Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

General goings on in the 1966 Batman World

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epaddon
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Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by epaddon » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:09 am

The "career suicide" argument I think is dubious. First off, since Charlton Heston's name has come up, he was actually offered "The Great Race" first before they went with Tony Curtis. That film, which also had A-listers in Natalie and Jack Lemmon was an outsized comic book specatacle movie where you had Lemmon playing essentially a villain that would have been right at home on "Batman." There were other "spectacle comedy" movies in this era too like "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" and "The Hallelujah Trail" that were also noted for seeing big A-list actors cutting it up. Natalie then did "Penelope" which also wasn't exactly high drama either!

The point is that back then, audiences were quite accustomed to seeing A-list movie stars go back and forth with ease between serious drama and comedy. The idea that doing a "superhero" movie could be considered a "career breaker" in the age of spectacle comedies and screwball stuff that A-listers did in that era without hesitation (even Paul Newman did a zany comedy cameo in the Shirley MacLaine movie "What A Way To Go") is a point I wouldn't agree with at all.

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SprangFan
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Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by SprangFan » Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:21 am

But was Batman considered "comedy spectacle" in 1966? Since I was 1 year old at the time I couldn't say, but when I was a kid in the 70s, the adults in my world considered it "kiddie fare." Not merely silly, but aimed at children, like "Scooby Doo" or "The Banana Splits" (or "The Monkees").

Signing on for a farce is one thing, but headlining a property that's destined for the Saturday kid's matinee is something else again.

A lot of the most profitable movie franchises of today revolve around comic characters, toy lines and video games, but when I was a youngster it was very much NOT considered cool to cling to childhood interests well into your adult years. Adam West lived long enough to be celebrated by generations of adults who loved him growing up, but George Reeves died convinced he was a failure whose career dead-ended in a kiddie show.
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High C
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Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by High C » Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:48 am

SprangFan wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:21 am
But was Batman considered "comedy spectacle" in 1966? Since I was 1 year old at the time I couldn't say, but when I was a kid in the 70s, the adults in my world considered it "kiddie fare." Not merely silly, but aimed at children, like "Scooby Doo" or "The Banana Splits" (or "The Monkees").

Signing on for a farce is one thing, but headlining a property that's destined for the Saturday kid's matinee is something else again.

A lot of the most profitable movie franchises of today revolve around comic characters, toy lines and video games, but when I was a youngster it was very much NOT considered cool to cling to childhood interests well into your adult years. Adam West lived long enough to be celebrated by generations of adults who loved him growing up, but George Reeves died convinced he was a failure whose career dead-ended in a kiddie show.
I gave you a very specific example in Cliff Robertson doing the show TWICE with what I would add was a very silly villain, and THEN winning an Oscar (career not quite ruined, I would suppose). I'll add that Shelley Winters did seven more movies in the 1960s after playing Ma Parker on Batman, and her first released movie in the 1970s was Bloody Mama, in which she starred as--you guessed it--Ma Barker.

Reeves' sad case really isn't germane to my point, tbh.
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epaddon
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Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by epaddon » Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:55 am

I use the term "comedy spectacle" to just note the diversity of projects that A-list stars did in those days. The point is that if the cards had been played right at the right moment it is theoretically possible the movie could have been launched as a more "A" level property that could have gotten an A-list player for the right kind of deal. "Batman" was certainly outsized spectacle for TV at the time and the movie could have bumped that up a notch as well in a summer when Fox was also giving us "Fantastic Voyage".

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chrisbcritter
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Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by chrisbcritter » Fri Jun 29, 2018 1:05 pm

I can see it with a lot of big-star cameos, perhaps, and that would have lent some oomph to the production (or at least the fun of playing "spot the star") - like, say, Raquel Welch as one of the nuns on the dock :shock: - but that wasn't a guarantee of box-office success (cases in point: Around the World in 80 Days, which jumpstarted Cantinflas' career in the U.S., and Pepe, which killed it).
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epaddon
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Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by epaddon » Fri Jun 29, 2018 4:21 pm

Raquel wasn't a "star" at the time of the production. "Fantastic Voyage" and "One Million Years BC" hadn't been released yet.

OTOH, as a concession to those who might still expect to see some familiar face or two among the villains in a film with an "A-list" star, I could see using two of the "Big Four" (more likely Meredith and Julie) for a quick cameo in prison where say, early in the film, Batman might ask them for information about a new criminal terrorizing Gotham City and they both blow him off (Gorshin I doubt would do a cameo at that point and Romero I think wouldn't want to go through all the makeup for that little work).

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Dr. Shimel
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Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by Dr. Shimel » Sun Jul 01, 2018 5:26 pm

Robertson had said that he did the first arc because his daughter wanted him to do it, while the second arc was due to the opportunity to work with his then-new wife, Dina Merrill.

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Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by Mr.Freeze » Wed Jul 04, 2018 5:35 pm

"Raquel wasn't a star"

Had she done Thunderball (which came out x-mas '65) then she would've been a star by spring '66......

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John Mack
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Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by John Mack » Thu Jul 05, 2018 6:53 pm

Mr.Freeze wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 5:35 pm
"Raquel wasn't a star"

Had she done Thunderball (which came out x-mas '65) then she would've been a star by spring '66......
Agreed.
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High C
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Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by High C » Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:46 pm

chrisbcritter wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 1:05 pm
I can see it with a lot of big-star cameos, perhaps, and that would have lent some oomph to the production (or at least the fun of playing "spot the star")
That's a good idea, too. It needed something to set it apart from the show besides the multiple villains.

I'm not a film scholar, but it also might have helped if it had been shot in a different ratio. It has a TV movie feel to it, rather than something cinematic.
'I thought Siren was perfect for Joan.'--Stanley Ralph Ross, writer of 'The Wail of the Siren'

My hobbies include gazing at the Siren and doing her bidding, evil or otherwise.

'She had a devastating, hypnotic effect on all the men.'--A schoolmate describing Joan Collins at age 17

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Bob Furmanek
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Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by Bob Furmanek » Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:24 am

The TV shows were composed for 1.37:1 so the feature was indeed photographed for normal theatrical exhibition of 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen.

It was originally planned for 2.35:1 CinemaScope but that was dropped in favor of 1.85:1 widescreen composition. Dozier wanted to use the stock shots (Batboat, Batcopter, etc) footage in the TV show so composing for the ultra-wide 2.35:1 ratio would have been a problem. 1.85:1 offered much more flexibility and could be cropped for the standard ratio without losing too much information.

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High C
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Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by High C » Sun Jul 08, 2018 2:54 pm

Bob Furmanek wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:24 am
The TV shows were composed for 1.37:1 so the feature was indeed photographed for normal theatrical exhibition of 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen.

It was originally planned for 2.35:1 CinemaScope but that was dropped in favor of 1.85:1 widescreen composition. Dozier wanted to use the stock shots (Batboat, Batcopter, etc) footage in the TV show so composing for the ultra-wide 2.35:1 ratio would have been a problem. 1.85:1 offered much more flexibility and could be cropped for the standard ratio without losing too much information.
Interesting. Thanks for the technical explanation!
'I thought Siren was perfect for Joan.'--Stanley Ralph Ross, writer of 'The Wail of the Siren'

My hobbies include gazing at the Siren and doing her bidding, evil or otherwise.

'She had a devastating, hypnotic effect on all the men.'--A schoolmate describing Joan Collins at age 17

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