Tuesday, August 21, 2012

BATMAN & ROBIN - seriado 1949

Eu nasci em Marilia-SP em Maio de 1949... justamente quando o seriado 'Batman & Robin' estreiava nos cinemas dos Estados Unidos. Comecei a freqüentar as matinees do Cine Marilia a partir de 1957, quando tinha 8 anos. 

Aos domingos, geralmente, assistia a missa na igreja de São Bento, almoçava a indefectível macarronada as 11:00 horas e já estava na fila do Cine Marilia para a sessão das 13:00, junto de minha irmã, irmão caçula e primos Gabriel e Celso. Assistíamos dois filmes de longa-metragem, mais um 'seriado' no final. 

Os seriados eram os mais aguardados, pois queríamos saber o que teria acontecido com o 'mocinho', que na semana anterior fora deixado pendurado num precipício ou à beira de um tacho de óleo fervente. Me lembro de vários seriados, sendo 'Batman & Robin' um dos melhores, embora meus preferidos tenham sido 'O Cobra' (The mysterious Dr. Satan) e 'Mulher Tigre' (Perils of the Darkest Jungle - The Tiger Woman) - já citados em outras postagem. 

Ao rever 'Batman & Robin' no YouTube, fiquei surpreso em constatar a presença de Wallace Fawcett (Professor Hammil), ator de vários seriados que habitou o inconsciente coletivo de tantas crianças. Nós o conhecíamos como 'aquele velhinho', pois ele já tinha aparecido em 'Riding with Buffalo Bill'. O rosto e a voz de Wallace nunca saíram de minha memória, embora eu não soubesse o nome do ator. Agora, tive o inesperado prazer de re-encontrá-lo.

O texto abaixo está em inglês. Se alguém estiver sumamente interessado, posso traduzí-lo, mas vou esperar alguém pedir. 

'BATMAN AND ROBIN' was issued to theaters in May 1949, six years after Columbia’s original Batman movie serial, 1943’s ‘The Batman’. 

Actor Robert Lowery (remembered by monster movie lovers for ‘The Mummy’s Ghost’, ‘House of Horrors’, and others) inherited the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne from Lewis Wilson, while John Duncan took over the role of Batman's loyal sidekick, Robin - “The Boy Wonder” - from Douglas Croft.

The premise of ‘Batman and Robin’ is that crime is running rampant in Gotham City, and at the center of it is a mysterious black-hooded figure called The Wizard, who has stolen a diamond-powered remote control device that can stop machinery, and also works as some sort of death ray.

John Duncan & Robert Lowery 

Batman and Robin are called into action by the respected Police Commissioner James Gordon - played by Lyle Talbot, who summons them with the help of the bat signal - seen on celluloid for the first time here. When the dynamic duo discovers that the machine runs on diamonds, they stake out a diamond store, which leads to a run-in with the well-dressed thugs that work for The Wizard.

After numerous perils, Batman and Robin finally stumble upon The Wizard’s secret underground hideout (chapter # 15) where a remote-controlled submarine is used to transport visitors to.

Photographer Vicki Vale - played by Jane 'Poni' Adams from 'House of Dracula' and 'The Brute Man' - is also entangled in the exploits, and is even able to save the day at one point. 

Naturally, the identity of The Wizard - who in episode # 13 has the power of invisibility - is left unrevealed until the final chapter, and the usual red herrings are in attendance to keep the audience guessing until the very end.

Now remember, 'Batman and Robin' was produced by the legendary Sam Katzman, so it’s cut-rate in almost every way. Batman’s costume looks like a converted pair of pajamas, while his wool cowl makes him look like a moronic devil at a Halloween party. 

Robin’s costume is no better, especially with his dime-store masquerade mask and added pink tights to cover the 'hairy-legs' of both the actor and stuntmen. The Batmobile is again excluded, but instead of a limousine, as in the first serial, the duo drive around in a 1949 Mercury convertible. 

