Thursday, February 5, 2015

BATMAN, Chapter 4 (August 6, 1943)

"Slaves of the Rising Sun" 
Screenplay: Victor McLeod, Leslie Swabacker, Harry Fraser
Producer: Rudolph C. Flothow
Director: Lambert Hillyer
Last Time: When we last left Batman, which was a longer time ago than I'd like to admit, the goon squad of Dr. Daka were primed to blow up a railway bridge to destroy a shipment for the US army. Batman and Robin show up to stop them - they foil the plot, but Batman gets knocked out on the bridge -- just as the train is about to run him over, causing his inevitable death!!

 Synopsis: Luckily for Batman and moviegoers everywhere, Robin isn't stupid, and rushes onto the bridge, pushing Batman's unconscious body off the track and into the river below, before jumping in after him. Meanwhile, Daka's goons are afraid to report back given that they failed to blow up the train, but Foster is confident that killing Batman will be enough good news to offset their other failures (it's implied Foster's getting tired of Daka's shit anyway). Emerging from the river, Batman and Robin vow to find out who those guys were working for.
At his lair, Daka is feeding the pet alligators who live under a trap door in the main room. When there's no more chicken to feed them, he considers feeding them Zombie Martin, but is interrupted by the arrival of the other members of the League of the New Order - I guess its impolite to murder people in front of your business partners.
Foster shows up to report, and stoically informs Daka that the radium gun wasn't recovered, the train wasn't wrecked, but Batman is probably dead. Daka tells Foster he can be replaced and Foster pulls a classic "you can't fire me, I quit!" maneuver, since he's decided that he may be a criminal, but he's still a patriot. After throwing a bunch of patriotic racist slogans in Daka's face, Daka summons some zombies to kill Foster. Foster shoots one, but before he has to shoot Martin Warren, he turns the gun on Daka who calls off Warren. Daka backs down and agrees to let Foster leave, leading to Foster uttering the immortally racist line "That's the kind of answer that fits the colour of your skin," Yikes!
But, of course, Daka gets the last laugh, as Foster falls into the trapdoor pit of Chekov's alligators on his way out the door and is eaten alive, providing ample motivation for the rest of the men to never betray Daka.
Daka then gets a report of a radium shipment coming to the Gotham Foundation, which Linda Page is authorized received. Meanwhile, Bruce and Dick have examining the radium gun in their crime lab, discovering that it works on radium and thus that Linda might be endangered if the gang tries to hijack the radium shipment. Linda calls just then, saying that she's been instructed to meet with a fortuneteller in a bad part of town to get information on Uncle Martin, which is the shadiest thing ever. She asks Bruce and Dick to accompany her, but Bruce brushes her off with like a huge dick, and then goes to head her off at the swami's place.

Not expecting anyone but Linda, the swami is sucker punched by Bruce. The duo find a microphone headset in the swami's turbin, allowing him to receive instructions from Daka. Bruce decides to dress up like the swami, and then sends Dick outside to watch for Linda and tail her when she leaves. This, to me, seems like a terrible plan - why not just wait outside the whole time and when the swami tells her where to go, follow her?
Anyways, Bruce turns off all the lights so its dark when Linda arrives and then tells Linda she's in great danger and must leave. But on her way out, she's grabbed through a hidden door by one of Daka's thugs!
Baffled by Linda's disappearance, Bruce and Dick search the building, and it's Dick who discovers the hidden door. They find Linda tied up and gagged not far beyond, but with the delivery order papers taken from her.
Daka's crooks take off in a stolen armored car, and so Batman and Robin make chase in the Batmo-Cadillac, leading to a thrilling car chase in the winding Hollywood Hills of Gotham City lol. Since the crooks have an armored car, it's got portholes for rifles and so the crooks start shooting. Batman pulls one of the all time classic serial manuevers by climbing out of his car, having Robin pull alongside, and then jumping across to the other vehicle.

Climbing onto the roof, he blasts his way in with the stolen radium gun in one of the coolest moments in the entire serial. The two men in the back are knocked out, so Batman heads to the front to try and knock out the driver and get control. In the ensuing struggle, however, they end up heading over a cliff and the car explodes!!
Next Time: Daka's planning something with a Japanese submarine, they've got someone in a coffin, and Robin is left to carry on the fight alone (since Batman's dead, of course!) 

Thoughts and Review: Chapter 4 contains some classic serial moments - the trapdoor alligators and the car chase chief among them. I really like the final scenes especially - seeing Batman leap from one car to the next and then blasting inside with a radium gun is awesome. 

Foster's attempted betrayal of Daka results in some of the most malicious anti-Japanese dialogue in the serial, but it's a cool character beat and one that reminds me of the ending of The Rocketeer, where the gangsters turn on the Nazis because y'know, they may be crooks but they ain't traitors! Of course, Foster gets eaten on the way out, in a sequence that's pretty familiar in structure to anyone who's watched a James Bond film (the fate of Mr. Solo in Goldfinger comes to mind). 
That said, the middle section of this chapter, in the Swami's place, is pretty lame. I don't really see what Bruce thought he would accomplish by taking the Swami's place, and it makes Linda seem really dumb to be willing to see a fortuneteller for information on her missing uncle. It achieves its objective in a Point A to Point B kind of way, but feels very pointless. And kind've casually racist, but at this point casual racism feels almost like a relief compared to the rest of the serial.

No comments:

Post a Comment