Superman and the Mole Men (1951) Movie Review

details
Title: Superman and the Mole Men.
Rated: Passed.
Director: Lee Sholem.
Screenplay: Robert Maxwell (as Richard Fielding).
Release Date: 1951.
Runtime:  58 min.
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Drama.
Cast: George Reeves, Phyllis Coates, Jeff Corey, Walter Reed, and many more!
Budget: $275,000.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

thoughts

Who springs to mind when one wishes for a defender of truth, justice and the American way? The one alien who came from another planet, flies faster than a speeding bullet, showcases more power than a locomotive, and leaps tall buildings at a single bound: Superman! The first ever feature film to introduce the world to a DC superhero was a movie called Superman and the Mole Men, a black-and-white B-movie serving as a giant commercial for the subsequent television series. Filmed within twelve days, this movie looked to send Clark Kent on an investigative quest that will later require his supernatural and human skills to defuse.

What is Superman and the Mole Men about? The story follows Clark Kent (George Reeves) and Lois Lane (Phyllis Coates), off to the small town of Silsby to report on the world’s deepest oil well. As they learn of the closure of this terrain, they stick around till the next day only to run into a better story, one that introduces the sudden arrival of bald, large-headed, and furry little humans who have crawled their way out of the oil well from deep within Earth and are now terrorizing the citizens of this small town. The investigative skills of Clark Kent and the accidental discoveries of Lois Lane lead these two to understand that there might be something far more unusual going on than what humankind might be used to. This might be indeed be a task that only Superman can handle!

LANE & KENT~* Clark/Superman & Lois relationship... - Page 77

There’s no lying that this feature film wasn’t meant to break any kind of records. Considering when it was made, it still achieves some truly interesting cinematic feats, especially through its narrative and foray into light science-fiction. At the heart of this less-than-an-hour movie is a story that focuses during its first half on Clark Kent, investigative journalist, who eagerly hunts down for clues to get to the heart of the mystery and find the truth that needs to be shared with the world. Alongside him is Lois Lane, a fierce, independent, and curious lady who shares a passion for journalism but remains caged in by the ruthless mob mentality of men. It is only at the second half of the movie that Superman makes an entrance and serves as the mediator to a conflict that remains timely and relevant even today.

The aforementioned conflict is rooted in a question of xenophobia that allows viewers to reflect on their perception and reaction towards strangers, especially those that do not come from an environment they’re accustomed to. In fact, the mole men in this movie are beings who have been in Earth for countless years before the Americans but their strange physical characteristics and behaviour make them alien to humans, leading humans to react rashly without any room for communication. This is where Superman comes in and offers his open-minded mediation and showcases his superpowers, quickly establishing him as an authority that should not be taken lightly, to help both parties come out of this issue unscathed.

SUPERMAN AND THE MOLE MEN GIF | ALFRED EAKER

With a message of peace interlaced into this story, you’d think it would have it all, but, it has its fair share of cinematic flaws that might spoil the experience. Among these issues is the movie’s pacing that unnecessarily stretches out countless scenes, especially chase sequences, that might either play for or against the story depending on the viewer’s interest in the narrative. The climax of the movie was also a bit underwhelming when you could see everything coming a mile away. This forces the viewer to look elsewhere for their cinematic anchor throughout the movie, that one thing that might justify viewing this movie. The decision to focus each half of the movie to Clark Kent and then Superman also makes for a tough sale in the grand scheme of things, especially considering the short length and the disenchanting plot. Nevertheless, there’s a charm to finally visiting one of the earliest takes on Superman out there.

Superman and the Mole Men (1951) is an episode exploring humankind’s xenophobia portrayed through humans fearing strange little mole men with the Man of Steel’s mediation for both parties at the heart of it all.


EXHIBITA
Superman and the Mole Men is the first feature film starring Superman.

Have you read any Superman comics?
Have you seen Superman and the Mole Men (1951)? Will you? What did you think about it?
Share your thoughts with me!

