Batman and Robin (1949) Poster

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8/10
"NEW ADVENTURES" gives Dynamic Duo Complete Make Over
John T. Ryan25 September 2006
With the end of World War II, there was a marked change of tone and settings in the film world. This was especially true in that staple of the Saturday Matinée, the Serial. After all,Nazi Germany,Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan had now been defeated. There were no Nazi U Boats, Imperial Japanese soldiers, nor any Axis Spies or 5th Column Traitors to deal with. Now the bad guys would either have to be of the domestic variety of crook. Or, if by chance the baddies were of the international espionage set, their Nationality would have to be kept a secret. Just as before the United States got into the War, the villains country could be implied, but not specifically stated.

The second Batman chapter-play did follow all of the above mentioned, using a large number of common underworld types and a secret leader of unknown origin and identity (until the end), who was bent on, what else, world domination.

The cast and production team changed as Columbia had Sam Katzman produce it. Mr. Katzman's Production Company, called ESKAY, was known for the frugality of its productions. Much of its output was done at and released by Monogram Pictures. The best known of these would probably be the EAST SIDE KIDS series, one branch of the DEAD END Family Tree.

This was the second serial for a comic character;but it was not the first time that it was done. Flash Gordon, Don Winslow, The Spider, Tailspin Tommy, Jungle Jim,The Green Hornet and Secret Agent X9, had all had 2 or more.DICK TRACY leads the pack with four serials. But unlike these others, which may have had one or two changes in cast, the 1949 Batman film cleaned house, leaving no one from the original.

Veteran Robert Lowery, who referred to himself as "the King of the B's", was a good choice for Bruce Wayne/Batman. His dead panning of Wayne's dialog contrasted with the so-serious speech of Batman. He possessed the build and obvious athleticism to bring a certain authenticity to the role.

John Duncan* had been around doing juvenile roles for several years (including the previously mentioned EAST SIDE KIDS series), and now had matured some, giving him both the youthful appearance and the gymnast-like musculature that Robin would have.

Additionally, we have all characters and elements taken directly from the comics feature. News Photographer,Vicki Vale (Jane Adams), Alfred the Butler(Eric Wilton) and Police Commissioner James Gordon(Lyle Talbot) were all characters out of the comic book adventures. They reprised the Bat Cave from the '43 version and added The Bat Signal(the bat emblemed searchlight,Batman summoner of Gotham City's sky), albeit in a sort of vest pocket size.

Like many serials, they did employ a hooded mystery man villain as the "brains" heavy you know, unknown but having several on screen suspects to keep the audience guessing for 15 chapters.This was okay, or at least adequate, but begs the question: Why not use one of the great colorful villains from the comics pages? The Batman TV of 2 decades later did so, making the series so memorable.

As for THE NEW ADVENTURES of BATMAN and ROBIN, it ranks far above most serials of its Post World War II period. As well as common crooks and masked super villains, it confronted the Super Nova Explosion of Technological Advancement, a phenomenon of which we still have a lot of apprehension.

NOTE* John Duncan, now a man in his 80's, still makes appearances a various Film Fan conventions around the country. We met him in a Bud & Sharon Courts promoted event, here in Chicago about 2 years ago. He was most energetic and gracious to the fans (including this writer).
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8/10
I loved it; you hated it; that's the movies!
dingorojo23 May 2005
There is not a better example of a typical 40's/50's cliffhanger matinée serial than this underbudgeted Batman entry. And, you're either going to embrace all it's flawed charms or not. There's no in between.

First,let me tell you where I'm coming from. I loved the Batman 60's TV program for all it's campiness, and I am still amazed at Burton's first Warner Bros. Batman blockbuster with Keaton/Nicholson which incredibly and masterfully convinced us to suspend disbelief and take the masked crusader seriously. The '49 Batman serial, while closer to the TV version, than the high budgeted movie spectacular, for me, is somewhere in between. The reason is, that I saw this serial for the first time as an 8 year old matinée movie goer in Florida during it's first release.

It was much different then, and I'm not convinced that in spite of the advancements in production values and special effects that it was any more fun or magical to be a movie kid today as it was in the 50's. We all see movies through our own set of filters and if your's are the Matrix and video games, you will probably not be a fan of Batman '49.

