THE BAT MOVIE!
CAST AND CREW
BATMAN/Bruce Wayne - Adam West
ROBIN/Dick Grayson - Burt Ward
ALFRED - Alan Napier
COMMISSIONER GORDON - Neal Hamilton
THE JOKER - Cesar Romero
THE PENGUIN - Burgess Meredith
THE RIDDLER - Frank Gorshin
CATWOMAN - Lee Meriwether
CHIEF O'HARA - Stafford Repp
Directed by - Leslie H. Martinson
Screenplay - Lorenzo Semple, Jr.
Music - Nelson Riddle
Length: 105 minutes
Holy Feature Film!
With filming of the first season completed, it was decided that a full length feature film would be produced in order to give the TV series maximum promotion. As it turned out (in the USA at least), a slot became available for the TV show prematurely, which resulted in a television premier before the movie was ready. By the time of the film's release in the USA (July 30th 1966), the TV series was a huge hit. This meant that the Batman Movie received a lot less promotion in America than was originally intended. Attention was focused instead on the overseas market, and this is where the film got its chance to do the job it was designed for; i.e. promoting the Batman Television Series.
Here in the UK, most of us young Bat-Fans (myself included) were introduced to Batman and Robin by means of the movie. At this time, 1966, I was already familiar with Superman, thanks to the animated TV series. Although I had heard of Batman and Robin, I can't quite remember what convinced me, that going to see this film at my local cinema was absolutely imperative.
And so it was. I vividly recall standing outside the cinema one sunny Saturday afternoon with my less than enthusiastic mother for company. I remember getting over excited by the stills in the display box that kept me suitably amused while we waited for the cinema doors to open. Even though I was a bit of a Flintstones fan at the time, I felt nothing but impatience that day, as I sat through a feature length episode that was chosen as the B-Movie to accompany Batman. Finally they arrived. Right there on the huge screen in front of me. Batman and Robin, wearing the coolest costumes I had ever seen in my whole six and a half years of living. For the next 105 minutes, I sat there completely absorbed as my hand held orange flavoured lollypop melted contentedly over my shiny white t-shirt.
It took me years to fully appreciate why my mother felt it appropriate to laugh uncontrollably as Batman battled desperately to fight off a suicidal rubber shark that had attached itself to his leg. But for the next two years, I was completely hooked. Batman was the One Television Programme that I would never miss. Batman was vital. Batman was even more important to me now than Wagon Train.
When it came to the movie, the Bat Boat was well and truly pushed out ...not! The budget was expanded to a stupendous $1,377,800, and the Dynamic Duo was to do battle with not one... but four Super Villains! The four most popular villains from the TV series were chosen. The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin and Catwoman were to band together to form a "United Underworld" with a view to taking over the entire world. Julie Newmar chose not to play Catwoman in the movie, she decided instead to take a role in Mackenna's Gold, although this doesn't really explain how Burgess Meredith who also took on a role in Mackenna's Gold, found time to play The Penguin in the Batman movie. Anyway, a suitable replacement for Catwoman was found in former Miss America Lee Meriwether.
Armed with a powerful dehydrating gun that can turn humans into dust, and a Navy Surplus Nuclear Submarine, the 'Fearsome Foursome' aim to use the dust gun against the nine delegates of the Security Council at the United Nations building in New York City, and it's up to the Dynamic Duo to stop them! The final showdown takes place on board the nuclear submarine when Batman and Robin - after forcing the Penguin to surface his vessel - get aboard the floating sub to do battle with the villains and their henchmen.
Is It Any Good?
For many Batman purists, this film was detestable at the time and has remained so ever since. They have never been able to forgive the producers for camping up their dark super hero, and in the process converting him into a comedic figure worthy of nothing but scorn and derision. When Tim Burton took control of Batman's Screen image in 1989, many of the long-suffering Batman purists were relieved to see the character finally get the respect and severity he deserved. For the rest of us, this is THE Batman film and Adam West will always be the most loved Batman of all.
The Other Films
In 1989 Hollywood finally decided that the time was right for Batman to return to the big screen.
It was time to get serious. This time the movie was going to be based on the original DC Comics
characters. By doing this, Warner Brothers were on to a sure winner. With this movie, they would appeal
not only to the serious comic book digesters, but also to the huge fan base of sixties nostalgists
like myself, who they knew for certain would turn out in droves to witness the return to the silver
screen of their favourite super-hero... Batman.
Personally, I really enjoyed the first two films of this series, but was losing interest fast after seeing the third. When George Clooney took the starring role in 'Batman and Robin' in 1997, things just went from bad to unbearable. It was obviously time for a re-think.
In 2004, Halle Berry took on the role of Catwoman and produced a film that has been universally slammed. I haven't seen the film myself (I doubt I ever will), and therefore reserve judgement.
2005 saw the release of Batman Begins. This to my mind is undoubtedly the best of the post 66 Batman movies. The leading role is this time given to Christian Bale, who along with a superb supporting cast including, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Cillian Murphy, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman, gives a very convincing performance as a much grittier and highly disturbed Batman. Ironically, ten years earlier, Christian Bale was a strong contender to play Robin, opposite Val Kilmer's Batman in 'Batman Forever'. Unfortunately (or fortunately), he lost out to Chris O'Donnell, who apparently turned in a more convincing screen test than Bale.