Friday, October 20, 2017

The Brothers Bloom

Written at the time of film's release on DVD. That's why there's no mention that Johnson subsequently made Looper, and has been working on the latest Star Wars film, The Last Jedi.

The Brothers Bloom (Rian Johnson, 2008) One of those ones that "got away" when I first started writing a movie blog; I'd wanted to see this in the theaters and it disappeared, just like your betting money, so quickly that there wasn't a chance. to make good on it. Johnson had been the enfant terrible behind the enfant terrible noir-film Brick, (which was a nicely designed but ultimately precious/pretentious conceit—a detective movie set in high school), and there was enough there to anticipate what he was going to do next. The last thing you'd expect would be this reality-twisting con-game movie at equal times ebullient and dark, densely written and skippily edited that tips its hat to the Tarantino era with all its style, but none of its sloppy excesses.

And the other thing: it's a double-love story...about people who can't, don't or won't tell the truth and being able to express that love and make it stick, or accept that love and believe it.

No, no. Don't get worried. It's also a lot of fun, especially in its puppyish wise-acre first hour that moves at such an unsustainable pace of quirk that the second-half doesn't have a chance to match it. That half-way down-shift initially feels like a let-down (and some unfortunate back-story editing robs the movie of some Peckinpavian resonance), but Johnson has to reveal the con at some point and the visceral let-down is inevitable. The motto of the movie (and The Brothers Bloom) is "the perfect con is when everyone gets exactly what they want." Johnson manages to pull that off...and quite brilliantly.

He's got great players to do it with. Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo play the brothers (Brody's Bloom, and Ruffalo's his older brother Stephen), two orphan con-men locked in the game that informs and colors their lives. Their partner in crime is the mostly mute Bang Bang (the clever Rinko Kikuchi), and there's a network of con-men they tap into (but never really trust) including The Curator (Robbie Coltrane) and Diamond Dog (Maximilian Schell)—a lot of Oscars in this cast—but the focus of the last of a series of Last Big Cons is Penelope Stamp (Rachel Weisz) an eccentric millionaire, isolated in her youth by a misdiagnosed allergy (to everything), and with whom Bloom becomes her first true friend. Weisz's peculiar choices in performance nicely buoy Brody's sad-sack (which he has perfected) and both Ruffalo and Kikuchi play off each other and the other actors with a kind of thrilling certainty of the world and their place in it (and ability to change it). Johnson's multi-plane action in frames (especially in the first half) approach the deft timing of a Warner Brothers cartoon

It's different, breaks the mold, keeps you guessing and stays with you until you make that last jump—that all movies are a con. And the best ones are the ones where people get exactly what they want. Yes.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Battle of the Sexes (2017)

Bread and Circuses
Tennis is a Cruel Mistress

Those of us who lived through the "Battle of the Sexes"—the 1973 televised tennis exhibition match between Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs proved nothing about tennis and the relative ability of men and women to play it—remember the hype and hoopla of it, rather than its relative merits of any real "battle of the sexes." King was 29 and at the top of her game. Riggs was 55 and at the top of his game in 1939, when he won the Grand Slam. But, Riggs was a gambler and a hustler, and he took advantage of the recent split of nine of the top female tennis players from the USTLA over the pay discrepancy between men and women players to fan the flames of sexism that were inherent in a sport that had its roots in social clubs that had discrimination of sex and religion in its by-laws. It was a calculated gamble. He won publicity either way, and, any overflow benefiting tennis and women's tennis, in particular, was an unintended benefit to those parties.

The "event" was fictionalized before; in 2001, ABC, the network that originally made hay on the televised broadcast commissioned a version "When Billie Beat Bobby" that starred Holly Hunter and Ron Silver (respectively). In the time since, much more has come out about King's personal life at the time and that becomes a major plot-point in Battle of the Sexes, the new version of the story "from the directors of Little Miss Sunshine" (that would be Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton*-it isn't mentioned that they also directed Ruby Sparks, presumably because it wasn't "the indie hit" their previous film was). The result is a fairly straight-forward adaptation (King was a consultant and a remarkably fair one, it turns out) that manages to show the effects of marginalization—whether sex, sexuality, or age (not that we need a demonstration of it these days)—and Society's penchant for exploitation and for waking up and considering larger issues...if there's a buck in it.