We were not blind or stupid, we saw the flaws and didn't care. We also saw the adventure and embraced it. For all it's lack of high production, this Batman and Robin was a whole lot of fun. And in running the VHS or DVD versions, I'm transported back to a simpler time, and, more importantly, am convinced that this example of matinée fare is typical of what my generation of baby boomers learned from the movies about right from wrong and good from evil.
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9/10
Worth a look!!!
along_came_bialy15 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I only saw this series once or twice as a child and thought it no longer existed, however I managed to track it down a couple of years ago on video. Though it is not as good as the 1943 series, it is still a great production. It has better visual effects (most notably The Wizard becoming invisible),which must have been amazing in 1949. There was also more intrigue than the 1943 series, the question about The wizards true identity was well written. William Fawcett was wonderful as the eccentric Profeser Hamill, my favorite character from the series. Robert Lowery and Johnny Duncan were superb as Batman and Robin. Johnny Duncan was not as "in your face" as the 60's Robin, which I really admire. The ending was not greatly acted, however the series was low budget even for the 1940's so It might have been filmed quickly. I really like the car Batman Drives as well, it was just a normal car, allowing Bruce wayne to be drive it as himself and Batman. The fact that it was filmed in Black and White makes it more dramatic. It has the same effect as Tim Burtons dark films.
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7/10
Just pure comic-book fun!
Louis Orren2 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
There are different ways in which to do a comic book movie. The style which this film goes for is a campy comic style. And by that, I mean it does not try to be literary gem. It just has a solid story with memorable characters, and some great action sequences. At least one really solid action sequence can be found in each episode. And the ending has cool twist.

First off, Batman and Robin are both done perfectly. Robert Lowery and John Duncan play off of each otehr perfectly. There is a sway of personalities between Batman and Bruce Wayne and for Robin and Dick Grayson which this film has the right look on. They make Bruce and Dick very charming characters with distinct personalities that are contrary enough to Batman and Robin. Then there is Vikki Vale. Here, the writers could have truly given into Hollywood writing and had more of a love story between Bruce and Vikki, but instead they focused more the main story. Good idea. They also tie Vikki well into the story, having her brother as a villain you sometimes do; sometimes don't root for. The villainy is excellent. I love the Wizard. He is so creepy and diabolical. He is vulnerable, but exceptionally intelligent as well. And really his intelligence it his greatest ally. He makes good use of the machines he steals especially when he uses the neutralizer and the beaming machine to make himself invisible. But Batamn is also realistically capable of catching onto his plans.

I have heard this film compared to the campy Adam West stuff of the 1960's. Do not expect to see Adam West and Burt Ward in different colored tights, using the most far-fetched gadgets imaginable, and solving the most far-fetched puzzles. I love that Batman version, but this is not the same. This film is campy, but nowhere near that campy. I think theses serials are better off being compared to the Spiderman movies. In that, they are both meant to be viewed for fun and little if anything else, but are not nearly as over-the-top as the 1960's Batman stuff. MINOR SPOILER There is one scene in the film in which Batman and Robin and running out of air. Batman pulls out two oxygen pipes and gives one of them to Robin. Yeah, that's a little far-fetched, but at least he uses it again later. And from that, you can honestly believe that Batman and Robin figured they may need an oxygen pipe and they find uses for it throughout the serial. As opposed to some absolutely chessy gadgets from the 60's Batman like shark-repellent Bat Spray, or the Batcave's nuclear power source.

SPOILER

This serial has a neat twist revealing the Wizard's identity. It seems completely obvious that Professor Hamill is the Wizard. In fact, watching it the first time, I just thought you were supposed to know that. I did not even realize that it was meant to be a mystery. But then, once I realized it was Carter, I saw how all the pieces fit. And it gave a completely different look on sll the scenes with the minor character Carter seemed to be. I thought the thing about his twin-brother getting shot was kind of cheesy. It would have made more sense if I knew that Carter had a twin brother, but short of that, it was a neat literary twist.

