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Batman, often promoted as Batman: The Movie, is a 1966 film and the first full-length theatrical adaptation of the DC Comics character of the same name. Released by 20th Century Fox, the film starred Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin.

The film was directed by Leslie H. Martinson, who also directed a pair of Batman episodes; "The Penguin Goes Straight" and "Not Yet, He Ain't," both from season one.

Plot

When Batman (West) and Robin (Ward) get a tip that Commodore Schmidlapp (the final role of actor Reginald Denny) is in danger aboard his yacht, they launch a rescue mission using the Batcopter. After a tangle with an exploding shark, Batman and Robin head back to Commissioner Gordon's office where, through deduction and wisdom, they figure out that the tip was a set-up by four of the most powerful villains ever (Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman), who have united to defeat The Dynamic Duo once and for all.

Armed with a dehydrator that can turn humans into dust, a World War II Unterseeboot made to resemble a penguin, and their three pirate henchmen (Bluebeard, Morgan and Quetch), the "fearsome foursome" intends to take over the world, and Batman and Robin must stop them. Catwoman romantically lures Bruce Wayne into a trap, little suspecting that Wayne is Batman's alter-ego, and Penguin even schemes his way into the Batcave, leaving the Duo unable to prevent the kidnapping of the dehydrated United World Security Council.

After giving chase in the Batboat, the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder use a sonic charge weapon called "Bat-Charges" to disable Penguin's submarine and bring it to the surface, where a grand fistfight ensues. Although Commodore Schmidlapp sneezes on and scatters the powdered members of the dehydrated Council, mixing them together – which would normally spell their doom – Batman constructs an elaborate filter to return each of them to life.

Prior to this process, Robin asks Batman if it might not be in the world's best interests, with continued problems of overt racism, especially in the U.S.marker during the 1960s, for them to alter the dust samples so that humans can no longer harm one another. In response, Batman says that they cannot do so and can only hope for people, in general, to learn to live together peacefully on their own.

However, in the final scene, Robin's wishes are ironically fulfilled when the Security Council is improperly re-hydrated. While all of the members are alive and well, continuing to squabble among themselves and totally oblivious of their surroundings, each of them now speaks a completely different language than their original native tongue. As the world looks on in disbelief at this development, Batman and Robin quietly climb out of the United World Headquartersmarker to an uncertain future. Batman's final words express his sincere hope that this "mixing of minds" does more good than it does harm.

Cast

Though Julie Newmar played the Catwoman to great acclaim in the TV series, she had other commitments at that time and was replaced by Lee Meriwether in this movie. In his autobiography, Adam West writes of his asking for more money to do the film and that the producers countered with the fact that another actor would be hired. Mike Henry was the actor but a lawsuit against the producers of his Tarzan film series prohibited him from taking the role.

History

William Dozier wanted to make a big-screen film to generate interest in his proposed Batman TV series, to have it in theaters while the first season was before the cameras, but 20th Century Fox studio refused, because a network would share the cost of a series whereas they would have to cover the entire cost of a movie, and they wanted to know if the series was a hit before they would do that. So it was not filmed until the end of the first season of Batman the TV series (between April 25 and May 31, 1966 at an estimated $1,377,800). This movie featured four main criminals from the show, including the "clown prince of crime" The Joker (Cesar Romero), that "count of criminal conundrums" The Riddler (Frank Gorshin), that "pompous, waddling master of fowl play" The Penguin (Burgess Meredith), and the "fiendish feline" The Catwoman (Lee Meriwether). It was written by series writer Lorenzo Semple, Jr. and directed by series director Leslie H. Martinson, who won a Golden Gryphonmarker for his efforts, and is less well remembered for directing a large number of less notable movies such as PT 109 and Rescue from Gilligan's Island.

The 105-minute Batman opened at The Paramount Theatremarker in Austin, Texasmarker on Saturday, July 30, 1966 (between the first and second seasons of the TV series).

The movie was moderately successful at the box office. It had its nationwide television debut as an ABC Sunday Night Movie, at 9:00 Eastern/8:00 Central, on Independence Day, 1971.

Tone

Like the television series, the movie featured saturated colors, campy dialogue and special effects, and over-exaggeration in acting performances, effectively being a tongue-in-cheek parody.

Though it is often described (like many contemporary shows) as a parody of a popular comic-book character, some commentators believe that its comedy is not so tightly confined. It's worth noting that some commentators feel the film's depiction of the Caped Crusader "captured the feel of the contemporary comics perfectly". The film was, they remind us, made at a time when "the Batman of the Golden Age comics was already essentially neutered".

Nevertheless, certain elements verge into direct parody of the history of Batman. The movie, like the TV series, is strongly influenced by the comparatively obscure 1940s serials of Batman, such as the escapes done almost out of luck. Likewise, the penchant for giving even obscure devices — notably, "shark repellent" — a "Bat-" prefix, and the dramatic use of stylized title cards during fight scenes, playfully acknowledge some of the conventions that the character had accumulated in various media. However, the majority of Batman's campier moments can be read as a broader parody on contemporary mid-1960s culture in general.

Vehicles

The Batmobile as seen in the 1960s Batman TV series.
Besides the Batmobile, other vehicles used by The Dynamic Duo: Of the three new Batvehicles which first appeared in the Batman movie, only the Batcycle crossed over into the TV series, as the budgetary limits of the TV series precluded the use of the others. Instead, snippets of the Batcopter and Batboat from the movie were stitched into episodes.

Release

The film was in released on VHS in 1985 by Playhouse Video, in 1989 by CBS/Fox Video, and in 1994 by Fox Video. On August 21, 2001 this film was released on DVD; it was re-released July 1, 2008 on DVD and on Blu-ray for the 42nd anniversary of the film's release and to take advantage of The Dark Knight's release on July 18. The Blu-ray added several features in addition to those found on the original DVD, however the 2008 DVD is identical to the 2001 release, except for the disk artwork, which had a darker feel than the 2001 release and did not include Robin, probably to tie in with The Dark Knight.

Reception

Batman: The Movie has received positive reviews over the years, with an 81% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Bill Gibron of Filmcritic.com gave the film 3 out of 5 stars and commented that "unlike other attempts at bringing these characters to life...the TV cast really captures the inherent insanity of the roles." Variety magazine stated on their review that "the intense innocent enthusiasm of Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith and Frank Gorshin as the three criminals is balanced against the innocent calm of Adam West and Burt Ward, Batman and Robin respectively."

References

External links




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