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Pop culture historian Scivally follows his comprehensive Superman on Film, Television, Radio and Broadway with an even more extensively researched--and possibly more obsessive--look at the Caped Crusader's celluloid career, ranging from Columbia Pictures' 1943 Batman serial to The Dark Knight in 2008. Scivally also provides an enjoyable romp through the history of the Batman television series, cutting through its camp notoriety with insightful comments from primary scriptwriters. Scivally delivers more than a fanboy compendium of famous stories, obscure facts, and insider secrets--although he has lots of those--along with hard financial reporting. Throughout his lengthy narrative, Scivally never loses sight of Batman and secret identity Bruce Wayne's complex relationship with the law and society. He expertly explores the issues of Wayne and Batman's psychological pain in the two Tim Burton–directed Batman films of 1989 and 1992. And he expertly discusses how director Christopher Nolan's 21st-century Batman Begins and The Dark Knight moved beyond superhero adventure genre and explored the ethical issues of America's war on terror. Coming just in time for the release this summer of Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises, Scivally's work is essential reading for anyone interested in the cowled crime fighter's rise from comic book hero to international icon.
SUPERMAN ON FILM, TELEVISION, RADIO AND BROADWAY
THE LIBRARY JOURNAL, Vol. 133, No. 2, p. 72
February 1, 2008
Review by Barry X. Miller
Film historian and producer Bruce Scivally takes the reference high road...in the dry but comprehensive way characteristic of McFarland that librarians have come to depend upon. Scivally covers Superman's many media incarnations...Scivally is thorough, and he has clearly done his research. Chapters covering TV star George Reeves and Bob Holiday in the 1960s Broadway production of It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman are especially wonderful. Also provided are appendixes for Superman books, web sites, and cast lists. Extensive chapter notes and an excellent bibliography add to the value for dedicated fans and researchers...Scivally is enthusiastically endorsed for all pop culture reference collections.
"As Seen on TV"
THE BIG REEL, Issue 396, p. 49/56
Review by Paul Holbrook
"Could it be that Superman is television's most enduring character? The Man of Steel was featured in a show of his own, The Adventures of Superman, in 1952, and he's still on the air thanks to Smallville.
In between, Superman has enjoyed plenty of other series, both live-action and animated, some worth of his name and others that require a reference book like this for anyone to remember. Regardless of the generation, Superman is always one of its top superheroes.
I know of no other fictional character who has been the subject of so many television series over a similar time span. Superman has been a star in other media, as well, so many it's hard to keep track of them all. That's the purpose of author Bruce Scivally's riveting media history, starting with the first radio series in 1940 and running all the way to Smallville, Justice League Unlimited and the Superman Returns movie.
The chronological history covers every movie, radio, film and Broadway incarnation of Superman, with full accounts of how the people who created or starred in them got involved with the project.
'He was such an overpowering entity, in fact, that many of those who became associated with hi found their own lives overwhelmed and sometimes unmanageable,' wrote Scivally, a film historian, documentary writer and producer living in Wilmette, Ill.
According to Scivally, the first to wrestle with the enormity of Superman were his creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The pair sold the rights to the character and spent the rest of their lives sorry for it. Scivally's account of the final years of Kirk Alyn's life is even sadder.
Appendices lead the way to further explorations of the world of Superman. The first describes a dozen books about the character and biographies of those associated with him. The seconds leads to even more immediate access-the dozen best websites regarding Superman. The third lists all of the films, radio, TV and Broadway productions, including the primary cast members."
- Paul Holbrook is a freelance writer from Circleville, Ohio
Neil Pond, AmericanProfile.com, "Our Picks," December 28, 2007
The Man of Steel gets a scholarly breakdown from his comic-book origins to his portrayal through the years by actors Clayton Collyer, Kirk Alyn, George Reeves, Christopher Reeve and Smallville's Tom Welling. Intensely researched and painstakingly detailed, it may be a bit of heavy lifting for casual readers. But diehard Super-fans across the generations will relish its meaty, meticulous look at the life, legacy and indestructibility of an all-American icon.
Raymond Benson, CINEMA RETRO Website, December 27, 2007
"In many ways, this is a book about a succession of tragedies. On the surface it is a scholarly hardback publication from author Bruce Scivally (who co-wrote the superb The James Bond Legacy and other film-related works) and it's a welcome, informative addition to the vast amount of available Superman literature. While there is plenty of material out there on the Superman comics and the character himself, there has never been much written about the Man of Steel's films and even less on the character's appearances on television, on the radio, and his one-time attempt at a Broadway musical.
