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Film / Doc Savage

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Who's the Hero of the Age?
-Doc Savage!
-Doc Savage!

Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze is a 1975 film based on the 1930s and 1940s Doc Savage pulp fiction series created by writer Lester Dent, editor John L. Nanovic and publisher Henry W. Ralston of Street & Smith Publications. See the IMBD entry) for serious details.

Doc Savage (played by Ron Ely of Tarzan fame, supported by a cast of relatively obscure character actors and the rather pneumatic Pamela Hensley) is a polymath: he's a physician, surgeon, scientist, adventurer, inventor, explorer, and researcher, trained from birth to have near superhuman strength and abilities. He has a "gang" of five associates (AKA the "Fabulous Five"), all of whom are utterly brilliant in their respective fields, from chemistry to engineering. They all served together in The Great War, rather like Biggles and his companions, if Biggles' crew had gone on to become science heroes after the war.


The film is distinctly camp and definitely does not take itself too seriously - just as well as the story tends to telegraph exactly what comes next. It was created primarily to cash in on a resurgence in Doc's popularity that resulted from Dell republishing the series in paperback form in the late sixties and early seventies . (The poster is a Shout-Out to the Dell version's iconic James Bama "ripped shirt" covers.) Still, it's a reasonably enjoyable romp.


Long to short, Doc returns to his New York office from his Arctic Fortress of Solitude (which predated Superman's by more than two decades) having felt that something was wrong. It transpires that his father has died, leaving him a package of papers and tantalizing hints about the existence of a fabulous lost civilization high in the Andes.


Just as Doc is about to go through his father's papers, someone tries to kill him. Clearly, the assassin fails. Just as clearly, Doc must be on to something — otherwise, why try to stop him? So Doc gathers his confederates and they depart for an adventure in South America. Unsurprisingly, there follows the obligatory hunt for truth, justice and oodles of treasure, and the good guys prevail.

The film contains examples of these trope:

  • Ace Pilot: All five of Doc's Associates are excellent pilots but Doc is better than any of them. (As well he should be, considering he designed and built all of their airplanes himself.)
  • Anachronism Stew: Played with. Since Doc is a 1930's Science Hero, his "futuristic" gadgets just happen to resemble 1970's helicopters and snowmobiles. (The obvious contrails in the "Andes" scenes are fairly amusing.)
  • Animal Companion: Monk's pig, which Ham finds rather annoying.
  • Bullet Dodge: Cool cucumber that he is, Doc dodges an assassin's bullet just by turning sideways.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Doc. His training regime takes two hours every day and trains not only his muscles but also every sense. He's been doing since he was a child.
  • Credits Gag: Every time John Philip Sousa's name appears in the credits the "USA" in Sousa are printed in red, white, and blue.
  • Deadly Rotary Fan: Doc uses an electric fan to drive off the animated snake thingies.
  • Death by Materialism: Don Rubio Gorro, in the middle of a hidden valley where a lake of molten gold is erupting, dances in glee, trying to catch the superheated metal in his pockets. Amazingly, he does not die from this, or even get burned as liquid gold splatters across him. However, when the hero and his allies leave the cave they took shelter in, they find him nothing but a statue, completely encased in gold.
  • Evil Laugh: Captain Seas, with his sycophantic guests all joining in.
  • Eagleland: Unashamedly Flavor 1
  • Faking the Dead: The heroes are apparently shot down by a pilot hired by Captain Seas. Turns out that plane was remote-controlled.
  • Genius Bruiser: All of them except Johnny, and while he's "frail" compared to the rest of them, just look at the rest of them. He's still no slouch in the fighting department.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Doc tells Mona that despite being so campy, he's actually avoiding her because of this trope.
  • Layman's Terms
    "Invidiously obstructed!"
    "This one's locked too!"
  • Lotus Position: Doc in a loincloth (in arctic temperatures) picks up the thought waves of his companions in New York who've just got the news his father has died.
  • Loves Only Gold: Captain Seas murders Doc Savage's father in order to gain control of land in the Republic of Hidalgo, so he can mine its rich deposit of gold. However, he wants to control the gold flow to make money, as opposed to being interested in the gold for its own sake. On the other hand, Seas' ally in his endeavor is the even greedier Corrupt Bureaucrat Don Rubio Gorro. Gorro is so obsessed with gold that when dynamite is thrown into a lake of molten gold during the final battle results in an explosion sending the liquid metal into the air, Gorro rushes out to try and catch the raining droplets in his bare hands, and ends up dying be being covered in the liquid gold, which hardens, turning him into a gold "statue."
  • Manchild: Don Rubio is seen using an over-sized baby cot as a bed.
  • Mundane Utility: Doc is shown building a small rocket, an invention that one day may be useful to mankind! Or, as it turns out, to help him fish.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine
    Seas: Anyway I'm glad you enjoyed your dinner...because it's going to be your last.
  • Paid Harem: Captain Seas is accompanied by two paramours, Adriana and Karen. This turns into a Brick Joke when he undergoes Brainwashing for the Greater Good and is seen at the end of The Movie working as a Salvation Army bandleader, with the two girls looking rather bored while holding collection plates and singing along.
  • To the Tune of: The main title theme is a paean to Doc Savage sung to the tune of John Philip Sousa's ''The Thunderer''.
    Have no Fear, the Man of Bronze is here.
    Peace will come to all who find
    Doc Savage, Doc Savage.
    He's a friend to all Mankind.
    Pure of heart and mind!
    Who will make crime disappear?
    Doc Savage, Doc Savage
    Part hero and pioneer.
    Thank the Lord he's here!


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