END OF SPOILER

As a whole though, this is just a really good serial to sit back and enjoy. If you like Batman (particulalry the comics) this is very much for you. I highly recommend it.
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7/10
A wonderful glimpse into another time!
brinchatt23 July 2005
I was fumbling through the DVD section in Wal-Mart, and what do I find? The 1949 Batman and Robin complete serial!!! Newly released by Columbia! Being a true fan of the caped crusader, how could I NOT want to watch it??!! OK, folks, let's get real, don't watch this if you are looking for high-tech special effects, brilliant dialogue, women (there's only one and she's a main character, Vicki Vale...who is always "getting in trouble", with Batman having to save her!), a Batmobile or any Bat-gadget! This serial was made at a time when studios spared all expense in making "fluff" to appeal to kids when they went to the movies on Saturday mornings. (Don't scoff, all you baby boomers....cartoon makers of the 1970s did the same thing...with the same bad dialogue and bad acting...witness "Superfriends", (which I also liked!), they just did it for Television!) I started watching this serial having never seen it...only saw a little of it in the special features of the 1966 Batman movie DVD. The costume is silly...looks like Bruce Wayne's grandmother sewed it together...Robin's costume isn't much better....there is no Batmobile, (although Batman and Robin do ride around in a Mercury convertible, and even change costumes in it..hmmmm..homo erotica? NAH!!), and no Bat-gadgets, although there is a neat scene where Bruce Wayne uses a device in the Batcave to "retore" a burned photo-negative. (I also giggle at all the shadows of flying bats in the cave....but you NEVER see a bat!) What there is is a good story! A super-villain..namely "The Wizard", whom the episodes lead you to think is an old, wheelchair bound scientist, who, when he sits in a chair that looks like it was stolen from the state penitentiary's execution room, regains the use ofhis legs...and puts on a black costume, shrouding his entire body, and, using a stolen bit of technology he created, can remotely control all motor vehicles...but not only that, he can make them explode as well, and the pies de resistance....he can make himself INVISIBLE!! He also has the ability to project his image and hypnotize victims with flashing eyes. Truly creepy!!! However, there is a GREAT plot twist at the end to prove who the Wizard REALLY is! As far as the acting is concerned.......there isn't any. I am reminded of Ed Wood flicks like Plan 9 from Outer Space when I watch it...but why not? George S. Plympton was one of the writers...wasn't he a friend of Ed's??? There is little emotion portrayed by the actors...everyone says their lines in a manner-of-fact way, however, the story is so good and action so fast-paced, you really don't notice it. What I DID notice and what made me giggle, was that EVERY male performer, except the Wizard so far, wears a Fedora!!! They all look like they were in some old gangster movie!! I originally wrote this review after seeing only 6 of the 15 episodes...it was difficult to turn the DVD player off after the 6th episode...but, I wanted something fun to watch tomorrow!! I came back and corrected some incorrect information I gave AFTER finishing the series. If you're a die-hard Batman fan, you should like this, unless you get upset by movies not following the comic's story lines! Those of you who like to get a glimpse of a time gone by, you'll LOVE this! It's not possible for me to give this serial 10 out 10 stars, mainly because of the bad acting....however, it certainly earns at least 7! By the way, it is very easy to tell that this is what the 1966 Batman TV series was based on!
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Stood up to the test of time
TC-419 May 2001
When I was a small boy of 7, I saw a few Batman and Robin chapters at the local theater because my parents took me along as they wanted to see the feature and this serial happened to be playing. The look of the Wizard scared hell out of me and I never forgot that memory. To this day I think that it was the most terrifying looking serial villan. I bought the VHS tape about 10 years ago and it was fun the see it in it's entirety as I had not seen most of it the first time. I thought that Robert Lowery was a very good Batman as he was a big man with a determined voice and John Duncan was fine as he as not treated like a comic sidekick. The funny part was Lyle Talbot as Comm. Gordon who would see Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson a lot and never associate them as Batman and Robin who he would also see a lot. The same goes for Vicki Vale played by Jane Adams. No one also associated the fact that Batman and Wayne both drove 1949 Mercury convertibles. In any event it was fun to see again this week and if any of the surviving cast reads this I want to thank them for some great memories.
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7/10
My reminiscences
BadWebDiver11 November 2004
I remember this being shown in serial version as a black & white fill-in for a 70s youth culture show in Australia. It was actually a music and pop culture show, and this was done as a novelty bit; but I thoroughly loved it; and avidly followed the adventure every week. I wish some younger kids shows of today had the guts to try something like that, and reinvent the classic stories.

I especially remember the submarine going to the hidden lair of the villain.

And also Batman and Robin riding around in the standard convertible. For a while, I started to doubt this version existed, since it never got mentioned in any discussion of Batman.

