Brandon’s Blu-ray Wishlist: February 27, 2014

Brandon's Blu-ray Wishlist THUMBThis week’s pick we’re going to go way way way way back in the day on.  Its actually 2 separate titles, but it’ll make sense why I included two of them in just 1 wishlist piece.  You’ll see.





batman wishlist

Batman (1943)

Batman And Robin (1949)

I’m really surprised with the advent of Blu-ray during the times of the super popular Christopher Nolan Dark Knight opus that these two 1940s movie serials never saw the light of day.  They’re the first live action representation the caped crusader has ever had.  It’s a great piece of not only Batman history, but comic book and film history as well.  I think it’s something many Blu-ray collectors would jump at to put in their collection even if it’s something they’re not going to watch or watch all too often.

Batman serial 3

For the really young fans of Why So Blu, movie serials were a popular item in the 30s and 40s.  Going to the movies would be an all day event.  They were adventures that were split up into chapters (or episodes) that ran before movies.  Each week would leave off on a cliffhanger that promised to be resolved if you came back to the theater the following week.  Think of it as a TV show that you had to go to the theater to watch the episodes.  Television was still feeling itself out at the time and a multicamera filmed adventure like this wasn’t gracing the TVs.

This was where many superheroes were being introduced.  Dick Tracey, Captain America, Shazam, Superman and others had their own movies serials.  There were some such as Flash Gordon or Commander Cody who primarily were known because of their movie serial adventures.  There were also a boat load of Western tales told in this format, but we’ll stick to the comic book guys.  With the format given, it was as if they were seeing a comic book put right on their movie screens.  You’d always have to keep picking up a new issue to continue the story.

Batman serial 4

Batman was a rare case in that he got 2 adventures.  They were 6 years apart, but still.  There is long rumored that a 3rd serial was shot and has A) Never aired for public consumption or B) It ran, but nobody recalls it or has record.  It’s got a terrific little mystery behind it.  There was once a “batmobile” found in a barn that someone claims ended up being collateral for letting a company shoot this Batman serial on their property.  Nobody really knows if this is true or not.  There’s evidence that suggests against it, as it would have been in the 1950s and movie serials were all but deceased then.  If not, where did this car come from and what was it for?  And if it is true, who was the actor that played Batman?  This would change things in Batman history.

The two that did get made did have some influence on the actual lore of Batman.  For example, the mustached iconic look of Alfred Pennyworth comes from the first serial.  After it came out and was popular, the comic book decided to borrow the actor’s likeness and use it.  Also in the first serial was the batcave.  This was not a thing in the comic books until the serial.

Batman serial 2

I have a really fond nostalgia for these serials.  I first discovered them through my childhood best friend.  It was around the release of Batman Returns (I was likely 9) and Good Times Video was putting them out on VHS and our local Phar-Mor had them all.  And, man, did I get a kick out them.  They were pretty dated and silly to a kid of my age.  We found them to be hilarious.  Batman and Robin’s capes would fall off, the fight scenes were far from coordinated, the acting was insanely bad or over the top and they were hardly the poster child for political correctness.  All of which, I don’t find offensive, I find incredibly funny.  I mean, c’mon, the bad guy in the first one is bad and scary purely because he’s Japanese (or “a Jap” as they put it).  He’s also played by a full bred American actor giving an insanely stereotypical accent.  And another thing that’s great is some of the slang and terminology of the time comes off quite funny.

But, as funny as I found it, I also was intrigued by moving chapter to chapter.  I was always wondering how the hell they’d get Batman out of the jam.  And even if when they got to the next episode his escape was a complete cheat (most of the time showing footage that they didn’t before), I either laughed or shrugged it off.  I used to binge watch them quite a bit.  It was hitting its mark on enough levels for me to find myself incredibly entertained.

Batman serial 1

Sony currently owns the right to these, and I really don’t know if they’d put them out.  They did put these out on DVD when Batman Begins first came out.  So there was life post-VHS for the two serials.  I would think even the newest and youngest of Bat-fans would be curious if they saw it gracing the shelves.  And maybe there’s many who are unaware of its existence.  That there were TWO actors that took on the cape and cowl before Adam West.  Two Robins before Burt Ward.  If we are getting the entire run of the 60s series (about damn time!) later this year, then let’s be completists and get these black and white gems looking pristine on Blu-ray!  This series is also a glorious look at the Hollywood of a time long ago.  If it does finally grace our Blu collections, maybe we’ll notice some more funny goofs and dated production things to make it all the more entertaining than it already is!


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

3 Responses to “Brandon’s Blu-ray Wishlist: February 27, 2014”

  1. Brian White

    3 words. Can’t do it

  2. Brandon Peters

    19 words. Would you care to at least elaborate as to why you wouldn’t give one 13 minute episode a chance?

  3. Brian White

    They say a picture is worth 1,000 words.
    In that case…the first B&W one after the lead in image.