This blog is devoted to all those pieces of 20th century culture too often pooh-pooh'ed by the so called 'high brow' crowd. The stuff that conjoures words like 'vibrant', 'garish' and 'lurid'. Cheap paperbacks, b-movies, exploitation, fantasy, horror and hokey sci-fi - all have a place on this blog where the trash of yesterday is recognised as the classics of today.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Movie Review: Batman (1966)

This film is often overlooked and remains in the shadow of the various Burton/Schumacher/Nolan movies that came after it. Of course, it's a spin-off from the lovably daft TV series, but it was released in cinemas after all and, other than the two Batman movie serials from the 1940's, it is really the first Batman movie.

Released between seasons 1 and 2 of the series, the movie was devised to sell the series to international audiences. Before the big-budget Batman movies of the 80s and 90s, the Batman TV series, was the general public's only concept of the Caped Crusader, with its iconic and endlessly hummable theme tune, its 'Biff! Bang! Pow!' effects and its intentional silliness. Written by Lorenzo Semple Jr. the film is very much in the same vein of the series (of which he wrote many episodes).

The plot sees four major Batman villains team up and form a ludicrously devious plan to hold the world to ransom. Joining us from the series, there's The Joker (Cesar Romero), The Penguin (Burgess Meredith) and the Riddler (Frank Gorshin). Catwoman here is played by Lee Meriwether as the regular Catwoman from the series (Julie Newmar) had other engagements when the movie went into production. The 'Unholy Quartet' kidnap Commodore Schmiddlapp aboard his boat and steal an experimental 'dehydrator' device that can suck the moisture out of whoever it is targeted at. With this they hope to hold the members of the United World to ransom.

Once Batman and Robin try to crack the villainous plot, the foursome devise a plan to trap the Dynamic Duo by kidnapping Bruce Wayne and use him as bait. The lure for the trap is Catwoman (disguised as Russian journalist, Kitka) who Wayne has the hots for. Escaping the dastardly net, Wayne makes for the Batcave and returns with Robin to rumble the villain's hideout. The Penguin then infiltrates the Batcave disguised as Schmiddlapp and armed with dehydrated henchmen who he re hydrates to do battle with the Dynamic Duo.

The Penguin escapes and rejoins his fellow comrades in crime at the United World headquarters where they dehydrate and make off with the members of the security council. Batman and Robin, hot on their tail, bombard the Penguin's submarine with bombs from the Batboat, forcing it to surface where the climatic fight takes place.

There's not a whole lot to be said about the quality of the movie as it's little more than a feature length episode of the TV series. Now you either like the series or you don't, but the film was pulled off quite well. Some extra money was clearly well spent with an enlarged set for the Batcave and the introduction of some new toys like the Batboat and the Batcopter.

1 comment:

kaokensho said...

I'd like to say that many of us (even the 1st gen re-run viewers) who watched the orginal series are very sad that the series isn't out on DVD today. Fans who are forced to relive the glory days of old through low res youtube videos now have mixed feeling about the movie. For all the movies awsomeness the series, in my opinion, was better. That leaves viewers like myself with mixed feelings over the movie. The mild cartoonish violence and over the top acting is perfect for the father of two young boys who love Batman. We can only hope that the people of Fox and Warner Bros can come together and fight the crime that is a world without the Adam West and Burt Ward "Batman."