It's this version that caused me to be rather dismissive of the more campy over-the-top TV series (starring Adam West and Burt Ward) that everyone is so fond of now.
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If You Are Expecting Camp, Then This Isn't the One For You
Brian Washington15 April 2003
If you are expecting the campy 1960's Batman, then this isn't the show for you. However, if you are looking for an exciting action adventure serial, then this is for you. This show plays more like the comic book version of Batman that came out in the 1940's which was a very straightforward comic. The plot is okay but there are some plot holes, which probably owe more to the low budget. Also, the cast is very solid, especially veteran character actor Lyle Talbot as Commisioner Gordon.
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Great classic batman.This is how I like to remember Batman and Robin
farrel1329 August 2004
Wow this movie is great and quite exciting.The costumes looks funny and many jokes about Batman started probably out of this.Furthermore a great movie even for younger Batman fans like me.Personally Batman is my favourite hero because he is just a normal bloke with nice gadgets,some muscle and a brain.The action is superb and storyline for me gets an A.Great plot and fighting too.Just don't mention the Batmobile but alas any comicbook fan will tell you that the Batmobile appeared much later detective comics # 27. You will be watching episode after episode and wonder how on earth can batman survive this.The only problem I have with this movie is once you start watching it believe me you won't stop.I give this Movie 7.9 out of 10.
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5/10
Batman & Robin: Relentless Crusaders for Law and Order!
bwray8 February 2000
In 1949, six years after the original Batman Movie Serial was released, Columbia Pictures, released the the long awaited sequel, "Batman and Robin". Robert Lowery inherited the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne from Lewis Wilson. Lowery would later blame his role as Batman for "a lackluster movie career, as a leading man, in Hollywood". He complained that the eyeholes, in his costume, made it "difficult to see" and thus made him appear awkward. John Duncan assumed the role of Batman's faithful ally, from Douglas Croft. The serials premise is that crime is running wild in Gotham City. A mysterious masked figure, called the Wizard, has stolen a diamond powered remote control device, that renders all of the machines in Gotham City totally inoperative. Comissioner Gordon (played by Lyle Talbot) immediately summons Batman with the aid of an infamous bat signal, that shines in the heavens above Gotham. Photographer Viki Vale (played by Jame Adams) is entangled in the Wizard's evil web of deceit. The Wizard even employs a mysterious submarine to ferry his evil henchmen to his secret underground lair. This serial's creators took great pains to try to confuse the viewers, with several red herrings, in regard to the Wizard's true identity. They even lifted several scenes from the original chapterplay (a common serial sequel practice). Batman and Robin are relentless crusaders for justice--
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Holy childhood Robin!
uds329 March 2002
I don't profess to be in a position to objectively judge the artistic merits of this series since the last (and only) time I saw it, was in 1952, when I was 7. Fifty years tends to warp perspectives! I will therefore comment only as to what it meant to me all those years ago!

It meant everything!! Shown at our local Saturday morning pictures, my friends and I would rock on down to our local Odeon theater in South East London. After Laurel and Hardy, The "Purple People Eaters" and a Jackie Coogan flick the session would close off with this serial. This was as good as jaw dropping excitement got! I didn't pay too much attention to the authenticity of the dialog or sets...just the incessant biffing. Having to wait a WHOLE WEEK to find out how Batman or Robin escaped from their impending fate...be it a bomb or approaching steam train, was exquisite torture!

In hindsight, this serial probably WAS the inspiration behind the 1960's Adam West/Burt Ward revival. It was campy but Oh, such fun. You have no idea just how MUCH fun - to a seven year old!
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Likeable Characters, Typical Serial Storyline.
AbeStreet11 February 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Possible Spoilers.

I can only recall having seen two 40's era movie serials, CAPTAIN MARVEL-1941 (CM) and BATMAN & ROBIN-1949 (BM&R) and so can only base my opinions on serials made during this time based on these two films. Both films followed the same premise of having the hero(s) track down a mysterious masked villan who through the use of advanced technology, technology which doesn't even exist today, and an endless supply of thug labor attempts to exert control over others. CM has 12 chapters and BM&R has 15 chapters. One chapter would be shown each week with a cliffhanger ending until the final chapter ends the serial by unmasking the villan and ending the crime spree. Both serials come across as a mix of mystery, action and suspense. Although the mystery of trying to figure out who is the masked villan is not a true mystery. A true mystery leaves clues so that the viewer can possibly figure out the mystery. In these serials clues are withheld until the villan is unmasked and the viewer finds out it is someone to whom the given clues did not point.

I think CM was the better of the 2 serial but BM&R was enjoyable. In each episode Batman & Robin would track down the masked villan known as the Wizard. The Wizard was able to control any moving vehicle with a machine he stole. He needed diamonds to power the machine. The Wizard also attempted to steal an experimental explosive. The Wizard also had a machine that could see anywhere. He could view his hired help, follow the Batman and Robin and other such things. However, he never used it to alert his thug help that Batman & Robin were approaching or to track Batman & Robin to their hideout. The Wizard could also hypnotize people with his blinking eyes. From a childs perspective the Wizard is very deadly and powerful. From an adults perspective The Wizard is too powerful to be believed and isn't smart enough to use the power effectively.

