When Gotham’s safety is threatened by four of the world’s most dastardly villains, it’s up to the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder to save the day.
Director: Leslie H. Martinson
Starring: Adam West, Burt Ward, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Lee Meriwether, Frank Gorshin
Run Time: 105 Minutes
Release Date: 16 December 1966 (UK)
People say the 60s were a simpler time, but not for Batman. In later years he would spend a movie dealing with one maniacal baddie in a purple suit, and another movie battling a rotund fish-lover. But in 1966, he had to do battle with every major villain there was. The result; a more gloriously hilarious and ridiculous outing than you may imagine.
Putting absolutely no emphasis on drama, this film flies by on a delightful mixture of comedy and pure cheese. From Robin’s ‘Holy [insert relevant exclamation]’ to Batman’s legendary collision with a shark, ending thanks to his supply of Bat-shark repellent. This has everything that is loveable about the original TV series, even without the classic ‘Same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel’ sign-off. We get the immortal Batmobile, the Bat-boat, the conveniently-placed Bat-bike and the Bat-copter. And even when we get the slightest bit of drama – involving a crash in the Copter – it ends in true style thanks to a fortunate soft landing and some nifty flying from Batman.
Much is said about Adam West in the lead role and, truth be told, most of it is true. His Batman would never tug on the heartstrings and never fill you with dread that his demise was near. But he made Batman, he gave us a hero we still look up to today. Bale and Keaton may have excelled under the cowl in later years, giving Bats new dimensions and personalities, but none of that would have been possible without West doing it first. His comedy timing is never in doubt and the deadpan delivery in most of the Dynamic Duo’s seemingly-perilous situations ensure that the family-friendly outing stays just that, devoid or terror or trepidation. Indeed, this is none more apparent than in the film’s most famous scene; holding an exploding bomb, our hero’s attempts to get rid of it is met with poorly-timed opposition in the form of nuns, ducks and a canoodling couple. The delivery of the famous punchline sums up West in this role.
But a hero is only as good as a foe to work off (or against), and West strikes it lucky being opposed by the dastardly foursome of Romero, Meredith, Meriwether and Gorshin. Romero and Gorshin in particular look like they’re having the time of their lives, hamming it up to a virtually unprecedented level. While you automatically root for the good guys to overcome the seemingly-insurmountable odds, the villains are so damn entertaining that you almost want things to go against tradition and have Batman fail.
Of course, that is never going to happen. Whether it’s torpedoes or re-hydrated armies, nothing will stop our fearless Caped Crusader. A final act battle atop a boat is wonderfully hammy, complete with screen-filling THWACK! and ZWAPP! effects. It epitomises the movie perfectly.
Batman closes with the film’s final line, “Our job is finished” and indeed it is. A job well done.
[tabgroup][tab title=”The Good“]
Adam West becomes the eminent Batman for years to come
Romero’s Joker is a joy to watch
The ‘It’s so bad it’s good’ factor guarantees repeat viewings
[/tab][tab title=”The Bad“]
Some would say it’s almost record-levels of cheese. Really?