Team Portal Watches: Batman Movie (1966)

Catwoman, Joke, Penguin Batman movie

Before Tim Burton’s Batman movie, looonng before Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins was another type of Batman movie. Perhaps you remember him from your childhood? The bright colours, the campiness, the words such as “Pow!” that pops up on the screen during fights to emphasize the punches? But this isn’t quite the series you remember either. For one thing, it’s a movie made between the first and second season of the series.

Team Portal consists of plucky young publisher Nicki (yours truly) and co-publisher and web monkey, Rob…

The dynamic duo are attempting a rescue at sea. While flying overhead in the Bat-copter they see a ship in distress. Batman plans to lower himself down to the ship via something called the “Bat Ladder”.

Rob: Lower the Bat Ladder? It’s just a rope ladder with the words “bat ladder” on the bottom of it!

Suddenly confusion! The ship disappears, it was never there in the first place, and Batman finds himself knee deep in water before he tries to tell Robin to go back up. But not before a shark attacks!

Rob: That shark looks awful!

As Bat man thrashes about with the shark…

Nicki: Is he holding onto the shark with his legs. That’s pretty good! Then he’s pretending to thrash about!

Rob: Bat spray-shark repellant. Bat spray-Whale repellant.

Nicki: Whale repellant?!

Rob: Bat spray-Manta Ray repellant. Bat spray-barracuda repellant. Hope Robin doesn’t get those mixed up. Why does he have to hang upside to give the repellant to Batman? Hope it doesn’t fall out of his utility belt!

Nicki: Ooh, what if it drops while he’s handing it to him, because he’s upside down?

Back at the commissioner’s office, Batman takes questions from the press, including one hot young Russian reporter dressed in leopard print.

Rob: How can he not tell that that’s Cat Woman? She’s even dressed like a cat!

Batman and Robin figure out that the people behind the disappearing yacht was the combined efforts of the Riddler, the Joker, the Penguin and Catwoman in one of the most ludicrous forms of logic, ever.

Rob: Of course. [quoting Robin]: The incident happened at sea, the letter C, of course Catwoman!

Nicki: Logical. Of course!

While the dynamic duo try to figure out the strange events inside the Bat cave, Rob points out something interesting…

Rob: Look everything in the bat cave is labeled!

Nicki: It’s so they don’t forget.

Meanwhile, the dynamic duo calls the Navy to find out if they sold a submarine to anyone.

Rob: The submarine looks like a penguin! They can tell that Catwoman was involved because it took place at sea, but they can’t figure out that it’s was the Penguin’s sub!

Nicki (checking her watch): Shouldn’t this be wrapping up by now.

Rob: It’s a movie.

Nicki: Really! I didn’t know they’d made a Batman movie from sixties series. That explains why it’s a different Catwoman (Lee Meriwether is Catwoman in this version).

Speaking of Catwoman, she decides the best way to get rid of Batman is to lure him into a trap by kidnapping (who else?) millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, so she uses her feminine wiles on him, posing as Russian journalist “Kitka”.

Meanwhile, Team Portal decide it’s time for a break, and discuss the Batman movie over cake.

Nicki: He’s so dense! I mean, her name is Kitka for goodness sake. As in, kitty cat…. I just want to see him finally figure out that it’s all a ruse. But maybe this is where Batman and Catwoman hook up!

Rob: I knew the old series was bad, but I didn’t think it was this bad.

Nicki: I remember it being really silly and campy, but I don’t remember it being this bad.

Back to the movie, Bruce Wayne prepares for his date. Believing that Kitka is going to be the next target, he has Alfred (appropriately disguised in a mask) and Robin follow along in the Bat Mobile, not before making sure that Alfred has his drivers license.

Rob: Robin’s not even allowed to drive! And taking the Bat Mobile? Yeah, that’s not gonna draw much attention.

Nicki: No Lamborghini?

Batman and Robin

It might seem that Team Portal’s enthusiasm for the movie is waning, however watching Batman run all over a harbour trying to find a place to get rid of a bomb certainly draws quite a few laughs, particularly when he keeps running into groups of nuns and the like. However… watching Batman continue to run around in circles, meeting up with the nuns and all again starts to wear thin.

Nicki: Just drop the bloody bomb and get on with it!

Meanwhile, things almost go horribly wrong for Batman when he allows the Penguin (pretending to be someone else) to go back with him to the Bat Cave. Luckily all is okay, due to the multiple uses of water…

Rob: Wow! Lucky for them that their drinking water and the heavy water comes out of the same dispenser!

Well readers, suffice it to say there were many more such moments in this Batman movie, like the wobbly sets, dehydrated dust of world leaders that Catwoman so carelessly swept up into test tubes so that they could kidnap them, the very bizarre camera focus on Adam West as he emoted, for want of a better word, to the camera at the realization that Catwoman and Kitka are one in the same, oh yes, and then there were the capes over the lab coats as they attempted to reconstitute the world leaders…. But Team Portal does not wish to bore you with the details. Instead… final thoughts on the Batman movie?

Rob: I dunno, it may have been easier viewing in the Sixties, if you know what I mean.

Nicki: Yeah, you definitely have to be on something to enjoy this Batman movie. I liked the old series well enough, but this was just far too long and painful for my taste.

Rob: Now we have to go see Dark Knight again.

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