In his first screen appearance, the Caped Crusader of Gotham City (belying the lethargic facade of his alter ego Bruce Wayne) battles Dr. Daka, Japanese mastermind of a wartime espionage-sabotage group. Daka has a radium-powered death ray that pulverizes walls, a classic alligator pit to dispose of enemies, and can turn men into electronic zombies who do his bidding and transmit video signals to Daka's lab! Batman has no Batmobile, but there are bats in the Bat Cave... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
This is the first filmed appearance of Batman. See more »
The cliffhanger of chapter 5 involves Batman aboard a plane that crashes. At the start of chapter 6, the plane has crashed and the two henchmen aboard died in the crash, but Batman is unharmed. See more »
High atop one of the hills which ring the teaming metropolis of Gotham City, a large house rears its bulk against the dark sky. Outwardly there's nothing to distinguish this house from many others, but deep in the cavernous basements of this house is a chamber hewn from the living rock of the mountainside, strange, dimly lighted, mysteriously secret bat cave headquarters of America's #1 crimefighter, Batman! Yes, Batman, clad in the somber costume which has struck terror to the ...
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This 15 Chapter Serial was over 20 years old when we saw it in our neighborhood. The overwhelming success of the BATMAN TV Series created a market for everything that was Batman. So, Columbia released its venerable wartime relic to the movie houses in the spring of 1966. It wasn't edited into some sort of feature summary, but rather the whole serial was shown, chapter after chapter, all in one sitting! We saw it twice!
There have been a lot of criticisms of this film, ranging from the reference to "the Japs" and indeed reference to the establishment of the Nesi Camps by executive order of President Roosevelt at the urging of California Governor Earl Warren. (Nesi refers to native born Americans of Japanese descent) Well, we all know that it was World War II going on out there and our films were full of our propaganda. We can't condemn this serial for that. The studio was doing its part for the war effort by having the heroes battle Axis Agents, Sabateurs and 5th Column Traitors as well as common thugs.
The production was very frugal, for it obviously was to be produced for as cheap a price tag as possible. The serials were, after all, a sort of throw in to the general out put of film. They were meant for the Saturday afternoon bubble gum crowd. Always filmed in B&W, as were most motion pictures of the time.
The cast was full of veteran character actors, who would always give a decent performance with whatever storyline they had. The true "Star" of BATMAN was J.Carroll Nash.He was born in New York City of Irish ancestry, but no shillelaghs or clay pipes for him. After extensive experience on the stage, Mr. Nash made a living portraying Italians (Sahara, Life with Luigi radio TV), Hispanics (The Fugitive (1947) ) and Indians. He also did some Orientals as in the Charlie Chan TV and Dr. Daka, the Japanese operative and lead villain of this 1943 BATMAN.
But it is the lead of this production, Lewis Wilson, who was the reference of the heading "My Favorite Batman". Of all of the actors to be cast in the role, (and the have been no less than six in live action film) it is Lewis Wilson and his horn ear type cowl that I think of as the best. First, he did originate the role when Batman Comics were only about 4 years old. Secondly, he looked like the character Bruce Wayne as drawn in the comics. He had a sort of upper class accent which Mr. Wayne would probably possess.He had appeared to have a stocky sort of a build which also coincided with the comics. Finally, he wasn't in very many films in his career and BATMAN was probably his widest exposure.
As for production values,well they did the best with what they had. They even managed to evoke some of the dark, mysterious mood of the Batman Comics feature. Indeed, the mood and World War II period are well represented with the use of B & W film.
I sure hope that this one will be out in VHS and DVD in its original, uncut form. Don't re-write it for the sake of political correctness. Such revisionist behaviour is equal to book burning. Afterall, we must take the thorns along with the rose petals.
UPDATE**** Dateline:Chicago, Illinois, April 17, 2006. Well, it's not news by now, but Columbia has released this great 1943 BATMAN Serial this past year.To their credit and our delight, they also released 1949's NEW ADVENTURES OF BATMAN AND ROBIN with Robert Lowery and John Duncan in the starring roles. These chapter-plays are complete,uncut from crisp,clean newly struck film masters. They are available in DVD sets.
Rumor has it that Columbia will be doing the same thing with their two serials starring the Man of Steel, SUPERMAN (1948) and ATOM MAN VS.SUPERMAN (1950). Who knows, this could be the start of something big for us serial buffs!Let's hope!
* In response to learned those who state that it is erroneous to say that Columbia Pictures re-released this serial because of the success of BATMAN TV, we offer the following. Yes, this is correct, but only up to a point. There was a special showing of the fifteen Chapters of the 1943 BATMAN Serial in a few big city movie houses. In my town, Chicago, it was at the very trendy Playboy Theatre and advertised as "An Evening with Batman & Robin". This was before the debut of BATMAN on ABC, January 12, 1966. It was after that time, BATMAN '43 went into general release, nationwide.
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