Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975)


Famed American adventurer Doc Savage, played by Ron Ely (TV’s Tarzan), and his team travel to South America to investigate the mysterious death of Doc’s father.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“Have no fear! Doc Savage is here!”

This is an adaptation of the 1930s pulp hero created by Henry W. Ralston and John L. Nanovic. Comic-book legend Stan Lee (Spider-Man, The Hulk, Doctor Strange, etc.) has publicly acknowledged Doc Savage as one of his main influences. It’s also obvious that the character is one of the main inspirations behind the Indiana Jones movies.

Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze is a superhero movie in the vein of Walt Disney’s goofy Condorman. The film also has elements of both Warren Beatty’s tongue-in-cheek Dick Tracy and Roger Vadim’s zippy cult classic Barbarella. Unfortunately, Doc Savage just doesn’t really work — it’s disjointed and silly.

It pains me to say this, but Doc Savage is a total fiasco. And this is coming from someone who tends to enjoy campy adventures. I was rooting for the movie, but there is hardly anything to recommend here. It’s cheesy and boring when it should have been fanciful and entertaining. The plethora of bad jokes literally made me cringe.

Produced by filmmaker George Pal (this is his last production), Doc Savage also looks dirt-cheap and dated. Sets and costumes are below average. The visual effects, producer Pal’s specialty, don’t meet the higher standards set by Pal’s The War of the Worlds, Tom Thumb, The Time Machine and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao.

The tall and husky Ron Ely looks the part, but he has trouble getting into the silly mood of the movie. It’s hard to know if Ely lacks good comic timing or if he is simply unable to overcome Pal’s and Joe Morheim’s terribly unfunny script, and/or Michael Anderson’s (Around the World in 80 Days) laden direction. The cast also includes Paul Gleason Fort (Apache the Bronx) and Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes).

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

A film like Mike Hodges’s Flash Gordon is a much better example of what this movie was trying to do. Doc Savage fails miserably in all important areas. Talks about a remake have persisted over the years. Last time I checked, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had been tapped to star in a remake — Doc Savage is a great character who deserves another try. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Color, 112 minutes, Rated G.

2 responses to “Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975)

  1. Yeah, DOC SAVAGE is a disappointing movie. Especially for a fan such as I who discovered Doc Savage during the Great Pulp Boom of the late 1970s when Bantam re-introduced Doc Savage with those astonishing James Bama covers.

    I think that Ron Ely’s performance doesn’t fit the movie because he was playing it straight. The only two actors in the movie who I felt read the books were Ely and Paul Gleason who played Long Tom. I’ve heard/read that George Pal didn’t want the movie to be as campy as he was but at this stage of life he was ill and didn’t have the stamina or energy to fight with the studio.

    And yeah, last I heard Shane Black was going to write and direct a Doc Savage movie more faithful to the source material with Dwayne Johnson as Doc. But Johnson’s schedule is so full of movies he’s committed to doing I don’t see how he can fit Doc Savage into his crowded dance card. He’s got the three “Fast & Furious” movies to do. The spin-off movie featuring him and Jason Statham, sequels to “San Andreas” “Central Intelligence” and “Jumani” as well as his HBO series “Ballers.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the info! I didn’t know Pal was sick during the making of the movie. That makes perfect sense. Anyhow, I’m fond of Ely because of his Tarzan TV series, which was a childhood favorite, and I was disappointed to see him struggle. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

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