At the start—the timeline is crunched, somewhat—Billie Jean King (Emma Stone excellently not depending on her strengths) has won the Grand Slam and is the most well-known women's tennis player on the circuit. She's pulling in crowds. Despite that, tour promoter Jack Kramer (played by Bill Pullman) refuses to raise the stakes of the women's tournament in line with the men's, which, by rights, should be eight times higher than what he's offering. With World Tennis publisher Gladys Heldman (a shining Sarah Silverman), the two decide to create their own tournament, signing on for a token amount of one dollar apiece, attracting enough attention to be sponsored by Virgina Slims. 15-love for the women.
The leading women's tennis players sign on to a tournament for $1 apiece.
Women's tennis is getting attention. The women's tournament is causing controversy. Meanwhile, Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell, who plays it exactly as you'd assume he'd play it, with a sense of the outrageous and the pathetic, making him the perfect person to play Riggs) is unhappily working at a firm owned by his father-in-law, and cheerily using the contacts to make bets on his own skills as a tennis player. Bobby has a gambling addiction—one so bad that he perpetually is playing high-stakes poker with his therapist—and he sees the attention the women's tour is getting and he sees dollar signs that go along with his arrogance that he could easily beat any of the women's league. So, he goes on a public attack, challenging King to a grudge match, daring her to take him on. 

She refuses, but changes her mind when Margaret Court, also in the league, accepts the challenge and loses in what became known as "The Mother's Day Massacre." King decides to take him, seeing as how she must now defend women's tennis in the eyes of the ticket-buying public. King is used to being in the public eye, but the intense scrutiny that the Riggs dare focuses on her is something she isn't quite prepared for. And there's another complication—the married King has begun an affair with a hairdresser, Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough), who travels with the tour. The intense scrutiny of an out-of-wedlock affair, let alone a lesbian affair)

This part of the story has never been told (and it's the reason Faris and Dayton wanted to make the movie) and sheds a light on the tenor of the times, the stakes at risk, and how easily a capriciously started challenge can turn deadly serious. Barnett's presence is hushed up, hidden, and fairly buried lest it cast an easily-target on women's tennis, women's roles, and feminism, already being given a pretty good beating in the public maelstrom around the event. The interesting thing is that Barnett, and the pressures she was under, are given a very sympathetic eye in the film, despite the fact that Barnett sued King for palimony in 1981, effectively "outing" the tennis star in a very public way. But, the affair is given a romantic edge and there's not a hint of animosity in the way Barnett is portrayed. That is both charitable and practical, because the true focus on the film should be the prejudices across all courts that women faced then and face now.
Mistress and Husband meet cute in an elevator before realizing that they have a loved one in common.
One should mention that the film does a fine job of presenting all these quandaries and challenges without getting more preachy than the evidence already suggests—they stick very close to events as they actually happened, and given the media coverage there is more than enough evidence to vouch for its authenticity. Some of the effects work to achieve it is amazing—they really have Howard Cosell with his arm around the woman playing Rosie Casals? And they do a great job of combining archival footage with match recreations that don't skimp on the dramatics on the court.

It's amazing what causes change, even a bit of one. Riggs, and his outlandish braggadocio, and hustling piggishness put out in relief that women's tennis...and women's careers...was never being played on a level court, but one always slanting uphill. His sideshow chauvinism only brought out in relief the unstated, but very real inequity that was part of the system—it just wasn't highlighted in klieg-lights for all to see. It was kept in the boardroom shadows, without even the grace to feel shame, like an illicit affair might. Grace is what ultimately wins out in Battle of the Sexes, with a victory fare more lasting than a number in a records book.

