The Dynamic Duo faces four super-villains who plan to hold the world for ransom with the help of a secret invention that instantly dehydrates people.
Having, losing, gaining… despite my literally being born into the Bat-Mania of 1989, I know that to a generation of kids this WAS Batman. Only when Tim Burton reinvented the big screen perception of the “caped crusader” did it become outdated.
But no amount of contemporary interpretations will ever change the fact that the ’60s “Batman” Series and Film is still as bombastic and fun as ever. This is a fantastic movie — how could anyone not love it? It’s funny, it’s memorable…it’s a pure gem.
When Batman and Robin (Adam West and Burt Ward) are sent on a wild goose chase that acts as a cover for the kidnapping of Commodore Schmidlapp (Reginald Denny) and his yacht they try to work out which super criminal could have masterminded such a fiendish ploy. Investigating the tools used to stage the diversion, Batman and the boy wonder find themselves under attack and narrowly escape death due to the fearless sacrifice of a passing porpoise. As they gather the clues together they come to a terrifying conclusion – that several of Gotham’s top super criminals…The Joker (Cesar Romero), The Penguin (Burgess Meredith), The Riddler (Frank Gorshin) and Catwoman (Lee Meriwether) have come together for one attempt to bring the city to its knees.
Now of course, if you’re not the biggest fan of the television show, then it goes without saying that you’re not going to be pleased with the film, which in essence is a big-budget elongated episode.
The film benefits from having quite high production values (it never feels or looks cheap) and having a script that gets the mood right.
Personally I found it all very funny and felt that it included several bang-on set pieces, the most enjoyable of which being Batman’s attempts to get rid of a bomb without harming nuns, young lovers or ducks.
As he rightly notes…”Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb!”
And of course, who could forget the now infamous opening sequence that finds Batman delivering stomach punches and heel-kicks to a Shark (!), Robin setting the Bat-Copter on Auto Pilot so he can properly deliver Batman a can of Shark-Repellent Bat Spray (!!) and the Shark eventually falling back into the ocean and exploding (!!!).
In fact, “Batman: The Movie” is another one of those infinitely quotable Comic Book Films.
A personal favorite, courtesy of Commissioner Gordon:
“Penguin, Joker, Riddler…and Catwoman to…the sum of the angles of that rectangle is too monstrous to contemplate!”
The cast is also great and the film is the better for having so many of the villains all in the one vehicle (literally – a submarine!). West is great – very dry delivery of even the silliest material and he is well supported by Ward’s Robin who has some hilarious lines as always. The villains are good even if they spend more time trying to out-ham one another than working together to make a large impression. Romero and Gorshin are good but not as well used as Meredith, but I was a little disappointed in Meriwether’s Catwoman because I didn’t find her as feline or as feminine as I should have done. Napier does his part as a noble Alfred and, as always, it was very nice to see Neil Hamilton’s grandfatherly take on Commissioner Gordon and the lovably bumbling Chief O’Hara portrayed by Stafford Repp.
Some of the material in “Batman: The Movie” is so silly it almost goes too far. If you put your tongue into your cheek you may choke, and seeing a Pentagon head playing tiddlywinks eggs the joke a little, though the whole thing is so well-meaning that you simply can’t hold it against the movie. The plot, though, really isn’t up to much at all, something I never noticed as a child (but then I never realized it was a comedy when I was a child, either).
A repetitious sequence of events that sees the villains constantly trying to destroy Batman and Robin from afar, the heroes trying to locate their secret base.
It goes round in circles, but a glorious “Biff! Pow!” fight on a submarine and a sideways swipe at eugenics make sure it all ends in style.
Overall, some viewers may find this annoying and tiring in its unrelenting silliness but for my money it was pitched just right with its only real flaw being the fact that it could have been a little shorter. The film looks great, the score is infectious, the script is full of very droll and silly lines that you’ll either find hilarious or stupid, and a cast that manages to deliver the silliest material with a dry wit that is practically the same as winking at the audience.
Even though it may not be the Batman character as I think of him, it is still a ‘Batman’ that I recognize…and a great fun film if you’re in the mood.
“BATMAN: The Movie” (1966)
Directed by … Leslie H. Martinson
Written by … Lorenzo Semple Jr.
Based on the DC Comics Characters Created by … Bob Kane and Bill Finger
Produced by … William Dozier and Charles B. Fitzsimons
Cinematography by … Howard Schwartz
Set Decoration by … Chester L. Bayhi and Walter M. Scott
Art Direction by … Serge Krizman and Jack Martin Smith
Costume Design by …
Editing by … Harry W. Gerstad
Original ‘BATMAN’ Theme Composed by … Neal Hefti
Original Motion Picture Score Composed by … Nelson Riddle
Adam West … Bruce Wayne/Batman
Burt Ward … Richard ‘Dick’ Grayson/Robin
Lee Meriwether … Ms. Kitka/Catwoman
Cesar Romero … The Joker
Burgess Meredith … The Penguin
Frank Gorshin … The Riddler
Alan Napier … Alfred
Neil Hamilton … Commissioner Gordon
Stafford Repp … Chief O’Hara
Madge Blake … Aunt Harriet Cooper
Reginald Denny … Commodore Schmidlapp
Milton Frome … Vice Admiral Fangschliester
Gil Perkins … Bluebeard
Dick Crockett … Morgan
George Sawaya … Quetch
William Dozier … Narrator (voice)
Follow It’s Just Movies on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ItsJustMovies.