Welcome to the latest instalment 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 ‘Does Batman have a phobia of stairs or a fetish for wall climbing?’ and ‘Will I even still like Batman when all this is over?’ Today is Chapter 7 in the 15 part serial: The Phoney Doctor!
|Batman fights his fiercest foe yet: Gillian McKeith|
First of all, because I apparently haven’t mentioned it yet, the director of these serials is a man named Lambert Hillyer, which is about as 40s a name can get without just being called Franklin D. Smokingisgoodforyou. Between 1917 and 1949 he directed 160 films, which, wow. Get off your ass Terence Malick. Second of all, Batman is indestructible. These cliffhangers don’t just fail to kill him, that’s to be expected, they fail to leave a scratch on him whatsoever. In the last episode Daka’s minions went after Bruce Wayne’s friend Colton for his radium mine, so Batman, Robin and Alfred lured them to a chemical factory, disguising Alfred as Colton, and got in a big fight. Batman was standing right next to a big explosion that brought the roof down. This week, Robin and Alfred rush in to help him, and he just pops up out of the rubble, fresh as a daisy. Robin says “the beams formed an arch which protected” Batman. What? Does he have luck powers? Is he Longshot? Why is he being wasted in Gotham? Send him to the front America, he’d be wiping out those Japanese soldiers you hate so much like bloody Doctor Manhattan, but with pants on! He demonstrates just how okay he is by taking part in some token Alfred bashing and they decide to get to Colton before Daka’s guys do.
Colton is giving out stink to his nurse for not knowing how to play cards when he gets a phone call from Bruce, warning him that the people who roughed him up before may be coming back. Luckily, as Colton explains to his nurse, he is armed with not one, but two guns, which in this old-timey world makes him totally safe. Thank God no Americans think as simplistically as that anymore. He’s got one pistol he keeps tucked in the front of his trousers (safety!) and a sleeve gun in case of emergency. Sadly he does not have a hidden gun in his cowboy hat. Completely safe thanks to the power of gun, he sends his nurse away. This immediately goes badly for him.
At the police station, Bruce and Dick are reporting that they saw the kefuffle at the factory that they were actually involved in/caused, in order to get a look at some pictures of the guys involved. They recognise one of the pictures the police chief shows them, who they are told is Fletcher, an engineer turned Jap spy. They really were suspicious of engineers at this time eh? Nowadays they’re beating engineers’ doors down to get them to work for them, go ahead, sell secrets to whoever you want! Be a brainwashed zombie, it’s fine!* Anyway, back at Colton’s, who else but Fletcher walks in, disguised as a doctor (his disguise is he is holding a doctor’s bag). He quickly chloroforms Colton and sends a message via the shutters to men outside, waiting in a phoney
ice cream van ambulance.
|Those men definitely look ready to serve up a 99 with a flake.|
Bruce and Dick show up just in time to be completely too late. They take the chloroform rag back to their lab, where they discover-oh shit!-it’s got Japanese writing on it! The mark of a Japanese laundry to be precise. It only took 7 chapters, but our hero has found his first clue that any of this has anything to do with the Japanese! He’ll earn that World’s Greatest Detective mug he bought himself yet! The disdain with which Dick says “I’ve never heard of a Japanese laundry” is a powerful thing. Strange as it may seem to you, the Japanese wash their clothes too Dick.
Colton, a guy who looks like he’s never washed his clothes or anything else for that matter, has been taken to Daka’s secret racist fairground ride hideout thing. When he won’t tell Daka how to find his radium mine, Daka brings out his zombiefied Uncle Martin Warren, who promptly strangles Colton. It looks a little silly, even for this.
|The zombie wears tin foil and stangles the prospector. A man pretending to be Japanese laughs.|
Colton tries to get away, but fails. I could explain in a little more detail, but look. It’s Saturday. We’ve all got better places to be. I have to catch up on Orange Is The New Black, you know? So I’ll just say that he tries to use his sleeve gun and it totally fails. Does it still count as Checkov’s Gun if you fail to actually use it?
Batman and Robin follow up their lead at the Japanese laundry, which a helpful sign informs me is named ‘Nakina Laundry’. Now, I looked this up, and though ‘Nakina’ may sound Japanese enough for ol’ Lambert Hillyer, the word has nothing to do with the country whatsoever. There is a Nakina in Canada though, so either the Dynamic Duo have gone to the wrong laundry altogether because of their ignorance, or Canada was secretly working with the Axis Powers during WW2. And yes, Canada is pretty sinister, but the former has much more precedent in this serial. And then to get into the building, they use the wall-climby-flip-aroundy bike from the Christopher Nolan movies to scale the laundry, race in and run over a heap of goons.
NOPE, THEY SLOWLY CLIMB UP THE SIDE OF THE BUILDIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING
THE SAME TWO THINGS THEY DO IN EVERY CHAPTER
This week’s cliffhanger has goons chucking Batman over a railing and sending an elevator down to crush him. The only thing getting crushed around here is my hopes of this serial going anywhere exciting. Racist Narrator must have the week off, or he got drafted or something, so A Different Voiceover Guy closes this week’s chapter:
“Daka has Colton is his Zombie Chair! Will he force him to give up his Radium mine? And there’s Linda and Alfred in Colton’s cabin. What’s going on there? Don’t fail to see ‘Lured By Radium’, Chapter 8 of Batman, at this theatre next week!”
He really ran out of enthusiasm there at the end, didn’t he? “And sure there’s Alfred and Linda…….wonder what they’re doing.” Will Batman be turned into inept paste? Will Racist Narrator return? (at least that one has actual suspense) Find out next week, same Hack Time, same Hack Channel!
Check out previous chapters!
* I may know less than nothing about the engineer's job market.