In part 2 of our Superhero fest, we follow Superman IV with another flop from the Supes franchise, 1984's Supergirl, starring Helen Slater of The Legend of Billie Jean fame. How offensive will Jackie's third 1980's teen girl movie be? Can it stand up to the horrible morals established in Teen Witch? Will it have as much creepy sexual misguidance as Tomboy? We're two for two in this genre so hopefully Supergirl will uphold the tradition.
As mentioned in last week’s SBBS, or as I refer to it in private; the astute observations of a handsome genius, this was the final cannonball that sunk the dubious Salkind Superman franchise. After the dreadful Superman 3 the Salkinds felt they could revive the series by doing a spinoff with Supergirl. At this point Richard Lester has once again had it with the Salkinds. The directorial search ended with French director Jeannot Szwarc, a veteran of American Television. He had previously directed Christopher Reeves in Somewhere in Time. His Hollywood commercial viability was dropping as the aforementioned Somewhere in Time had under-performed and his follow up, Enigma with Martin Sheen was a full flop. The Salkinds, who were probably out of options, took him on the recommendation of Reeves, who would subsequently bail on his cameo in this film. The script was provided by David O’Dell who, with his next film would provide Stinker Madness with it’s first episode: Masters of the Universe. Odell also wrote the script for the visual masterpiece, The Dark Crystal. Those who have paid close attention to the dialogue and the story of The Dark Crystal have determined that it makes as much sense as a screen door on a submarine. Money was apparently no object as Dolly Parton would turn down 7 million to play the witch. The opening credits reportedly cost $1 million.
As to the troubled nature of this film, it remains the only DC movie not released by Warner, ever. Warner finished the movie but opted to scrap it, Tristar would offer them enough to distribute the movie. One of Tristar’s strategies on recouping the initial investment on purchasing the distribution rights was to go direct to video in markets outside the US. At one point a container that was only labeled “do not use” was found in the vault of Pinewood Studios. Inside that container was the director’s cut of Supergirl, with a total running time of 138 minutes. There was reportedly an hour cut from the “do not use” version. Oddly the “do not use” version would be one of the more successful versions as Anchor Bay did a limited edition of 50,000 copies which apparently sold.
Originally Brooke Shields was the preferred choice to play Supergirl but director Szwarc and Ilya would trump Alexander Salkind and cast Helen Slater, of the Legend of Billie Jean fame. Shields wouldn’t need this movie to make her career mediocre, she did that on her own, even with Suddenly Susan, which constantly sucked. Slater apparently was made of tougher stuff. She kicked around pretty good with roles in the Abrams/Zucker Ruthless People, The Secret of My Success and City Slickers. At one point the Sci-fi Chanel tried to package a series around her with the atmospheric Riverworld. I was only able to make it through the first half of the pilot before conceding defeat to boredom.
Peter O’Toole and Fay Dunaway were coaxed into roles, so were Mia Farrow and Brenda Vaccaro. Beyond them…
KAEOF: Marc McClure as Jimmy Olsen, the only actor to be in all 5 of these disasters. More importantly keep an eye out for bad special effects. One notable would be when they just use a cutout for Supergirl flying.