July 21, 2012

Batman: The Movie (1966)

"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."

Starting my Bat-weekend off with a load of camp crap such as the movie version of the "Batman" TV series seemed like a good idea at the time especially as the whole thing is available to watch in several places online including, of course, YouTube. I didn't even have to leave my computer to go and find the DVD which is always a good thing.

Unfortunately, although the movie was much the same as the TV series and used 99% of the same actors, the overall style was a little bit different especially when it came to the onscreen "Biff!", "Pow!", "Whap!" and "Thwack!" captions which didn't get used until almost the end. I won't say that this really hurt the movie all that much since it was still vibrant with colour, but it lacked the comic book feel of the TV episodes.

I still enjoyed the four "Super Criminals" even though none of them stood out as much as Lee Meriwether who had a dual role in this as The Catwoman and her disguise as a Russian journalist named Kitka. Lee Meriwether was pretty funny and ridiculously sexy yet I wish she'd been a little bit more evil with it. Possibly throwing her cat, Hecate, at Batman was the most evil thing she did in the entire farce.

The "Dynamic Duo" were the same as I remembered them. Adam West's Batman was an uber moral parody of puritanical and prohibition-era American values while Burt Ward was just a Dick (Grayson). I've always hated Robin more than any other superhero's sidekick. All that "Holy this" and "Holy that" bullshit while he punched his gloves together got on my nerves not to mention that the guy was "Captain Obvious" with his stupid comments.

I realise that this "Batman" was supposed to be a kind of satire, but if kids really bought into such antiquated values without knowing any better, I think it would be quite damaging to them. I had to keep telling myself that this was a bit of 1960s fun and I shouldn't take any of it too seriously.

They see me rollin', they hatin'

Seeing all the Bat-vehicles in action was a bit of a bonus. I didn't realise that the diecast Corgi toys were inspired by this movie even though the colours were completely wrong. My Corgi Batmobile was the later one with the towing hook rather than the flame that popped in and out. I don't believe that any of them had the red edges on their paintwork though. As for the Batcycle, Batcopter and Batboat, well, mine were just black and red with the dominant colour being black. If you ever had a bright blue Batboat, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

One moment which I found amusing (for personal reasons which I won't go into too much detail about right now) was when Batman couldn't dispose of a bomb because a Salvation Army band was in the way. For anyone, like me, who has ever had to endure the annoyance of their bellringing beggars in the run up to Christmas, that was such a wasted opportunity, Suffice it to say that I would've loved to have seen those hypocritical Chuggers blown straight to Hell where they belong.

The interaction between the various "Super Criminals" was okay for anyone with a particularly childish mind, but their on screen time and roles were greatly reduced by having so many of them. Cesar Romero was great as The Joker in the TV series and sadly underused here. I never could stand Burgess Meredith in anything so it annoyed me that his part was larger than Cesar Romero's and far more than it needed to be.

The tiny masks make all the difference if you're a costumed criminal.

My favourite male Batman villain was always The Riddler as played by Frank Goshin. I think John Astin played him a couple of times on TV, but it was never the same. Frank Gorshin really looked the part and was mischievous with it. Again, he was very underused in this movie as well.

As for the plot, who cares? Really, does it matter? I suppose the idea of combining the four rather inept escaped criminals in a plan to destroy the United Nations seemed good on paper, but, honestly, it took way too long for them to get to the punchline and it was predictable that they were never going to get away with it.

I wouldn't say any of the movie was "laugh out loud" funny, but it was entertaining even for a horror-addicted adult such as myself to watch. I perked up at the use of an Edgar Allan Poe poem at one point, and the very awkward date between Bruce Wayne and Kitka was priceless.

The ending was a big "Oops!" moment for Batman and the Boy Blunder which was kind of funny with its implications especially if you aren't a big fan of either of them.

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