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Author Topic: Your favorite screen Batman?  (Read 15718 times)
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Lee Semmens
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« Reply #16 on: August 07, 2007, 01:26:44 PM »

Yeah, Lyle Talbot was a good Gordon. 

And of course - as most on this board are probably aware - Talbot played Luthor in the second Superman serial.

Too bad he didn't play Luthor on the Superman TV show occasionally, as well - or any other suitable actor at least.

Talking of Adam West, I was very surprised to learn the other day that in 1970 the producers of the James Bond movies were seriously considering replacing George Lazenby in the role with an American (?1?), and West came under consideration for the part.
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« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2007, 03:18:46 PM »

TELLE writes:

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I think Wonder Woman mostly escaped camp but at the expense of intelligence.  Of course, the obvious charms of Lynda carter partly mitigated that.

The first season of Wonder Woman had much more of a camp feel to it than the later seasons (which were more of a Bionic Woman rip-off).  Check out the opening titles with comic drawings coming to life, and "sparkle" effects in Lynda's eyes, Lyle's teeth, etc.  The "camp" element seemed to wax and wane through the WWII-era episodes, but were pretty strong in the pilot movie, which cast various well-known comedians as Nazis, including Red Buttons (who was hilarious, actually).  And Cloris Leachman as Hippolyta is so over-the-top, scenery-chewing camp that she seems to be in a different movie than everyone else.  Compared to her, Ned Beatty's Otis is subtle and nuanced.

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The closest to Batman would be Spidey and Blue Beetle on the Electronic Company, in terms of superhero camp.  Can't think of any others right now.

The Blue Beetle was on Electric Company?!  Shocked

Lee Semmens writes:

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Talking of Adam West, I was very surprised to learn the other day that in 1970 the producers of the James Bond movies were seriously considering replacing George Lazenby in the role with an American (?1?), and West came under consideration for the part.

They *did* replace Lazenby with an American: John Gavin (best known for Julius Ceasar and Psycho and, during the Reagan administration, the US Ambassador to Mexico).  Gavin was signed to play Bond in "Diamonds Are Forever" but when Connery agreed to return he stepped aside.

As for West, I always dismissed his almost-Bond story as an empty boast (he mentions it in his autobiography), but a couple of years ago Bond producer Michael Wilson (son of original movie Batman Lewis Wilson) confirmed that Adam was indeed approached.  Shocked
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« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2007, 06:11:19 PM »

TELLE writes:
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The closest to Batman would be Spidey and Blue Beetle on the Electronic Company, in terms of superhero camp.  Can't think of any others right now.

The Blue Beetle was on Electric Company?!  Shocked

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Beetle

They used the name for a different character
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India Ink
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« Reply #19 on: August 08, 2007, 02:08:39 AM »

TELLE writes:
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The closest to Batman would be Spidey and Blue Beetle on the Electronic Company, in terms of superhero camp.  Can't think of any others right now.

The Blue Beetle was on Electric Company?!  Shocked

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Beetle

They used the name for a different character

Even though I was a total Batmaniac (probably one of the happiest times of my life), and I jumped up and down in my bat mask, bat T-shirt, utility belt, and cape as the theme music played, I never really bought Adam West as Batman.

I think this is because the adverts from the get go pushed the idea that this was ADAM WEST as Batman.

I don't know why Adam West was given this aura of celebrity. As far as I can tell he hadn't really established himself as a big screen presence before that. Maybe the producers thought if they advertised West as a big star people would believe them.

Anyway, the idea was always that this big star was playing the character. Not that he was the character. Burt Ward was a little more acceptable as Robin (not realizing at the time that he was somewhat older than the character).

And once I started reading the comics, I soon forgot about West and totally believed Robert Kanigher or John Broome or Gardner Fox as Batman. They portrayed the character I wanted to see much more faithfully.

The ideal Batman would have been Guy Williams or Rock Hudson. I realize if Hudson had played him this would produce a lot of odious gay-jokes in the present day--but Rock was a great actor and had the exact look for Bruce Wayne. At least he got to be the commissioner eventually (although in this part he was much Ralph Dibny to Susan Saint James's Sue Dibny).