Batman & Robin have what would be considered by modern standards as lame costumes. Robin has a descent costume but the Batman costume looks as though it were made from pajamas and a devils mask. It is obvious to all that have seen both Bruce Wayne & Dick Grayson and Batman & Robin that they are are the same persons. They don't even try to mask their voices. The Batcave is very cheezy and the Wayne Manor looks less like a mansion and more like a middle class home in the Gothem suburbs. Why Batman and Robin even wear utility belts is beyond me as they seldom use them. The less said about the Batcar the better. Also there are no super villans so Batman & Robin beat up the same thugs over and over in each chapter.

Having said all this I must end it by saying the serial is highly enjoyable. No one watches this expecting to see award winning acting or a story that will be nominated for an Oscar. The viewer just enjoys the story for what it is. A way to escape for a short while. Looking for the flaws in the serial is as much fun as watching the story itself. The cliffhanger endings usually show the certain demise of the hero(s) and even though you know they survive you can't help but to look forward to the next chapter to see by what implausible means they were able to escape death.

So if your a fan of old serials or Batman & Robin this would probably be worth watching. It is available on VHS for a very reasonable price.
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10/10
Very Good!
JustinLC17 August 1999
A very under rated chapterplay, Batman's costume is not as bad as they say . The actors are very good, the plot is very exciting, I will not tell you any more because I recommend you see it for yourself and cast a vote!
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8/10
Without the somewhat racist overtones of 1943, this is one of the better ones
hdm9305028 October 2005
This set of serials was incredibly low budget as were all the serials. The dialogue was sort of stilted, but this film was truly Batman Begins. I mean think about it, its the first version with Vicky Vale of Picture Magazine, The first Bat signal, first commissioner Gordon. It wasn't the campy cheese product of the 1960s. It wasn't the far fetched plots of the 1990s movies. Lets face it this serial was incredibly low budget but somehow its still better than every movie 1990s batman live action movie except Batman (1989). The remote control machine is a bit dated, but I'm thinking that the idea has something to do with the fact that TV-the televiewer- and the remote control machine- your remote- were new items in the households of millions and so even the idea of radio waves stopping transportation and electricity isn't that far off. Its far more believable for instance then that horrible mind reader that was on Batman Forever. So if you want ****ty batman flicks watch the dreadful returns, forever, and robin flicks. If you want a good evening of entertainment and good fun watch the New Adventures of Batman and Robin.
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8/10
Under-rated. Far more enjoyable than the 1943 original, in spite of its many flaws.
gothamite2726 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I think 'Batman and Robin' (1949) gets a really bad rap. In my opinion, it's really fun, fast-paced, nostalgic entertainment. There are obviously really silly bits in it, but there are very few truly cringeworthy moments in it. Most of the poor special effects and moments of deus ex machina (Batman's blowtorch magically appearing on his utility belt) just add to the fun, in my opinion.

I think Robert Lowery looked, sounded and was GREAT as Batman. Obviously at first, his costume looks a bit hokey, but you really get used to it. The cape looks amazing and it's perfectly dark and black throughout (compared to the 1943 cape which looked depressingly white on occasion). Even the 'devil-horns' (which a lot of people complain about) grew on me and reminded me of Batman's original 1939 suit. Lowery also had a physical presence as Batman that neither Lewis Wilson or even Adam West had. He LOOKED tough and athletic (although he could have been wearing a girdle, :P).

John Duncan is decent and inoffensive as Robin. He's not given a LOT to do, but what he does, he does it pretty well. People complain that he's too old and I suppose he is, but he easily passes for a 19-22 year old and is just as plausible as an older Boy Wonder as Chris O'Donnell (who I loved) was, 46 years later. Also, even though it lacks the yellow cape of the comics, I LOVE Robin's costume. It's much darker and looks great next to Batman. I like to think that the cape is a very dark green, as opposed to black.

Probably the best thing about this serial, when comparing it to the original is the plot and the villain. The 'Remote Control Machine' and 'The Wizard' are far more interesting (albeit slightly clichéd) villains than the irritatingly racist-propaganda-villain from the original. The actor playing the Wizard is again, a tough, imposing villain with an amazingly fascinating voice. He really seems like a genuine threat to Batman.

My biggest problem with this serial is that Batman and Robin lose nearly every single fight in it, so that there can be a cliffhanger. In spite of Lowery's toughness, Batman really isn't and every criminal he gets his hands on, he "hands over to the police for questioning", instead of pounding the answers out of them, himself. Not to mention, in several chapters, Batman and Robin follow the villains to the entrance of their secret hideout, only to lose track of them. It's really irritating that Batman never considers staking out the entrance. The final installment of this serial is really entertaining and my favourite chapter, probably because it highlights all of the flaws I have just mentioned. Batman finally decides to wait outside the entrance to the secret lair, follows one of the henchmen in and DEMANDS that he bring him to the Wizard. Lowery is REALLY cool in this scene.

