Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 2: The Bat’s Cave

While the resolution to the previous chapter’s cliffhanger is extremely lackluster, The Bat’s Cave sort of recovers as it goes along. It just has to get through Batman Lewis Wilson terrifying butler William Austin with the radioactive laser gun.

Then it’s time for villain J. Carol Naish to order the kidnapping of Shirley Patterson and for Wilson and Douglas Croft to have to mount a rescue. Director Hillyer does all right, especially considering the budget, as Wilson and Croft investigate in disguise before suiting up in their long johns.

The finale has some strong action involving a power line (clearly shot on a set then cutting to James S. Brown Jr.’s underwhelming day-for-night photography) and a decent fight sequence where Wilson and Croft take on the kidnappers.

Hillyer does try to cover the budget deficiencies, but there’s only so much he can do. A nightclub scene, with recycled establishing shots, doesn’t impress and neither does the “Bat’s Cave”, where Wilson and Croft apparently hold criminals (without restraint) next to Batman’s brooding desk.

Sadly, despite the steady action in the second half, this chapter’s cliffhanger is even weaker than the last one. Though it will be interesting to see if everyone survives this one–the opening resolution apparently kills off a bystander as it rescues Wilson.

CREDITS

Directed by Lambert Hillyer; screenplay by Victor McLeod, Leslie Swabacker, and Harry L. Fraser, based on characters created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger; director of photography, James S. Brown Jr.; edited by Dwight Caldwell and Earl Turner; music by Lee Zahler; produced by Rudolph C. Flothow; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Lewis Wilson (Batman / Bruce Wayne), Douglas Croft (Robin / Dick Grayson), Shirley Patterson (Linda Page), William Austin (Alfred Pennyworth), Gus Glassmire (Martin Warren), Robert Fiske (Foster), and J. Carrol Naish (Dr. Daka).


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