Tuesday, January 15, 2008

DVD: Batman and Robin -- January 15, 2007

I've enjoyed movie serials ever since a Saturday-night television show ran Zombies of the Stratosphere one episode a week back in the 1960s.
My latest serial is Columbia's 1949 Batman and Robin, which was a sequel to The Batman from 1943. I've also been a fan of Batman since I first saw the television show and read the comic books, also back in the 1960s. Superman has his powers because he was born on another planet. Spiderman has his because he was bitten by a radioactive spider. Batman is a self-made man.
Columbia serials aren't as well regarded as Republic serials. My daughter noticed the lack of production values. When I pointed out that many sets and supporting actors were shared with the Three Stooges, she was even less impressed. Despite all that, I enjoyed it. I think I liked The Batman better -- I know I missed Doctor Daka -- but this one was all right.
The actors who played Batman and Robin, Robert Lowrey and Johnny Duncan, played the roles differently. Lowrey was very diffident and bored as Bruce Wayne. Many reviewers have complained that his cowl did not fit properly and he often had to tilt his head back to see what was going on. I only noticed that a few times, especially after vigorous running. Many reviewers have pointed out that Duncan was a tough looking Robin, tougher than anyone else who played the role. I didn't have a problem with that. I'd want a tough guy backing me up if I was fighting crime.
There was no Batmobile, only a Mercury convertible, which people sometimes recognized as Bruce Wayne's car. That was disappointing. Wayne Manor was a suburban ranch house.
There were nice views of Southern Pacific locomotives in two episodes.
The villian, called The Wizard, was not impressive, especially when his invisibility device blew a fuse and he was left running around in broad daylight. He stole a device which was capable of controlling any moving machine remotely. I'm not sure how that would work with a machine like a steam locomotive. His henchmen, who I could not tell apart, reached his hideout in a remote-controlled or automatic submarine. That seemed to be awfully complicated.
In the end, though, everything kept moving along. I was sad to see The Wizard get foiled and the whole thing grind to a halt.

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