Director: Leslie H. Martinson.
Written by: Lorenzo Semple Jr.
Release Date: 1966.
Runtime: 105 min.
Genre(s): Action, Comedy, Crime.
Cast: Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwether, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin, and many more!
Budget: $1,377,800 (estimated).
My Overall Rating:
There was an era where Batman wasn’t about instilling fear in the cowardly lot, about brutally beating down those who dared break the law, or about grunting and safely reveling in his solitude. Before Batman resorted to darker means to serve justice, he was a jolly fella who worked hand in hand with his sidekick to stop criminals in their ridiculous schemes in broad daylight. Everyone and their grandmothers knew who these two lunatics in costumes were and what they were up to, and no one would miss an opportunity to salute their city’s guardians whenever they could. As the first full-length theatrical adaptation of Batman spun off of the iconic 1960s television series, this iconic movie brilliantly captures the campy humour and absurd shenanigans that is often attributed to Adam West’s Batman.
What is Batman (1966) about? Tipped off that Commodore Schmidlapp is in danger on his yacht, Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) set off on their Batcopter to rescue the man only to discover that they were set up for a trap by the United Underworld, composed of Gotham’s four greatest villains, that is the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), the Riddler (Frank Gorshin), the Joker (Cesar Romero), and the Catwoman (Lee Meriwether). Equipped with a dehydrator, they plan to hold the entire world for ransom by secretly capturing the the United World Organization’s Security Council. If the world isn’t to plunge into chaos, the dynamic duo will have to hunt down the United Underworld and retrieve the kidnapped and dehydrated security representatives of the world.
With each viewing, this movie only gets better. This interpretation of Batman is definitely not one that will easily grow on viewers of modern cinema but it has its own charm that allows us to better understand the comical take on what is known today as one of the darkest superheroes of all time. In this movie filled with silly pseudoscience, whimsical puns, and playful fight choreography, there isn’t a sequence that doesn’t highlight the absurd world and its quirky inhabitants. From The Penguin’s quacking and nonsensical transportation devices to The Riddler’s lunatic laugh and obsession for riddles that thwart his own plans, there isn’t a character that doesn’t somehow stand out from the others in a ridiculous fashion.
Despite being deputized agents of the law who seem to only fight crime during broad daylight, Batman and Robin aren’t surrounded by the sharpest tools in the shed. To deal with the United Underworld, they have to resort to their own set of skills, ranging from crazy scientific knowledge to unparalleled preparation by having the perfect Bat-tool for the job. While it’s also fun to watch all the “Pow! Whap! Thwack! Bap!” flash before our eyes during important showdowns, the movie also offers some moments of introspection by bringing us to ask ourselves questions about privacy or the desire to meddle with laws of nature. As much as you want to mock these two heroes in their intense crime-fighting activities, they also bring some important questions to the table when you least expect it.
Surprisingly enough, the movie never really has a dull moment, apart maybe when Bruce Wayne is needed and has to blindly fall in love with a suspicious Russian lady with very cat-like behaviours. Stacking one tense and suspenseful moment after another with plenty of humour and action to look forward to, the movie does a formidable job in keeping viewers entertained, completely self-aware of its silliness. Did I mention that it contains a lot of torpedoes carelessly shot at the dynamic duo? Oh yes, it does. The score in this movie is also brilliant, as if the iconic theme song alone didn’t make it perfect already. They all brilliantly set the tone and pacing for this movie, always making sure to immerse the viewer in this wacky universe, bound to put a smile on your face from start to finish.
Batman (1966) is a cult classic, hilariously bizarre, and ludicrously entertaining adventure depicting the charming insanity of the 1960s Batman era.