This feature film starring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin came two months after the end of the first season of the hit show. most of the show’s stars reprised their roles, with Lee Meriwether replacing Julie Newmar as Catwoman.
It did moderately well upon release, but has since become a much-loved classic amongst fans of Batman, with many people ranking West near the top, if not the top Batman ever to grace our screens. Which Batman you prefer is a matter of opinion, but I doubt anybody would disagree that West set the benchmark for Batman’s to come.
Upon revisiting it now, it is still a pretty fun take on the caped crusader, with memorable performances from all the cast. Like the show, it takes liberties with the characters and is high on parody, with a camp style. In all the situations Batman and his sidekick find themselves in, they speak their lines in a straight-faced, sincere manner. For instance there is a sequence where batman is running around a pier with a huge comedy bomb that is about to explode, thwarted time and time again by various obstacles in his desperation to get rid of the bomb, which seems to have the slowest burning wick ever. I’m not sure if this required many takes, but West doesn’t crack a single smile despite the whole scene being crazy.
Ward also delivers his lines with the same intense sincerity. This was definitely the best pair of actors to play the Dynamic duo up to that point.
The plot sees a group of the most famous Batman villains band together to use a special dehydrator that they plan to use to defeat Batman and kidnap the world Security Council. The love interest of Batman is Miss Kitka, who turns out to be Catwoman (which the viewer already knew). We also get to see a pretty cool version of the Batmobile, along with the Batcopter, Batcycle and Batboat. The now-iconic soundtrack needs no explaining. People having been humming that tune when their mothers called them in for dinner ever since.
Cesar Romero sets the standard for the Joker character, played with maniacal glee. He famously refused to shave his moustache for the role so the makeup artists had to paint over it. Burgess Meredith is great as the Penguin. Before the TV series Penguin was kind of a secondary villain, but his character became more prominent after Meredith’s performances. He is the ringleader in this movie, and for me he remains one of the best versions. Frank Gorshin is also good as the Riddler, who actually has a more maniacal laugh than the Joker. His performance as the Riddler actually earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Comedy. Meriwether does okay as Catwoman but doesn’t come close to Newmar. She is still fun to watch here.
Overall I think this is a solid outing for Batman with great performances from all the cast. It’s unlikely to appeal to people today but is still an enjoyable bit of nostalgic viewing for anyone who has watched the original show. I used to really like watching the re-runs as a kid, as well as this movie. While it doesn’t have the amazing stunts and special effects of the more modern movies, it is still a fun one. I challenge you not to be entertained as Batman dangles from the Batcopter while using Bat Shark Repellent on a shark which has his leg in its mouth.
Does look dated when held up to movies from today, but as a Batman movie this has some of the top performances and the most memorable theme tune. A good watch for fans but will probably not hold the interest of non-fans, especially from more recent generations.
Movie info from Wikipedia:
|Directed by||Leslie H. Martinson|
|Produced by||William Dozier|
|Written by||Lorenzo Semple, Jr.|
by Bob Kane
Bill Finger (uncredited)
|Edited by||Harry Gerstad|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$1.7 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)[3|