Nelson Riddle’s score for Batman, including the 1966 film Batman: The Motion Picture, features energetic, swing-influenced cues that adhere to the action like a Carl Stalling Looney Tunes score, and opera-esque motifs for each villain and each Bat-vehicle. As incidental music tends to be, it’s probably the most underappreciated aspect of the series.
In this episode, film music commentator Jeff Bond, who wrote the liner notes for Film Score Monthly’s CD release of the Batman film’s music in 2000, joins us to talk about what Nelson Riddle brought to the Bat-table.
Also, your response to our Julie Newmar/Eartha Kitt comparison in episode 140!
https://tothebatpoles.libsyn.com/143-je ... ic-oh-buoy
-- The Joker, in a line cut from "The Joker's Epitaph"
Although Jeff does not know how much of the Batman TV series music still exists, I think its still a worthy pursuit, for both fans and TV music historians. I've said it before, but Riddle's music was as much a character on the show as Batman and Robin.
About the Batman movie on TV, Jeff is right: it was aired on ABC for several years, first as a stand alone presentation, and in the mid 70s, it was part of a "superhero week" on ABC's 3:30 Movie block, with Doc Savage and the 1974 Wonder Woman movie, among other films.
The Penguin's sub miniature must have been produced in more than one scale, since there was one on display at Marineland in the mid 70s (when it was owned by 20th Century Fox), and it could not have been more than 36 inches in length. Did I EVER want to touch it, but it was in a glass display case, along with one of the Flying Sub miniatures from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
The Batman movie theme...absolutely FANTASTIC! I've always loved it, as was so filled with a sense of urgency and danger, perfectly accenting the spotlight motif of the main title sequence. Personally, I did not miss the Hefti theme at all, and it would have made the film more repetitive than already accused of being (by some). Most TV-turned-movies had a new theme created, with light nods to the TV piece, such as Munsters Go Home, or the Star Trek movies (with the original series cast). It gives the film a air of being something more...a cut above the weekly series.
Thank you for having Jeff Bond on to talk about the movie music. I bought the CD version when it was first released.
I really associate the movie music with Batman as 66 Batman as much as the show. That was because I saw the movie a lot more than the series, which was rarely rerun in my area. The show was rerun in 1976-77, which is when I got hooked. Then, the show came on at noon, when I was in school and could only see it on vacations, in 1982-1983. I only got to see it on a regular basis in 1989, fortunately after the VCR era when I was able to tape every episode.
The movie was rerun at least until the late 1980s. In my area it was on TBS and WTTO 21 in Birmingham, Alabama at least a couple of times a year. My family got our first VCR in 1986 and I still remember the first movie I taped was Batman : The Movie. Therefore, whenever I needed a Batman 66 fix, that was where I had to go.
Edit: oops, I forgot something else that you'll probably have forgotten we discussed. If you've only seen Goldfinger on a scan-and-pan VHS, you really need to see it in scope to appreciate the majesty of Ken Adam's spectacular sets. Plus, you can spot all the times somebody drives past a Kentucky Fried Chicken.
The movie for me, (like many of us) holds a special place in my heart due to the nature of it's accessibility and the fact that for the longest time it was the only consistent and legitimate portal into the '66 Batman universe, so naturally (albeit for sentimental reasons predominantly) i'm quite fond of the movie soundtrack as a whole. But that being said, in the scheme of things when the different elements are examined individually, I don't feel like it even comes close to what I think made Riddle's season one score such an integral part of the show's identity when it was firing on all cyclinders - I won't waste everyone reading this' time by retitterating what Scott and others in this thread have already really nicely articulated on that end.
As much as I usually enjoy your episodes that feature special guests in particular, if i'm being brutally honest there were moments where Jeff sounded out of his depth. With zero disrespect intended to yourselves or to the part Jeff played in the CD release of the soundtrack, the extent of his knowledge about the actual production of the score and the movie it's self doesn't seem to extend any deeper than the liner notes he wrote all those years ago. You had no real way of knowing this going in, but ultimately he didn't feel like a good fit for the direction of the conversation that you were having with him. In a nutshell I guess I was just very excited about the topic at hand and I can't help but feel like there was a lot of meat left on those bones.
I did find it interesting when Jeff described hearing fight cues from the movie being reused on the series as what he considered to be "Classic Batman fight music". I guess that statement in and of its self puts into context his own admission of not really being familar with the show its self and thus his perception is warped by his familiarity with the movie versus the series. It's all relative afterall. The dopey major-key, almost pantomime, swing-band fight music from the movie is very much a departure from the energy and feel of the first season Bat-Fights.
