Not too long ago I decided to take a look back at 1994’s The Shadow to see if it was as bad as I remembered it being. You can find that article here. That led to my deciding to take another look back, this time at the 1975 George Pal produced, Michael Anderson directed, movie adaptation one of the other great pulp heroes, Doc Savage, which also has a pretty bad reputation, and for good reason.
I really don’t blame Pal or Anderson, were acting under studio orders. At the time, the feeling in Hollywood was that no one would take a serious movie about a character like Doc Savage ummm… seriously. Instead, they insisted that the movie follow in the footprint of the 60s Batman TV show and movie and go straight for the camp.
Unlike the studio, however, it seems that audiences had moved on in the time between the demise of the Batman series and the release of Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, so not only were fans of the original pulp stories (which were, at the time being reprinted in paperback form by Bantam books) offended by the treatment afforded a beloved character, but the general audience, who they were trying to bring in with this movie either had no interest or were turned off by the word of mouth about how bad it was. Either way, the movie was panned by audiences and critics alike.
Anyway, as I was looking for a copy of the movie for re-viewing and then reviewing, I ran across this fanedit of the movie created by an obviously quite dedicated fan of the character known (as far as I can tell) only by his online handle of “Slark”.
For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of a “fanedit”, well, the definition is basically there in the name. Generally it’s the unauthorized effort by a certain fan or fans of a movie or character to take an already made movie that they feel has somehow failed and re=edit it into something they feel is more in like with what the movie should have been. Sometimes this is done simply by taking the type of extra footage that is often found as DVD extras and reinserting them into the appropriate place in the movie, or sometimes, as is the case with Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze Detarnished, it’s a complete beginning to end rework of the movie.
Obviously, since these works are unauthorized, and therefore the creators of them can’t make money from them. they are truly a work of love for the material, and that is extremely obvious with DS:TMoBD. I can’t imagin how long it took for Slark to re-edit this film, but what I can do is tell you that the results of this love show through in a very concrete way.
Of course, since all he had to work with was the pre-existing material, there was only so much that could be done, but within that framework, Slark has achieved something of a minor miracle, taking a movie that was pretty much a misfire from the very start and turning it into something that is much closer to the true action-adventure flick that fans of the Doc would have preferred to see and that the character deserves.
I’m not going to go into most of the changes that have been made here in order to bring that about (there’s actually a secondary subtitle track included that goes into most of that), but I am going to highlight the most obvious and most important change, because it will give you a really good idea of just how much, and how much for the better, this movie has been changed.
First, let’s take a look at the opening to the original version of the movie:
Yeah, it’s like that.
Now lets take a look at how Slark decided to open his version of the film with a newsreel-style feature which not only incorporates part of the original opening, but also gives you pretty much everything you need to know background-wise about Doc and his crew by taking small flashes from later in the movie and bringing them forward. This move also allows him to eliminate a lot of the cringe-inducing dialog from the Pal produced film:
I’ll leave it to you to decide for yourself which movie you want to continue watching, but I know where I would go.
Now, I recognize that there will be purists out there who will decry this type of fanedit simply on general principle, and I completely understand those objections, and in other circumstances, I might be part of that chorus. But the good thing about a project like this is that it doesn’t in any way take away the original version. For those who love that one, it is still there for you to watch at any time. All this does is provide an alternative which I think in a lot of ways is actually a better showcase for the character and shows what could be done with him.
And since all of this started with a call for Nettflix or some other outlet to consider creating new adaptations of these pulp characters, and since I’d like to see them taken seriously if that were to happen, I know which version I’d like anyone considering such a project to be looking toward for an example of how to treat the character.
As far as where you can get a copy of this edit, well, all I can say is you’ll have to do a bit of looking around, but this would be a good place to start. Meanwhile, the original version of the movie is available at Amazon through the Warner Archives Collection.