was accomplished and Doc and his friends are dead. Of course when Doc lands in Hildago,Captain Seas is very upset and has the pilot killed by what appears to be flying green serpents.
Meanwhile Doc and his men find out that Doc’s father had been left a useless snake-infested swamp by a local tribe and that the deed had been passed to Doc. But the paperwork has been “lost”. As the crew decides what to do next at their hotel,Doc and his men are invited to have dinner with Captain Seas on his fine yacht,the Seven Seas. Not knowing the incredible danger they are walking into,Doc and his friends board the boat.
Who is Captain Seas and why does he want Doc dead? Where is this land that so many people are willing to kill for? And just who is the wonderful singer who is helping out the poor at Christmas?
So what did we think of the movie? There were good things and quite frankly,some godawful ideas as well. While director Michael Anderson (Logan’s Run) does a fine job with his moving the story along The legendary producer George Pal (The Time Machine) co-wrote the screenplay but the complete bumpiness of it scrambles the movie.
Forcing camp into a story/character who wasn’t designed with that in mind (Rogen’s Green Hornet/Depp’s The Lone Ranger) only alienates the who people who know the characters/story and loses any new potential fans who may have not heard of it either.
It was a terrible idea that started with the stupid score and the writing of “Doc Savage” on every mode of transportation seen in the movie. It just makes you cringe with embarrassment. The special effects we’ll give a pass to because it WAS 1975 and while they look cheesy by today’s standards,so does the shark from JAWS,right?
But there are a lot of things as well….such like casting Ron Ely as Doc Savage. Ely,who had gained fame by playing another classic pulp hero in “Tarzan” in 1966,looked the part perfectly. He was tall,handsome and quick on his feet in the action scenes. He had some fun in role but nothing that was over the top.
The Fabulous Five were a bit of a mixed bag:
Paul Gleason played Long Tom Roberts,a master of electrical engineering.
William Lucking played John “Renny” Renwick,a superb civil engineer.
Eldon Quick played William Harper “Johnny” Littlejohn,a geologist and archaeologist.
Michael Miller played “Monk” Mayfair who was a industrial chemist. His relationship with Ham is a huge part of the Doc Savage stories. Monk and Ham appeared in more adventures then any of the Five.
Darrell Zwerling played Ham Brooks,the sharpest lawyer of his day. His banter with Monk in the Doc Savage books is a huge highlight.
That said,I think the movie made a big mistake with trying to push all five into the movie. There was wasn’t enough for them to do,unlike in the novels where each of them could showcase their talents. The casting was wrong for Monk as well,Miller looked terrible and terribly uncomfortable in his role.
Wexler was fine as the major villain Captain Seas but ironically,the yacht “The Seven Seas” actually belonged to Doc which he used on several adventures!
The beautiful Pamela Hensley made her major acting debut in “Doc Savage” playing Mona Flores.
We know that earlier this year that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson announced that he was going to be doing a “Doc Savage” movie. Of course after that crap ass “Baywatch” mess as well as the “CHiPs” disaster where for some reason the film makers seem to think we all want to LAUGH at these premises,they are finding out painfully,that we don’t.
If the Rock treats “Doc Savage” like they did the “Tomb Raider” series,this could actually fly,play it straight,make it great. Play it for laughs and you’ll just ruin the property and the characters. Doc Savage deserves the respect it didn’t get here.
“Doc Savage” is rated G and has a run time of 1 hour 41 mins. This Warner Brothers release has no special features. You can buy this title at WB Shop
Next up for Romey and me is a hard look at the classic “South Bronx Heroes”.
How about you? Any Doc Savage fans who wish to share your thoughts? If so,drop us a comment,we would love to hear from you!