Superman 1978/1980: Why did Ms. Teschmacher help spring Lex?

Around the release of Superman Returns, I started a thread with various questions about the Man of Steel and his incarnations in Superman, Superman II, and Superman Returns. Yesterday, I was reading our own Bad Astronomer’s review of Superman Returns, which included a link to this parody of the original Superman. The parody got me thinking about the plot of Superman and then I thought of something I had never asked in that thread: (I don’t know if I should do a spoiler warning for a 25-year-old movie)

In Superman, Lex Luthor has two assistants: Otis, a bumbling doof; and Ms. Teschmacher, apparently Lex’s girlfriend. Lex’s Evil Plan™: the Army and Navy are doing a simultaneous test of two nuclear missles. Lex will reprogram these missles so that they destroy portions of the United States. However, they will go in opposite directions to make it harder for Superman can’t stop both of them at the same time. The main target is the San Andreas Fault, so the blast will send western California into the sea, thus allowing Lex to become rich off of real estate on the new California coast (which he bought for cheap). The dud missle is going to Hackensack, for no other reason than Ms. Teschmacher’s mother lives there. After Tesch (I’m tired of typing out her whole name) hears this, she gets angry at Lex, and decides to help Superman by taking off the piece of Kryptonite Lex has tied to him if Superman promises to stop the Hackensack missle first. Superman makes good on that promise. However, in the start of Superman II, Tesch- in her only scene in the film- frees Lex from prison by flying a hot air balloon there (Otis is too fat).

Why did Tesch rescue Lex? Was she only pissed off that her mother was going to die, and now that Hackensack wasn’t destroyed, she’s going back to Lex’s side? Or was she never on Superman’s side in the first place, and she saved Superman because she’d rather live in a world in which Lex’s plan failed rather than one in which it succeeded but her mother died?

It was an accident that one of the missiles was headed for Hackensack. Otis had the numbers written on his arm to reprogram the guidance system, but he combined the last two numbers because his arm wasn’t long enough. I think it was just a coincidence that one rocket happened to be headed for Ms. Teschmacher mother, and so she (Ms. T, not her mother) had no particular reason to be holding a grudge against Luthor.

Not to be a kill-joy, but there’s no real way to answer this without instantly over-thinking it. She did it to move the plot along. And it wasn’t outside the fictional bounds of her character. She was just a moll with gams who had a soft spot for heros and villians…

[Homer Simpson]Aw, I wish I was a moll with gams.[/Homer Simpson]

I had forgotten that part of the plot. As Hail Ants said, I guess it was bascially to move the plot along- and to set up a situation which would cause Superman to be freed.

That would be a lot more difficult than being Detective Sipowitz.

Hell, who knows how her mind worked? This was a woman who could look at a patently demented sewer-dwelling criminal with a sidekick named ‘Otis,’ and think: “Oooh, this one’s a winner! Hang onto him, girl! Stand by your man!” She obviously wasn’t firing on all cylinders either.

Either (A) she later discovered her mom was visiting her aunt in Akron that day, so there was never any danger of her being killed, or (B) she resented the fact that after saving his life, Superman never called or wrote, so she went back to her “sure thing”.

I’ll have to disagree with this. Remember when Miss Tessmacher went back after they discovered Otis’s goof and reprogrammed the missile herself while Lex created another diversion as a truck driver?

I think Lex just chose Hackensack randomly as a diversion, and Mother Tessmacher just happened to live there.

They didn’t re-hijack the screwed-up missle, they hijacked a second missle (the Army and Navy were doing simultaneous tests) and reprogrammed it correctly.

The scene where we learn of the second target goes something like this:
Supes (with a Kryptonite necklace): Do you even care where the other missle is going?
Lex: If you must know, it’s heading for Hackensack, New Jersey.
Tess: Lex… my mother lives in Hackensack.
Lex looks at his watch, looks up at Tess, shakes his head no, and walks away.

Am I remembering correctly, or did they actually say the missiles carried 500-Megaton bombs? That’s 10 times larger than the biggest H-bomb ever exploded. One of those dropped on Hackensack (not that you could ever fit one into a missle or an airplane) would wipe New York (sorry, Metropolis) off the face of the earth as well.