July 30, 2016
Redux: Batman (1966).
Redux Review #177: Batman.
Adam West (Bruce Wayne / Batman), Burt Ward (Dick Grayson / Robin), Lee Meriwether (Catwoman/Miss Kitka), Cesar Romero (The Joker), Burgess Meredith (The Penguin), Frank Gorshin (The Riddler), Alan Napier (Alfred Pennyworth), Neil Hamilton (Commissioner James Gordon), Stafford Repp (Chief Miles O'Hara), and Madge Blake (Aunt Harriet Cooper) Directed by Leslie H. Martinson.
The original review gave the rating as a 6/10, but I felt in hindsight that it likely deserved a slightly more improved rating. While I could have just simply fixed the rating without much fanfare, I thought it made more sense to make a redux review instead, with a little bit of waiting to get the review to sync up with the 50th Anniversary of the movie's release. Interestingly enough, this film was released six months after the television series had premiered. In any case, I hope you enjoy this redux review. There will be a new review tomorrow, BTW.
Obviously, one must look at the time this was made as context for a movie that is wonderfully campy much like the show that it came from. For its time, the show (and the movie) are enjoyable in what they aspire to be, fun for all and without an ounce of awful pandering. They both aimed for entertainment and succeeded. Sure, it may seem ridiculous, but that's part of the fun. West and Ward have excellent chemistry together (as one would expect), and the Rouges Gallery (Meriwether, Romero, Meredith, Gorshin) also have an exuberant amount of charm as villains. The colors are bright and vibrant, such as with the Batcave. There are a good deal of silly elements from shark-repellent bat-spray (with rubber shark included) to Alfred wearing a mask while on a stakeout in the Batmobile, but it all feels welcome and is charming enough. It's a well crafted movie at about 105 minutes, not just being like a two-parter from the show. It manages to keep itself cohesive enough, and the fight scene at the end with the Dynamic Duo and the villains is entertaining enough, with everyone getting in on the fun. On its own, this is a movie wonderful in its cheesiness.
The 1989 film (and its sequel) shaped Batman in film to be darker than this film's interpretation (and more like the comics), with that mode still being the dominant form to this day. Batman Forever (but especially Batman & Robin) tried to emulate the show (in a sense), but the tacky artificial nature of the two films (more so for the latter) were not as fun as the original. Even after a half century, this movie, while not a high caliber film, succeeds in being what it wants to be for everyone, with a undeniable charm of its own.
Overall, I give it 7 out of 10 stars.