Batman (1966)

105 mins | Comedy | 31 August 1966

Producer:

William Dozier

Cinematographer:

Howard Schwartz

Editor:

Harry Gerstad

Production Designers:

Jack Martin Smith, Serge Krizman

Production Company:

Greenlawn Productions
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HISTORY

The 22 Sep 1965 LAT announced the upcoming television series, Batman, based on the 1939 comic-book hero, to be produced by William Dozier for Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, and broadcast on the ABC network. According to the 20 Dec 1965 NYT, a 1943 serial produced by Columbia Pictures, also based on the cartoon, opened 22 Dec 1965 at the Eighth Street Playhouse and the Liberty Theater in New York City. The 24 Dec 1965 LAT stated that screening of the serial began the previous year at the Playboy Club in Chicago, IL, reportedly inspired by critic Susan Sontag, who extolled the merits of “camp,” describing it as “the vulgar and laughable (shining) in exact proportion to its unconvincingness.” The melodramatic serial was considered a prime example of the genre. Batman creator Bob Kane revealed that the character was inspired by the cinematic heroics of actor Douglas Fairbanks, and Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawing of manned flight using detachable bat-like wings. The television series debut was scheduled for 12 Jan 1966.
       Producer William Dozier told the 9 Jan 1966 NYT that he was initially unhappy with the television assignment. However, he quickly came to realize its commercial possibilities, and infused the series with the “pop art technique of the exaggerated cliché,” broadening its appeal to both children and adults. In addition to his other duties, Dozier also provided voice narration. Newspaper headlines frequently used the term “camp” to describe the program, and lead actor Adam West agreed in the 13 Jan 1966 LAT, calling it “an insane, mad fantasy world.” ... More Less

