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Entry updated 8 December 2020. Tagged: Film.

US made-for-tv film (1977). Universal Television. Produced by Richard Irving and Lionel E Siegel. Written by Howard Rodman (credited as Henri Simon) and Siegel from an original story by Martin Caidin. Cast includes David Ackroyd, José Ferrer (Kermit Haas), A Martinez, Kevin McCarthy, Harry Morgan and Anne Schedeen (Emily Frost). 95 minutes. Colour.

College physics professor Nicholas Conrad (Ackroyd) is shot by mobsters during a hold-up which he witnesses, and is left paralysed from the waist down. Having previously been working on a type of body armour, he completes this exoskeletal suit with the help of colleagues, and uses it to battle the mob as Exo-Man. This Powered Armour resembles that worn by the Comics character Iron Man, but is much more primitive. While allowing Conrad to walk in a slow and clunky manner, and providing him with greatly enhanced strength enabling him literally to smash through walls, it requires a semi-portable Power Source hauled behind him on a small truck. He tracks down the mob hireling responsible for his condition and ultimately brings the thug's boss (Ferrer) to justice by anonymously turning over incriminating papers he has forcibly obtained, to a government agent (Morgan).

Exo-Man was an unsuccessful pilot for a never-launched Television series planned by Martin Caidin, who had enjoyed much greater success with The Six Million Dollar Man (1973-1978). Reportedly, studio interference damaged the quality of the script considerably, while the final reveal of the exo-suit toward the end of the film resembles a movie serial Robot more than a Superhero costume. The basic idea of a paraplegic superhero with enhanced body armour was treated somewhat more successfully as action-adventure in the unrelated later series M.A.N.T.I.S. (1994-1995). [GSt/LW]


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