Howdy all you Supercultists out there on the interwebz! I’m Bad Movie Professor Cameron Coker (BS in “Walt Disney Entertainment” with a minor in “Menstruation”) and I’ll be posting my hype-tacular speeches every week along with some long lost speeches from past Supercult Shows!
This week Supercult realizes that anyone with a briefcase full of gadgets and a bird costume can be a CIA agent with Condorman!
When cartoonist Woody Wilkins stumbles his way into the world of international espionage he decides to use the name of one of his own characters, Condorman, to hide his identity. But when a beautiful Russian spy insists on the help of Condorman to help her defect, Woody’s life goes from comical to chaotic! Can Woody survive a life with more excitement than all of his comic strips put together? Find out in Condorman!
Though the Walt Disney Company has done its best to paint itself as a bastion of wholesome family entertainment since the early 20th century, all true Disney nerds know that the Magic Kingdom has had its fair share of embarrassing missteps and face-palms. Whether it be borderline racist films such as “Song of the South”, now perpetually out of print despite the fact that the Splash Mountain ride is entirely based off of the film, or a the wildly out character of historical drama “Miracle of White Stallions” featuring a Nazi main character, starving and riotous villagers, non-animated-non-talking horses, and General George S. Patton, or the animated educational classic “Walt Disney Presents: The Story Of Menstruation.” Yeah…that’s really a thing.
Disney might be characterized as a family entertainment hoarder. No matter how ridiculous or unprofitable, if it could conceivably be classified as “Family Entertainment” Disney gobbled it up to feed its addiction. Condorman, at least on paper, seems like a sure fire winner. Who wouldn’t want a James Bond origin story crossed with a Marvel Superhero film with just a dash of the Nutty Professor? What was delivered was a box office flop; a watered-down Cold War drama with shoddy special effects, that was featured by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert as one of their worst films of 1981.
Filmed in Paris, Monte Carlo, and Zermatt, Zwitzerland, the one thing that can be said for Condorman is the dedication of the crew…a dedication that some didn’t appreciate as much as others. During one take of a scene where Condorman falls into the River Seine, Michael Crawford (who plays Woody Wilkins) nearly drowned. He was dragged nearly ten feet underwater before being rescued by two lifeguards and afterwards was ready to go again before the director, Charles Jarrott, stepped in and insisted a trained stuntman replace him in the shot.
Meanwhile Oliver Reed, who you may know as the grizzled gladiator trainer Proximo from “Gladiator”, seemed to make it his mission in life to bully the rest of the cast, apparently channeling his character, the evil Russian boss Krokov. After Crawford refused to have a drink with him after shooting, Reed demanded, “Come here into Russian Embassy and have drink, you little feathered fart!” starting a trend among the crew to refer to Crawford as “Condorman the Feathered Fart.” One night after too many drinks, Reed actually tossed his tuxedo costume into the sea from the window of his Monte Carlo hotel forcing the company manager to row out into the water to retrieve it rather than add additional expense to an already tight budget.
The worst however was during a helicopter scene in which Barbara Carrera’s character, Russian defector and leading lady Natalia Rambova, is terrorized by Reed’s. Always the perfectionist, Reed felt that Barbara’s acting was not fully projecting the true fear her character would be feeling at that moment, and, in his frustration he actually opened the door of the helicopter they were in and threatened to throw her out! In a later in the scene she exacts revenge by elbowing him painfully in the ribs. All of this is actually in the film and you can watch for the genuine fear on her face and the genuine pain on his.
However, no amount of hilarity (or horror) on set can save Condorman from an IMDB score of 5.7 and a 25% on Rotten Tomatoes…and of course no amount of critical panning could have prevented Condorman from developing an underground cult status. Not enough serious cold war drama for adults, not enough goofy gadget-fueled hijinks for the kids, and not enough good ANYTHING for the critics, but Walt Disney’s Condorman has just enough cult for Supercult…
The Supercult show is proud to present, Condorman!