I think that Lowery and Duncan would have been great for a 1950s Batman TV show, along the same lines as the first season of 'Adventures of Superman', which was incredibly dark and full of gangsters and murderers. Single episodes would suit the characters better than drawn-out serials, purely because they could display their power in full, rather than having it frustratingly neutered and saved for the finale, as happened in this serial.

Nevertheless, I would definitely recommend this serial to all fans of Batman. Personally, in spite of its flaws, I find it to be far more enjoyable than the 1966 show, which while excellent, was just a big joke. I prefer the unintentional, kitschy humour of this serial, not to mention the performance of Lowery who is probably my favourite live-action Batman before the blockbuster movies began (and frankly, I'd rank him above George Clooney, easily).
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NOT AS BAD AS IT SEEMS
davidgregorymeek5 August 2000
I do believe that the sequel Batman serial is very dated for the 40s and that time period, but it is a very nice representation of how the times were then. The only thing I don't like is there is no batmobile or any of the fancy cars as in the current 90's films. The costumes are very good and represent how earlier forms of Batman and Robin really were. They were not always the plastic wearing gurus of today's movies and it was more practical for the hero to get hurt or killed, thus the chapters every week and cliffhanger endings. Overall, I give Batman and Robin 1949 a rating of 7 out of 10.
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6/10
Fun, action filled serial
Albert Ohayon20 November 2001
As a Batman fan I was very surprised to see that this serial was actually as good as it is. Robert Lowery and John Duncan are just right as Batman and Robin. Duncan is quite athletic and holds his own in the action sequences. Lowery is solid as both Batman and the seemingly lazy Bruce Wayne. There are enough action sequences, car chases, bat-fights and derring-do to please most Bat-fans and the Wizard makes a pretty good Bat-villain (not in the same league as the Joker but still pretty good). The story is OK. The fact that it has to be stretched over 15 chapters forces some repetition but it all holds together. A good deal of the movie was shot outdoors which gives it a nice feel. On the minus side is the lack of Batmobile. It just doesn't feel right watching the Dynamic Duo chase crooks in a convertible. Oh well we die hard fans have the Bat-signal, the Bat-cave, Commissioner Gordon (nicely played by Lyle Talbot) and Vickie Vale to keep us happy. Not surprisingly, some of the cliff-hanger endings are better than others. One that stands out is when Batman and the railway chief are trapped in a cabin with a weird bomb device about to explode....and the clocks start to accelerate!! Overall a good serial and a nice change of pace from the 1960s silliness and the 1990s dark brooding hero.

I give it 6 Bats out of 10.
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8/10
Where's my Degooinater?
Brandt Sponseller3 May 2005
In the review I just finished for Darkness (2002/I), I mentioned how "originality" shouldn't be an important consideration for artworks, because it is a quality that's usually determined by the viewer's familiarity with precursor material, which almost always exists. This 1949 Batman and Robin serial is a great example of that. I'm a big fan of the 1966 – 1968 "Batman" television show starring Adam West (please release it on DVD, by the way!). I would have said that the late 60s television show was a very original portrayal of the caped crusader. No, I wasn't quite so stupid to believe that 20th Century Fox Television invented the character. What I would have meant is that the wonderfully campy way that they portrayed the character was original. However, I had never even heard of this 1949 serial until the release of the DVD this past March (which is probably sufficient for serious Batman fans to call me stupid, after all). I was completely surprised at how close in tone and appearance Batman and Robin is to the Adam West show. That hasn't lessened my appreciation of the television show, but it certainly helped me love Batman and Robin!

That's not to say that Batman and Robin contains fight scenes with swanky late 1960s go-go music and "Bang!" and "Wham!" graphics superimposed in colorful little stars, but the fight scenes here are not far from that. Plus, Robert Lowery, who plays Batman here, looks strikingly similar to Adam West, his costume looks similar, as does Robin (Johnny Duncan) and his costume, Alfred (Eric Wilton), Commissioner Gordon (Lyle Talbot), the Bruce Wayne house set, the Batcave set, and so on. This serial is always just on the edge of camp/supreme cheesiness, and it frequently crosses that line. It makes you realize that the Adam West television series arrived at its tenor by just slightly exaggerating this serial enough so that it would become a tongue-in-cheek spoof.

