Batman: The 1943 Serial Collection

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Batman: The 1943 Serial Collection

Even the Dark Knight had to start somewhere

Director: Lambert Hillyer
Cinematography: James S. Brown Jr.
Starring: Lewis Wilson, Douglas Croft, J. Carrol Naish
Studio information: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 259 minutes on two discs

True fans tend to have their favorite actor in the role of Batman. For some it’s Adam West’s stoic but campy take, while others might favor Christian Bale’s more edgy portrayal. But when was the last time you heard someone give props to Lewis Wilson? It was his doughy profile that first brought the Dark Knight to the big screen back in 1943. Now the entire original serialized adventure is available, playing out in an extended cliffhanger wherein the Caped Crusader and his ward Robin (played by the shockingly coiffed Douglas Croft) take on the mind-controlling Dr. Daka. There’s a cheesy B-movie quality to the production, and the virulently anti-Japanese wartime portrayal of the evil doctor may be decidedly un-P.C., but the set is an interesting artifact for fans of the serial genre and Batmaniacs alike. Sure, it’s not great filmmaking, but it’s good fun.

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