Tag Archives: Earl Turner

Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 4: Slaves of the Rising Sun

When the chapter title refers to Slaves of the Rising Sun, I guess it means J. Carol Naish’s traitorous American henchmen. They really don’t do anything; well, Robert Fiske argues with Naish about Japan’s chances in the war to ill result, but otherwise, they don’t really do anything. They don’t even get enough personality to be yes men.

After yet another weak cliffhanger resolution, Rising Sun sets up the chapter’s action. Shirley Patterson is going to a mystic to find her missing uncle. She asks Lewis Wilson to go with, but he acts the foppish playboy so he can secretly go as Batman and save the day. See, he’s realized it’s a trap for Patterson and he wants to find out more about Naish’s gang (even though he doesn’t know anything about Naish).

Doesn’t quite work out in Wilson’s favor so he and Douglas Croft end up chasing some bad guys.

It’s not a terrible car chase at the end; like much of Hillyer’s action direction, it goes perfectly fine until all of a sudden Hillyer fumbles on something and the serial can’t recover. The turning point in Rising Sun is when Batman climbs down into the cab of the bad guy’s truck and the driver just watches him without reacting. He must be a cautious driver.

Also of interest? Once again, the cliffhanger resolution establishes Batman has committed manslaughter in his derring-do. Wilson–though Croft too to some degree–are inordinately incompetent as crimefighters.

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), Robert Fiske (Foster), and J. Carrol Naish (Dr. Daka).


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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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Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 2: The Bat's Cave

While the resolution to the previous chapter’s cliffhanger is extremely lackluster, The Bat’s Cave sort of recovers as it goes along. It just has to get through Batman Lewis Wilson terrifying butler William Austin with the radioactive laser gun.

Then it’s time for villain J. Carol Naish to order the kidnapping of Shirley Patterson and for Wilson and Douglas Croft to have to mount a rescue. Director Hillyer does all right, especially considering the budget, as Wilson and Croft investigate in disguise before suiting up in their long johns.

The finale has some strong action involving a power line (clearly shot on a set then cutting to James S. Brown Jr.’s underwhelming day-for-night photography) and a decent fight sequence where Wilson and Croft take on the kidnappers.

Hillyer does try to cover the budget deficiencies, but there’s only so much he can do. A nightclub scene, with recycled establishing shots, doesn’t impress and neither does the “Bat’s Cave”, where Wilson and Croft apparently hold criminals (without restraint) next to Batman’s brooding desk.

Sadly, despite the steady action in the second half, this chapter’s cliffhanger is even weaker than the last one. Though it will be interesting to see if everyone survives this one–the opening resolution apparently kills off a bystander as it rescues Wilson.

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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Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 1: The Electrical Brain

The first chapter of Batman introduces the main cast–Lewis Wilson and Douglas Croft as Batman and Robin (and their alter egos), villain J. Carrol Naish, damsel in distress Shirley Patterson–and establishes some of the ground situation. Naish is an evil Japanese agent (if Electric Brain is any indication, Batman is going to be exceptionally racist) who kidnaps Patterson’s uncle. He’s got a ray gun, a secret lair, mind control devices, all sorts of gadgets.

He’s also got henchman who can beat up Wilson and Croft without much trouble.

There’s not much establishing for Wilson and Croft; I’m not even sure they get their civilian identities. And Brain skips any Batman origin–there’s a quick line of dialogue suggesting Batman and Robin are unofficial domestic agents, trying to root out Axis evil on the home front.

Decent (enough) performances from Wilson and Patterson–and an amiable one from Croft–work in spite of the script. When he’s not in costume running around, Wilson’s mostly a boob. And Naish and his goons are pretty dim, so Wilson comes off as incompetent, which doesn’t help things.

There’s only the one big action sequence, setting up the cliffhanger. Wilson and Croft get mercilessly beat up. While problematic for the narrative, it is the only time the Batman costume looks all right. Dwight Caldwell and Earl Turner’s editing, both on the fisticuffs and an early car chase, is solid. There’s only so much they can do with the material though.

The teaser for the second chapter is particularly weak–and completely unrelated to the cliffhanger, like the filmmakers knew the cliffhanger wasn’t compelling.

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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