TV Cream

Films: S is for...

Superman III

Awful, Hackman-less, camp third instalment which never lived up to the Shreddies 3-D game cards that preceded it. Richard Pryor unwisely takes on the mantle of awkward computer genius coerced into oil tanker-emptying, missile-hijacking villainry by Robert Vaughan and his annoying sister, Annie ‘Jimmy Logan’s sister’ Ross. Small joy provided by a sizeable spot-’em, jot-’em British supporting cast – Pamela ‘I’m eating one of my teeth here’ Stephenson, Graham ‘And then this fireman comes along with an even bigger crane…’ Stark, Henry ‘Table-tapping weekend in Bognor’ Woolf, Gordon Rollings (complete with Arkwright flat cap), Bob Todd (not in a dress), unremembered music and mime act Justin Case, Sandra ‘I’ll be home in twenty minutes’ Dickinson and John ‘what are we going to do now?’ Bluthal. Superman IV: Shopping As It Should Be will be billed over our dead bodies.



  1. An Overaged Jimmy Olsen

    November 30, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    How can you list a one of a kind cast like that and say this is not worth watching? OK, the fourth one was rubbish, but part III is underrated too often. People always complain there was too much comedy, but what’s wrong with that? Christopher Reeve is terrific in the comedy scenes.

    Besides, there’s two great serious bits, one where Superman and Clark Kent fight each other in the junkyard, and the other where Jimmy Logan’s sister gets turned into a robot, which gave a generation of kids nightmares when sprung on them unawares on bank holiday afternoon TV.

    • TV Cream

      December 1, 2009 at 9:46 am

      It’s because the cast is so great that it gets marked down, in our eyes, for not being ten times the film it was. You’ve got John Bluthal in the house and the best you can do with him is a stock “overly passionate comedy Italian peddler” character? Can do better!

      Having said that, we’ll doubtless be settling down in front of its inevitable appearance in the Christmas schedules regardless.

  2. goodpudding

    November 30, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    Bit like computers are great and the future… Its like someone dropped ball on this one, plus the scary robot lady… Now that gives me shivers everytime!

  3. goodpudding

    December 1, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Ooh, ooh! Don’t forget a bit of business from Larry ‘Triangle’ Lamb at the end when asked by Superman if his boss has got a computer Gus Gorman work with… He says “A little, ity, bitty one!” Its like Kate O’Mara never happened!

  4. An Overaged Jimmy Olsen

    December 1, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    OK, George Chisholm doesn’t get to play his trombone, but the fact that he and those others were seen around the world in a Superman movie is good enough for me. Go on, TVC, give it another chance this Christmas and forget that everybody else goes on about Richard Pryor in this all the time (he’s better here than in The Toy, anyway, or those terrible eighties comedies that were beneath his talent) as if that were the only point of interest. There’s good stuff here, honest!

  5. Richard16378

    September 1, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    At one time the “Making Of” documentry seemed to be on TV as often as the main feature.

    Like the 2nd film lots of product placement on show.

  6. Superman III is ace

    July 20, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Awful? Absolutely brilliant, you mean. Come on, bad Superman drinking and warping a mirror alone places it in the top tier of superhero films but you get a terrific scrapyard scrap and a traumatising robo-conversion scene thrown in too, plus lots of other goodies. The often criticised slapstick at the beginning absolutely delighted the summer audience I was in at the Holloway Odeon. It might not be quite up there with The Movie and II but it’s a magnitude more entertaining than The Dark Knight.

  7. Glenn Aylett

    January 24, 2021 at 11:15 am

    Not quite up there with the first two films and let down by no Gene Hackman and very little of Margot Kidder, but still good and nice to see Clark Kent/ Superman going back to Smallville after 20 years. Also the good Superman/bad Superman doppelganger was a clever piece of writing as for a time, audiences were wondering why Superman was drinking, ignoring people in trouble and causing mayhem.

  8. Sidney Balmoral James

    January 24, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    I think this is an undervalued gem, which does quite well balancing Pryor’s contribution (which could have been contrived but works) with some quite frightening bits – the bit with the combine harvesters, the fight between good and bad Superman, and yes, the bit when Annie Ross gets turned into a robot. Pamela Stephenson and Annie Ross are both excellent in this as well. The main flaw is the very obvious side-lining of Margot Kidder, who I think had been unhappy when the producers replaced Richard Donner with Dick Lester during production of Superman II and made her views clear. These films as a whole (well, not the fourth one, which is typical of the shoddy Cannon product of this era), don’t seem to inspire the same nostalgia or affection as say, the Star Wars films, but they are just good.

  9. Richardpd

    January 24, 2021 at 2:36 pm

    Not as good as the first 2 Reeve films, but still enjoyable with the slapstick balancing out the action sequences.

    Supposedly the computer graphics needed to be pixelated as they looked too realistic!

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