I am sure this is the first time I ever watched this movie. It came out 50 years ago, but it is so bad I would have remembered it if I had seen it before. It’s Batman from 20th Century Fox and based on the TV series, which was based on the comic strip. It stars Adam West in the title role, with Burt Ward as his teenage side-kick Robin. It was recently available on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained these screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia. I’m not going to get deeply into the plot.
As everybody knows, Batman is really millionaire Bruce Wayne, and Robin is his ward, Dick Grayson. Having nothing better to do, they sally forth to combat crime, since the police are inept in such matters. They wear super hero disguises so they won’t be hassled by the public, and also by assorted crooks, in their private lives. Here are Batman and Robin are setting out from the Bat Cave in the Bat Car on yet another adventure.
There’s word that Commodore Schmidlapp is in danger aboard his fabulous yacht, and the Dynamic Duo station the Bat Copter above while Batman shinnies down a rope ladder to see what’s afoul.
Zounds! The yacht disappears in a flash, to be replace by a booby-trapped shark, which gets a bite on Batman’s leg and won’t let go. Fortunately there is a can of shark repellent spray on board the Bat Copter, and Robin sets the Bat Copter on autopilot while he climbs down to hand it to Batman. The shark lets go seconds before exploding into thousands of pieces.
Next we see the pair in the Batboat, off to check out a mysterious buoy, which details I will not dig into. I made a special effort to post this image, because it’s the first time I got a look at the Batboat.
Tony Bell was an artist living in Austin at the time. He told of his adventures with building the Batboat, following up with testing on Lake Travis. The basis was a model by Glastron, an Austin company. A recent news item shows it being sold for £42,000. Here’s a photo of Tony Bell as a favor to all his fans. He was in the process of building an airplane in an unused shed at a company I worked for.
Arrayed against the dynamic duo is a cast of nefarious characters. Pictured here are The Riddler (Frank Gorshin), the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), Catwoman (Lee Meriwether), and the Joker (Cesar Romero). Imagine what they had to do to convince suave and debonair Cesar Romero to act the fool in public.
Meriwether was a natural. The movie exercises every option to display her cat-like body for the benefit of all those Y chromosomes in the audience. Here Bruce Wayne falls head over himself for Catwoman’s alter ego, Miss Kitka. At a swanky club they sensuously dance while a cabaret singer intones the romantic hit Plaisir d’Amour.
Like I said, no opportunity is bypassed to show display Meriwether’s considerable assets.
Of course the movie is a spoof on comic book characters, which in turn are a spoof on real life heroes and villains. Here the pair ascend a vertical wall with the aid of a thin line. It’s obvious the scene was shot on a level surface and then rotated. Everybody’s got to enjoy this.
Comic book fist fights are punctuated with comic book sound effects. Here Batman battles The Riddler aboard The Penguin’s submersible.
Having defeated the evil schemes of The Penguin and salvaging the dehydrated substance of the United World Organization’s Security Council, Batman rehydrates them, but only after sorting out the dehydrate of the individual members, which became mixed by accident.
The separation process was almost completely successful. Unfortunately, the various languages did not get sorted to the appropriate bodies, and the council members wind up speaking the wrong languages.
And there is the Batman theme music, by now a national icon. “Da-da-dada-da-da-dadda…,” How can I ever forget? I was working on a software contract in Burbank, California, eight years ago, and there was a crew (200+) of testing people working in India. They needed to run tests on the hardware we had in the shop near the airport, and they worked in the day time when it was night for us. Only, if something needed to be connected, or a computer needed to be plugged in, they couldn’t do that from India, so we had set up a phone link. We took turns manning the phone at night, and if whoever had the phone duty got a call in the middle of the night, then that person had to get dressed and drive down to the shop and fix the problem. We were given a cell phone, and it was “the batphone.” It had a Batman motif, and the ring tone was, you guessed it, “da-da-dada-da-da-dadda…”
So I had the duty one night, and I was sleeping well, when, “da-da-dada-da-da-dadda…” I grabbed for the phone, half asleep, and a voice with a deep Indian accent told me they weren’t able to connect to (he named the system). I rang off, and then I thought, “Did I get the system right?” I didn’t know how to phone the caller back. I got dressed and drove down past the airport to the shop and wandered around to the building where they kept the test equipment. I went in, and sure enough, there was a test computer unplugged. I powered it up, made sure everything was running, and went back to my apartment. I charged the company two hours. Later somebody told me they had had the batphone for months, and I was the only one who ever had to drive out in the middle of the night. I should have charged them for three hours.
I will never forget you, Batman.
Tony Bell went on to work as the set designer for a movie titled She Came to the Valley. It’s not likely I will be able to obtain a video to review. More recently, renditions of Batman have taken a serious tone, but I haven’t watched any of those. Look for a review in the next few months.