Welcome to the latest installment of Mister Cinecal Reviews Batman 1943, my unwieldy-titled series which looks back at the very first Batman film and asks the important questions, like ‘Why is Batman getting a 14 year old or a 90 year old to drive for him?’, 'Does he have a DUI?' and ‘Wait what is Linda's uncle's first name?’ Today is Chapter 3 in the 15 part serial: The Mark of the Zombies!
In the same way that every episode of modern television drama ends with a British actor’s character being killed off, causing everyone on Twitter to flip their shit and tune in next week, every episode of old 1940's film serials would end with the square-jawed hero being threatened with certain death (usually falling down) causing everyone to flip their shit on the 1940's equivalent of Twitter, People-Sitting-Next-To-Each-Other-Talking, ensuring they would be back in the theatre next week to see how they survived (usually by the fall not actually being that bad). “He didn’t get out of the cockadoodie car!” and all that. So you’ll have to excuse the opening paragraph of this feature being a little repetitive from week to week. Last week, Batman struggled to carry Linda Page across a tightrope, a bad guy burnt the rope and he fell. This week, he just uses the rope to swing to the ground, casual as anything, then he and Robin take Linda and run off. These cliffhangers aren't even like "see, he made it!", they're more "what were you even worried about in the first place?"
The gangsters Batman and Robin were fighting are worried because they failed to retrieve Doctor Prince Doctor Daka's radium gun and they don't want to incur the wrath of "Squint Eye". Oh boy. Why are you even working for him if you're so convinced of your racial superiority, eh gangsters? Why betray beautiful America? Did you miss the memo on Operation Underworld? Daka is indeed pissed at them, telling them he doesn't want to hear about Batman any more because he's a rank amateur. Based on what's been shown in this serial so far, he's not exactly wrong. Daka turns his attention back to his prisoner, Linda's Uncle Warren, who is an engineer or something. He asks Warren to join his crew of saboteurs and when he refuses, takes him off to brainwashed by Daka's fantastic science machines. Daka gives him friendly advice for getting through a brainwashing; "I suggest you adapt an attitude of fatalistic resignation" and Warren's all "Fuck you I'm American we don't know when to quit! America!" Unfortunately the happenstance of what bit of earth Warren resides in fails to protect his brain and he becomes a zombie. So we're up to 1 zombie so far in 'The Mark of the Zombies'.
|Where's your America now Uncle Warren!?|
Now, at this point, Batman doesn't really know what's going on. He knows that the woman whose office he spends all day hanging around has a missing uncle, and he knows there are some gangsters knocking about with a weird-looking gun who want radium. So he comes up with an ingenious plan to get to the bottom of this: he puts an ad in the paper. "FOUND: Odd device shaped like strange gun, good condition, telephone Rochester 11-66". I am not joking, this is exactly what he does.
|"Wow! For free! Surplus drums of mayonnaise from Operation Cartwheel!"|
Batman has anticipated them showing up early, so he and Robin hide in the shadows on look out while they leave Alfred at the meeting place to deal with the gangsters. I'm pretty sure this is not within a butler's duties Alfred, you should just quit before these arseholes can keep exploiting and laughing at you. His attempt at keeping the gangsters talking doesn't last long before one of them pulls a gun on him. Not since Geoffrey from the Fresh Prince has a butler been so put upon, and at least he got to dance his troubles away.
My hopes of Robin turning out to be the competent one of the group are currently deader than Bruce Wayne's parents, as a gangster just sneaks up behind him and knocks him out. This week, it's the villain's turn for the Slowly Climbing Up The Side Of A Building scene, as said gangster makes his way to the roof, being followed by Robin, who made a remarkably quick recovery from being knocked unconscious by a blow to the head. Clearly he wouldn't be medically-cleared for superheroics by any doctor, as he adopts Batman's fighting style of awkwardly flailing around, culminating in he and the gangster falling through the sky light on top of Alfred and the men threatening his life below. A fight ensues, and Batman, who had been lurking outside the window, jumps right through it to join the fight. For the third week running. I think this version of Bruce Wayne took the events that inspired him to become Batman too literally.
|"Yes father...I shall jump through windows every week"|
Another punch up ensues.
Woodhouse Alfred is punched in the face twice, tries to get help on the telephone ("I'M BEING MURDERED HERE!" he cries) and eventually gets rid of the gangsters, who Batman and Robin are just aimlessly punching at, by picking up one of their guns and shooting randomly, until they run away. Why isn't this serial about Alfred? He's much better at the job than Batman and Robin and all they do is make fun of him for it! The poor fucker is having a panic attack, screaming "HOW MANY DID I KILL??" and they start fucking with him.
"Seven? But there were only 4 of them!"
"Yeah you killed 3 of them twice."
"But where are all the bodies?"
"We threw them out the window!"
You're Batman and Robin, not Abbott and Costello, knock it off.
|"Somebody put Commissioner Gordon in this film and send him here to help!"|
Having failed to get their gun back (I know that defeatist attitude would get them nowhere) the gangsters next try the original plan of blowing up the train track while the supply train is going by and well it's nearly the end of this episode so I think you can tell where this is going. Batman and Robin show up, they fight, oh shit a train is going to run over Batman! We're left with the return of the first episode's Racist Narrator, who sets up next week: "Is Daka throwing Martin Warren to his horrible pet alligators? And will the Jap spies force Linda to give them the receipt for the vital radium shipment they plan to steal?" Wait, Warren is Uncle Warren's last name? Who calls their uncle by their last name? Did I hear Racist Narrator right? The only way to find out is to tune in next week for Chapter 4, 'Slaves of the Rising Sun' (sigh). I do have to wonder how many slaves there are going to be, they promised zombies this week and we only got one and he didn't do anything. Still, next week, same Hack Time, same Hack Channel!
Check out previous chapters!