Scivally spends a brief early part of the book on the comics' Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and how they created a legend
and lost it. For me, the first true tragedy of the Superman saga lies in the story behind these two men, for they were treated with disdain and received no appreciation from the corporations and entertainment business that eventually made millions off of their character. Much of this tale has been recounted elsewhere, so Scivally quickly moves on to the meat of the book-Superman's evolution from comics to a radio program, the Columbia serials in theaters, and the television series (which enveloped yet another tragedy in actor George Reeves, who may or may not have committed suicide in the late fifties). Does anyone remember the unsuccessful Broadway Superman musical from the sixties? It was called It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman!, and the author enlightens the reader with its tales of woe. After covering the Saturday morning cartoons, Scivally recounts the successful blockbuster motion pictures starring Christopher Reeve in fascinating detail, treating the reader to the sometimes ugly machinations behind such Hollywood productions. And, of course, Reeve's story ends in tragedy as well. The book ends with somewhat happier tales of Superman's return to television-Lois and Clark and Smallville.
This is a terrific book and a must-have for anyone remotely interested in Superman and his life beyond the comics."
Ronald J. Zaguli, Superman Homepage, December 3, 2007
"As someone who owns Mr. Scivally's great James Bond: The Legacy, I was really looking forward to receiving my copy of his latest, Superman on Film, Television, Radio and Broadway.
The cover showcases the title exploding out from the Man of Steel's chest as he rips open his shirt - PERFECT!! I am a huge fan of that iconic image and couldn't think of a better choice for the cover.
The book itself is 240 pages long (of that about 50 pages at the end are appendices, chapter notes, a bibliography and an index). Unlike James Bond: The Legacy, this book is "normal" size at 7" x 10" with a thick - almost textbook thick - cover. There are unfortunately precious few pictures spread throughout the book - if I counted right there are only 12 and they are black and white. Now, sounds like I was disappointed right? Wrong! What Mr. Scivally seems to have aimed for is the definitive textbook on the history of the Man of Steel. It is thorough, well-written and a joy to read...
From the dedication page which reads: 'To my dear wife, Sandra, and daughter, Amanda, who, every day, make this Clark Kent feel like a Superman,' the reader knows that the author is dedicated to the character and telling a fascinating story of the challenges which were faced in bringing every incarnation of Superman to life. He thoroughly covers the creation of our hero by Siegel and Shuster, his radio and cartoon appearances, the Kirk Alyn serials and the George Reeves era. Included are the "failed" attempts of Superboy and Superpup, the Broadway show It's a Bird... It's a Plane.... It's Superman, and of course the movies we have come to love and question beginning with Superman: The Movie and ending with Superman Returns. The TV incarnations of Lois & Clark and Smallville are extremely well covered and will no doubt surprise most readers with some tidbits even seasoned fans don't know. I consider myself a pretty knowledgeable guy on the history of Superman but there were many things I didn't know and really enjoyed discovering. For those who want to relive the recent years including the efforts before Superman Returns made it to the screen they are very well handled - its a miracle Singer's film made it to theaters after all the trials and tribulations that proceeded it.
I would like to end this review with Mr. Scivally's afterword - I think it really encompasses all our hopes and dreams for the Man of Steel. His book will be a very worthwhile addition to any Superman fan's collection.
'Will there be another Superman movie? Of course there will. It's inevitable, because Superman is too much a part of our culture. He has been celebrated in song by Jim Croce, Barbra Streisand, The Kinks, REM, Five for Fighting, and 3 Doors Down. He has been a video game fixture since the dawn of the computer revolution.The comic books are still selling steadily, and the yearly Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois continues to attract thousands of visitors each June.
From the pages of the comics to radio's theater of the imagination, from the intimacy of television to the majesty of the movies, there has always been and will perhaps always be a Superman for every medium and every generation.'
Bruce Dettman, GLASS HOUSE PRESENTS, " Book Reviews and Recommended Reading"
"In his new book Superman on Film, Television, Radio and Broadway author/documentary-maker and cultural historian Bruce Scivally has provided an overview of the history of the Man of Steel in all mediums, not only tracing the meteoric rise in popularity of the character and describing his ongoing transformation and cosmetic alternations, but has touched upon those forces, social, political and artistic, that often provided the impetus for these changes...Scivally is to be congratulated for applying his talents and energies to assimilating the considerable pieces of the Superman story into one volume. Unlike Grossman whose book pre-dated the most recent incarnations of the Man of Steel, Scivally is able to present the full breath and range of the characters appearances right up to the present Brian Singer mega-production and for this reason is extremely useful as a reference tool and barometer showcasing the often circuitous paths that distinguished the multi-faceted media career of our favorite pop phenomenon."
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a book!