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33 comments

  • The only “old” Superman stuff that I watched was the cartoons from the 1940’s. the black and white tv show never appealed one bit and even now, I doubt I’d watch this as even a curiosity. and looking at your rating, I’d say I’ve made the right choice 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’ve only seen it here and there but could always spot that animated series and see how it impacted television going forward. I also thought black and white television/cinema would never really impress me growing up but I grew fond of the idea of discovering cinema and the “behind-the-scenes” of cinematography back in the day. I definitely couldn’t recommend these things to others without warning them too though hahah

      Liked by 2 people

  • Yay! George Reeves! Heck yeah. You just can’t beat the original!

    Sttogey mentioned the old cartoons. They are fantastic.

    Yes, this is some dated material, but it is a firm part of Supes lore.

    I’ve never seen this movie, and I have only seen bits of the tv show, but this little mini movie is cute and this was the infancy of television.

    Thanks for the nostalgic review, Lashaan. Happy Trails!

    Liked by 3 people

    • First time I’ve seen him in action, to be honest, but I won’t lie that he makes for a fantastic Clark Kent!!! I like that they stuck to the character’s roots to give us some very source-material-accurate takes on Clark/Superman. It makes me want to watch the George Reeves television series now! Thanks for reading, Icky! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Wow, Lashaan! Have you been feeling bored lately? 🙂 I applaud you for trying some of the “classics,” though. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen this one but I do have fond memories of watching Superman tv shows when much younger, either reruns or a later series. I do think some must have been reruns because I recall some in black and white and starring this actor, but I wasn’t around in the ’50’s or 60’s. Somehow, though, I doubt I’d get nearly as much enjoyment out of them now as I did then, other than perhaps a short lived feeling of nostalgia.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hahaha! Never out of boredom do I explore superhero stuff! Just pure curiosity. 😉 It was also one of my objectives to check out this movie (especially in the context of reviewing all of the DC movies on this blog, even if it means rewatching the worse of them)! 😛

      I also believe that nostalgia would be the dominant factor for anyone wishing to revisit these older movies/series! I personally never saw this movie or George Reeves as Superman until today. He goes give us a pretty decent take on the hero, making me want to try the television series he starred in. For the time being, I’ll soon be working through all the well-known Superman/Batman movies pre-Nolan (probably going to be the 2021 project for my movie reviews on this blog)! 😀

      Like

  • The Superman comic I remember having, which I do not anymore ( that’s a long story that I don’t care to tell ) was The Death of Superman. I’m remembering something being like torn unfortunately with the cover, like if you did a certain thing to it, that sometimes normal people would choose, that happened to it. Ha, ha I know it sounds crazy but maybe you know what I’m referring to? I think it was Superman #75?

    Liked by 1 person

  • Interesting review good sir, I’ve always wondered how you would find some of these early b-movie offerings! I find Mole Men to be charming and I’m a lot more forgiving having grown up and being a fan of 1950s sci-fi films (some of which I really do have to get around to reviewing). Did you know that this was actually a two-part story from the Adventures of Superman series edited together for a theatrical release, a common practice in the 50s/60s/70s and the end result would pretty much always be flawed as they essentially were not “really” films. I love the fact that you’ve picked up on and highlighted the themes (such as the element of xenophobia) in this, which you often find in old media such as this (man you would get a lot out of the original Twilight Zone).

    I’m sure you’ll find Superman: The Movie a more profound experience. I’m planning to finally have a review of Superman II out before the end of the year (just need to have a rewatch over the festive period first).