None of the other screen Batmen have quite fit the bill either. George Clooney could have been a great Batman with the right script and direction. Christian Bale and Michael Keaton play aspects of Batman to perfection--but something, somewhere in the middle between their performances, is missing from their Bruce Waynes.

For my birthday I just got season one of Wonder Woman on DVD. Lynda Carter was the perfect Wonder Woman. But I'd forgotten how seriously she took the role.

It occurs to me that just about every screen adaptation of a comic book character eventually goes over the top in some way.

Granted Batman was always supposed to be a campy TV show, but the first episodes had some down to earth plotting. They just got more desperate and absurd as they went along.

The Chris Reeve Superman movies likewise got stupider.

So also the Batman movies, prior to Begins (but will  sequles to Begins jump the shark, again?). And Lois and Clark. And even Smallville has wandered into desperate, goofiness.

The temptation to make a comic book character into a cartoon is just too great, I think.
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India Ink
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« Reply #20 on: August 08, 2007, 08:52:22 AM »


The first season of Wonder Woman had much more of a camp feel to it than the later seasons (which were more of a Bionic Woman rip-off).   

You're right about that early WW --I must check out the dvds some time.  Ditto the collections of Electric Company --I would love to see the ol' Spidey and Jimmy Boyd's "Blue Beetle".

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nightwing
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« Reply #21 on: August 08, 2007, 07:36:43 PM »

India Ink writes:

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I don't know why Adam West was given this aura of celebrity. As far as I can tell he hadn't really established himself as a big screen presence before that. Maybe the producers thought if they advertised West as a big star people would believe them.

Well, as I wasn't quite 3 when the show went off the air, I only "met" Adam's Batman in syndication, so this is interesting news to me; that he was hyped as a big star in '66.  Perhaps this was at his insistence, having seen what happened to George Reeves as Superman (among other examples): maybe Adam was trying to head off typecasting before it could take hold.  At any rate, making a big deal of his name seems a fair enough trade considering how often -- and how much of -- his face is covered in the average episode.  (Certainly it's a better deal than Kirk Alyn got; the publicity around his serials was along the lines of "...and starring Superman as himself.")

Quote
Anyway, the idea was always that this big star was playing the character. Not that he was the character. Burt Ward was a little more acceptable as Robin (not realizing at the time that he was somewhat older than the character).

I didn't have that hurdle to jump, but I did have issues with Adam's Batman as a kid.  His hair was too blond and should have been swept back, and his utility belt was different from the one in the books.  HaHa!  Little did I know that no future screen version of Batman would even come 1/10th as close to being "comic-accurate."

Burt Ward I never did warm to, nor apparently did most people who worked with him.

Quote
The ideal Batman would have been Guy Williams or Rock Hudson. I realize if Hudson had played him this would produce a lot of odious gay-jokes in the present day--but Rock was a great actor and had the exact look for Bruce Wayne. At least he got to be the commissioner eventually (although in this part he was much Ralph Dibny to Susan Saint James's Sue Dibny).

MacMillans = Dibnys.  That's neat, I never thought of that.

I've seen some lettercols from the 60s where readers were asked to cast a theoretical JLA movie and Rock Hudson got far and away the most votes to play Superman.  I agree Guy Williams would've been a great Batman, not only because he looks spot-on to how the character was drawn, but also because he could've nailed the bored playboy bit, and as a former Zorro and Errol Flynn lookalike he was part of the swashbuckler lineage that began with Fairbanks, Sr...incidentally an early inspiration for the character himself.  Still,  having already spent years in a mask, I don't know if he'd have gone for it again.  In fact, he probably would've seen it as typecasting.

Legend has it cowboy star Ty Hardin was the first choice to play Batman in '66, and though I've never seen his work there's no denying he had the look:



Quote
For my birthday I just got season one of Wonder Woman on DVD. Lynda Carter was the perfect Wonder Woman. But I'd forgotten how seriously she took the role.

