Batman (1966) Review

Rating: 4.5 Stars

The following review contains spoilers.

Overview:

“Penguin, Joker, Riddler, and Catwoman, too! The sum of the angles of that rectangle is too monstrous to contemplate!”

Four of the most dastardly super criminals in Gotham City have joined forces with an eye towards holding the entire United World Security Council hostage for a ransom of nine-billion dollars. Who can stop them? Only the Dynamic Duo, Batman and Robin! (who, it should be noted, are not simply masked vigilantes, but fully deputized agents of the law)

“Support your police! That’s our message!”

I have to assume this a cult classic, right? That there are annual viewing parties all over the country, with people getting together in costume and acting out their favorite scenes? Going into this, I expected a movie that was a little offbeat and silly, but I didn’t know it was so overtly (and successfully) comedic, in the Airplane! style. A hilarious movie that had me laughing from start to finish, with quotes that I can’t get out of my head.

Best Parts:

Favorite Scene #1:

The opening of this movie involves Batman and Robin racing into costume, then racing to the Batmobile, racing down to the local airfield, racing into the Batcopter, and flying that out to a yacht that an anonymous tip has told them needs their help. Batman is then lowered down, via properly-labeled Bat Ladder, to the ship’s deck, only to discover the ship is an optical illusion, and he’s subsequently attacked by a shark. He punches the shark a dozen times, but it won’t let go. Robin retrieves the Shark Repellant Bat Spray from a shelf full of various oceanic threat repellants like Whale and Manta Ray and delivers it to Batman, who sprays the shark, causing it to release its hold on his leg, fall back to the ocean, and it freaking explodes. This is how the movie starts.

Favorite Scene #2:

Gordon: “It could be any one of them. But which one? Which ones?”
Batman: “Pretty fishy what happened to me on that ladder…”
Gordon: “You mean where there’s a fish there could be a Penguin?”
Robin: “But wait! It happened at sea… sea… C! C for Catwoman!”
Batman: “Yet, an exploding shark was pulling my leg…”
Gordon: “The Joker!”
O’Hara: “It’s all a sinister riddle… er! Riddle-er! Riddler!”

Favorite Scene #3:

Realizing the Penguin has somehow gotten hold of a submarine, which of course is painted and decorated to look like a giant penguin, Batman and Robin call the Pentagon to get some answers. The Admiral and his secretary, meanwhile, are busy playing tiddlywinks. The Admiral can’t remember at first if they’ve sold any surplus submarines lately, but checking his files, he sees they sold one just last week to a Mr. P. N. Guin, who, unfortunately, left no physical address, just a P.O. Box. As amazing as this all is, the most amazing part is when the Admiral pauses his conversation with Batman for a moment, looks at his secretary, and says “Keep practicing!”

Favorite Scene #4:

I was going to try to limit these to three, but oh my God the bomb scene. Batman running around the docks carrying a massive cartoon bomb over his head, mouth agape, unable to find anywhere safe to deposit it. Around this corner? No, a marching band. Over here? No, nuns! And over there’s a woman pushing a stroller! And off the side of the dock some young lovers on a row boat! And on the other side a family of ducks! And then there’s the same marching band again! And the same nuns again! And the same woman with a stroller again! And the same marching band again! A comic escalation that just gets funnier and funnier, especially with the wild look on Adam West’s face.

Honorable Mention:

During a brawl on top of the submarine, Catwoman throws a cat at Batman. He carries it around for a while, kicking bad guys, then deposits it in a life boat.

Worst Parts:

I accept that this movie is a bunch of comic sketches and non sequiturs, and I love that, but even using Shark Repellant Bat Spray to escape a death trap is better than just escaping by lucky accident, which happens twice in this movie. The first time a noble porpoise throws itself in front of a torpedo meant for our heroes, and the second time their damaged helicopter just happens to crash into a big pile of foam rubber outside the Foam Rubber Convention. Funny, sure, but more interesting if Batman had somehow engineered it.

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