In an attempt to fill in some blanks from your conversation with Jeff in somewhat of a chronlogical order:
- The pengy submarine prop was approximately 8ft in length, someone who is far better at mental arrithmatic than I can tell you what scale that would equate to in terms of a real-life 1:1 war-surplus-submarine. The prop currently belongs to a formidable Batman '66 collector in New Jersey. Our pal Dan Greenfield over at 13th Dimension posted a great article featuring a ton of present day photos of the Pengy sub.
https://13thdimension.com/dig-this-up-c ... nguin-sub/
- You asked Jeff at one point about the budget for the movie music, so here's the page from the Movie's production costings report that itemises the various costs associated with the soundtrack that were billed to the production:
- The conversation got a little tangled when Jeff started to talk about the Waggoner/Deyell screen test in the same breath as the 1965 Network Presentation reel with Adam and Burt that eventually became fleshed out as "Hi Diddle Riddle/Smack In The Middle". The screen tests were just that. I have seen people elsewhere online puport that there is an entire Waggoner pilot, this was not the case.
I'll take my answer off the air...
The presentation reel came about after the first three weeks or so of principal photography on the pilot were in the can. Given that the pilot for this mid-season replacement show was costing in the region of $500,000, ABC were rightfully antsy about seeing what on earth Dozier and co were up to. The pilot started shooting on 15th October, 1965 and didn't wrap until 10th November if memory serves. For perspective, a standard two-parter for Batman during the run of the show would be shot over the course of six days.
So, not miscontrue anyone's point so far in this thread, but I don't think anyone (myself included) was advocating the route of simply regurgitating music from season one for the sake of not having to write additional music. My point moreso was that the music of the series (in my mind) might as well be a character in the show; so through that lens, the score Riddle wrote for the motion picture was such a distinct departure in tone/mood/vibe from what made his work on S1 compelling. When I say this, we're talking in pretty broadstrokes here about the score as a whole - that isn't to say that there aren't individual cues and motifs with merit in isolation. My point about the predominantly major key/pantomime music of the movie eventually becomes a chicken and the egg scenario in terms of Lorenzo's script. It could and should to some extent be argued that Riddle is simply reacting to the distinctly diffrent tone of what he is seeing on the page/screen - Season One is over, very much over. To coin one of Scott's incredibly apt sayings:BATWINGED HORNET wrote: ↑Sat Oct 10, 2020 10:36 am I think Riddle made the right decision to create new music for the movie; as noted about the main title, recycling the 1st season music would have been repetitive for a production that was pretty much advertised as being "bigger and better" than anything Bat-fans had seen before. Of note is the fight music ("Filthy Criminals" / "Credulous Creatures" / "Fine Finkish Friends" / "Attack"), which gave the cast--West as Wayne in particular--a sweeping, heroic accompaniment fitting a larger than life adventure. '66 Bruce Wayne never looked more dashing than his fight / escape from the villains' lair, and the score was no small player in the success of that scene.
"Batman jumped the shark when it bit him."
Still an interesting show, though. Reflecting on the movie as a production (rather than just entertainment that I enjoy) brought on feelings of awe and respect that I hadn't really considered before. The Batman 66 movie is pretty wild when you think about it. Just a year into the TV show and Dozier, Semple, West, et al are making an honest-to-god feature film. I wasn't alive for the original run. But thinking about it in this way helps frame just how big the show was. And how quickly that star faded. Appropriate pop art and you get Andy Warhol's 15 minutes, I guess.
I realize I'm not saying anything new here. That's just what came to mind from listening.
As Jeff said, it's amazing to listen to his scores for the truncated, mid-season replacement debut year of Cagney and Lacey (this was with Meg Foster as Cagney, prior to Sharon Gless replacing her). As Jeff noted, no pun intended, his music for the two detectives during car chases was very '66-esque. Think a Duo car chase pursuing Joker or Pengy or perhaps Batman chasing Catwoman on the roof in Scat, Darn Catwoman. It definitely doesn't fit a 1980s cop show.
Worse yet, and again, I realize Riddle was supremely talented otherwise, a scene in which a couple is notified that their young daughter was murdered is accompanied by a sad, wistful harmonica. It's the kind of thing one would expect to hear when the boys from the bunkhouse are enjoying some beef stew and beans while they are sitting around the campfire at night during the cattle drive on yes, The Virginian. It's not appropriate for a tragic moment in a crime drama. It's not a surprise Riddle was gone by the next season.
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