Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 3: The Mark of the Zombies

Despite a tantalizing title, The Mark of the Zombies has nothing to do with zombies’ marks. If there is a zombie, it’s Gus Glassmire, who’s just been electronically brainwashed by J. Carrol Naish. Glassmire still refuses to sell out the U.S. to Japan–it’s inexplicable why Naish asks him again, as nothing’s changed other than Batman and Robin foiling Naish’s plans. Anyway, then there’s the electronic brainwashing sequence and a “zombie” Glassmire.

And he promptly disappears from the chapter. Without a mark on him.

Lewis Wilson and Douglas Croft try once again to trap Naish’s henchmen, but fail again. They actually fail twice. One thing about Batman and Robin… they’re really, really bad at their jobs. There’s a big fight sequence–where cowering William Austin has some great comedic moments–only it’s not like Wilson and Croft are any good at beating up the thugs.

The thugs escape and the heroes pursue, setting up the cliffhanger, which is another weak one. Sadly, it’s also when Mark gets its most exciting. When the action is on a sound stage and complicated–this time a train trestle–director Hillyer does a perfectly solid job. It’s exciting.

Until that weak cliffhanger.

Also interesting is how much more time is spent with the villains than the heroes. Shirley Patterson–rescued again, though no doubt soon to be in danger once more–isn’t even conscious this time out. It’s a shame since Wilson and Croft save her in costume, yet take her and wait with her at the doctor’s out of costume.

Logic isn’t one of the screenwriters’ competencies, much less strengths.

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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