Saturday, February 21, 2015

BATMAN Chapter 7 (August 27, 1943)

"The Phoney Doctor"
Screenplay: Victor McLeod, Leslie Swabacker, Harry Fraser
Producer: Rudolph C. Flothow
Director: Lambert Hillyer

Last Time: Alfred disguised himself as Colton in order to head off an attempted by Daka to steal Colton's radium mine - he meets Daka's men in a smelting plant, there's a fight, Batman and Robin swing into action, but a chemical accident causes the building to explode, burying Batman under a pile of rubble.
Synopsis: Luckily, the rubble fell in such a way as to form a convenient arch that actually protected Batman from any harm. 
They phone Colton to let him know that it wasn't actually Martin who wanted to meet him, but the claim jumpers. Bruce tells Colton not to admit anyone to his room at any cost. Luckily, Colton's ready for them - he has a revolver stuffed down his pants, and a derringer used as a sleeve gun that he calls his "little Black Widow". Unluckily, Colton's stupid - he admits Fletcher to his room, who is disguised as a doctor (the disguise consisting of a medical bag and a monocle!) and claims to have been sent to check on Colton by Linda.
Meanwhile, Bruce and Dick are actually reporting the attempts on Colton's life to the police! Captain Arnold shows them a photo array, and Dick picks Fletcher out of it, reiterating as a former civil engineer who served time. Arnold puts an APB out on Fletcher. 
Meanwhile "Dr." Fletcher does a check-up on Colton which allows him to get close enough to chloroform the guy and then have him removed from the hospital on a stretcher and into an ambulance to be taken back to Daka's hideout. 
When Bruce and Dick arrive at Colton's hotel they find him gone, but Bruce smells the chloroform in the air and Dick finds the discarded hankerchief used to gag Colton with it.
In the crime lab, Bruce uses a "new black light process" to look over the handkerchief for clues. Standard procedure on CSI, but pretty new stuff in 1943, black lights having been invented in 1935. They find a Japanese laundry mark on the cloth, causing Dick to racistly remark "Never heard of a Japanese laundry", but Bruce knows of an abandoned one in the warehouse district.

Fletcher brings Colton to Daka, who offers him the ol' "join me or be a zombie" offer. Colton of course refuses and Daka shows him what happens to people who refuse -- showing him Zombie Martin Warren. But Colton uses his black widow to get the jump on Daka. He holds Daka hostage, moving to escape the lair through the door into the Cave of Horrors ride, but FINALLY the greased up immoving "not-actually-a-statue" dude gets something to do, and clubs Colton over the back of the head.
A bunch of Daka's men show up at the "Nakina Laundry" to pick up some supplies Daka has stashed there for the trip to Colton's mine. Because of course the only Japanese laundry in town is a front for the Japanese spy ring in town, because patrioic jingoist racism.
Anyways the Batman and Robin meet them up on the top floor, and it's fistfight time! During the fight, Batman gets overpowered by a bunch of them and they toss him down the loading elevator shaft! The suuuuper fake dummy playing Batman hits the ground hard enough that if it were actually a dude he'd probably be dead anyway, but the crooks then hit the elevator switch anyway to crush him with the loading elevator! Will Batman make it out of this alive? Find out Next Time: Daka puts the zombie machine on Colton! Linda and Alfred are at Colton's cabin, and even the narrator doesn't know what the fuck is going on! Guess you'll have to watch next week's episode to find out!
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Thoughts and Review: The best bit in this whole episode is seeing Bruce and Dick do some detective work, sniffing out the chloroform and then analyzing it with some pretty cool and real forensic science. Stuff like that really feels like the comics when they were throwing in some educational bits about science and criminology. Otherwise this is a move from point A to point B episode - Daka captures Colton, that's about the gist of it. That dummy they throw wearing a Batman costume gets me every time, as does the narrator's hilarious promo for next week, where it just seems like he's talking over the footage without actually knowing what's up. I also really like the scene between Bruce and Dick and Captain Arnold - Arnold's a great character in this serial, with a lot of fun character dialogue that feels almost improvisational and gives a very appropriately cynical view of the effectiveness of the police in Gotham, he comes across very world-weary and wry. Too bad he gets so very little to do over all these chapters. On the whole this one was a plot necessary, but otherwise unremarkable episode.

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