Robert Lowery’s portrayal of Batman/Bruce Wayne and Johnny Duncan’s portrayal of Robin/Dick Grayson made matters worse. While Lewis Wilson and Douglas Croft gave energetic performances in Batman that at times managed to rise above the serial’s many faults, Lowery and Duncan blandly delivered most of their lines as if they were reading them for the first time. Duncan’s performance was probably the worse of the two, because he was simply far too old for his role – he was 26 years of age when the serial was filmed! Duncan was youthful-looking and considerably shorter than Lowery, so the pair bore a decent enough physical resemblance to their comic book counterparts. But whenever Duncan talked, it was glaringly obvious that he was about a decade removed from being a “Boy Wonder.” Even though Batman and Robin was Columbia’s second Batman serial, it was actually the first of the two Columbia Batman serials to be released on DVD -- Batman and Robin was released as a two-disc set by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on March 22 of this year. (Perhaps Sony had misgivings about EVER releasing Batman because of its racist overtones, but reversed their thinking after the success of Batman Begins reinvigorated the character’s popularity) Like their release of Batman, Sony’s Batman and Robin is not a “high end” release -- it contains no bonus features or printed material dealing with the making of the serial. However, Batman and Robin’s picture and sound quality is uniformly better than the Batman DVD set. It is also far better than the only other “official” home video version of Batman and Robin, the two-part VHS tape set recorded in substandard playback speed that was released by GoodTimes Home Video in 1990. (As previously mentioned, GoodTimes also released Batman in the same format) Like Sony’s Batman DVD set, the Batman and Robin DVD set features some interesting artwork on its cover – perhaps too interesting. The cover features a dramatic full-color image of Batman and Robin standing on a rooftop, the night sky above them lit up by a huge Batsignal. Batman and Robin are outfitted in costumes that look like a 2005 comic book cover – the bat ears on Batman’s cowl are long and imposing, and Robin has on a full bodysuit that is red and green in color. In other words, the image looks nothing like anything contained in the serial itself! In my opinion, Sony is doing more than a little bit of false advertising by using this image to promote Batman and Robin. So I’m afraid that I can only recommend Batman and Robin to the most avid Batman film fans who want to own a complete collection of Batman DVDs – it simply does not have the historical value or cheesy charm of Batman. But if you are that avid Batman film fan who has to own everything Bat-related, run out and buy both DVD sets. Just remember when you
Mark S. Reinhart is the author of THE BATMAN FILMOGRAPHY.
BATMAN AND ROBIN : CHAPTER 2 : TUNNEL OF TERROR
SPENCER GORDON BENNET (1949)