Sports is a distraction—our current Society''s version of the Roman concept of "Bread and Circuses," the means by which the Romans kept the populace from the concentrating on the deficiencies of the elite in charge "through diversion, distraction, or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace." Keep the masses entertained and they won't notice that things aren't so good as they think. But, every so often, sports will serve as a catalyst for change. We saw it in the desegregation of baseball, the installation of Title IX, and the current "controversy" of "taking a knee" during the National Anthem—as blatant an example of the bread and circuses form of obfuscation. The "Battle of the Sexes," while ultimately being a sideshow, did bring light to the disparity of pay-offs to players of different sexes, and, by reflection, the wage-gap prevalent in the broader work-places. In that way, by shining a light on old prejudices and the status quo, such "distractions" can become genuine "game-changers" sparking advancement and keeping the flame of equality alive...or at least visible in the distance.

* The writer is Simon Beaufoy, who did a few scripts for Danny Boyle (including Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours) who produced this—but didn't direct as his sequel to Trainspotting became viable. Beaufoy also wrote The Full Monty, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Ruby Sparks

Hearts and Minds
"The Situation is Crazy.  I Am Not."

Stephen King will see this one and slap his forehead for an opportunity missed for a seven hundred page novel. I've known enough authors of fiction that have mentioned a scary thing: they'll start writing, fleshing out the skeleton of an idea, the characters take shape, become three-dimensional, and then suddenly, they live. In fact (and fiction), they become so alive they'll start doing things and going in directions that the author never intended or had even planned for. The figments of the author's imagination take on a life of their own, rebel and...rather than the author changing them, they change the author, or at least his intentions for them.

Eerie. And the basis for Ruby Sparks, the latest film from Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the folks who directed Little Miss Sunshine.  That film I wasn't too crazy about, as it seemed to scream "Indie Sensibilities" from every tortured writerly "quirk" that was tossed in. Ruby Sparks, however, is different—a nicely buttoned-up movie that reverberates with all sorts of echoes that ripple through the film and cross over in a concentric series of folded back references, self- and otherwise. 

Author Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) is struggling with a follow-up novel after an initial success—struggling for 10 years, in fact. His shrink (Elliott Gould) gives him an assignment to take the pressure off, and Calvin is inspired, writing about an idealized, neurotic woman named Ruby Sparks. But, he's not just inspired, he's energized, so much so he can't wait to get back to his typewriter (it's this old piece of technology before a PC, or what was known in the Pleistocene era as a "word processor") to continue the work, spend more time with her, creating her. So much so that he starts to fear that he's falling in love with her.  His brother reads the pages and his criticism is harsh: "You haven't written a person. You've written a girl.  Geeky, messy girls are not what people want." He remains undeterred, writing all night and into the morning. Imagine his horror when he wakes up from his QWERTY keyboard, runs downstairs and finds Ruby (Zoe Kazan) in one of his shirts, eating cereal.

He freaks, naturally, much to her consternation, and then is shocked to discover that everybody can see her, too. She's just not a figment of his imagination; his imagination walks amongst us.

This is the stuff of male fantasy rom-com's. But, Ruby Sparks takes it into some dark places, ala Hitchcock, in the realms of identity, manipulation, male wish-fulfillments, and the odd idealization and expectations that love creates and blinds us to. We all create an object of affection (on both sides, sending and receiving), but whether that object has anything to do with reality depends on both parties and how much they want to compromise to achieve that...whatever it is..."more perfect union," let's say.

The script (by Kazan herself) explores some uncomfortable territory in that regard and Kazan has a knack for writing dialogue that is spot-on, but containing deep echoes that weight them further. It's one of the better rom-com/fantasy scripts to come along in awhile—at least it has a thought in its head—and the performers, while still showing an abundance of the too-eager "cutes," its not enough to keep you wondering how it all could end. Yes, the film has its moments of coy cloyingness—for example, when Ruby goes to a family dinner with Calvin's hippy-dippy step-parents (Annette Benning and Antonio Banderas), that amounts to a side-bar, and just lets us know what we already know, that Calvin is a bit of a stick-in-the-mud and a buzz-kill, and (surprise, surprise) less capable of change than his own creation, which, if he wanted to, he could correct with a new sentence, or some Liquid Paper.

