Saturday, May 30, 2015

On DVD: Captain America (1979)

It's funny how things work sometimes.

CBS didn't want to be pigeonholed as the "superhero network", so they cancelled Wonder Woman and The Amazing Spider-Man, but kept The Incredible Hulk on the air for 5 seasons (1977-82). Universal, which produced Hulk, also served up a pair of TV-movies with Captain America and one with Dr. Strange.

Captain America first aired in January 1979, and starred Reb Brown as Steve Rogers. Recognizing that leaving Cap in World War II wasn't going to work, the producers set the movie and its subsequent sequel in the present. Rogers is an ex-Marine and an artist, the latter a profession that Rogers actually did take up in the comics around the same time or later. Any references to WWII would refer to Rogers' father, who was killed, and was nicknamed Captain America in derision. Rogers is pulled into a curious mystery when a friend turns up dead, and some thugs think Rogers knows something about some film that a corrupt businessman, Lou Brackett (Steve Forrest, ex-S.W.A.T.) wants. Dr. Simon Mills (Len Birman) had worked with the elder Rogers, and recruits Steve to help solve the case.

Here's a trailer to help you along.

The supporting cast includes Robin Mattson (General Hospital), Heather Menzies (ex-Logan's Run), Jason Wingreen (All in the Family), & Lance LeGault (better known to 80's fans from his run on The A-Team). Cartoon fans will find Buster Jones (Super Friends) in a small role. Personally, Universal and CBS blew it by not trying to do a crossover with Hulk, and when the sequel aired as a 2-part miniseries in November, it was worse. Christopher Lee was brought in to be the villain, and Menzies was replaced with Connie Sellecca (pre-Greatest American Hero) without explanation. The plot was all over the place more than this was.

Rating: C.

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