Batman Loses his Chesterfields

Batman '43 EmblemFrom the 1943 Columbia Pictures’ serial: “Batman”.

Prospector Ken Colton (Charles Middleton)

Prospector Ken Colton (Charles Middleton)

I’ve noticed quite a few things as I’m enjoying this serial. The actor (Charles Middleton)

Charles Middleton as the Commandant of the Foreign Legion in

The Commandant

who plays Ken Colton, a suddenly wealthy prospector who discovers a deposit of several tons of Radium in his mine (the very mineral that Dr. Daka is after for the purposes of fueling a scaled-up version of his Radium-Gun), tickled my recognition as the same actor who portrays the Commandant of the Foreign Legion in the Laurel and Hardy movie “The Flying Deuces“, as well as Ming the Merciless

Ming the Merciless

in the Flash Gordon serials.

I’ve noticed a couple of continuity errors casually as well. In the first chapter, inside Dr. Daka’s lair, there is an insert shot of a screen, blank when we see it, but from later context, it becomes clear that there was supposed to be a fluoroscope or x-ray image of the hand of his henchman outside the door seeking clearance for entry.

In a later chapter, there’s a fight scene with the Batman, and in one shot, his cape has fallen off, but in the next shot it has inexplicably returned on his person.

Poison Peril_title card

But the piece de resistance (and the one that had me rolling on the floor) occurs in “Chapter 6: The Poison Peril”. Towards the end of this chapter, while Batman and Robin are climbing down a fire-escape, an object slips from the folds of Batman’s cape. When I slowed down and magnified the image, it becomes clear that it is a pack of Chesterfields, which proceed to spill out onto the pavement below. Now: had the actor sewn a secret pocket into the cape, to have ready access to his smokes for a quick break between takes, or was this a particularly clumsy product-placement? Watch the animation I created from the frames and decide for yourself. (You can click the image to see the animation, or: click this link): Batman Loses his Chesterfields

Batman's-Chesterfields animation

Batman’s-Chesterfields (click to see animation)

You can find a more detailed description of the serial and this episode here (along with many other images):
Legions of Gotham (Serial 1943)

© 1943, renewed 1971 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved. © 2005 Detective Comics, Inc. All Rights Reserved