It doesn't go there (and only for revelation purposes, as if it did any more, it might be a good vehicle for Adam Sandler), nor does it end "Happily Ever After" as rom-com's do (but only because they choose to). Ruby Sparks chooses another way, fully committed to not committing and finding the fine balance of compromise.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Little Miss Sunshine

Written at the time of the film's release (mostly), but the reason there's not much here is because I didn't think much of it...or about it. I have expanded it somewhat today, but not for the betterment of my opinion of it. It's here because the directing duo's Battle of the Sexes is going to be written about later in the week.

Little Miss Sunshine (Valerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton, 2006) "Oh my God, I'm being pulled over! Everybody just pretend to be normal!" That's it, right there, summing it up in a nutshell...or a beat-up Volkswagon micro-bus designed for road-trippiness. 

Little Miss Sunshine fulfills all the traditions of the "indie" film (eccentric characters—. Road trip—. Pervasive streak of dark humor—), and has a terrific cast who manage to play it fairly fresh (Alan Arkin is always worth seeing—even in obscene old grampa with no filters mode—Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Paul Dano, and utility player Steve Carell, plus the "cute-as-a-button Abigail Breslin *Awww*). There is some terrifically off-hand writing which is the only reason the various outcomes of the story aren't immediately telegraphed once each character is introduced. It's a fine diversion, but one has to ask--"Best Picture nominee? Really? Really?"
Are we having fun yet?
The first line of the thing is: "There are two kinds of people in the world: winners and losers." No. Not true. There ARE two kinds of people in this world and they are 1) those who categorize people and 2) those who do not, taking people one person at a time, acknowledging their personal strengths and failings. The first kind (1) categorize because it is a handy work-tool designed to simplify one's job if they are A) lazy or B) trying to codify something that would be uncodifiable if they went by a person's individuality. The categorizers turn people into numbers, statistics, and check-boxes, designed to embrace a kind of mob-rule of behavior dictated by age, sex, race, religion, political affiliation, or anything else that you could segregate in neat, dividable terms. The fact that the speaker of that first line is a motivational speaker with very little motivation himself, and whose family does not fit into any easy categorization speaks volumes. In fact, you could end the movie there and bring up a card that reads "Dysfunction ensues."

Life is messy. Life can't be categorized. And the micro-bus of fools displayed are people in transition without a clear understanding of what appears over the horizon. They are all, at least in the stage we find them, surviving (barely) on hope. And each one's hope, that drives a wedge between interaction that might solve anybody's problem. They learn that lesson. That's the movie.

The saving graces are the performances by one and all, and some arresting writing along the way. But, the only way this "feel-good" comedy can make you feel good is by knowing that "at least you're not them."

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Don't Make a Scene: Superman The Movie

Superman returns to movie screens in November ("Really? Where's he been?" Uh...Hate to tell ya, but you should have seen Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) in the new Justice League film coming out in November. Again, as with the previous film mentioned, he's relegated to supporting statusWell, that's fine, at least we won't have to see Krypton explode again...hopefully.*.  But my favorite Superman film is this one, because it actually supplanted my admiring childhood memories of the TV "Superman" with George a singular Reeve who would become equally beloved in the role.

The Story: When I first saw Superman (The Movie) when it opened in 1978, I had a real problem with its tonal changes whenever it moved location. On the planet Krypton, everything is formal and blank-verse Shakesperean (Brando even uses his Brit-Marc Anthony accent from Julius Caesar). In Smallville, everything is as earnest as Clifford Odets-gone-rural. Then, when you get to the city of Metropolis, it feels like the "Batman" TV-series as written by Damon Runyon, a little campy, and consistently winking (a Superman staple) at the audience over the familiar tropes (phone booths, T, J & the A-way, bullet catching and Kryptonite) as they are dispensed like so many speeding bullets. 

Perhaps they had to do this, just to lighten the movie a bit. We'd already seen a planet explode and thousands of extras die in the ensuing carnage, and the melancholy Kansas scenes are capped by the death of Pa Kent (Glenn Ford, another amazing piece of casting, that, in a movie full of them). Somewhere in the process, someone, among the many layers of writers, must have said "Geez, this is depressing..." 

So, perversely, things get lightened up during the villains' plot to send twin nukes from sea to shining sea.

