Cut Rate Superman (Superman III, 1983)
Superman three came three years after Superman II, riding high on it’s success, but behind the scenes things looked bleak. There was a divide between some of the cast and the Salkinds over how they had treated Richard Donner. Kidder was not really feeling up to participating. To address this, Perry sends her off to the tropics, while sending Clark to do a story in Smallville at his High School Reunion.
Rally, this seems like a plausible idea. There is a rich cast of characters to draw from. And they draw from Clark’s past with introducing Lana Lang, played by Annette O’Toole (who was later brought on Smallville to play Martha Kent). O’Toole makes a fetching Lana Lang.
The other big addition to the cast was computer genius Gus Gorman. Played by comedy legend Richard Pryor, he gets a lot of blame from folks for this film. He plays his traditional nervous twitchy type of character. Except, I have a hard time pinning this on Pryor. Richard joked to Johnny Carson about wanting to be in a Superman movie. He felt the script was terrible…but the five million dollar paycheck was to good to pass up. Gorman is a computer super-genius who starts working for Ross Webster’s company. He writes a program that pays him fractions of cents that the company loses daily due to mathematical rounding up of numbers. He makes millions and is brought to the attention of Webster (played by Robert Vaughn). Webster and his sister Vera are schemers and want to take over the world. Ross also has his own Miss Tessmacher, Lorelei (Pamela Stephenson). Her primary purpose is some impressive cleavage. They use Gus to create a supercomputer and also work to get Superman out of the way. They manufacture Krytonite and use tar in place of an ingredient they cannot fine. The result is that Superman goes dark. He starts causing damage, being means, getting drunk. And then he fights Clark Kent in a junk yard. This is without a doubt the high point of the entire film.
Webster is like a second hand version of Lex Luthor, and the character has for less weight. You can see the giant hole left by not having Lex Luthor or a larger scale villain (such as Braniac, one character they thought about using in Superman III).
The smaller character moments are okay, like when Clark sees Lana’s son being bullied in a bowling alley and sneezes to shoot her son’s bowling ball into the pins. But for the most part, the film falls flat. It is not a very good film and Reeve swore off the role of Superman.