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Batman (1943) Poster

(1943)

Trivia

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Alfred the Butler first appeared in Batman #16, a few months before the release of this serial. The story introduced him as new entering Bruce Wayne's employ. However, records indicate that he was created by the writers of the film, and put into the comic book to conform with the film. In his first few appearances, Alfred was drawn as very chubby and clean shaven. Soon after the release of the film, there was a story where he went to a health spa, he lost weight and began to wear a mustache, which made him look quite similar to William Austin. From then on, the comics (and animated cartoons) Alfred has resembled the Austin image. The comics gave Alfred the surname Beagle in 1945, however he was renamed Alfred Pennyworth in 1969, whether due to an editor's error or a deliberate revision. In the 1970s he was given a backstory as a military hero, and in the mid 1980s his biography was revised so that he was the Wayne family butler in Bruce's childhood.
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This is the first filmed appearance of Batman.
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This serial was reissued under the title "An Evening With Batman and Robin" in late 1965. There was no added footage. The program simply consisted of all of the episodes (complete with titles, credits and cliffhangers--exactly as they were shown in theaters in 1943) presented one after the other in one sitting. Contrary to popular belief, this was not done in response to the success of the Batman (1966) TV show. That began on January 12, 1966, and "An Evening With Batman and Robin" was playing in theaters as early as December 10, 1965.
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At 23 years old, Lewis Wilson is the youngest actor to play the adult Bruce Wayne / Batman on screen.
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With this release, Batman became the first DC Comics character to have his own serial. Although DC superhero, Captain Marvel, had his own serial before Batman in 1941, Captain Marvel didn't become part of DC until 1972.
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The Batmobile, despite having first appeared in 1941, does not appear in this serial. In the first appearances of Batman in "Detective Comics" in 1939, Batman (or The Bat Man as he was called then) often drove a nondescript convertible.
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It's often misstated that Batman became a government agent due to "serial regulations," but there were no such regulations; Batman was given status as a government operative in no small part due to the increased patriotism brought on by WWII. This was commonplace in serials. In the comics, by this time Batman was officially recognized and deputized by Commissioner Gordon and the local authorities in "Batman" #7 (October-November, 1941) and the Bat-Signal came along in "Detective Comics" #60 (February 1942). A platinum badge appeared in "Detective Comics" #70 (December 1942) to commemorate this situation.
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Film debut of Lewis Wilson.
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This serial had several racial slurs against the Japanese, as it was made during World War II. For the original home video release, the slurs were edited out. They have been "restored" for the DVD, as it was made from original film stock and contains no editing from its original theatrical run.
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The credited cast order, as shown in the original release press book, were: Lewis Wilson, Douglas Croft, J. Carrol Naish, William Austin, Shirley Patterson, Charles C. Wilson, Charles Middleton, Robert Fiske, Michael Vallon, and Gus Glassmire. Cost-cutting Columbia opted to only credit four players on the film itself.
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This film introduced the concept of Batman's underground headquarters, here as "the Bat's Cave," which was adapted into the comics as the Batcave.
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In every fight between Batman and Robin and Prince Daka's henchmen, the bad guys' fedoras never come off their heads.
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Initially, J. Carrol Naish was cast as The Joker; this is evident in some of the early posters for the serial, which show Batman punching his arch-nemesis (later changed to Dr. Daka). If you look at Naish's costume and makeup as well as his hideout being in a carnival, it is as all of The Joker elements were retained and only his name and nationality were changed. It's assumed the change was made because at the time this was written, in late 1942 early 1943, the Allies were in danger of losing World War II after many early setbacks, and patriotism was strongly encouraged of all of Hollywood's films at the time.
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In chapter 5, an envelope gives Bruce Wayne's address as 1918 Hill Road, Los Angeles, California.
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By the time the sequel Batman and Robin (1949) was made, Lewis Wilson and Douglas Croft had moved on. Croft had even retired entirely from acting. So their roles were recast with Robert Lowery as Batman and Johnny Duncan as Robin.
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Douglas Croft, the first Robin, was 16 at the time of filming, making him the youngest actor to play the character in a live action film. Croft died of alcohol-related complications in 1963, and so did not live to see Burt Ward's definitive interpretation of the character in Batman (1966).
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Bruce Wayne/Batman adopts the identity of hoodlum "Chuck White" to infiltrate a gang. In the comics, Batman does this on occasion. His most commonly used criminal persona is Matches Malone, who first appeared in 1972.
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Charles C. Wilson (Captain Arnold), Charles Middleton (Ken Colton), Robert Fiske (Foster), and Gus Glassmire (Martin Warren) all died before 1950.
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Charles Middleton, who played prospector Ken Colton, was best known for his role as Emperor Ming the Merciless in three movies about Flash Gordon, based on a comic strip.
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Charles C. Wilson plays Captain Arnold, who is essentially the same character as Commissioner Gordon from the comics. Why the name was changed is unclear. Wilson died in 1948, the year before Batman and Robin (1949) was made. Lyle Talbot, in the latter film, thus became the first actor to play that character with his proper name in a film.
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While Gotham City in the comics (and all other films) is an analog of New York, both this movie and Batman and Robin (1949) treat it as an analog of Los Angeles, presumably because the limited budget did not allow a convincing disguise for the California filming location.
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Linda Page first appeared in Batman comics in 1941. A privileged socialite who volunteered her time as a nurse, she was one of many girlfriends that Bruce Wayne has had. Due to his devotion to the Batman mission, his romances rarely lasted long. Linda Page was never as well-known as Vicki Vale, Selina Kyle, Silver St. Cloud, or Vesper Fairchild, and is regarded as a charming piece of trivia which the comics revive every now and then for fun. Her uncle Martin Warren appears to be unique to this film.
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Michael Vallon, who plays Preston in chapter 10, later appeared as Mr. Bonelli in Adventures of Superman: Mystery of the Broken Statues (1952) and Tony Urmenti in Adventures of Superman: The Monkey Mystery (1952), also based on DC Comics.
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Dr. Daka, created for this 1943 film, later appeared in the comic book All-Star Squadron #42-43 (February-March 1985), a period piece set in 1942. Author Roy Thomas stated that it was a prequel to the film.
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In chapter 1, the narrator describes Gotham as "a teeming metropolis," working the names of both Batman's and Superman's hometowns into one sentence.
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Cameo 

Bob Kane: Batman co-creator makes a brief cameo as the newsboy in Chapter One, yelling, "Read all about the Batman!" before handing a paper to Bruce Wayne.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

CHAPTER TITLES: 1. The Electrical Brain; 2. The Bat's Cave; 3. The Mark of the Zombies; 4. Slaves of the Rising Sun; 5. The Living Corpse; 6. Poison Peril; 7. The Phony Doctor; 8. Lured by Radium; 9. The Sign of the Sphinx; 10. Flying Spies; 11. Nipponese Trap; 12. Embers of Evil; 13. Eight Steps Down; 14. The Executioner Strikes; 15. The Doom of the Rising Sun.
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Batman and the main villain, Prince Daka, do not come face to face until about halfway through the final chapter of the serial.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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