Well, there's serious and then there's serious.  What was so endearing about Lynda (aside from the obvious!  Wink ) was that she played Diana with absolute conviction and earnestness.  Diana was smart, principled and mentally strong but she was also naive and a little child-like, at least in that first season.  I'm reminded of the scene in Superman: THe Movie where Chris Reeve's Supes says he's here to fight for "Truth, Justice and the American Way," and Lois thinks he's joking, then realizes he's not.  It would have been so easy for Reeve to take the easy way out here and deliver the line either jokingly or in a way that made Superman an out-of-it square like Adam's Batman, but he nailed it -- and defined Donner's vision -- by playing it with utter, straight-faced sincerity, and made it "cool" to be a good guy again.

This, for me, is what Lynda did for Wonder Woman (and before Chris Reeve ever put on the tights!); she played Diana as a genuinely sweet person with a clear-cut view of right and wrong and a basic faith in human nature that was so pure and endearing it made even the cynics among us say, "why not?"  I think all of us have met a couple of real people like this in our lives; people so idealistic that even though we "know" they're being unrealistic, they make us stop and wonder why things couldn't be better if we all just believed as strongly as they did.  Or at least they make us wish the world was more simple and pure just for their sake, because we like them so much.

The other thing Lynda did that was great was to wear that costume so well. And I don't just mean filling it out; she came off as absolutely comfortable in it, and not at all trampy or campy.  It's hard to imagine a modern star, like those idiots in the Charlie's Angels films, wearing that outfit without disgracing it, but when I watch Lynda in the suit, I can honestly say I am not lusting after her or staring at her bust (though I don't blame those who do).  She walked around outside in what amounted to a swimsuit with boots and made it seem perfectly natural.  And paradoxically, that made her sexier than any 10 hoochie girls wiggling their thonged derrieres at us in a music video.

« Last Edit: August 08, 2007, 07:39:32 PM by nightwing » Logged

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davidelliott
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« Reply #22 on: August 25, 2007, 04:32:17 PM »

Like nightwing, I'm too young to have seen the show on ABC (I was born in '65)... but without all the hype, West and Ward WERE and STILL ARE the Dynamic Duo.  Yeah, the utility belts were wrong (hear hear, wing)... Gordon and Alfred looked nothing like their comic book counterparts, but the whole show still feels more like Batman than anything else...

I'm still trying to figure out the Bat-Instant Costume Changer thing when they go down the Bat-Poles...
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India Ink
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« Reply #23 on: August 25, 2007, 06:01:42 PM »

Since the TV show was my first introduction to Batman--and it was some months before I actually got any comic books--the whole experience was like peeling an onion, trying to get to the central mystery of the character. Who appeared rather unexplained on our black and white TV set at 5 PM.

For instance, the opening comic book shots of B&R disagree with the live action character. So right there, I'm puzzling about the character.

The Batman bubblegum cards (by Bob Powell and Norm Saunders) presented another image of Batman again--and the colours varied, so it was hard to pin down how Batman should look.

The Sunday comics, I think, was the next place where I found Batman. This presented the version that looked more like the actual comics (once I started buying those). But Bruce and Dick were shown to be using ropes to get down to the Batcave (I imagined Dick with sore reddened legs, from all that rope burn).

Then when I got the comics, I had to get used to them using an elevator. Plus a different car, and so much else.  The whole black shadow on Batman's mask stumped me.

And then you had Giants presenting yet another version of Batman. Going down a stairway to the Batcave [By the way: I never for a minute thought that Bruce and Dick went through some sort of wonder spin process--on the TV show; as the show usually cut to commercial, I figured they stopped at a platform midway between the mansion and the cave, to change clothes, then continued on the poles the rest of the way).

I was surprised to find that Batman had been around for years, long before I was born. I could hardly believe it. In fact, there were times in my early years of comic book reading when I doubted that the Golden Age really existed--maybe it was just a fiction that the editors made up.

So my first few years of Batman viewing and reading were challenging. I was always trying to figure out what the real Batman was.

This kind of thing probably put off some potential readers. But I think trying to solve these mysteries attracted me to comics all the more. The answers weren't easily discovered, so you had to commit to comics if you were ever going to get to the truth.

I'm still not certain what the real Batman is. Maybe in a few years I'll have it sussed.
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India Ink
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