November 15, 2007
By ROBERT LOERZEL
Bruce Scivally of Wilmette was a Superman fan even before he knew how to read.
It wasn't the Superman comic book that hooked Scivally when he was growing up -- it was the 1951-58 TV show.
"One of the first shows I saw was George Reeves in 'Adventures of Superman,'" Scivally says. "As I got older, I started collecting the comics ... What makes Superman so appealing to little kids is that if you're powerless, you're drawn to fantasies of the powerful."
Scivally is now the author of a book, Superman on Film, Television, Radio & Broadway, chronicling the Man of Steel's many appearances over the decades on the big and small screen, radio and, yes, even on stage.
Scivally will discuss the book and sign copies Dec. 2 at the Wilmette Theatre, which will show the 1978 "Superman" film starring Christopher Reeve (projected from DVD). He is also signing his book Nov. 18 at Trinity United Methodist Church in Wilmette.
While Reeve and Reeves are the two most famous actors to play Superman, Scivally's book goes all the way back to the superhero's first screen appearances. Bud Collyer supplied Superman's voice in cartoons by legendary animator Max Fleischer between 1941 and 1943.
"They're really terrific animation, but there's not much of a story," Scivally says. "Lois (Lane) gets in trouble. Superman saves her. Bam! That's it."
Kirk Alyn was the first actor to appear on the screen as Superman, starring in movie serials based on the DC comic book from 1948 to 1950. Aimed at young audiences, those short cliffhanger films don't have a lot of depth, either, Scvially says.
"It's a comic book translated directly to film," he says. "Alyn plays Superman as a good spirit. He seems to be having good fun with it."
George Reeves played Superman more like a benevolent dad, while Christopher Reeve played the man from the planet Krypton as more of a Christ-like figure, Scivally says.
"Christopher Reeve really defined it," he says. "Every portrayal since then has been influenced by how he did it." More recent Superman projects have included the television series "Smallville," "Lois & Clark" and the film "Superman Returns."
Hung up on Broadway
Scivally's book tells the stories behind the various Superman films and television shows, as well as the 1966 Broadway musical, "It's a Bird ... It's a Plane ... It's Superman." The problem with the stage version, Scivally says, is that it's simply too hard to persuade an audience that Superman is really flying when he's an actor hanging on wires.
Superman is just one of Scivally's many pop-culture obsessions. Scivally, who moved to Wilmette a year ago after marrying local standup comic Sandy Shea Bogan, lived the previous 27 years in California, where he filmed DVD special features -- interviews, documentaries and photos -- for the James Bond and Charlie Chan films, as well as "The Pink Panther."
Scivally also co-wrote the book James Bond: The Legacy with John Cork. He teaches screenwriting at the Illinois Institute of Art, as well as a class this fall on Howard Hawks' films at Facets Multimedia. He plans to write his next book about the films of Elvis Presley.
Wilmette Theatre owner Carole Dibo is not quite as much of a Superman expert as Scivally, but she counts herself as a fan. "I was a Superman fan when Christopher Reeve was Superman," she says. "I had a crush on him."
Buckhorn graduate's book tracks The Man of Steel from cartoons to Broadway and all points in between
THE HUNTSVILLE (AL) TIMES
Sunday, November 4, 2007
By CHRIS WELCH
Bond. James Bond. Now Superman ... the Man of Steel. Bruce Scivally from the small North Alabama community of Plevna (near New Market) obviously likes super heroes and super secret agents.
In 2002, the Buckhorn High School graduate, who now lives in Wilmette, Ill., wrote "James Bond: The Legacy" about one of Hollywood's most enduring secret agents with another Alabamian, John Cork from Montgomery.
Now, he's taking his writing to different heights.
"Up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane - no, it's Superman!"
Scivally's book is called "Superman on Film, Television, Radio and Broadway," and it's a complete history of The Man of Steel in popular media, from his creation and first appearance in June 1938 to "Superman Returns." The book chronicles the men who have portrayed Superman - Bud Collyer, Kirk Alyn, George Reeves, Bob Holiday, Danny Dark, Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain, Tom Welling, Brandon Routh and others - as well as the behind-the-scenes struggles to bring the superhero to life in cartoons, serials, TV programs, movies and on the Broadway stage.
The book was released Tuesday to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Superman in 2008.
"I wrote a Superman book because I thought it would be fun and because I felt like having been a Superman fan since childhood, I already had a head full of knowledge about the character, so it wouldn't require a lot of research," Scivally said. "However, once I got started, I realized that I didn't know as much as I thought I did - not enough to fill up a book.
