Tag Archives: Bill Finger

Batman and Robin (1949, Spencer Gordon Bennet), Chapter 12: Robin Rides the Wind

The chapter title, Robin Rides the Wind, got me hoping Robin would jump out of a plane or something. Without a chute. Sad spoiler: he doesn’t.

The chapter does clear one of the Wizard suspects, which would probably be more effective if the character–played by Michael Whalen–appeared more often. He doesn’t appear often. He appears three times. Including this chapter.

So it’s not him. But radio broadcaster Rick Vallin is still a suspect (sort of). He’s revealing secret police information over his radio show again. Out of his living room broadcast studio.

The chapter does have Robert Lowery and Johnny Duncan running around a big house’s grounds in costume. They run rather amusingly. And there’s not a lot of action so Ira H. Morgan’s night-for-day photography is fine.

The finale of this chapter is enough like the finale of last chapter it’s getting hard to keep track. Very little happens in between the cliffhanger resolve and the new cliffhanger–after Whalen and Vallin are done with their appearances; it’s just Lowery and Duncan showing how inept they are at successfully entrapping suspects.

It’s so close to being over and it’s still so far away.

CREDITS

Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet; screenplay by George H. Plympton, Joseph F. Poland, and Royal K. Cole, based on characters created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger; director of photography, Ira H. Morgan; edited by Dwight Caldwell and Earl Turner; produced by Sam Katzman; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Robert Lowery (Batman / Bruce Wayne), Johnny Duncan (Robin / Dick Grayson), Jane Adams (Vicki Vale), Lyle Talbot (Commissioner Jim Gordon), Don C. Harvey (Henchman Nolan), Lee Roberts (Henchman Neal), William Fawcett (Prof. Hammil), Leonard Penn (Carter), Rick Vallin (Barry Brown), Michael Whalen (Private Investigator Dunne), George Offerman Jr. (Henchman Jimmy), and Eric Wilton (Alfred Beagle).


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Batman and Robin (1949, Spencer Gordon Bennet), Chapter 11: Robin's Ruse

So when Robin (Johnny Duncan) is alone in the Batcave, he doesn’t use the changing room. He puts on his tights in the public area. Off-screen, sure, but Robin’s Ruse confirms it.

The titular Ruse isn’t particularly exciting. It’s fairly predictable, especially after the cliffhanger reveal at the beginning, with one adequate surprise. But for Batman and Robin, adequacy might as well be excellence.

And before the ruse, there’s even a scene with almost okay delivery from “lead” Robert Lowery–opposite William Fawcett. Once the scene’s over, Lowery’s back to his usual unbearable self.

Some good day-for-night photography from Ira H. Morgan.

Unfortunately, much of the episode is bad guy Lee Roberts barking orders at the other bad guys. Roberts is terrible. His character’s poorly written–bad ideas as expository fodder–but every one of Roberts’s deliveries is bad. The bad guy scenes, which are the serial’s main type of scene, suffer greatly.

It’s a strange sensation–Duncan and Lowery not giving the serial’s worst performances.

CREDITS

Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet; screenplay by George H. Plympton, Joseph F. Poland, and Royal K. Cole, based on characters created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger; director of photography, Ira H. Morgan; edited by Dwight Caldwell and Earl Turner; produced by Sam Katzman; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Robert Lowery (Batman / Bruce Wayne), Johnny Duncan (Robin / Dick Grayson), Jane Adams (Vicki Vale), Lyle Talbot (Commissioner Jim Gordon), Don C. Harvey (Henchman Nolan), Lee Roberts (Henchman Neal), William Fawcett (Prof. Hammil), Leonard Penn (Carter), Rick Vallin (Barry Brown), Michael Whalen (Private Investigator Dunne), George Offerman Jr. (Henchman Jimmy), and Eric Wilton (Alfred Beagle).


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Batman and Robin (1949, Spencer Gordon Bennet), Chapter 10: Batman's Last Chance!

