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After years of pandemic-driven disruption, the 44th annual Metropolis, Illinois Superman Celebration returned to its traditional calendar slot this weekend. The highlight of this year's event was last night, when Smallville Superman (Tom Welling) and Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) reunited to re-enact scenes from their television show on stage.

As it happens, the 2022 Celebration is marking the 50th anniversary of Metropolis being the "Home of Superman," a title they gave themselves. While 1972 was inarguably a significant milestone for Metropolis in several aspects, not the least of which is the agreement with National Periodicals to license Superman's name and likeness, many websites, including Wikipedia, mark the start of Metropolis' official relationship to Superman with the June 9, 1972, passage of State of Illinois General Assembly House Resolution 572, which reads:

Whereas, Metropolis is, as everyone knows, the base of operations of SUPERMAN, the Man of Steel, battler for Truth, Justice, and the American Way; leaper of tall buildings in single bounds; overpowerer of powerful locomotives; outspeeder of speeding bullets; changer of the course of might rivers; and performer of other important functions of not inconsiderable civic utility; and

Whereas, the civic leaders of Metropolis, Illinois, have finally decided that their illustrious citizen is, in fact, neither a bird nor a plane but a resource of not inconsiderable civic utility; and

Whereas, the familiar red and blue caped Superman uniform has been seen of late draped on other prominent citizens of Metropolis on important civic occasions (giving one pause to reflect that Clark Kent must have been considerably embarrassed when he last dashed into a telephone booth to strip for action and found that his Superman uniform had mysteriously disappeared);

now therefore be it Resolved By The House of Representatives in the seventy-seventh Session of the General Assembly, that we do hereby commend and congratulate Mr. Robert Westerfield, Mayor J.P. Williams, and Mr. C. Harold Mescher of Metropolis, Illinois, for conceiving and organizing ‘Project Superman’ by which outstanding citizens are honored as recipients of the Superman Award for their contributions to the civic welfare of Metropolis; and we extend the thanks of the civic leaders to Mr. Carmine Infantino of National Periodical Publications, Inc., for his kind permission to use the Superman format and for supplying the original uniform of the television Superman to use in the promotion of Project Superman; and finally we congratulate the Reverend Charles Chandler on his selection as the first recipient of the Superman Award and find it wholly appropriate that a man of his calling be so chosen;

and be it further Resolved, that a suitable copy of this preamble and resolution be forwarded to Mr. Robert Westerfield for acceptance by him on behalf of the Project Superman Screening Committee.

Personally, I'm not particularly confident about that June 9 date or whether the Illinois Senate ever had anything to do with this particular resolution. The actual online records of the 77th Illinois Senate meeting that day do not remark on that specific piece of legislation. Admittedly, that does not necessarily mean the date is incorrect, as the online records themselves warn of their incompleteness. The text above is taken directly from the Illinois House record for April 25, 1972, the date the resolution was introduced and passed the House.

And while we're on that topic, I should mention that House Resolution 572 was just one of many non-binding resolutions passed that day. Resolution 569 congratulated a congressman for staying married to the same woman for 19 years. Resolution 571 gave Chicago Cubs pitcher Burt Hooton a pat on the back for throwing a no-hitter, and Resolution 573 pledged undying loyalty to the Chicago Black Hawks "no matter what."

But the real kicker is House Resolution 575, congratulating Illinois native Gene Hackman for receiving the Oscar for Best Actor (in The French Connection). Though Superman: The Movie would be six years in their future, the Illinois House of Representatives still managed to praise both Superman and Lex Luthor in the very same meeting!

That's congress for you.

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I'm skipping ahead a little in my movie list today to spotlight the films I watched in November that featured Gene Hackman, the actor I saw more than any other last month. I think I've said before that Hackman was one of the actors I hated as a kid, probably because of Superman. But Royal Tanenbaums turned me around, and now I seek him out. He rarely disappoints.

201. (508.) The French Connection (1971)
I've been on the lookout for this famous film for years, and I have to say that the wait was worth it. The subway chase scene is deserving of its reputation, the procedural aspects are engrossing, and the ending is perfectly fitting and memorable. One thing I know for sure is that I never want to live in 1970s New York City.

202. (509.) The Conversation (1974)
This is a character study of an ethical man who begins to suspect that he has been an instrument to murder. I was really enjoying it until the character's loneliness leads him to make a few terrible mistakes about mid-movie, and then I found it nearly excruciating to see him pay for that breach of trust through to the end of the film (the end of his sanity?). It wasn't what I was expecting, and I find those movies to typically be the movies that stick with me.

204. (511.) French Connection II (1975)
I described French Connection to a friend as "watching Gene Hackman walk around a dirty New York City for an hour." He told me I didn't need to see the sequel. "It's watching Gene Hackman walk around dirty France for two hours." That's an apt description. In typical sequel fashion, it's more of the same, maybe more action, less procedural. Sadly, it takes twice as long to get to the action as the original — the ball doesn't really get rolling until 4/5 of the way through the movie! Not a bad movie, but nowhere near as good as the original.

I'd recommend all three movies.

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To be continued...

 

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