Monday, May 22, 2017
Phyllis Thaxter as Martha Kent in 1978's Superman.
58-year-old Thaxter was producer Ilya Salkind's mother-in-law.
For my money, the "leaving home" scene is one of the best in the film. Thaxter plays the melancholy Martha Kent to a perfect "T".
The location was just as much a character as either Jeff East or Phyllis Thaxter in this scene. The Kent farm was on Range Road 264 near Blackie, Alberta. Contrary to published reports, the farmhouse and barn are actual buildings erected in the 1920s and 1930s by a homesteader. The farm was still in production, but the barn and house not lived in by the 1970s. The production company cut down a huge swath of trees and bushes in front of the farmhouse to give a clear view of it from the road. They painted the barn and house, and added a dormer to the north roof to give Clark's bedroom a view of the outside. After filming ending, a huge number of shrubs and trees planted to restore the front of the property.
The Smallville cemetery scene was filmed in a canyon near Beynon, Alberta.
John Williams' "Leaving Home" segment begins eerily (with a bit of the Close Encounters chorus), and moves to a wonderful, sweeping, emotional moment as Martha Kent gives up her son to whatever destiny awaits him. Her love drives her to reach out to take his hand, but she dare not. It's heart-rending to see her lose him.
The camera work as the shot ends is astonishing.
The Kent homestead in Superman (1978).
The Kent homestead in 2013. It's privately owned.
The Smallville Cemetery establishing shot in Superman (1978).
The Smallville Cemetery establishing shot in 2013. Although the grain elevator is no longer there, the annex (green structure) was moved to a new location a short distance away.
The Smallville Cemetery main shot in Superman (1978).
The Smallville Cemetery main shot in 2013.
The Smallville Cemetery reverse shot in Superman (1978). The church in the distance was most likely a prop.
The Smallville Cemetery reverse shot in 2013.