Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Batman: The Movie (1966)

Seen: On dvd on my friend Sam's projector set-up, from my personal collection.

The whole "Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb" part in The Dark Knight Rises obviously had me in the mood for Batman: The Movie, the delightfully campy film version of the classic 60s tv series. Starring Adam West as the eponymous crimefighter and Burt Ward as his Boy Wonder sidekick Robin, the film pits our heroes against four of Gotham's most dastardly villains: Penguin (Burgess Meredith), Joker (Caesar Romero), Riddler (Frank Gorshin), and Catwoman (Lee Meriwether). They've teamed up to combine their considerable evil skills and resources, hatching a plot to hold members of the United Nations for ransom, while using billionaire Bruce Wayne as bait to snare Batman and Robin. OBVIOUSLY THIS PLAN IS AIRTIGHT.

There is a lot of silliness afoot in this movie, and that's just the way I like it. It's got wacky action scenes and eye-searing color combinations and maniacal laughter and ridiculous leaps of logic and even a bit of the ol' BAM POW ZOCKO! I love the villainous team-up, especially since Frank Gorshin as the Riddler is maybe my favorite Batman adversary? He's up there, certainly. And everybody gets to bring their own thing to the plan. Penguin's got his adorable penguin-shaped submarine (my gosh it's too cute with its little flippers), Riddler shoots a riddle into the sky to confound Batman for like 30 seconds, Catwoman disguises herself as a Russian journalist to get into Bruce Wayne's perfectly-pleated pants, and Joker's got... jokes? I don't actually remember his contribution but I'm sure it was there. They have at least 10 supervillian schemes going at any given time time, including: kidnapping a befuddled Commodore, launching various deadly weapons, mistreatment of sharks, kidnapping a billionaire, impersonating Soviets, turning world leaders into colorful dehydrated dust, and basically murder when some of their henchmen accidentally explode. Meanwhile Batman and Robin get to shout out weird exclamations and antiquated turns of phrase and everything is just as it should be.

I've always thought this film was a pretty fun time, a solid representation of the tv series and an enjoyable feature in its own right. It knows it's loopy and over the top, and it revels in it. But rewatching it now after several years I realize that it draaaaags and generally overstays its welcome, which is too bad. There are several storylines that pop up and then fade away as the movie progresses, and there's way too much time spent rationalizing certain actions or events. Like, no one cares and certainly no one is paying attention to these details, you guys. I don't care where Penguin got the submarine, and I have no idea how the Commodore and his yacht fit into things. It matters naught. And then there's a big climactic fight scene and you think it's over, but somehow there's still 10 minutes of movie left as they hang out at the UN for forever.

I still think Batman: The Movie is a real hoot, it could just use some trimming. Or maybe next time I'll drink some more and it'll even out. Holy Alcohol, Batman!


Pair This Movie With: I feel like revisiting the show, since it's been a few years. Looks like Youtube's got me covered.


  1. "It happened at sea... C... C for Catwoman!" There is no faulting such genius Bat-logic. Love this film, nice review.

  2. Jay: Haha when I said "ridiculous leaps of logic" that's pretty much exactly what I was referring to! Good times. Thanks for reading!

  3. I've heard the production on the film was almost ended prematurely before a whale decided to sacrifice itself to save the picture.