The 'live' introduction of the Man of Steel, Kirk Alyn's "Superman" serials of 1948 and 1950 are often treated as 'poor relations' to George Reeves' television series, and the many subsequent incarnations of the character, which is unfair; these productions were, in fact, the most successful movie serials, EVER, and hugely popular, when released, which makes this DVD collection a 'must' for every Superman fan!
With the character firmly established in American pop culture (Supes had already been around for a decade in comics, a top-rated radio series, as well as the legendary Fleischer cartoons), audiences had a clear 'image' of what he looked like, and what he could (and couldn't) do. This proved a mixed blessing for Columbia Pictures, which produced the series; while it could pattern the 'look' after the previous versions (with the film serials building on the Bud Collyer radio interpretation of Clark/Superman), the very tight budgets and primitive special effects of the time kept his super powers at a minimum (although, in fact, the rotoscoped, animated 'flying' effects would have been VERY expensive to produce, today!) Fortunately, it was an era when audiences were used to using their imaginations to 'fill in' the gaps (thanks to radio), so what we see today as 'drawbacks' weren't major obstacles, at the time.
Kirk Alyn, 38, slender, mop-headed, and dynamic, offered a more two-dimensional portrayal in the lead than his successors, but had a sheer enthusiasm that is irresistible. He clearly loved his super powers, grinning as villains 'tested' his invulnerability, and handled the 'long-john' uniform with aplomb, even when his cape interfered with his fight scenes! Noel Neill, at 28, continued the 'look' of the cartoon Lois Lane, with more energy than she'd display in the television series; Tommy 'Butch' Bond, 21, a snap-brim fedora planted squarely on his head, was no threat to Jack Larson as Jimmy Olsen, but Pierre Watkin, 59, was an excellent Perry White (and, in fact, was the choice to replace John Hamilton, who had passed away, had a seventh season of the "Adventures of Superman" been filmed).
While the first "Superman" serial was routine (if VERY successful), "Atom Man vs. Superman" was quite remarkable, with a few 'live' flying shots attempted, some of the cliffhanger endings are quite imaginative, and Lyle Talbot, one of film's best villains, makes a very convincing Luthor, laying the groundwork for Gene Hackman, Sherman Howard, Kevin Spacey, and Michael Rosenbaum's interpretations.
"Superman - The 1948 & 1950 Theatrical Serials Collection" finally gives this long-neglected chapter of the Man of Steel Saga it's due, and should be an 'essential' in your collection!