Action, Columbia, Douglas Croft, Drama, J. Carrol Naish, Lambert Hillyer, Lewis Wilson, Radium, Review, Serial, Shirley Patterson, The Sphinx Club, Thriller
D: Lambert Hillyer / 18m
Cast: Lewis Wilson, Douglas Croft, J. Carrol Naish, Shirley Patterson, William Austin, John Maxwell, Ted Oliver, Lester Dorr
Having survived being crushed by a ship’s gang plank (by simply rolling out of the way), Batman, along with Robin, returns to the Bat Cave, and decides to drop off their (not forgotten) captive, Marshall (Oliver), to the police. Meanwhile, Daka learns that another supply of radium has become available. Batman learns of the radium too, in a secret government message. Believing that his recent disguise as Chuck White is still a better way of infiltrating Daka’s gang, he returns to the Sphinx Club. From there he’s taken to another of the gang’s hideouts, where he’s observed by Daka and given approval to go along with the henchmen assigned to retrieving the radium; this is going to be dropped by parachute from an airplane that night. At the drop site, Chuck gets away from Daka’s men and changes into Batman. With Robin’s help he gets the radium package before they do, and drives off in one of their vehicles. With a tire shot out, and the Caped Crusader unable to control the steering, the vehicle crashes down the side of a hill and bursts into flames, sending Batman to certain death…
With two thirds over, and no end game in sight still, Chapter 10 is a curious installment. It’s better than Chapter 9, but not so good that it matches the standard of Chapters 6-8. For all that, though, this is another filler episode, but one that somehow feels that it has more momentum and more incident than the last time out (it doesn’t, but still, there’s a definite sense of the serial somehow upping its game). Perhaps it’s the serial’s weird sense of humour, which makes itself felt throughout, or the way in which each scene seems to be operating at speed. Hillyer appears to be in a hurry, as is the script, but it’s hard to work out why. It follows the standard formula for a filler episode, so perhaps the humour is an unexpected by-product (though Hillyer is too experienced for that to be entirely true). There’s the scene where Linda comes to see Bruce, gets jealous of White (don’t ask), and then leaves in a huff – and that’s it for Linda in this chapter. There’s Daka assessing Bruce as Chuck through the eyeholes in a painting, and the radium package (which Daka’s agent has trouble lifting) being attached to the kind of parachute that is the epitome of inadequate.
Credibility has never been the serial’s strong suit, and it’s highly unlikely that anyone making it thought they were making anything other than a B-movie with a better than average budget – even if you’re not sure where the money went. However, Chapter 10 does prove entertaining overall, from Alfred posing as a cab driver, to Marshall’s abrupt dismissal from the story, and the inclusion of yet more radium to be hijacked/stolen (which begs the question, just how secure is this stuff?). One aspect that does appear to be getting worse is the recap of the last episode, which this time means that Chapter 10 doesn’t get started properly until after three minutes have elapsed. Of course, this is to ensure that the required couple of bouts of fisticuffs still occur in each installment, but it’s becoming more and more of a liability, especially as the fight choreography remains as laughable as ever. Bruce’s disguise as Chuck is still something of an unacceptable caricature (that nose), but at least the chapter ends on a much more dramatic note than usual. An exploding vehicle? Just how is Batman going to survive this time…?
Rating: 6/10 – neither very good or very bad, but strangely acceptable as a moderately entertaining episode, Chapter 10 of Batman always feels like it could go either way, but it actually holds to the middle ground with some elan; if one wish could be granted, though, it would be for no more talk of radium, a plot device that has now been run into the ground.