Posts Tagged ‘bromance’

Daily Batman: A story in stills, “The Electrical Brain” edition

October 3, 2011

Yesterday at the grocery, I spotted a collection of the 1943 Columbia Pictures Batman serial adaptations. I obviously had no choice but to pick it up — my hands were clearly tied — and I’ve found the content … illuminating?

The Dynamic Duo are first seen rounding up some miscreants and leaving them cuffed to a lightpole with a note pinned to one’s jacket for the police. The original script called for the Caped Crusaders to be their usual vigilante selves, but the censors deemed that a little too risky?

And, I guess with all the purportedly people-based government shifts going on in the world, they didn’t want the popcorn-scarfing masses to get ideas? — so Steve Jobs converted Batman and Robin in to federal agents. (May or may not be accurate.)

Isn’t it bromantic? Lewis Wilson as a jaunty, kohl-browed Batman, with Douglas Croft as the Boy Wonder, congratulate themselves on a good night of taking the law in to their own hands without right or invitation after hopping in a Batmobile chauffered by good old Alfred Pennyworth, whose previous comic presence had been a facial hairless, rotund figure — colloquial wisdom credits this adaptation’s portrayal of Alfred as thin, stately, and mustachioed with influencing his subsequent appearance in the comics.

Accordingly, so far as I’ve watched, this opening scene introducing their crime-fighting prowess is the only bit of vigilantism Batman and Robin display in the serial. Everything else is under the aegis of fighting Communist and Axis spy infiltration.


This comes from the “Japanese Cave of Horrors” scene and is CLEARLY a wax figure of Cary Grant as a fake POW.

The note pinned to the man up there on our right’s jacket is somewhat reminscent of the “deliver to Lt. Gordon” note from The Dark Knight. It also indicates that the key to the cuffs may be found in the apprehended man’s pocket. Ostensibly, the cuffs will be taken off and replaced with official ones, but as they do not know the secret identity of Batman and Robin, are the originals now a gift to the Gotham City PD? I assume so. Not to worry: Batman and Robin have lots more pairs of handcuffs. You know, for … crime-fighting.


Did it come from Gunga Din, do you reckon? The uniform, I mean? Where did props even get this figure? I feel like it’s just out of reach in my mind. Little help?

This first segment in the serial is titled “The Electrical Brain” and is a total yawn fest, since all that it features is electric zombies, atom-smashing handheld ray guns, a sinister villain, and more astounding racism than you can shake a KKK hood at. Oh, wait — it couldn’t be less boring. If you’re a fan of camp and jaw-dropping behavioral archaisms, like your happy hostess here, run, don’t walk out and find this collection.

Get all of your latently guilty chagrin primed, though. I’m not made out of moron: I understand the film is a product of its time — it’s part of why I find vintage, obscure cinema from this era interesting. But, sweet mother of Edward Said, the orientalism and propaganda are strong with this one.

The villain of the piece, Dr. Tito Daka, is a self-proclaimed servant of Hirohito. Daka is a Japanese enemy of capitalism who I’m amazed to say constitutes only a fraction of the deeply-woven Asian-targeted xenophobic mise-en-scene of the picture.

U.S. readers, if you’ve nursed some fantasy that the internment of our Japanese fellow citizens during the second World War was not widely known by most Americans and did not make a big dent in pop culture, this little slice of 1940’s life will prove you all kinds of unfortunately wrong.


Narrator: This was part of a foreign land transplanted bodily to America and known as Little Tokyo. Since a wise government rounded up the shifty-eyed Japs, it has become a ghost street where only one buusiness survives, eking out a precarious existence on the dimes of curiosity-seekers.

Wise government. Rounded up. Shifty-eyed. I honestly triple-took. “Did that just happen??”

It seems boldly racist to me, even for the time. So like I said, this serial has so far shown me that I don’t know crap about what was “okay” on the day-to-day in my country during this time.

Daka introduces himself to a new recruit to his organization, the partner of a recently sprung white collar criminal of sorts (his niece is dating Bruce Wayne, which is how the plotlines tie together), with the following charming monologue.


I am Dr. Daka, humble servant of His Majesty Hirohito, Heavenly Ruler and Prince of the Rising Sun. By divine destiny, my country shall destroy the democratic forces of evil in the United States to make way for the New Order, an Order that will bring about the liberation of the enslaved people of America.

Daka is portrayed by totally-not-Asian actor J. Carrol Naish, a future Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner. Irish by descent, Naish actually portrayed nearly nothing but non-traditional races in his performances, from Japanese to Puerto Rican to Middle Eastern.

Congruent to his alleged continent of origin in this serial and his heavy “oriental” makeup, Naish would later bring a whole new ball of uniquely challenging race-based character traits to the role of famous detective Charlie Chan on the small screen, in television’s The New Adventures of Charlie Chan (1957).


The teaser for the next installment. There was no Bat Cave in the comics until after the release of this serial. But so far the Bat Cave in the serial is a stone wall behind a regular desk, with flickering shadows of bats waving around in front of lights off-camera… so I’d have to say the comics Bat Cave, even if inspired by the serial, most certainly carries the edge.

Mean Girls Monday: Kevin Gnapoor’s rap (A true unlikely G!) and a riff for the forgotten male perspective

April 19, 2010

Kevin Gnapoor’s rap at the Winter talent show in Mean Girls. I love how the other Mathletes are his backup dance and beatbox team.

Ought not my honeypie Jason Sudeikis, or my suddenly-slimmer honeypie who needs to eat more sandwiches again, Seth Rogan, or even goodtime guy and genre-reinventing patron saint Judd Apatow write a sequel called Mean Boys about the complexity of guys’ relationships in adolescence? I feel like the topic gets overlooked. Of course, there is the fantastic Superbad, but that is in a category all its own, like a unique and special and hysterically funny bildungsroman that moved me and also made me laugh until I had to run to the bathroom to wash off my mascara because I kept crying from laughing.

One of the best movies I’ve ever seen (and don’t start me on how women complain there are no positive females in the frat pack flicks like Old School and Anchorman or in the new breed of bromance movie, because that is such straight up egg salad — yes, males are the comedic protagonists but women are their motivating factors and ultimately their redeemers; sorry that the heroes win the lady but also keep their guy friends and still like video games, you emasculating and controlling slags; a dude does not have to collapse his personality into yours in order to be a good boyfriend. Cheese wheels! Ease up.)

Anyway, yes, I love Superbad. It’s like an American Graffiti or Dazed and Confused of bromantic friendship. I love it to death, especially because it focuses on a close friendship between key characters, but what I’m talking about here is a movie for young men which, Mean Girls-style, explores and breaks down more various types of the male cliques and hardships of social maturation for teenage boys. It’s really unfair that they’re constantly shunted to the sidelines in favor of the primacy of female bonding in this period. They’re out there suffering, too, you know? I’m just sayin’.