The 13 GREATEST MOMENTS of the BATMAN ’66 MOVIE

Like the show, it’s now 50 years old!

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The Batman ’66 movie — technically just called “Batman” — premiered July 30, 1966, — smack in the middle of the summer between the first and second seasons.

Part of what made the movie so much was fun was that it gave us everything that made the show such a kick — and then amplified it with substantial additions that became part of Batlore for the decades that followed.

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All year long at 13th Dimension, we’ve been celebrating the show’s 50th anniversary — including our Top 13 Batman ’66 Episode Countdown, which you oughta check out to activate your Bat-debate genes.

Now it’s time to celebrate the film, which was a staple of my childhood on The 4:30 Movie on Channel 7 in New York.

We’ve got a whole weekend of Batman ’66 features lined up for you — some directly connected to the movie and some not.

Click here for the full INDEX of stories.

But right here, we present the 13 GREATEST MOMENTS of the BATMAN ’66 MOVIE…

1. The Opening Credits. The first indication that this will be like the show and not at the same time. The Technicolor Bondian nature of them is indelibly big-screen ’60s. And the music is spectacular, weaving Batman’s theme with the themes of all four villains into a frenzied, jazzy joy of sound. One thing though: Who’s the dude in the trench coat? We never see him again.

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2. The Fearsome Foursome. At least that’s what the novelization called them. Never before and never again have we been treated to a quartet of costumed villainy of this order.

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3. Burgess Meredith. Even with all four bad guys sharing screen time, I’d argue that the Penguin is the leader of the pack. Which is funny considering that on paper, he’s the least interesting character of the four. But Meredith was so great in the role, he’s made the de facto head of the group, with extra scenes that show off his comedic talents — especially when he’s disguised as Commodore Schmidlapp. I walk around all the time saying, “Why don’t you take me there?” in his faux-English accent.

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4. Lee Meriwether. But that’s not to minimize the substantial contributions of Lee Meriwether as Catwoman/Miss Kitka (click here for more on that). Julie Newmar owned the role but Meriwether brings a sinister seductiveness to the screen, making her a scene-stealer in her own right. When her duplicity is exposed at the end of the movie, that glare she gives Batman isn’t filled with regret or mixed feelings — it’s as fierce as a jungle panther.

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5. Adam West. Wow, I haven’t even talked about Batman yet! Adam West gets more screen time as Bruce Wayne in this one (by design) and he utilizes all his Bat-charisma. As hilariously corny as his date with Kitka is, it’s kinda hot too. And I liked it whenever Bruce was allowed to mix it up with the bad guys.

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6. The Batcopter. The debut of Batman’s greatest flying machine! I’ve ridden in it (click here, because wow) and it still tours to this very day. To find out whether it’ll be near you this summer, click here.

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7. The Batboat. The debut of Batman’s greatest watercraft! I have the Corgi Batmobile and Batboat and I treasured mine when I was a kid.

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8. The Batcycle. The debut of Batman’s new and improved two-wheeler, with requisite sidecar! Seriously, the addition of all three vehicles added scope to the movie and texture to the rest of the series. Just think how exciting it was to see any one of them pop up. And the music that played behind the Batcopter and Batboat!

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9. The Soundtrack. Speaking of the music, wow, Nelson Riddle was brilliant. The music was very much a piece with the whole Batman tonal oeuvre but distinct on its own. I listen to this soundtrack all the time and it never gets old. Especially, like I mentioned above, the music used with the Batcopter and Batboat.

10. The Flying Umbrellas and the Penguin’s Submarine. Everyone remembers the Batman vehicles, but how about some love for the Penguin’s aerial and submersible modes of transport? I’m still waiting for some manufacturer to give us a bona fide replica of the sub…

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11. “Some days, you just can’t get rid of a bomb!” What, you didn’t think I was going to forget this scene, did you?

12. The Shark — and the Shark Repellent Bat-Spray! What, you didn’t think I was going to forget this scene, did you?

13. The Final Battle. Like the opening credits, the fight atop the Penguin’s sub is Batman’s answer to a James Bond blowout finale. It may very well be the best Batman fight scene committed to film — and it was a fantastic way to bring the entire movie to a climax, opening the door to a heartbreaking confrontation between Batman and Catwoman and a comedic denouement. It was The Living End … ?

For the complete BATMAN ’66 MOVIE WEEKEND INDEX, click here!

Author: Dan Greenfield

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3 Comments

  1. “Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb!”

    I too loved the opening theme and all Nelson Riddle’s individual themes for each villain.

    Loved when The Penguin sort of quoted Benjamin Frankiln “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

    I read somewhere the man in the trench coat was producer Howie Horwitz but not sure if that’s apocryphal.

    Great review!!! Loved that movie when it came out 50 years ago and it was my first look at Batman on the screen in color as we didn’t have a color TV yet.

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  2. Yeah, the Penguin is the de facto leader of the pack. People don’t take orders from him but he and Catwoman direct the action the most. A lot of the movie is about undercover work. Batman does more as Bruce than he usually does. The Penguin plays Schmidlap, and Catwoman plays Kitka. The Joker is really unable to mingle in society that way, so he does the least. The Riddler steals scenes but still does less than the other two. Gorshin is such a good impressionist that he could have done something similar, but there’s only so much you can do in a 90 minute movie.

    The Catwoman reveal at the end is a bit of a disappointment. I’ve have preferred if she’d changed back into Miss Kitka during the fight and gotten away. That’s one of the major themes of the show (these people always come back), but we didn’t see it here. Still, it’s a good film. A shame they didn’t do more after the series was cancelled.

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  3. Great analysis- particularly agree with points 3 & 4. I think Lee Meriwether’s performance is fabulous and unjustly underrated by some Batman fans. Her Catwoman is sexy but evil – a true femme fatale.

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