So how do you know if you'll like Batman and Robin if you haven't seen it? If you've seen the Adam West television show, imagine it toned down just a tad, film it in black & white, and set it in the late 1940s--Batman even drives a big, old late 40s gas guzzler instead of the Batmobile. Just like the television show, every one of the 15 episodes here except the last end in a ridiculous cliff-hanger, with a narrator saying, "Can Batman release himself from the web of duct tape without falling into the boiling vat of goo?" And of course we know that the next episode will have him easily escaping. Except here, unlike the television show, he'll escape merely by an easy physical effort rather than employing the "Bat Anti-duct-tape-de-goo-inater". Well, usually. There were cool "oxygen breathers" and such.

The villain here is known as "The Wizard". He has the typical comic book bad guy dreams of world domination/destruction. He tries to achieve this primarily by acquiring a "remote control" machine, which is a big old vacuum tube and dial monstrosity that enables its wielder to manipulate any kind of mechanical/electrical device at a distance. It basically turns things like automobiles into life-sized versions of those remote controlled toy cars you can buy at Radio Shack, except that it makes them even easier to break. This probably seemed like a much more amazing, fantastical idea in 1949. Now it's just humorous, especially how The Wizard can "tune" the remote control machine into any object of his desire by arbitrarily tweaking a couple big rotary knobs.

In order to stretch out the serial, which is just the one story (maybe that's normal for serials--I don't know, this is the first one I've seen so far) into 15 episodes, most of which are around 16 minutes in length, minus the minute or two recap of the previous episode's cliffhanger at the beginning, The Wizard has to run into a lot of technical glitches, almost have his henchman caught a few times, and they keep trying to dispose of Batman and Robin in different ways--each time saying, "Now they're really out of our hair for good!"--This is said about ten times. The bulk of each episode consists of material like this, plus the obligatory, frequently hilarious fight scenes.

That might not sound completely attractive, but the absurdity of the scenarios and the absurdity of the "repetitions" make Batman and Robin very entertaining. Some aspects--such as the Batcave material, including Batman's ridiculous devices (my favorite was a machine that could reconstruct a photograph that had been burnt to ashes), could have been featured more often for my tastes. Vicki Vale (a very attractive Jane Adams) and the ubiquitous human deus ex machina, Barry Brown (Rick Vallin), could have been better integrated into the plot and made more important characters. But overall, Batman and Robin is well constructed and well written, as long as you have a strong taste for the ridiculous.

It is well known that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were influenced by serials from this era. Although I don't know the extent to which Batman and Robin was actually an influence on Lucas, it's interesting to note at least some minor resemblances to Star Wars, including the fact that The Wizard has Darth Vader qualities, some episodes have names like "The Wizard Strikes Back", and the musical cue when the episode title card appears sounds suspiciously similar to John Williams score when the episode title cards appear in the Star Wars films. I also thought it was interesting to note the ways in which Gene Simmons' early costumes, at least, bore a resemblance to this (and the West) instantiation of Batman. But that would only interest you if you were also a Kiss fan.

Is Batman and Robin "original"? I suppose I'll have to save that for if and when the 1943 serial, The Batman, makes it to DVD.
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Everything I Could Want And More
StuOz16 February 2009
The nine elements that make this just so good: Batman, Bruce, Robin, Dick, The Wizard, the high energy stock music that just keeps going for the whole serial, the remote control machine that gets a "fix" on things (a pre-Time Tunnel?), the 1940s cars that race around country roads and the very straight tone of the show.

Don't confuse this with the lesser 1943 "Batman" serial, this 1949 serial is totally different and 100 times better! Some of my reasons for liking 49 Bat are too private to put on-line, but to me, they don't come better than 49 Bat. I have seen all the modern dark takes on Batman (often without Robin!) and they don't compare to this harmless cliff-hanger serial.
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EVEN CRAZIER THAN THE 1960'S SERIES
Big Movie Fan5 March 2002
This show was crazier than the 1960's series (if that's at all possible). The acting was very camp and the sets were just funny to look at.

It wasn't a bad show to watch if you're like me and able to turn on the humor when it suits you. It was a shame that we never saw no big villains such as the Joker or the Riddler but the Wizard was a decent enough villain.

If ever this shows on your local TV channel then I strongly urge you to turn on the humor, sit down and enjoy this camp classic.
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5/10
Holy Wizard, Batman...
beejer22 December 1999
Competent serial from the team of Sam Katzman/Spencer Bennet. Inferior to the 1943 original. it is nonetheless entertaining. No Batmobiles or Batplanes here though. It's the old story of the hooded mad scientist villain trying to take over the world by employing some secret destructive ray.

Robert Lowery and Johnny Duncan play Batman and Robin respectively in this outing. Lowery is a decidedly dull Batman, playing him with the same stuffed shirt attitude as he does Bruce Wayne. The best that can be said about Duncan's "acting" is that I hope he didn't quit his regular job before undertaking this role.