"At any rate, I wanted to verify a lot of the information that was already out there, which meant doing a lot of archival research and conducting interviews. Writing about 007 was a lot of work but also a lot of fun, because I'd been a James Bond fan since I was a kid. But before I was a James Bond fan, I was a fan of Superman and the Lone Ranger, having seen them on television from practically the time I was born."
Most of today's teens know Superman only from the comic books or the films, some that starred the late Christopher Reeve. But Scivally, 45, and other older fans can remember the days when kids watched Superman every day on television, not episodes of "The Hills" or "TRL" on MTV.
"I remember when I was a very little kid, about 3 or 4 years old, watching 'Adventures of Superman' on TV and being amazed at how the bullets bounced off Superman's chest," Scivally said. "That was the George Reeves series, which at that time in Alabama was in syndication in the early mornings, right after 'Romper Room.'
"A year or two later, it was off the air, and when I got a little older - about 13 or 14 - I would read about the show and Superman and the Mole Men in magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland, and I wanted to see it again. That was before there was such a thing as videotape.
"So, I enlisted the aid of a few friends, and we began calling the local TV stations and asking them to put it back on. And lo and behold, one of them finally began airing it in the afternoons, right about the time kids got home from school."
Scivally said he learned about Superman when he was younger by downing bowls and bowls of cereal. He also ordered a copy of Kirk Alyn's book, "A Job for Superman." It ultimately helped him when he attended middle school here.
"Kellogg's did a promotion, where if you sent in four corn flakes boxtops, you could get four record albums of the Superman radio show from the '40s," Scivally said. "So, for a couple of weeks, I was eating corn flakes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, midnight snacks.
"By the time I was in 8th grade at New Market Elementary School and had to write a research paper for Mrs. Hayes' English class, I chose Superman as my topic and did kind of a mini-version of the present book. So, I guess I've always been a Superman fan."
Scivally interviewed Noel Neill, who played Lois Lane in the Superman serials and in the 1950s TV show. He also interviewed Cynthia Collyer, the daughter of radio Superman Bud Collyer; the children of Danny Dark, who was the voice of Superman on "SuperFriends"; Casey Kasem, who shared details on Dark and what it was like working on the animated Superman shows; and Peter Lupus and Denny Miller, who played Superman in Air Force recruiting commercials in the 1970s.
ABCNEWS.COM, " Good Morning America's Favorite Coffee Table Books"
"Each year, the bookstores are stocked with coffee table books. Filled with dazzling pictures, the books make perfect holiday gifts. Good Morning America's anchors share their favorite titles...
Tony Perkins: "James Bond: The Legacy"
"Published to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Dr. No, the first James Bond film, James Bond: The Legacy is the official, definitive guide to the 007 phenomenon. Loaded with anecdotes, facts, and illustrations, the book provides features on the key actors, from Sean Connery to Pierce Brosnan, directors, costume and set designers, and others working behind the scenes. Without a doubt, this is the book of the Bond World."
Michael Rogers, LIBRARY JOURNAL:
This detailed, photo-rich (550 pix) tome chronicles the Bond story and beyond; the text not only offers background on the character and the productions but juxtaposes him within the world's political climate, which the films reflect...this title offers a detailed dossier of facts and photos that fans will find essential. Highly recommended.
Derek Shiekhi, www.universalexports.net
While this may be a daunting book to read if only because of its size, you owe it to yourself to pick it up (with both hands) and dive in. If you're a greenhorn Bond fan, you'll soon become an expert on many things 007. If you're a well-read Bond aficionado like me, you'll soon learn how little you knew before.
"James Bond: women want him, and men want to be him. It's hard to do justice to such a mythic character, but documentary producers Cork and Scivally manage just that with this volume, a tasty feast for any 007 aficionado."
Anthony Lane, "Mondo Bond: Forty Years of 007," THE NEW YORKER, November 4, 2002
"How did the whole thing start? In 1961, the producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. (Cubby) Broccoli, having secured the rights to Bond, held what amounted to a beauty contest. They whittled the contestants for the leading role down to a dashing six; so we are informed, at any rate, by John Cork and Bruce Scivally, in "James Bond: The Legacy" (Abrams; $49.95), a dense and gleaming companion to the 007 phenomenon. The initial winner was not Connery but-wait for it-"28-year-old Peter Anthony, a professional model."
Joshua Rich, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, November 8, 2002
"Legacy...sets its sights on 40 years of the franchise's legal disputes and casting chaos while showcasing hundred of for-your-eyes-only photos (check out villain Christopher Lee, chilling between kills with a beverage and a babe)...The book belongs on any coffee table - or martini tray."