Where it goes right off the rails is the super-villain Lex Luthor (played by a genial Gene Hackman), portrayed as a genius, despite surrounding himself with buffoonish lackeys (those being Otis, played by Ned Beatty, and Miss Tessmacher, played by Valerie Perrine)—in an effort, perhaps, to always be "the smartest man in the room." The thing is, it works, because Hackman's precise flair for comedy never flags and he makes a great contrast to Reeve's super-straight Superman, who manages to be "the most normal guy in the room" despite wearing a circus weight-lifter's costume of blue tights and red cape. Now, that takes some credible acting chops. Ned Beatty's Otis is a total goon (with a thick East Coast accent that turns "Luthor" into "Lewtore"), but he and Hackman have an Abbott and Costello relationship that's very funny, and Beatty is never at rest, even when he's not the point of the scene. Check out this shot, where he's eyeing Superman's chest and parallel-puffing out his own:

And I can't praise Hackman enough for his comic deftness, from his inserting a song-title into the dialogue ("Call me a fool, call me irresponsible") to his absolute seriousness when he replies he gets his kicks "by causing the death of innocent people," which might be my favorite line in the film. 

Donner's Superman set up the template for every subsequent super-hero movie, particularly in the "Marvel" movie-world, in its delicate balancing act between mythic drama and comedy. The only exceptions being Graham Nolan's dark take on his Batman films. As he's the executive producer on The Man of Steel, it will be interesting to see if his more serious Superman will usurp audience expectations and fly on its own. 

I've tried to adhere to the strict script format here, and, where crucial, annotated to difference between written word and final film. Oh, and you'll also notice that the anchor in the relay of writers, Tom Mankiewicz, occasionally typo's Superman's name (Supepman, Supeman). I kept those in. Because, real.

The Set-Up: Rocketed to Earth from the doomed planet Krypton, the baby Kal-El was found and raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent in Smallville, Kansas. Now an adult, Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve) fights for truth, justice and the American way as "Superman" (which he's doing here).

The inevitable confrontation takes place, as Lex Luthor (Hackman) surmises that Superman's unexpected presence comes at precisely the right time to prevent his elaborate real estate scheme from reaching fruition. Plans in place, he decides to bring the battle to himself, by sending a hyper-sonic signal to The Man of Steel boasting of a poisonous gas threat to Metropolis. It doesn't take long for Superman to find him in his villains' lair in an abandoned Metropolis subway station.

Action! (comics #1, June, 1938)  

Deletions are crossed out. Additions are in Kryptonite-Green. 

8/4/77 TM 233 INT. LUTHOR'S LAIR - DAY

OTIS I think he's coming, Mr. Luthor...

LUTHOR sits behind his desk, a model of smug composure, calmly reading the newspaper with the headlines and picture announcing the dual missile test. A large, blank screen has been lowered on one wall next to him. In front of the screen, a black lead trunk forms the base or something which has been converted into a bench, covered with cushions. Some distance away, OTIS finishes setting up a slide projector.
EVE watches nervously from the open entrance to the viewing theater. 

The heavy metal main door to the complex suddenly starts to tremble under SUPERMAN 'S strength. 

LUTHOR looks up from his paper, calls out. 

LUTHOR It's open...

OTIS He's definitely coming, Mr. Luthor...

SUPERMAN bashes the thick metal door to the ground like a stick of balsa wood, enters. LUTHOR winces, then rises pleasantly.

LUTHOR It's open... Come in, Superman. 

LUTHOR My attorney will be in touch about the door.

 LUTHOR Otis, don't just stand there, take the man's cape...

OTIS starts forward with a tentative half-smile, suddenly rooted to the spot by SUPERMAN'S stare.

OTIS I... don't think he wants me to, Mr. Luthor.

SUPERMAN All right, Luthor, where's the gas pellet?

LUTHOR (smiles) Somewhere ... 

LUTHOR ... in the back of my mind, actually. 

 LUTHOR It's just a fun little project I've been toying with.

SUPERMAN Is that how a warped brain like yours gets its kicks? By planning the death of innocent people?

LUTHOR(quick smile) No. By causing the death of innocent people.


