Spider-Man

by Alan Rapp on June 30, 2020

in Television Reviews 

  • Title: Spider-Man (1977)
  • wiki: link

Spider-Man review

Throwback Tuesday takes us back to the mean streets of New York City and the first appearance of a certain wall-crawling hero. 1977’s made-for-television movie Spider-Man casts Nicholas Hammond as college student and part-time photographer Peter Parker. The story, however, doesn’t open with Peter but with a mind-control plot involving a brainwashed lawyer and doctor who rob and bank and then crash their car on command from an unknown criminal (Thayer David) threatening this is only the first of many such attacks unless the city pays his ransom. The plot plays on 70s cults (as one turns out to be responsible for the brainwashing) as well as providing an origin story for Spider-Man whose further adventures would be continued in The Amazing Spider-Man television series.

Although Peter is far older when we meet him here than his spider-bite in the comics, many of Spider-Man’s staples are on display here including David White as J. Jonah Jameson and Hilly Hicks as Robbie Robertson, Jeff Donnell as Aunt May, and Peter’s struggles at trying to sell photos to The Daily Bugle while dealing with his responsibilities as a graduate student (where an experiment with radioactive material is interrupted by an eight-legged visitor). Peter discovers his powers by running from an oncoming car (another comic tie-in). Although he makes his suit off-camera, in record time, we do see him building his web-shooters as the final piece of Spider-Man’s arsenal.

Limited by both budget and the special-effects of the time, Spider-Man comes off a bit goofy at times (such as laughably bad superimposed wall-crawling effects and Spidey’s fight against martial artists), but, even without including Ben Parker in Peter’s origins, the movie does a far job at representing both Peter Parker and Spider-Man in this campy 70s take on the character. Also along for the ride are Michael Pataki as Police Captain Barbera, who yells more than Jameson does, and Lisa Eilbacher as a relative of one of the victims and a possible love interest for Peter who would not return. While far from the best Spider-Man adaptation, there is a nostalgic charm for those who have fond memories of the only live-action Spider-Man that Marvel would offer for decades.

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