Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 9: The Sign of the Sphinx

Incredibly, Douglas Croft’s Robin doesn’t get beat up this chapter. Sure, Lewis Wilson still manages to get pummeled, but Croft makes it through without being incapacitated once. Well, except in the cliffhanger resolution and then only temporarily.

After quickly ridding themselves of Shirley Patterson–in a stunning display of callowness from Wilson (one has to be impressed with how enthusiastically he plays the heel, even it’s impossible for the narrative)–Wilson and Croft question captured gangster Ted Oliver.

Even though they’re playing a trick on Oliver to get information, Oliver’s defeated performance says about all there is to be said about Batman. Why bother.

However, then Wilson puts on some makeup to be a boxer looking for trouble and it’s actually all right. The concluding action scene, on docks and a ship, doesn’t have much in the way of good direction from Hillyer, but Dwight Caldwell and Earl Turner’s editing is decent.

Of course, they can’t do anything with the (as always) yawn-inducing cliffhanger.


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), Ted Oliver (Marshall), and J. Carrol Naish (Dr. Daka).


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