SUPERMAN has tolerantly taken a seat on the cushioned bench of lead. LUTHOR holds a professor's pointer in his hands, approaches the rolled-down blank screen. OTIS mans the slide projector. LUTHOR stops, turns dramatically to SUPERMAN. 
LUTHOR You see, Superman... (passionately) I had a dream! ... SUPERMAN In your case it must have been a nightmare, Luthor. Get on with it!

LUTHOR Right. Well ... Now, as you may or may not know, Superman, I am, as they say, very heavy into real estate. In order to make money in that game you have to buy in for a little and sell for a lot. Right? Right. So. Problem: how to make that property valuable between the time you buy and the time you sell. Now then... 

LUTHOR snaps his fingers. OTIS flips on the slide projector. A brightly illuminated map hits the rolled-down screen. LUTHOR starts to speak, then looks at it curiously. LUTHOR Otis. This is France. OTIS Sorry, Mr. Luthor. OTIS flips up another slide. This time it is recognizable as the western half of America. LUTHOR points.

LUTHOR And this - is California. The richest, most populace state in America. 
SUPERMAN I don't need a geography lesson from you, Luthor.

LUTHOR Sorry. You do get around, don't you.
(turns back)
LUTHOR Now then. Where was I? Ah, yes...

235A CLOSER ON MAP CAMERA CLOSES on map. LUTHOR begins tracking the San Andreas Fault with the pointer.

LUTHOR At the San Andreas Fault. Maybe you've heard of 1t. 
SUPERMAN Sure. It's the joining together of two land masses. The fault line is unstable and shifting...

SUPERMAN ...which is why you get earthquakes in California from time to time.

LUTHOR Wonderful. Couldn't have said it better myself. (back to map)

LUTHOR Now all this...(indicates)...west of the Fault is the most expensive real estate in the world. Los Angeles. San Diego. San Francisco. 

LUTHOR And on the other side... (indicates)

LUTHOR just hundreds of miles of cheap worthless desert land. 

LUTHOR Land that happens to be owned by...(whips Otis with his pointer)

OTIS Uh..Lex Luthor Enterprises.

LUTHOR Well...(wistful smile) call me a fool, call me irresponsible...but it did occur to me that if a 500 megaton bomb were to explode

LUTHOR exactly the proper stress point....

SUPERMAN (horrified) Most of California would be destroyed!

SUPERMAN Millions of people would be killed!

SUPERMAN The West Coast as we know it would... 
LUTHOR...drop into the Sea! Bye-bye California! 

LUTHOR Hello new West Coast! My... West Coast.

LUTHOR Casa del Lex. Luthorville. Marina Del Lex...

LUTHOR Otisburg.

LUTHOR "Otisburg?"
OTIS It's just a little place, Miss Tessmacher has...

LUTHOR "Otis-burg?"

OTIS I'll just wipe it off right now...

SUPERMAN You are a dreamer, Luthor.

SUPERMAN A sick-twisted dreamer. It couldn't possibly work.

LUTHOR Oh, I'll admit there were problems. Adjusting...

LUTHOR ...the missile trajectory, finding the precise point of optimum...

LUTHOR ...stress on the Fault... 

LUTHOR smiles broadly, snaps his finger. 235B CLOSE ON SCREEN A new, close section of the map is suddenly magnified hundreds of times. It is recognizable as desert land. Literally dozens or superimposed grid lines converge on a single point in the middle of the desolate wasteland. LUTHOR'S pointer rises to it.

LUTHOR'S VOICE (tone chancing) Which, by the way, is right... (touches it).

LUTHOR Target Zero.

OTIS Oooo!

238 INT. LUTHOR'S LAIR - DAY The screen becomes blank again. LUTHOR turns.
LUTHOR Check the viewing room, Otis... (turns back) Well, Superman Supes'-baby? What do you think? Interesting?
SUPERMAN Your theory's quite impressive, Luthor.

LUTHOR Otis...Check the viewing room, (turns back)

SUPERMAN But as for the rest - it's nothing but a sick fantasy.

LUTHOR (thin smile) Fantasy?...(exploding) History!! It's happened, Superman!


SUPERMAN rises quickly, eyes widening, as LUTHOR wheels maniacally to EVE standing in the doorway to the viewing room.

EVE Yes, Lex?
LUTHOR Where's that rocket...