The rest of the cast is good though, led by Lyle Talbot as Commissioner Gordon and many of Columbia's stock company of villains in assorted roles.

The identity of the Wizard is skillfully kept in doubt until the end of the last chapter. The stunts are adequate and the cliff hangers are mostly of the car over the cliff and exploding device variety.

Except for the two leads, I nevertheless did enjoy this serial very much.
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2/10
Did the other reviewers here see a different series than me?
johastra20 October 2014
Where do I begin? *Spoilers!* (Barely)

*Gotham is comprised almost entirely of either scrub brush or empty warehouses.

*Batman keeps his costume balled up in a generic metal filing cabinet. The costume itself is of very poor construction and clearly impairs his ability to see. He drives a standard sedan which is indistinguishable from other cars on the road. His abilities as a detective are several steps below a knock-off Hardy boy. As Bruce Wayne, he makes very little effort to conceal his hidden identity.

*Robin barely enunciates his dialog and seems completely bored or half awake throughout the entire run.

*The villain is comically inept and his goons are even worse. His machinations are confused and almost all of his screen time consists of him standing in front of a large piece of machinery twiddling knobs.

*Every single fight scene is a farce that looks as though the actors are improvising it as they go.

*The story barely progresses over the course of 15 episodes and repeats plot points liberally.

*Batman eventually triumphs only because the 'villains' he fights against are even more incompetent than he.

This is easily the cheapest, laziest and least imaginative vision of Batman I have seen and I'm well acquainted with his exploits. Enjoyable only in a derisive, ironic way.
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5/10
"You're clever Batman, but not as clever as the Wizard!"
classicsoncall8 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I really wish I had seen this as a kid because I'm pretty well convinced I wouldn't have fallen for any of the goofy gimmicks on display here. Don't get me wrong, these Columbia serials have a special place in the minds and hearts of Batman fans like myself, but they do take a special effort to get through. One is always on the fence on how liberal one's use of the fast forward button ought to be, in my case I have to breeze through each of the opening chapters to get to just the right spot to see what kind of red herring the last one offered before a car went over a cliff or some building blew up.

Robert Lowery and Johnny Duncan seemed like pretty good choices to portray the costumed heroes; Lowery managed to distract me a bit with his uncanny resemblance to Johnny Weissmuller, and it eventually dawned on me that he portrayed Big Tim Champion in the 'Circus Boy' TV series of the mid-Fifties. How he dealt with the Bat-Mask I'll never know, the protruding nose and ears might have been menacing to crooks but they seemed rather silly looking to me. Perhaps to further a connection to Batman's namesake, I thought it interesting that the script often called for him to swoop down from an elevated position with outstretched cape to simulate a flying bat.

One of the funniest things throughout the entire serial occurred when Batman needed a blow torch to cut through some wall or other, and he just so happened to have one under his cape. Throughout the story there are a myriad of credibility defying devices introduced that boggle the mind like a remote control machine that stops automotive vehicles in their tracks, invisibility rays, and a tele-viewer the Wizard is able to use to see virtually anything the script calls for.

More than anything, what blows my mind is that at one time, grown men saw fit to write, produce and act in these stories with virtually no self-conscious embarrassment over how dumb they looked. Take for example any scene in which more than one thug or henchman was involved in which they consistently crossed paths wondering what to do next. And was it my imagination or did every uniformed policeman in the picture look like he was already past retirement age?

Well look, I don't want to rain on anyone's parade here. Early serials like this were an interesting attempt to get super-heroes from the comic pages onto the big screen and were wildly and successfully accepted by young matinée fans of the day. And if you missed an episode during any fifteen chapter run it's not like it would have been the end of the world. You just picked up the story in mid stream the following week and you'd be back on track in no time.
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7/10
Was released as one long movie in late 50's approx
normbozo-780-5164052 March 2015
I saw this at the neighborhood movie house, as one continuous movie, but since I was probably about 10 years old, 1960 or so?, they must have edited it down from the 260 minutes listed here. Couldn't have sat for 4+ hours.

Typical of these serials, each chapter ended with the one or more of the heroes being "killed" in some clearly inescapable crash, explosion , cave-in, etc. But in the next chapter, the sequence of events was altered just enough to let them escape from the danger.

They probably counted on folks seeing these chapters a week apart, so they wouldn't notice the switcheroo.

"Batman" had some reasonably clever gadgets, for a 1949 movie.

Check out William Fawcett actor on Wikipedia, the actor who played Professor Hammil, if you're my age you will recognize him as a character actor who appeared in many movies and TV shows
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