It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman! (found TV film version based on Broadway musical; 1975)
A still from the television special
Date found: 22 Sep 2013
Found by: Aria Genisi
It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman! was a musical based on the DC Comics character Superman that debuted on Broadway on March 29th, 1966. The plot revolves around the titular character's efforts to defeat a ten-time Nobel Prize-losing scientist Dr. Abner Sedgwick. Sedgwick wants to avenge the scientific world's dismissal of his brilliance by trying to destroy the world's symbol of good. Superman's identity Clark Kent also comes into romantic conflicts with Daily Planet columnist Max Mencken who represents Lois Lane's attraction to Superman. Mencken later teams up with Sedgwick to destroy Superman. The musical was directed by the late Harold Prince and choreography done by Ernest Flatt when it debuted on Broadway and had a cast made of veteran stage performers like Bob Holiday, Patricia Marand, Jack Cassidy and Linda Lavin. While the musical received positive reviews from critics and three Tony Award nominations, it fell out of favor with the public and was closed in July 1966 and will production costing $600,000, it was considered Broadway's biggest flop, pre-dating other Broadway flops like Annie 2, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark and Carrie. The musical would be revived on Broadway several times in the years since. The soundtrack from the musical would become very popular with the song "You've Got Possibilities" being played at various nightclubs and the title track from the overture would be used as the theme song for various news stations.
During the time the original Broadway production ended and the first revival of the Broadway production in 1992, the musical was adapted into a television special for ABC. This version of the musical used a different cast with the likes of David Wilson, singer Lesley Ann Warren, M.A.S.H. actress Loretta Swit, actor David Wayne, game show host Allen Ludden, Mel Brooks collaborator Kenneth Mars and radio personality Gary Owens. Several songs from the original musical like "Doing Good", "It's Super Nice", "So Long, Big Guy" and "We Don't Matter at All" were not used in the special due to time constraints and a new song was added called "It's a Great Country" just for the special. Several characters from the Broadway version of the musical were also dropped and the ethnicity of a troupe of evildoers was changed from Chinese acrobats to Mafia-style gangsters. The director of the special is unknown. The special aired on ABC on February 21st, 1975, as part of the network's late-night block called "Wide World of Entertainment" which was mostly known for airing episodes of The Dick Cavett Show, the concert series In Concert and would later aired two Monty Python compilations. The special was panned by critics and viewers for its poor quality and not having the same energy as the Broadway production.
After it's airing on ABC, the special was never aired again. The special never received any home media release and was forgotten for the next few decades. No footage from the special had resurfaced until June 2010 when the first 15 minutes of the special were uploaded to YouTube by user CptColumbo in two parts. That same month, the internet reviewer The Cinema Snob did a review on the special that was uploaded to his website and it showcases footage that was not present in CptColumbo's uploads. It wasn't until September 22nd, 2013 when the special (in its entirety) surfaced on YouTube by user Aria Genisi. The video appears to be taken from a bootleg DVD of the special.
- Blogpost on Broadway's 100 biggest musical flops. Retrieved 26 Nov '21
- New York Times review on the TV special. Retrieved 26 Nov '21
- Screenrant trivia list on the 16 actors who played Superman. Retrieved 26 Nov '21
- Superman on Film, Television, Radio and Broadway Retrieved 26 Nov '21
- The Cinema Snob's review on the TV special. Retrieved 26 Nov '21