Several mistakes and failures-of-logic occur in the serial as the film shows the Bat-Signal working in broad daylight. Despite the fact that the heroes' utility belts were replaced by normal belts with no pockets or pouches, in order to escape from a vault, Batman pulls the nozzle and hose of an oxy-acetylene from his belt to cut through a thick steel door - the tanks for the torch are not shown. To compound this mistake, it is a full-sized blow torch that would have been impossible to carry unseen on his person. 

Boy Wonder & the Caped Crusader...

The sets are limited, Bruce Wayne’s manor is nothing more that an upper class suburban home. Batman’s cave and the Wizard’s lair are stocked with army surplus electronics

Our heroes are often seen taking their costumes out of a file cabinet and getting changed in the backseat of the car!

Also, look for John Duncan’s two unconvincing stunt doubles - one who is a much stockier, balding guy, and bad continuity/editing errors, such as Robin taking off his mask, cutting to a close-up where his mask is back on, only to see him remove it again. 

And try to imagine Alfred the butler - played by a feeble-looking, 67-year-old Eric Wilton - theoretically standing in for Batman, wearing his costume and roughing it with a group of burly thugs! But this exercise in crude Poverty Row thrills is part of what gives 'Batman and Robin' its charm. 

Unlike Adam West & Burt Ward in the beloved 1960s TV series, Lowery & Duncan play it completely serious, despite the cards they're handed.

At first, they might appear a bit dry in their roles, but once the story lets loose, they fit into the characters nicely and actually have fitting chemistry, making a good crime-fighting team always one step ahead of the villains.

Vicki Vale (Jane 'Poni' Adams), the snoopy photographer from a magazine and Alfred, the butler; Robert Lowery as Batman; Robin & Batman; Commissioner Gordon; bat-signal; Robin & Batman; the terrible Wizard in his hide-out.

There’s lots of punching and car-chases shot in fast motion, a decent score by Mischa Bakaleinikoff - who also worked on such pictures as 'The Werewolf' and 'Jane Eyre', and each episode lives up to its “cliffhanger” status by concluding in explosive danger, while the subsequent installment inserts how our heroes escaped it. 

Robin [Johnny Duncan] in a special colour-photo for his fans. 

Robert Lowery Jr.  =  Bruce Wayne/Batman
John Duncan  =  Dick Grayson/Robin
Jane 'Poni' Adams  =  Vicki Vale

Lyle Talbot  =  Police Commissioner James Gordon
William Fawcett  =  Professor Hammil
Leonard Penn  =  Carter, Hammil's valet  & The Wizard

Eric Wilton  =  Alfred Pennyworth, the butler
Don C. Harvey  =  Nolan, chief-henchman
Lee Roberts  =  Neal, took over as being chief-henchman

Rick Vallin  =  Barry Brown, broadcaster
Michael Whalen  =  Dunne, private investigator
Greg McClure  =  Evans, henchman

George Offerman Jr.  =  Jimmy Vale, Vicki's faithless brother
House Peters Jr.  =  Earl, henchman
Jim Diehl  =  Jason, henchman

John Doucette  =  another henchman
Rusty Westcoatt  =  Ives, henchman
Allan Ray  =  Mac Lacey, henchman and jail-bird
Ralph Graves  =  Harrison 

Knox Manning  =  narrator [voice] 

director:  Spencer Gordon Bennet
producer:  Sam Katzman
production manager: Herbert Leonard

screen-play:  George H. Plympton, Joseph F. Poland & Royal K. Cole
based on the DC Comics characters created by Bob Kane & Bill Finger

musical direction:  Mischa Bakaleinikoff

cinematography:  Ira H. Morgan
art direction:  Paul Palmentola
set decoration:  Sidney Clifford
editing:  Dwight Caldwell & Earl Turner

The Wizard.


