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Origins of ‘‘The Dark Knight’’

Special Presentation
Screening And Bilingual Lecture hosted by Philippe Spurrell (C/FS) and Christian Major
Presented by Le Cinéclub: The Film Society (C/FS)

From where did this mysterious caped crusader with a dual identity and a dark past arise? With the Batman legend having morphed over time from Detective Comics issue # 27 in 1939 into one of the biggest blockbuster movie events ever, it is easy to lose sight of its origins. Comic artist Bob Kane grew up in New York (Gotham) City reading gritty pulp fiction mystery novels and watching crime movies and serials at the local cinema, all of which left a deep impression on his young creative mind. Let us take you on a special journey through time to explore what inspired Kane to create his ominous “Dark Knight”.

The centerpiece of this exploration is a little-known movie, THE RECKONER (aka THE PUBLIC DEFENDER, U.S.A., 1931, 70 min.) starring one of the big-name square-jawed leading men of the time, Richard Dix, along with horror icon Boris Karloff. Legend has it that Bob Kane saw this film as a teenager before creating his Batman character a few years later. Its basic plot involves a millionaire playboy who takes it upon himself to clandestinely punish criminals while leaving behind a mysterious calling card with a distinct symbol, signed “The Reckoner”. The mystery avenger with two lives also has an older Alfred-like assistant named “Professor” (Karloff) living with him in his large mansion performing criminal research for him. Sounds familiar?

Also screened will be a Quebec-made TV ad for the 1966 series as well as a chapter from the 1949 serial BATMAN & ROBIN — all rare archival prints pulled from the Cinéclub/Film Society vaults just for you! PLUS: An impressive display of Batman memorabilia including early editions of the comic books.

— Philippe Spurrell

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