The 22 Sep 1965 LAT announced the upcoming television series, Batman, based on the 1939 comic-book hero, to be produced by William Dozier for Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, and broadcast on the ABC network. According to the 20 Dec 1965 NYT, a 1943 serial produced by Columbia Pictures, also based on the cartoon, opened 22 Dec 1965 at the Eighth Street Playhouse and the Liberty Theater in New York City. The 24 Dec 1965 LAT stated that screening of the serial began the previous year at the Playboy Club in Chicago, IL, reportedly inspired by critic Susan Sontag, who extolled the merits of “camp,” describing it as “the vulgar and laughable (shining) in exact proportion to its unconvincingness.” The melodramatic serial was considered a prime example of the genre. Batman creator Bob Kane revealed that the character was inspired by the cinematic heroics of actor Douglas Fairbanks, and Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawing of manned flight using detachable bat-like wings. The television series debut was scheduled for 12 Jan 1966.
       Producer William Dozier told the 9 Jan 1966 NYT that he was initially unhappy with the television assignment. However, he quickly came to realize its commercial possibilities, and infused the series with the “pop art technique of the exaggerated cliché,” broadening its appeal to both children and adults. In addition to his other duties, Dozier also provided voice narration. Newspaper headlines frequently used the term “camp” to describe the program, and lead actor Adam West agreed in the 13 Jan 1966 LAT, calling it “an insane, mad fantasy world.” The series debut was celebrated at Harlow’s, a New York City discotheque, followed by a screening at the New York Theater, as reported in the 13 Jan 1966 NYT . Dozier’s pop-art aesthetic was maintained throughout the event.
       Following the phenomenal success of the debut episodes, Dozier told the 9 Feb 1966 LAT that he was “swamped with calls” from renowned actors, all of whom offered to appear as villains.
       On 23 Mar 1966, Var announced plans to produce a feature-length film, employing the same cast and production team. The villains included Burgess Meredith as “The Penguin,” Cesar Romero as “The Joker,” Frank Gorshin as “The Riddler,” and Julie Newmar as “Catwoman,” each reprising their roles from the series. The article noted that $50 million in Batman merchandising had saturated the market over the previous two months, prompting the producers to capitalize while public interest was at its peak. Initial photography was scheduled for 18 Apr 1966. The 3 May 1966 LAT noted that Julie Newmar had been replaced by actress Lee Meriweather, and production was postponed until 28 Apr 1966. Dozier estimated the budget at twenty times the cost of a single episode, although no exact figure was mentioned. Filming was to be completed in twenty-six days, with an additional six days for second-unit photography. The producer also revealed that screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr., who also scripted several episodes of the program, completed the screenplay in ten days, with an additional three days for rewrites, and one week to compose the treatment. Dozier expected the project to be completed over the next ten weeks. Batman marked Dozier’s first theatrical film since The Girl Most Likely (1958, see entry.)
       A full-page advertisement in the 13 Jul 1966 Var heralded the picture’s 30 Jul 1966 premiere in Austin, TX, with several cast members in attendance. National release was set for 31 Aug 1966, as reported in the 17 Aug 1966 LAT. Reviews were mixed, with the 20 Jul 1966 Var praising the film’s subtle humor, while the 1 Sep 1966 LAT lamented its lack of plausibility.
       The 18 Mar 1966 LAT reported that the “Batmobile,” used in both the film and the series, was an experimental car known as the Lincoln Futura, built by the Ford Motor Company in 1955 at a cost of $250,000. “Car customizer” George Barris purchased the vehicle for less than $2,500, and added several modifications.
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BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Los Angeles Times
22 Sep 1965
Section D, p. 1, 7.
Los Angeles Times
25 Nov 1965
Section C, p. 35.
Los Angeles Times
21 Dec 1965
Section C, p. 23.
Los Angeles Times
24 Dec 1965
Section A, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
13 Jan 1966
Section C, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
5 Feb 1966
Section B, p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
9 Feb 1966
Section C, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
13 Mar 1966
Section A, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
18 Mar 1966
Section C, p. 21.
Los Angeles Times
3 May 1966
Section D, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
11 Jul 1966
Section C, p. 19.
Los Angeles Times
17 Aug 1966
Section D, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
1 Sep 1966
Section D, p. 16.
New York Times
20 Dec 1965
p. 50.
New York Times
9 Jan 1966
p. 9.
New York Times
13 Jan 1966
p. 79.
New York Times
17 Apr 1966
p. 215.
New York Times
8 Aug 1966
p. 30.
Variety
23 Mar 1966
p. 5.
Variety
13 Jul 1966
p. 11.
Variety
20 Jul 1966
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2nd unit dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITER
Story & scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2nd unit photog
Aerial photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward
Ward
Ward
MUSIC
"Batman theme"
Orch
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Scr supv
Batboat
Prop
Grip
Main titles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on characters created by Bob Kane.
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Series:
Release Date:
31 August 1966
Premiere Information:
Austin, Texas premiere: 30 July 1966
Los Angeles opening: 31 August 1966
Production Date:
28 April--early June 1966
Copyright Claimant:
Greenlawn Productions
Copyright Date:
3 August 1966
Copyright Number:
LP32999
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex
Color
De Luxe
Duration(in mins):
105
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Batman, the caped crusader, and Robin, the boy wonder, learn that Commodore Schmidlapp, a millionaire distiller, is in danger aboard his yacht and rush to his aid by batcopter, but the yacht disappears beneath Batman as he is descending the batladder. The dynamic duo learns that The Catwoman, The Joker, The Penguin, and The Riddler have joined forces to eliminate Batman and Robin and eventually control the world. (The vanishing yacht was a decoy to lure Batman and Robin from the place where the villains were hijacking the yacht of Commander Redhead and holding him prisoner because they want his invention, a dehydrater that turns humans into dust that can be returned to human form with the addition of water.) After many encounters the villains are still loose, and The Penguin goes to Security Council headquarters. There he turns nine diplomats into dust, which he places in nine test tubes. Batman and Robin, however, outwit and capture the quartet of criminals and rescue Commander Redhead. As they are about to reconstitute the nine diplomats, the commander sneezes on the test tubes, scattering the dust. Batman does his best to sort the dust into nine homogeneous piles, but when the dust is restored to human form, the Russian speaks Greek, the Greek speaks English, and so on. But Batman is satisfied that the world is safe from the four fiends for the time ... +


Batman, the caped crusader, and Robin, the boy wonder, learn that Commodore Schmidlapp, a millionaire distiller, is in danger aboard his yacht and rush to his aid by batcopter, but the yacht disappears beneath Batman as he is descending the batladder. The dynamic duo learns that The Catwoman, The Joker, The Penguin, and The Riddler have joined forces to eliminate Batman and Robin and eventually control the world. (The vanishing yacht was a decoy to lure Batman and Robin from the place where the villains were hijacking the yacht of Commander Redhead and holding him prisoner because they want his invention, a dehydrater that turns humans into dust that can be returned to human form with the addition of water.) After many encounters the villains are still loose, and The Penguin goes to Security Council headquarters. There he turns nine diplomats into dust, which he places in nine test tubes. Batman and Robin, however, outwit and capture the quartet of criminals and rescue Commander Redhead. As they are about to reconstitute the nine diplomats, the commander sneezes on the test tubes, scattering the dust. Batman does his best to sort the dust into nine homogeneous piles, but when the dust is restored to human form, the Russian speaks Greek, the Greek speaks English, and so on. But Batman is satisfied that the world is safe from the four fiends for the time being. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.