Tomb of Forgotten Film: 3 Supermen Against The Godfather (1979)
In the months that the Lair has been spewing out reviews of cult films, I have traveled the world to bring you films from England, Sweden, The Philippines, Indonesia, Spain, and of course Italy. There’s one country whose films I have really wanted to check out because of their reputation for some classics in trash cinema, and that country is Turkey. So when I was browsing around Cinema de Bizarre’s catalog looking for some goodies, I came across this little bit of strangeness, and that is the best word to describe this film. After all what do you get when you take an Italian director, a Turkish/Italian cast, and homage to Mario Puzo and the Man of Steel? Well, I’m here to tell you that you end up with….
Three Supermen Against the Godfather (1979) [Turkish: Süpermenler] starring Cüneyt Arkin, Sal Borgese, Aldo Canti, and Aldo Sambrell. Directed by Italo Martinenghi.
Our tale begins in peaceful Istanbul where Professor Vak Von Vong (Ali Sen) has invented a working time machine which he demonstrates by traveling back to the end of the Byzantine Empire to discover the secret of a lost treasure. Soon his discovery is world news and everyone wants to get their hands on it. George and Sol (Canti and Borgese) are two scoundrels (and apparently Supermen) who want the scientific breakthrough for their own personal gain. Brad (Arkin) is an agent for the US government (and the third Superman) who’s sent to Istanbul to look into the time machine and heroin being run through the city and intended for The Godfather of New York (Sambrell). Meanwhile, after his drug shipment gets stolen, the Godfather sends his thugs after the machine so he can find out who stole from him. As the three factions vie to get their hands on the Professor’s invention, it gets damaged and in the accident the professor loses his memory. It’s up to the Supermen to band together and save the professor and his wonderful machine.
The Bugg Speaks
I know my synopsis does not do justice for the zaniness that is Three Supermen Against the Godfather. From the opening strains of the Turkish disco theme song, I felt like I was in for an interesting time at the very least, and I was not to be disappointed. This is a film you are best to put on, relax, and try not to think too hard or you’ll hurt yourself. You might also hurt yourself trying to dig up information on this one. I had to consult a ton of resources before I was able to put names to characters, and then I still felt unsure. In the dubbed version I watched, the Supermen are George, Sol, and Brad, but I believe their names in Turkish to be Yavsak, Matrak, and Murat.
Brad (or Murat) played by Cüneyt Arkin, who some may know from the film Turkish Star Wars (which I have yet to see), struck me as very Eric Estrada-esque, I did enjoy his mucho macho performance. George (or Yavsak) was played by Aldo Canti, who started his career as a stuntman. He made the leap to speaking roles with a couple of sword and sandals flicks before teaming with director Martinengi for several films. Lastly there’s Sal Borgese, a veteran of many Spaghetti westerns, who played Sol. In a neat bit of coincidence, Borgese had a minor role in The Godfather III as a guard. Last but not least, what are these Supermen with no one to be against? In the role of The Godfather you have Aldo Sambrel who has over 150 films to his credit including A Fist Full of Dollars, Black Commando, and Jess Franco’s Killer Barby series.
Now you may have noticed that I didn’t say a word about the acting skills of any of those men, and, well, that’s for good reason. The dubbing is incredibly far out in this one so it’s hard to tell, but it does lead to some incredible lines such as Istanbul being “just like Brooklyn” and after the Time machine gets stolen from George he exclaims, “We’ve been diddled!” I’m pretty sure the last time I heard an exclamation like that it was coming out of the mouth of Opus in Bloom County. Anyhow, I hate to judge what the performances were actually like, but I will suffice it to say that I found all the characters extremely entertaining.
I did however expect something a little bit more on the nose than I got. I’ve heard tales of the footage from Lucas’ Star Wars which was shamelessly dropped into the Turkish version, and I expected 3 Supermen was going to pull a similar trick with the Christopher Reeve Superman film. It was not to be though. The “Superman” costumes which the 3 main characters don are red spandex bodysuits, and while George exhibits the ability to leap down from a high building in a single bound, there are precious little in the way of super powers on display. I suppose it makes sense though, the gangsters don’t seem to have any guns so at least everyone is evenly matched.
What is on full display is a load of silly and strange situations including the Professor becoming a sex maniac, a chase after a hat, and a dose of belly dancing. For the most part, the film makes very little sense and is poorly shot and edited, but thankfully with an 87 minute running time, the wacky world of the 3 Supermen doesn’t overstay its welcome. If you’re looking for a film with some meaning or skill behind it, then this is not the film for you, but if you want some mindless good times and a classic piece of cult cinema, then check this one out.