Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 6: Poison Peril

Poison Peril actually fits a lot into the chapter. Narrative too, not just racism. Lots of racism this time around, with the screenwriters rushing to fit in slurs.

There’s the exceptionally weak cliffhanger resolution–it’s like they aren’t even cliffhangers as much as pauses in action–J. Carrol Naish plotting with a submarine, Shirley Patterson gets a couple scenes, an all-new supporting character (Charles Middleton), and William Austin getting some comedic moments. Austin (or his stuntman) even gets into some fisticuffs.

Oh, and Batman and Robin actually win a fight. When it’s two against three, they can win. Well, the first time. The second time it’s two against three, they lose miserably. Mostly because Douglas Croft (definitely his stuntman) never can take out his opponent.

Middleton’s got a cowboy hat and a prospector beard; he’s a prospector, so it’s appropriate he’s got said beard. He’s got a precious mineral Naish wants. Naish finds out about it through standard contrivances.

When the chapter’s moving fast enough–once Naish’s submarine intrigue is over–it’s not terrible. It’s not good, but Lewis Wilson and Croft are affable enough leads. Batman only works when there’s enough Bruce Wayne.


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), Charles Middleton (Ken Colton), and J. Carrol Naish (Dr. Daka).


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