Tag Archives: Douglas Croft

Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 11: A Nipponese Trap

So, even though the title is A Nipponese Trap, there’s no trap in the chapter. Unless it’s when the bad guys bail out Lewis Wilson–in his thug disguise–so they can run him over. Except Douglas Croft and William Austin have already bailed him out, yet they don’t go to pick him up. The bad guys are there.

Screenwriters Victor McLeod, Leslie Swabacker, and Harry L. Fraser are really out of ideas for this one. Besides the pointless double bailout sequences, there’s also Austin repeating Wilson’s instructions to Croft, even though the viewer heard Wilson’s instructions. Sure, it gives Austin another few lines and he’s fun, but it’s another drag on the already dragging narrative.

The resolution to the cliffhanger is bad, as always, though it’s also revealed Wilson left Croft unconscious with five of the bad guys to run away. Batman’s really not good at the whole caped crusader thing; the screenwriters characterize him as a punch-happy tool.

Though it is nice for Wilson to get some scenes in his thug persona. He’s pretty funny in it.

And, sadly, the usually sturdy editors flop at the end–Dwight Caldwell and Earl Turner’s cuts setting up the cliffhanger reveal its resolution.

Oh, and the one big action set piece–a truck accident–obviously uses footage from something else. Worse, someone had the shockingly dumb idea of giving the non-action truck a distinct signage… which clearly doesn’t match the old footage.

It’s just inept at this point.

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), and J. Carrol Naish (Dr. Daka).


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Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 10: Flying Spies

And now Batman is back to the misleading chapter titles. There aren’t spies in Flying Spies, there’s only one spy on the plane.

After the laziest cliffhanger resolution in the series so far–and there have been some lazy ones–Lewis Wilson and Douglas Croft take a break from crimefighting (i.e. getting beat up by the same four thugs) to get new orders from Washington. Luckily, J. Carrol Naish is hiring new guys to intercept the plane, so Wilson throws on his makeup again.

The chapter sort of moves well–the logic pitfalls are many and frequent, but they don’t kill the pace. Director Hillyer even tries some camera movement in an establishing shot. That effort doesn’t last long, however, with the cliffhanger both familiar and utterly absurd.

At least the makeup gives Wilson something to do besides be a heel to Shirley Patterson (she’s around long enough for him to be a heel then exits).

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), and J. Carrol Naish (Dr. Daka).


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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.

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


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Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 8: Lured by Radium

Lured by Radium actually does refer to the content of the chapter. It’s almost getting to be a habit for Batman. Unfortunately, all the serial’s other bad habits are in play here.

The recap and resolution of the previous chapter takes a fifth of the runtime. Once again, boring resolution, but at least then Charles Middleton and Shirley Patterson show up. Middleton’s showing the bad guys his radium mine, Patterson drags Lewis Wilson and Douglas Croft out there to look for him. It’s in the mountains, which is a nice change from the backlot.

Director Hillyer doesn’t exactly excel on outdoor location, but he certainly does a little better.

Middleton has some nice moments, Patterson and William Austin almost have some nice moments. Everything else is about the same… down to how Wilson and Croft’s Batman and Robin fight goes. It’s particularly noticeable since the recap has their entire previous fight with the same choreography and plotting.

And then the cliffhanger’s kind of dangerous?

The one weird thing is how there’s a Native American character, who isn’t well-portrayed, but he’s still better portrayed than the gangsters. Batman’s racism apparently has layers.

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


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