Doc Savage turned 80 this year. The pulp hero has influenced a generation of action heroes, pulp and super alike. Superman himself owes much to the man of bronze. In fact Doc Savage was the original man of steel before Superman stole the moniker.
Doc Savage first appeared in a pulp novel magazine in March of 1933 (and appeared in 181 of them total) and was quickly adapted into a radio show and in comic books but strangely unlike his other Street and Smith counterparts, Nick Carter and The Shadow, Doc Savage never got a chance to grace the big screen until 1975. In the 1960’s Doc Savage found a resurgence when Bantam Books reprinted his stories. Suddenly Hollywood was interested in making a movie. There was a plan to turn the story The Thousand-Headed Man into a film starring Chuck Connors. It fell through but legendary film producer George Pal obtained the film rights.
The result was Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. The film stars the 15th screen Tarzan Ron Ely as Doc Savage and it’s directed by Michael Anderson (Around the World in Eighty Days, Logan’s Run). The film isn’t very good. For some strange reason the film was made as a campy comedy and it doesn’t really work. It’s nice to see Doc on the big screen along with The Fabulous Five, Doc’s group of helpers, but the film is so corny.
The film was a box office bomb, naturally it lost out to Jaws and plans for a sequel were immediately scrapped. Since then there have been rumblings every couple of years about bringing Doc to the big screen. At one point Arnold Schwarzenegger was rumoured to play Doc and a couple of years ago Sam Raimi’s name was attached to a feature film. While it would be nice to see a Doc Savage movie I can’t help but think that the time for it has passed and it would be better for Hollywood to leave well enough alone.