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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Comedy > Action > Batman – The Movie (1966/Fox Blu-ray)

Batman – The Movie (1966/Fox Blu-ray)


Picture: B+     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Film: C+



Between a lawsuit preventing the classic 1960s hit TV series from coming out on DVD, Blu-ray or even being broadcast on TV and the bashing of the show as too silly, the Adam West/Burt Ward Batman does not get the respect it deserves.  However, this has not prevented memorabilia tied to the show into the early 1980s from constantly becoming more valuable or stopped 20th Century Fox from issuing the 1966 feature film version produced between the first two seasons of the series.  Now, Fox has issued a 50GB Blu-ray so loaded, Robin might just yell “Holy High Definition!”


There is no doubt that some media have covered the film before on home video, but in our case, we actually reviewed the terrific Limited Edition CD from the FSM label of Film Score Monthly that has since become a collector’s item (like so many of their releases) and for good reason.  It includes details about the film at this link:





The film brings together four of Batman’s most famous villains in Cesar Romero’s Joker, Frank Gorshin’s Riddler, Burgess Meredith’s Penguin and Lee Meriwether in her only appearance as Catwoman, taking over for Julie Newmar who was making a feature film and would eventually be succeeded by Eartha Kitt.  They team up to destroy the Dynamic Duo once and for all in a plot involving The United Nations and Catwoman playing a Eastern Bloc visitor out to seduce Bruce Wayne, with the rogue’s gallery not realizing his alter ego.  The performances are good, situations a hoot, costumes and production design the same memorable and colorful ones from the series and jokes all over the place.  The problem is that the ending is a big letdown and the film never pays off.  Fortunately, most of the fun is getting there.


I’ll save my comments on the series for its eventual release, but this is the first of what is now seven feature films based on the character with five actors now playing the role, though Columbia Pictures made two black & white Batman serials before this, making Batman the most filmed superhero character in cinema history.  Director Leslie H. Martinson would have a 35+ year career that included some very successful TV and underrated work (Run For Your Life) before and after helming this feature.  Thanks to Batman, including the TV series, he would continue Superhero work including the failed 1967 Wonder Woman pilot, The Green Hornet, silly Fathom (which somewhat qualifies in attitude) with Rachel Welch, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman and Linda Carter Wonder Woman.  He could also handle more serious work (Mission: Impossible, Room 222, Mannix,) but was versatile enough to get humor and you can see that in this film.


All in all, this reminds us of the comic book origins of the character, that it is not a bad thing at all and not to always take too seriously the “Dark” aspect of the new wave of the Caped Crusader as this is the same character, like it or not.  West and Ward’s work here is more comically brilliant than it ever gets credit for and deserves revisionist thinking, while casting the villains was not as easy as it looked, as the series proved when some actors (John Astin as The Riddler in Frank Gorshin’s place) were not as effective no mater how appealing or talented.  So how does the disc play back?


The 1080p 1.85 X 1 AVC @ 27 MBPS image is a fine representation of the colorful DeLuxe color to such an extent that when the TV show arrives on Blu-ray, it will have much to live up to.  However, there is a slight softness and slight motion blur problem that affect the presentation somewhat, but the color consistency, richness and clean look of the transfer overall overcomes that enough to rate it higher than we would otherwise.  Part of the credit goes to Director of Photography Howard Schwartz, A.S.C., who began his career lensing some of the top TV Westerns before this show hit.  His mix of canted angles, superior use of color and some interesting compositions make this more interesting to watch than you might think, especially in HD.  He moved on to more solid TV and feature film work, including a very underrated job on the 1976 Westworld sequel Futureworld, which should look just as impressive on Blu-ray.  The biggest beneficiary of this HD transfer: Meriwether, looking very good in so many scenes.  Yes, she was a Miss America and a longtime star.  The camera liked her, the public liked her and she was pretty enough to be Barbara Bain’s first successor on Mission: Impossible.  This Blu-ray will show you why!


The DTS HD Master Audio (MA) Lossless 5.1 mix does its best to remix the old monophonic sound, including the Nelson Riddle score, but the tracks are just too old to be sounding like Batman Begins.  However, this is a nice upgrade and the music sounds even better in its isolate DTS 5.1 track, which makes me wonder why it is not better in the full soundtrack mix.  Though it is a nice bonus, it still misses some of the edge and detail that the Limited CD has and notice there is no 2.0 presentation on the Blu-ray, preserving the desirability of the CD.  Note that the CD was monophonic, so you get an idea of how much work it took to make it DTS.


The extras are many, including two fun audio commentary tracks, one with Ward/West, the other with writer Semple Jr., plus you also get a teaser, trailer, Spanish trailer, six stills sections, trivia track, interactive tour of The Batmobile, a featurette from 2001, The Batmobile Revealed with creator George Barris and three more featurettes:  Batman: A Dynamic Legacy, Caped Crusaders: A Heroes Tribute and Gotham City’s Most Wanted.  That is as loaded as any Bat gadget and showing how ahead of its time the show was, you could fit this Blu-ray in a Batman Utility Belt.


Best of all, this is now one of the best back-catalog titles on Blu-ray and all the studio’s should see it as a model on how to release an older vintage tile like this one.  Bat-fans and Blu-fans will especially enjoy it.



For more on this era of Batman, try these links:


The New Adventures Of Batman (1978/Filmation animated series DVD set)



Return To The Batcave (comic reunion of original cast in comedy release)




-   Nicholas Sheffo


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