So, while shopping at Office Depot, of all places, I found the DVD for the 1949 Batman and Robin movie serial, on sale for $10. Obviously, I had to have it.
I've started watching it and it is OHMIGOD AMAZING. It has everything you'd expect from a 40s-era Hollywood film... bad writing, bad acting, bad green screens, reused footage, continuity errors, sped-up-film combat scenes, villain-in-a-wheelchair, Science!™, the works. The story-telling is completely backwards; the villain's identity is revealed immediately, ruining any possible suspense. Gotham City looks remarkably like California. Batman's pointy ears stick out from his head at a strange angle, and he doesn't so much drive the Batmobile as... a car. With a black paint job. And occasionally even showing up in Bruce Wayne's convertible, license plate and all. Way to win at stealth, 1940s Batman!
Actually, he could seriously learn a thing or two from The Wizard, the villain of the piece. The man makes one vital mistake right at the beginning, but otherwise he is stealthy like Batman should be a motherfucking ninja. His manservant doesn't know his secret. He uses Science!™ to make his crippledom go away, so when he's The Wizard he can walk around; no one would ever suspect his identity. His hired minions never see his face (or much of his skin at all, really), and they don't even know where his Headquarters is. To get to the Headquarters, they have to go into the woods, climb into a very cleverly disguised cave opening, open a trapdoor in the floor of the underground cavern, and climb down a ladder into a submarine waiting for them in a subterranean river. The submarine has, of course, no windows, and doesn't require a crew; the minions sit and twiddle their thumbs in a closed room while The Wizard guides the submarine by remote control out into open water and then to a second underground cavern, where they wait outside a hidden door cut into the stone for The Wizard to look and see that it's them before unlocking and opening the door to let them in.