Saturday, May 22, 2010

Screen Gem Saturdays: Batman—60’s Campy Fun

Every now and then, a certain TV show or film is looked upon favorably by the Gods and allowed to have absolute perfection. The 1966 “Batman” TV series is one of those programs. Perfect casting, music, crew, and just the right amount of cheese. Cheese? Yup...that perfect amount of camp humor that lets you know that they know that it’s every bit as cheesey as you think it is. Adam West gives a pitch-perfect performance as Batman; every line uttered as if it were Shakespeare, giving the camp lines the deadpan humor that they deserve. Burt Ward’s enthusiasm as The Boy Wonder is genuine; every “holy [fill-in-the-blank]" line bubbles over with his youthful zest. Together, they are one of the greatest duos in TV history. Yvonne Craig added a much needed element of female sexuality; who doesn’t remember her startling transformation into the skin-tight purple glitter costume and red wig? Hot damn! And just about every celebrity in Hollywood wanted to play a villain on Batman. Check out a few of them: Talullah Bankhead, Cesar Romero, Van Johnson, Eartha Kitt, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Liberace, Milton Berle, Shelley Winters....need I go on?

Here are photos of Adam West (Batman) and Van Williams (The Green Hornet) posing by their famous cars, The Batmobile and The Black Beauty. Bruce Lee (Kato) & Burt Ward (Robin) are visible in the 2nd shot.

Living near LA & Hollywood, it’s always fun to scout out the original locations used in movies and television. The Batcave from 1966’s “Batman” is naturally one I sought out. How many kids were thrilled each week to see the Batmobile roaring out of the cave, getting ready to do battle with a super villain! Here’s how the cave looks in “the real world”:

This cave, located in Bronson Canyon, has also been used in “Star Trek,” “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” and “Wonder Woman.” And yes, I am referring to the original versions!

Anyone aware of the decades-long attempt to restore Judy Garland's butchered classic, “A Star is Born” (1954) back to its original length will be excited to hear that a complete print is apparently in the hands of a private collector.

A petition is circulating to encourage the owner to release his print so that others can finally see this movie as it was meant to be seen. (UPDATE: link has been removed since petition has been closed)

To see more “Batman” photos, visit my regular website.


Christopher A. Klingler said...

I just adored the old Batman series and miss seeing the old reruns on television. I wondered why it was not out on DVD. :-O)

Hope this note finds you well!

Chris :-)

stu29573 said...

The series Batmobile was perfection as well. None of the movies (or original comic books) got just the right combination of speed, gadgets, and silliness. You knew it wasn't really jet powered, but there was always the possibility that it just might be... Bravo to George Barris who adapted it) and Ford (who created the original Futura show car)!!!

~j said...

LOVE Batman!

Major Pepperidge said...

I was nuts about the Batman series when I was a kid, there are plenty of pictures of my brother and me in our home-made costumes.

We were lucky enough to see some of the filming of the Batman movie, a scene in which they were fighting on top of a submarine (I think this was filmed somewhere in Malibu Canyon against an enormous painted backdrop of sky), and my brother and I were confused because there were two Batmans, two Robins, several doppelgangers of the villains as well.

Chiana_Chat said...

That's a swell appreciation of those Batman shows. Cheesy, colorful and sure, fun if you've the mind for it. Hm I wonder what she kept in those yellow packs on her yellow belt. A yellow comb, yellow vaseline, yellow mirror...? ;) Neat seeing the Batcave. Thanks for the cool Batpost!

These holdouts for DVD releases of old TV shows are really missing their parade.

Speaking of holdouts, Re: A Star Is Born, the problem may lay with the copyright owners. Complete (Technicolor CinemaScope stereo surround) prints have been known to exist in certain circles for decades.

William Bezek said...

I used to watch the re runs everyday after about the original ambiguously gay duo!

HBG2 said...

You are spot-on about the Batman series, the best camp TV show evah and obviously as much fun to make as to watch. The mid-60s was a golden age for camp TV (Lost in Space, the Avengers), but Batman towers over them all. Your list of perfect casting could have been extended to include virtually every regular character on the show.

Connie Moreno said...

Oh, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I LOVED this TV show back in the day simply BECAUSE it was campy! I think I was the only girl in my class that liked it which enabled me to become "one of the boys", LOL!!! Each week, we talked about the show during lunch. It was great and to this day I remember it fondly.

Mike said...

Does the fact that Adam looks unfit in the batman series add to the cheesiness? It's funny because up until recently with the new Batman movies. Batman was very light hearted in television and movies. The new movies are quite dark and I would assume the comics are the same.

Daveland said...

Mike - I don't know that I'd say Adam was unfit, but compared to some of the buffed/steroided bods that define super-heroes today, he probably looks a bit soft. For me, what made it most cheesy was how seriously Adam played it. He really was brilliant in his approach.