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Batman - The Complete 1943 Movie Serial Collection

4.2 out of 5 stars 177 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

See how BATMAN really began. BATMAN started it all, and it's now available on DVD for the first time ever! Watch as mild-mannered Bruce Wayne (Lewis Wilson) becomes Batman, the classic superhero who, with Robin (Douglas Croft), protects Gotham City from the evil schemes of Dr. Tito Daka (J. Carrol Naish). Packed with adventures involving a radium-powered death ray, a deadly alligator pit, electronic zombies, and even the original Bat Cave, the BATMAN 2-disc set is a must-own DVD for any fan of the Caped Crusader!

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Lewis Wilson, Douglas Croft, J. Carrol Naish, Shirley Patterson, Frank Austin
  • Directors: Lambert Hillyer
  • Writers: Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Harry L. Fraser, Jerry Robinson, Leslie Swabacker
  • Producers: Rudolph C. Flothow
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Closed-captioned
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Japanese
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 18, 2005
  • Run Time: 259 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (177 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,295 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Batman - The Complete 1943 Movie Serial Collection" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Before the big glossy Batman movies and the campy 1960's television series there was this little masterpiece. It starts strong with the spooky music over the opening credits. Lambert Hillyer was an experienced B-movie director but this was his first and only serial. He makes it an enjoyable adventure with an unusual sense of humor for a serial. Note the banter between Alfred, Batman, and Robin in the third chapter after Alfred fires a few shots with his eyes closed.

The film has been criticized as racist, which it certainly is, rife with comments like "Since a wise government rounded up the shifty-eyed Japs..." and "your twisted Oriental brain." But that's exactly the way it was at the height of World War Two, so this is really a historical document of the pervasive attitude at that time. The War was still unsettled in 1943, and people were terrified of the Japanese threat. The serial has also been issued in a cleaned-up version, but this one is much more realistic even if it wouldn't be acceptable today. Just try to enjoy it for what it was.

I particularly like Lewis Wilson when he's Bruce Wayne, with his tongue-in-cheek portrayal of a lazy playboy, even though in his Batman guise he displays a bit of a gut that kept him out of the 1949 sequel. He's really a cool dude for 1943.

J. Carrol Naish was a great character actor, garnering two Oscar nominations in a long and distinguished career. He specialized in foreign dialects, and as Dr. Daka he does his best Peter Lorre imitation. Any villain would kill for that living room with the built-in alligator pit.

Douglas Croft (nee Douglas Wheatcroft, 1926-1963) was a successful child actor in the early 1940's.
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Format: DVD
The 1943 BATMAN is a terrific serial: goofy, funny, and exciting by turns. Not as slick as Republic when it came to chapterplay product, Columbia made up for it with sheer energy and zany enthusiasm. A lake full of alligators under a trapdoor in front of your desk? No problem (although one wonders what the contractors thought, finishing THAT room). There were many embarrassing portrayals of Japanese warlords in '40s serials (Johnny Arthur in THE MASKED MARVEL comes to mind) but J. Carrol Naish strikes just the right balance of looniness and menace. The "zombie-maker" machines seem to have been left over from the Boris Karloff film THE DEVIL COMMANDS, or at least inspired by them, and how come you can't buy stuff like that on the Shopping Network? All that said, the racism in this serial is ugly, even by WWII movie standards, and parents are going to need to talk to their kids when watching it. (Incidentally, a Sony rep advised me that yes, this will be the uncut 1943 version, not the "cleaned up" 1980s video version that removed some of the racist slurs.) I recommend this serial very highly. For more info on this and other serial releases, please visit [...]
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Format: DVD
Yes, when compared with our computer generated culture, BATMAN, the 1943 serial, is laughably low rent. Yes, the Columbia Pictures production is nowhere near the polish that Republic Pictures' brought to their classic cliffhangers (ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL, SPY SMASHER...). Yes, the dynamic duo's costumes looked as if they were sewn by your mother for an upcoming Halloween party. Yes, the serial's war time plot line is littered with vicious racial lampooning of the Japanese. And yes, after 60 years the serial is still loads of fun.

At its best, the 1943 serial in it's own scrappy, shoe-string way is able to capture the spirit of Bob Kane's comic books and strips of that era. I prefer it over 1949's BATMAN AND ROBIN, which has been more visible in home video due to its more politically correct characterizations. Although the writers failed to use any of the comic's infamous gallery of colorful villains (such as the Joker,) the sense of adventurous camaraderie as played by Lewis Wilson (Batman) and Douglas Croft (Robin) is wonderfully brought out here. For me, this was a surprise since some historians tended to dismiss BATMAN as if it was the PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE of movie serials. It's not.

In fact, many of the lesser Columbia and Universal serials had an element which the much of the lauded Republic serials lacked- a sense of humor. For sure, there are many unintentional giggles throughout. My favorite: a badly edited scene where Robin sends a henchman crashing through a sky light only to fall before a seemingly dazed cast of onlookers. Yet veteran B-movie director Lambert Hillyer (in his first and only serial)is able to keep the mayhem going at a fast clip so as not to make us dwell on the ridiculous plot of mad scientist Dr.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Since the DVD version has yet to be released,I can't comment on that version but have to rely on the VHS Tape which I have.Many reviewers have commented on the "racism" in this serial. Undoubtably they were not alive or at least going to the movies at that time in their life.The serial while it may not be considered politically correct in the present time only reflected the attitude of an nation that was drawn into WW2 by the attack of the Japanese on Pearl Harbor in 1941.All motion pictures of that era released by the 7 major studios pictured the axis ( Germany,Japan and Italy ) in an unfavorable light just as in the 50's during the Cold War Russia was portrayed in the same manner..Columbia Pictures which is a subsidiary of Sony Corp ( a Japanese entity)is to be congratulated for releasing the serial..I enjoyed it thoroughly.Although Columbia serials were never as well produced as the serials from Republic Pictures,this is one of their better chapter plays. One of the unintended bloopers that I enjoyed seeing was in one of the early chapters. This chapter has Batman fighting with his cape on and the cape mysteriously disappears in mid fight and just as mysteriously reappears before the fight is concluded.I notice the format is listed as color which is incorrect unless Columbia colorized the discs.I do hope they have copied the serial unto dvds with a restored print as the VHS tape was not as clear as it should be.I was disappointed to see that it will be released on 2 disks.All 15 chapters could well fit on one disk.
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