Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Overlooked Films: Batman and Robin (1949)


After my first viewing of the first Batman serial from 1943 (reviewed HERE), which I enjoyed quite a bit, I thought this one might be a step up. Sadly, no. In fact, in all but one aspect, it's a step down. And that single improvement is the one displayed right here - the movie poster art.

For me, the biggest letdown is the script. While the first serial had some witty lines, and seemed in line with other film dialogue of the '40s, this one never rises above the level of a Golden Age comic book. In other words, it's predictable and dull.

Then there's the acting. In Batman, Lewis Wilson was an engaging Bruce Wayne. I had high hopes for his replacement, Robert Lowery, because Lowery looks sort of like Johnny Weismuller, with a touch of Victor Mature. But aside from looking sort of like those guys, he doesn't do much. As Bruce Wayne, he simply yawns a lot. And John Duncan, the new Robin, looks way too old to be running around in a yellow cape and Speedos.

The costume department didn't do Batman any favors, either. His belt looks like it was borrowed from a Vegas chorus girl – and the cowl is just laughable. The ears stick out like devil’s horns, the eye slits don’t line up with his eyes, and the nose piece forms a long floppy beak.

As in the first serial, there is no Batmobile, probably a budget cutter. But this time, the car keeps changing. Sometimes our heroes are driving a Mercury convertible, sometimes a different make of convertible, and sometimes a sedan. Worst of all, the sedan is the same one the bad guys were driving in the previous episode. It would seem that when it came time to shoot, they just grabbed whatever was available in the Columbia Pictures motor pool.

Another letdown: There's no Wayne Manor. Instead, Bruce and Dick inhabit a relatively modest home in the suburbs, and simply park their car in the driveway. Apparently the neighbors don't notice when two guys in superhero suits rush out of the house and jump into the convertible.

The master villain, on the other hand, lives in a mansion on a hill, and has a secret entrance through his fireplace to a complex of caves below. Jeez, I wonder where they got that idea?








More Overlooked Filmish stuff at SWEET FREEDOM.

9 comments:

Todd Mason said...

And yet the DDuo still have a cave laboratory? Wow. If anything, you're too kind about the costumes.

Charles Gramlich said...

Didn't even know these existed until I think you posted about them.

Richard R. said...

You're right, that B-Man costume is AWFUL! It's an embarrassment to Gotham, and everything else Batman related. The only thing I can say is that at a first glimpse, it may be what made The Joker go nuts with laughter.

Rittster said...

My favorite aspect of this serial: B&R store their costumes in a filing cabinet.

Oscar said...

I walked three miles to see the batmobile and it wasn't there. What a disappointment.

David Cranmer said...

"... and simply park their car in the driveway." Ha! I may have to check this one out.

Cap'n Bob said...

No mention of the woman. Was she there for any reason other than to be rescued?

George said...

I'm looking forward to the new Batman movie that opens next month. And I'm eager to check out Catwoman.

Evan Lewis said...

The female lead was photographer Vicki Vale, but she didn't look like Kim Basinger.