The chapter title, Batman’s Last Chance!, must refer to Batman’s last chance to run around in this particular drab office building. I don’t think it’s supposed to be the same one they used earlier, but it definitely appears to be the same set. The last third–maybe less but it feels like a third–of the chapter is Robert Lowery running around this office building’s corridors trying to avoid the bad guys.

Until Lowery suits up for the finale, Last Chance is one of the better chapters. It passes time with less annoyance than a usual Batman and Robin chapter. Probably because most of it is Jane Adams and her crook brother, George Offerman Jr. Everyone acts real dumb–Offerman not noticing Adams following him, the crooks locking Adams up with a live telephone, Adams calling Bruce Wayne for help instead of the cops; the list of dumb, as always, is way too long.

There’s one pleasant surprise when the possible cliffhanger device–an electrified door–doesn’t turn out to be that device. It’s a misdirection device, but not a drawn out one. Works better in the chapter. Provides something like drama.

If only Lowery were able to convey such a thing with his acting. He and Robin Johnny Duncan could care less about their failed superhero outings endangering the general public.

CREDITS

Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet; screenplay by George H. Plympton, Joseph F. Poland, and Royal K. Cole, based on characters created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger; director of photography, Ira H. Morgan; edited by Dwight Caldwell and Earl Turner; produced by Sam Katzman; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Robert Lowery (Batman / Bruce Wayne), Johnny Duncan (Robin / Dick Grayson), Jane Adams (Vicki Vale), Lyle Talbot (Commissioner Jim Gordon), Don C. Harvey (Henchman Nolan), Lee Roberts (Henchman Neal), William Fawcett (Prof. Hammil), Leonard Penn (Carter), Rick Vallin (Barry Brown), Michael Whalen (Private Investigator Dunne), George Offerman Jr. (Henchman Jimmy), and Eric Wilton (Alfred Beagle).


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Batman and Robin (1949, Spencer Gordon Bennet), Chapter 9: The Wizard Strikes Back!

There’s some family drama for Jane Adams this chapter of Batman and Robin, as George Offerman Jr. returns to provide the main story for The Wizard Strikes Back! Otherwise, it’s just Robert Lowery and Johnny Duncan goofing off and being lousy superheroes.

Besides watching Lowery’s Batman cape flail as he tries to flag down a car (the mysterious Wizard has remotely disabled his car), the most amusing moment is when Lowery gets he and Duncan’s costumes from the file cabinet drawer. Duncan waits for Lowery to get his own out. Because they have to be together when they change, because Duncan–especially in this chapter–is just Lowery’s sidekick. There are a couple moments where Duncan gets to trouble first then just hangs back for Lowery to catch up. It really drags things down.

Still, the Wizard stuff is fine. Offerman’s better than the regular cast members.

Another dumb logic moment comes when police commissioner Lyle Talbot visits Lowery for crime-fighting advice. Not Lowery as Batman, but Lowery as Bruce Wayne. He and Adams are sitting around the suburban homestead, waiting for their lunch. Why Adams never wonders why layabout Lowery is always so involved… it gives her an impossible part.

Other cast members don’t get impossible roles, they just flub the ones they get. But the writing on Adams’s part is dreadful.

Batman and Robin itself isn’t dreadful. It’s just bad. And endlessly repetitive (but without a lot of repeat footage, it’s just the same serial set pieces, over and over, in different locations).

CREDITS

Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet; screenplay by George H. Plympton, Joseph F. Poland, and Royal K. Cole, based on characters created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger; director of photography, Ira H. Morgan; edited by Dwight Caldwell and Earl Turner; produced by Sam Katzman; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Robert Lowery (Batman / Bruce Wayne), Johnny Duncan (Robin / Dick Grayson), Jane Adams (Vicki Vale), Lyle Talbot (Commissioner Jim Gordon), Don C. Harvey (Henchman Nolan), Lee Roberts (Henchman Neal), William Fawcett (Prof. Hammil), Leonard Penn (Carter), Rick Vallin (Barry Brown), Michael Whalen (Private Investigator Dunne), George Offerman Jr. (Henchman Jimmy), and Eric Wilton (Alfred Beagle).


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