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Batman: The Movie (1966).

July 17, 2007

[Holy hiatus! Desuko is back! Look for regular twice-weekly updates from here on in.]

The Scoop:
This feature length spinoff of the great ’60s TV show hits all the right notes, capitalizing on what the series did so well — enthusiastic performances, farcical humor and healthy doses of convention-tweaking.

The action-packed story has the dynamic duo (Adam West and Burt Ward) tangling with the United Underworld, which boasts the combined forces of Catwoman (Lee Meriwether), the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), the Joker (Cesar Romero) and the Riddler (Frank Gorshin). The foursome hatch a plot to take over the world by using a stolen dehydrator to kidnap the United World Security Council. Leslie Martinson’s well-paced direction keeps up with Lorenzo Semple Jr.’s breakneck script to keep the gags, fisticuffs and ridiculous situations flying.

The performances are uniformly energetic, too. West does his usual poor-man’s-Shatner bit here, but it’s used well. Of particular note, though, are Meriwether’s slinky turn as Catwoman and Gorshin’s definitive take on the Riddler (sufficiently manic without being annoying).

There’s great fun to be had here, miles away from the dark brooding that has become the standard mode for the character since Tim Burton’s 1989 revival.

Best Bit:
Batman’s call to the Pentagon to inquire about war surplus submarines. (“We haven’t done anything foolish, have we?”)

Side Note:
This was originally planned to be the pilot for the TV series, but when the production was rescheduled to take place between the first and second seasons, original Catwoman Julie Newmar found herself committed to another project, which allowed Lee Meriwether to get the role.

Companion Viewing:
The TV series, of course, but also “Batman” (1989) which provides an instructive contrast.

Links:
IMDb.
Official site of the DVD release.
Hollywood Teen Movies.
An exhaustive fan site.

Take a Look:
First, the trailer. “Holy superlatives, Batman!”

“Hand me down the Shark Repellant Bat Spray!”

“Some days, you can’t get rid of a bomb!”

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