EVE(glances back) Passing the Grand Canyon, Lex. Going like a bat. So's the other one.

SUPERMAN (in disbelief) The other one! There's two of them?

LUTHOR That's right, Superman. Double jeopardy! And even you can't fly fast enough to stop both of them! (sly grin) 
LUTHOR While I, on the other hand would merely have to press my detonating device and ...

SUPERMAN leaps at LUTHOR, grabs him by the neck.

SUPERMAN Where is it, Luthor! Where's that detonator?

SUPERMAN scans the room with his X-Ray vision,

...suddenly stops as he sees the lead Trunk he's been sitting on.

SUPERMAN You diseased maniac! Did you really think you could hide it from me by encasing it in lead?

SUPERMAN drops LUTHOR in a pile on the floor. He crosses quickly to the trunk, tosses the cushions aside.

SUPERMAN(ripping it open) I'll mold this box into your prison bars, you...

LUTHOR Don't touch that!

SUPERMAN stops suddenly, recoils, stunned, a dim green light ref1ecting of his face. 


The green Kryptonite rock glows inside the box. It is linked on both sides by a chain. 


SUPERMAN is instantly immobilized, his strength waning, his knees getting wobbly. 

SUPERMAN That rock... I can-t... my strength..

LUTHOR Told ya...

LUTHOR advances, bursting with glee.

LUTHOR It's Kryptonite Superman! 

LUTHOR A little souvenir from the ol' home town! 

LUTHOR You see I've spared no expense...

LUTHOR making you feel right at home here!

LUTHOR pulls the rock out of the box by the chain, dangles it in front of him. SUPERMAN desperately tries to raise his arm to shield himself from the rays. SUPERMAN Away... please... take it... LUTHOR loops the chain around SUPERMAN'S neck, pulls the staggering, helpless Man of Steel after him like a dog on a leash.

LUTHOR You were great in your day, Superman. 

LUTHOR But it just stands to reason...

LUTHOR When the time came to cash in your chips,

LUTHOR ...Lex Luthor was just naturally ...this "old, diseased maniac"...

LUTHOR ...would be your banker!  

LUTHOR Mind... 
LUTHOR stops, puts his two 1itte fingers on each of SUPERMAN'S shoulders, pushes him down to his knees. 
LUTHOR ...over muscle ...

LUTHOR checks his watch, looks down at the pitiful hulk below him, the life ebbing from SUPERMAN.
LUTHOR I'm afraid I have to leave you now. Nothing personal, you understand. We all have our faults. It's just that mine is in Ca1ifornia.
LUTHOR turns toward the viewing theater. SUPERMAN looks up at him, gasping for breath.

SUPERMAN You don't . . . even care. . .

SUPERMAN ...where the other missile . . . is headed, do you ..

LUTHOR On the contrary. I figured it out instantly. Hackensack, New Jersey.

LUTHOR kicks out contemptuously with his foot, pushes SUPERMAN over the crumbled railing bordering the office portion of his complex.


SUPERMAN'S lifeless body splashes helplessly down into the pool below.

LUTHOR I'm afraid I have to leave you now. Nothing personal, you understand. We all have our faults.

LUTHOR It's just that Mine is in Ca1ifornia.


LUTHOR crosses to the viewing theater where EVE stands at the entrance, stunned. LUTHOR (entering) Hurry, Miss Teschmacher . . .

EVE (stopping him) But Lex.... LUTHOR (impatient) What?

EVE My... mother lives in Hackensack. LUTHOR (pause) Your mother used to live in Hackensack.

LUTHOR looks at his watch, pauses and slowly shakes his head.

Superman the Movie

Words by Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman, Robert Benton and Tom Mankiewicz (Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster)

Pictures by Geoffrey Unsworth and Richard Donner

Superman the Movie is available on DVD from Warner Home Video (by special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family).

 * Krypton explodes...again? It's exploded so many times that doubting council of Kryptonian elders is going to actually believe it one of these times ("Krypton will explode? Yes, Jor-El that's a very common occurrence. We'll do a planet-wide evacuation IMMEDIATELY! (By the way, Jor', where's your dog?)"