Scott Galupo, THE WASHINGTON TIMES, November 20, 2002
"A massive new book published this month, "James Bond: The Legacy" - a trove of photographs, illustrations, anecdotes and interviews with various Bond actors, directors and designers - artfully distills how the films played on American and British geopolitical fears and cultural sensibilities: the Anglophilic class insecurity, male vanity, a belief in inexorable technological progress. Written by two inexhaustible Bond experts, John Cork and Bruce Scivally, the coffee-table book is a tad pricey at $49.95, but for the true Bond-phile, it might prove irresistible."
Stephen Schaefer, THE BOSTON HERALD, November 22, 2002:
"More than just a pictorial of the films, the detail-packed "Legacy" is the creation of Bruce Scivally and John Cork who have made documentaries for the 007 DVDs. Not surprisingly, the pair have unearthed myriad fascinating Bond facts. For instance, Burt Reynolds was once considered for the role until producer Cubby Broccoli thought he was too short. Faye Dunaway was the original choice to star as "Octopussy." When Roger Moore was finally cast as Bond, he had to change his home phone number, which ended in '007.'...What the Bond series has wrought, said Scivally, is 'a dramatic effect on filmmaking. Action-adventure movies were like Saturday morning serials and not A-class films. But Bond showed that A-production values coupled with an adventure story would have tremendous success.'"
Susan King, "From the 007 Files, With Love: They Wrote the Book on Bond," THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, November 22, 2002
"'James Bond: The Legacy' doesn't only go in depth into Fleming's creation of 007 in the 1950s, the 320-page book also is filled with rare photographs and odd facts about 007...Cork and Scivally are hard-core Bondophiles, having produced, written and directed 30 documentaries for MGM's releases of the Bond films on DVD."
Lara Magzan, CNN/MONEY" The business of Bond...James Bond," November 25, 2002
"James Bond: The Legacy" by John Cork and Bruce Scivally covers 40 years of Bond as cinematic phenomenon. The book is your ultimate guide to 007, with rare photos and quotes from actors and production teams.
Rosemary Herbert, THE BOSTON HERALD, November 29, 2002:
"EDITOR'S CHOICE: Forget the coffee table. Spread this big volume of Bondiana out on on the coolest piece of furniture you possess. It's jammed with action-packed - and steamy - movie stills, highlighted with quotes from directors, actors and Bond author Ian Fleming. The text is brimming with information and curiosities that takes you from Fleming's writings to the latest Bond film, "Die Another Day," which opened in theaters last Friday. It's a great gift for the hero in your life."
Eric Hanson, STAR TRIBUNE, Minneapolis, MN, December 1, 2002:
"Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the series (and the release of the most recent film) is the oversized beauty "James Bond: The Legacy" (Abrams, 320 pages, $49.95). Better than simply nice-looking, this is a well-written history with thorough appendices covering all the books, films and filmmakers. 'Bond has lasted because of the enduring mythology of the character and the continued relevance of his fictional universe,' write authors John Cork and Bruce Scivally. 'The character of James Bond defies one of the key romantic tenets that identify the mythic hero. Bond does not exist in the distant past... He exists in a more rarefied time and place that the filmmakers refer to as `two minutes into the future.''"
THE DAILY MAIL (London, England), December 6, 2002
"Gadgets, gizmos and weapons of mass destruction - not to mention lots of women in bikinis. The definitive book on the master-spy in all his many incarnations. Preposterous, but irresistible."
Henry Kisor, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, December 8, 2002
"This very official guide to the films is great fun. The authors have unearthed obscure anecdotes as well as hundreds of never-before- seen photos of stunts and gadgets. Did you know that when Bond switched from his trademark World War II-era Walther PPK to the more modern P99 in "Tomorrow Never Dies" (1997), gun stores immediately sold out of the newer pistols?"
Eric P. Nash, "Licensed to Last," THE NEW YORK TIMES, Dec. 22, 2002
"Unabashedly a fan's compendium...Much of the material is hardly top secret, but there are some delightful tidbits, like a panel from the 1957 newspaper comic strip said to have influenced the casting of Sean Connery."
Tony Buchsbaum, "Booking Time With James Bond," JANUARY Magazine, January 2003
"For 320 extremely oversized pages, Cork and Scivally present everything there is to know about James Bond. I know a few things myself, some of them not so common, and every time I thought they'd go without mentioning one of them, they did, besting me at every turn. The book is filled with endless tales about Fleming, the Bond books and how they came to be written, the first inklings that Bond might be the stuff of movies, the development of each film -- and the worldwide response that followed it. The Legacy takes its title seriously... considerably more than just a fan-made lovefest. It's a treatise on a unique intersection between art and culture and politics. James Bond: The Legacy is a bargain at any price."