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Batman and Robin
(1949 Serial)
Batman & Robin 1949

Batman & Robin 1949

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About the Film
Things to See

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The above link goes to the official release of this serial, which is far superior to bootleg releases.  If you'd like to see this serial in all it's great, restored glory, this is what you should buy.

Batman and Robin (1949):  48 years later there would be another movie called "Batman and Robin" starring George Clooney as Batman and Chris O'Donnell as Robin, but long before that was this movie serial which marked the Dynamic Duo's second live-action appearance (the first being in 1943 with "The Batman" serial).

    But don't get the impression that this serial is a sequel to the original.  Far from it.  Many changes have been made, including the entire cast, but so much more as well.  If you want to compare overall film quality between the serials, this is undeniably better made than the 1943 adventures.  I'm not saying this is better because I enjoy both serials, but this was definitely made with a better budget.  Maybe you prefer the first serial to this one?  Whatever the case, it is clear that Columbia Pictures was becoming a more powerful force in Hollywood by this time, and less and less of a poverty row studio.  You can see this in the costume quality, the better quality of camerawork, and certainly the sets and props are more elaborate than before.  And the acting is good, too, but I don't have any complaints about the overall acting in 1943.  Now whether you like the acting better in this serial than in the previous is all a matter of personal opinion.  This is just meant to be a review and a celebration; not a serious critique.

    Like all serials, "Batman and Robin" relies on fast action and clever ideas.  Many obvious things are ignored that even some children might catch, such as:  "How come nobody puts it together that Bruce Wayne and Batman drive the same car?"  The license-plate number doesn't change or anything.  Convertible top-up:  Batman's car; convertible top-down:  Bruce Wayne's car.  Another thing you might find yourself wondering is:  "How does Bruce Wayne always get in on police business?"  He's just a millionaire playboy.  Why do the police feel they have to tell Bruce Wayne anything?  They'll tell Batman, because he's their ally, but what the heck does Bruce Wayne have to do with any of this?  Also, Bruce Wayne is always seen with Dick Grayson.  Batman is always seen with Robin.  It's kind of easy for people to put the two together.  But this is all in good fun and I certainly don't mean to disparage this entertaining and well-produced show.  These are just things I thought worth mentioning for people who take movies too seriously.  After all, you're watching something from 1949...a time when most people didn't take themselves too serious all the time...nowadays it's the other way around.

    Robert Lowery plays Batman.  He's a good, tough-looking Batman visually.  The Batman costume hasn't changed much from the last serial.  It looks pretty much the same with one big difference:  the bat emblem on his chest is much larger and has more detail lines.  His ears still look like upside-down cones; more like devil horns than bat ears.  And his nose (the mask's nose) is exceptionally long and pointed this time.  The costume is a bit baggy just like in 1943.  In fact, it looks like Batman and Robin are wearing long johns.  From 1966 on Batman and Robin have been wearing tights so this will definitely catch the viewer's attention.

    John Duncan plays Robin.  He's a much calmer and collected Robin than any other actor who has played him to date (this being written in 2005).  Obviously, he is not a teenager and the serial doesn't really try to push that illusion on us.  He's younger than Batman, but old enough to drive (which he does often).  Mr. Duncan was 25 when he played Robin.  He's got some muscle to him and certainly looks like he could beat up bad guys.  I like the costume, but it's unusual to see Robin wearing leggings at this time.  Douglas Croft showed his legs in the original 1943 serial as Robin.  I'm wondering why they changed it in 1949.  Not a big deal at all, just something you will notice if you've seen both serials.  In fact, I think every actor who has ever played Robin was great, including Burt Ward (although I didn't care for the 1966-68 "Batman" TV series that much).  Who is your favorite Robin?

Douglas Croft
John Duncan
Burt Ward
Chris O'Donnell

    This serial also makes Batman history with the introduction of the Vicki Vale character.  After this serial was released and became very popular, the Vicki Vale character became pretty common in the Batman comics.  When Bob Kane, creator of Batman, designed the Vicki Vale character, he patterned her after legendary actress Marilyn Monroe, who he met at the film's banquet.  Marilyn did not play Vicki in the movie.  That credit goes to Jane Adams.  I love how Jane plays Vicki.  To all the world, Bruce Wayne is believed to be a loafing millionaire playboy.  In most movies, then and now, the character's love interest would be greatly upset and continually nag him about such things.  Vicki Vale has a sense of humor about it.  That's just what he is (she believes) so she doesn't try to change him.  I think the intriguing portrayal of this character is what inspired the interest to put her in the comics.  She has basically had that type of personality in the comics for many years.  And plus, the idea that she's a freelancing photographer/journalist leads to interesting possibilities.  If you remember, one other actress has played Vicki Vale on film:  Kim Basinger in "Batman" (1989).  Who is your favorite Vicki Vale?

Jane Adams
Kim Basinger


Things to See:

       What things will you notice in this serial?

1.  Batman and Robin are much better fighters; not wimps like in the first serial.  When they hit somebody, they stay hit.  They don't get knocked out all the time, and the fight scenes are much shorter and to the point.

2.  Batman and Robin do their own driving...without Alfred.  They have their own black car, although it's not styled to be nor does it look like a Batmobile.  It's just a regular car.

3.  The main villain is called "The Wizard".  Although he is not a character from the comics, he is a lot more reminiscent of a Batman villain than Dr. Daka was in 1943 (although J. Carrol Naish as that character was really great).  The villain has a costume this time.  He wears all black with a long trenchcoat, cloak, hood, and cowl.  Very interesting, visually.

4.  Batman and Robin are vigilantes this time around; not government agents.  They do help out the police though.

5.  This time around, we see Commissioner Gordon as played by Lyle Talbot.  He doesn't look much like the Commissioner Gordon we know from the comics or other Bat-media.  He is, however, on Batman's side and makes a terrific ally.

6.  The Bat-Signal is shown in the sky.  Funny thing:  it's referred to in this movie as "The Batman Signal".  It's not a police spotlight on top of the station.  Instead, it's a very clever machine that Commissioner Gordon wheels over to the window and flashes in the sky.  The principle is the same.  I love that idea!

7.  Alfred the butler is rarely seen.  Considering how important the character has been in all live-action Batman interpretations since, it's unusual for him to have such a small part in this serial.  We see him even less than we did when he was played by William Austin in 1943.  In fact, the actor who played Alfred in this serial, Eric Wilton, was not even credited (Austin wasn't either, for that matter).  The shame of it all is that this man was much better and more accurate for the role of Alfred than his predecessor.

8.  The budget in this movie is a bit more superior than in the 1943 adventures.  The Batcave is much bigger and much nicer-looking.  Also watch for airplanes, explosions, submarines, and more!