1. Batman Takes Over, 
2. Tunnel of Terror, 
3. Robins Wild Ride, 
4. Batman Trapped, 
5. Robin Rescues Batman, 

6. Target-Robin, 
7. The Fatal Blast, and 
8. Robin Meets the Wizard.
9. The Wizard Strikes Back, 
10. Batman’s Last Chance, 

11. Robin’s Ruse, 
12. Robin Rides the Wind, 
13. The Wizard's Challenge, 
14. Batman vs. The Wizard, and 
15. Batman Victorious. 

Jane Adams in a promotional glossie.
Lyle Talbot as Commissioner Gordon. 
The Wizard bosses Nolan (Don C. Harvey) around being watched by two henchmen -  John Doucette and Greg McClure.
the same Greg McClure playing the main character in 'The Great John L.' in 1945.

Batman (Robert Lowery) watches as 3 of the Wizard's men (House Peters Jr., Rusty Westcoatt, Lee Roberts) divy up some lott in Chapter 8 of 1949's 'Batman & Robin'. 

Batman & Robin finally find the Wizard's hideout at Chapter 15.


William Fawcett is cripple Professor Hammil and his assistant Carter (Leonard Penn).
Prof. Hammil in earnest.
Carter, Prof. Hammil (William Fawcett), Batman & Robin.
Prof. Hammil (William Fawcett) re-energizing himself in his special neon-light chair. 


Call it nostalgic, mindless fun, or whatever, but Columbia TriStar's 'Batman and Robin: The Complete 1949 movie serial collection' really is enjoyable.

All the chapters run about 17 minutes each, with the first one actually running over 27 minutes. Each includes the tag at the end to watch for next installment “at this theater” next week. The entire show runs approximately 261 minutes, and moves at a brisk pace.

It shows how much better vintage serials look when their authorized and not a budget public domain release. Apparently culled from the original negative, the full-frame, black and white transfer is sharp, well-detailed and has deep blacks. There is some speckling on the source material, as well as what appear to be light horizontal editing splices, but no footage is actually missing and the entire presentation is quite enjoyable to view. The mono audio is also surprisingly clear. Optional Japanese subtitles are included. There are no extras, just some promotional trailers.

Columbia TriStar’s colorful, attractive packaging owes more to the recent animated Batman teleseries than to an old-time serial, but with “1949” stamped firmly on the front, and the back revealing that star Lyle Talbot appeared in 'Plan Nine from Outer Space' and 'Glen or Glenda', no buyer is likely to be duped into thinking he’s purchasing something he’s not. Highly recommended. (George R. Reis)

One of the great things about DVDs is how the major studios can really surprise the buying audience. Out of nowhere like a bat out of hell - pun intended - Columbia TriStar announced that they were releasing Columbia Pictures’ 1949 ‘Batman and Robin' serial, much to the delight of super hero & cliffhanger fans everywhere. This DVD was most likely released in anticipation of ‘Batman begins’ starring Christian Bale, but whatever the reason, it’s most welcomed. Here on this two-disc set are all 15 episodes of the serial, uncut and presented the way they were meant to be seen.

more about William Fawcett: http://filesofjerryblake.netfirms.com/html/william_fawcett.html

The Wizard's henchmen being freightened by the Bat-signal.
Nolan, senior henchman, as portrayed by Don C. Harvey; Neal, portrayed by Lee Roberts, is promoted to Nolan's post.
another (nameless) henchman, as portrayed by John Doucette; Jimmy Vale, Vicki's faithless brother flew planes for the Wizard - portrayed by George Offerman Jr.
Earl, henchman, portrayed by House Peters Jr.; Jason, another henchman yet, portrayed by Jim Diehl; Ives portrayed by Rusty Westcoatt.
Mac Lacey, henchman and jail-bird as portrayed by Allan Ray.
Barry Brown, DJ and double-dealer as portrayed by Rick Vallin.
Ralph Graves plays Winslow Harrison, the President of the Associated Railway.
actor Greg McClure plays with daughter in the back-yard.
George Montgomery & Greg McClure.
Greg McClure in 'The great John L', released on 25 May 1945.

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