    BY THE WAY…have you ever seen the Fleischer/Famous Studios animated Superman theatrical shorts from the 1940s? I love them (despite some questionable racial representation in the Famous Studios run, commonplace at the time given the War period) and they’re pretty remarkable and historic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad to hear that you already saw this one! Although it doesn’t surprise me knowing, as you’ve mentioned here, your love for 50s sci-fi movies! I do feel like a lot of someone’s enjoyment lies in their nostalgia for this era and the fascination they have for it too. I think I read somewhere that it was a two-part story glued together but I didn’t want to mention it here if there were any subtle variations in the television series hahah I’m glad to hear that Twilight Zone offers similar themes explored throughout its stories, which is something you’ve noted in your reviews too. I just need to make time for it in the near future!

      Ahh yes, Reeve’s Superman was the first version that I’ve seen, and all the movies coming after it are those that were part of my childhood too. I’ll be rewatching those and all the pre-Nolan Batman stuff for 2021’s movie reviewing segment on my blog hahah

      I’ve never given the animated series a proper shot but it’s definitely on my bucket list of things to do in my life! Duly noted about the racial controversy! Sounds like something that someone TODAY would nitpick on hahaha

      P.S. I also got around to watching Star Trek: The Motion Picture following your review and as part of my 2020 New Years’ resolution regarding movies I need to watch! It does seem like there’s a little bit of “history” loss in the viewing if you haven’t seen the TV series that came before it, but the movie does a fantastic job in making it “accessible” for viewers like me! I definitely enjoyed the whole exploration of life and machine in the movie and am very excited to check out the next movie (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). I often hear that it might be the BEST movie in the franchise too!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Phew, I’m glad you enjoyed Star Trek: The Motion Picture my good man (in fact my heart soars to hear it). Although I love the film it’s not a starting place I’d recommend for newbies…and yes there is some history there that only fans of the original series would get!

        The Wrath of Khan is my favourite Star Trek film (and pretty much every Trek fan’s)…it’s a totally different animal to The Motion Picture and I think you will enjoy it very much (you can read my review if you want…although it does contain spoilers so maybe after you’ve seen it).

        Liked by 1 person

  • The Flieschman toons are unreal. I think they are filmed in ‘Rotoscope’ or something. Maybe they filmed people and then painted over, or something like that? Anyway, the colors, the textures, and the uncanny motion are absolutely beautiful and makes this series distinctively different from any other animation and is arguably the greatest animation in history. {Despite the war-time racial references.}

    I hate to put more viewing on your plate, but I thought you should be aware.

    Happy Trails!

    Liked by 2 people

  • This looks adorable – and we all know Christmas is the time for old movies. Your pacing point is interesting. One of the things I notice the most when I’m watching old films is how long the scenes are – they really go on!

    Liked by 2 people

  • Ahahah it must have been very interesting to watch this movie also from a “historical” point of view, and I wonder how it was received at that time! I find it incredible that it was filmed in only 12 days though! Even though I am generally not a fan of “old” movies, I always find it fascinating when they still have some relevancy today (which is almost always the case).. 😊 Thanks for sharing this historical piece Lashaan!

    Liked by 2 people

    • While it wasn’t a traditional theatrical release, it probably gave the world a look at what would Superman look like in the real world, especially early in cinematic history! I do think that some of the older black-and-white movies pale when compared to modern cinema, but some of them still deliver exceptional storytelling, actor performances, and relevant morals! 😀 Thanks for reading, Juliette! Always appreciate it! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • I didn’t know this movie existed. Now I feel the need to see it, and possibly to kick off a Superman/Batman blog series sometime next year. Well … unless I watch the silent era Batman films made during WW2. The second of which actually features the first ever appearance of the Bat Cave in any form.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds like a plan that I could never say no to! 😉 I know that I’m also very likely to start revisiting the pre-Nolan Superman/Batman movies starting 2021 too, now that I’ve covered most of the modern movies on my blog! 😀 Thanks for reading, as always. Hope you’re doing well!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am doing well for the most part. Just installed a water softener at my house for one last upgrade for the year. Not worth making a full blog post just for that, but I got a lot more done at my house this year than I thought I would.

        Liked by 2 people

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