Cinema Junkie by Beth Accomando
Batman: The Movie on Blu-Ray
Adam West in Batman: The Movie (20th Century Fox) and Christian Bale in the upcoming The Dark Knight (Warner Brothers)
With the new Batman film, The Dark Knight , just around the corner, I wanted to highlight the new Fox Home Entertainment Blu-Ray release of the 1966 Batman: The Movie with Adam West and Burt Ward as the Dynamic Duo and a quartet of villains played by Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin and Lee Meriwether. Adam West is the Batman I grew up with and I remember having a Batman TV show pillow that I would snuggle up with to watch every episode. Same Bat time, same Bat channel, without fail. The movie, I later discovered, was actually conceived as the pilot for the TV series but ABC had trouble in their primetime lineup and debuted the TV series early. So the film came out between seasons one and two of the TV show. The vibrant new film transfer of Batman: The Movie boasts an explosion of eye-popping colors that scream 1960s pop art. The film, like the TV series, has a definite cheese factor but both are still wildly entertaining today. Watching the movie the other night made me feel like a kid again and reminded me how much fun Batman was.
For those who grew up with Tim Burton's Batman (1989) or the more recent Christopher Nolan-directed Batman Begins (2005), the old Adam West Batman may strike you as silly. But if you don't realize where Batman came from, you can't fully appreciate how far he's come. What was intriguing about the movie and TV show was the way it packaged conservative values - law and order - in a hip, pop package that made it seem cool. You also had Hollywood veterans like Cesar Romero and Burgess Meredith chewing up the scenery with absolute glee. Their audacious performances worked because Adam West gave them such a straight hero to play off of. In some of the bonus feature interviews, people compare West to William Shatner in the way both used low vocal tones and over enunciation to create an oddly stiff but earnest character. West is also compared to the dry Jack Webb of Dragnet . Meanwhile, Robin is described as a straight man to a straight man and miraculous for managing "astonished enthusiasm" at all times. And not to be outdone in the somber delivery of wacky lines, Neil Hamilton gets an award as Comissioner Gordon who gets to say such lines as "status report on known super villains at large" or "the sum of the angles of that rectangle are too monstrous to contemplate."