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Australian Womens Weekly May 18 1966 | by Therin of Andor
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Australian Womens Weekly May 18 1966

RETURN OF THE MIGHTY BATMAN

 

"'It's so corny it's entrancing, so old-fashioned it's new."

 

By JACKIE LEE LEWES.

 

"With the screening of 'Batman' at Sydney's Capitol Theatre from May 20 [1966], teenagers of the 1930s and '40s will get a nostalgic look at the past, and today's generation could be caught up in 'Batmania', a cult sweeping America.

 

"Long, long ago - before television - many of the mothers and fathers of today's teenagers had a Saturday afternoon date each week at the local picture theatre.

 

"There they sat, munching popcorn, sipping orange squash, their eyes glued to the screen, watching Batman, the noble, fearless crimefighter, performing incredible feats of daring.

 

"At the end of each episode, they were left wondering: would the hero foil yet another dastardly attempt by the enemy to eliminate him? The answer sent them hurrying back to 'the pictures' week after week.

 

"Corny! Of course. But so corny that, when Columbia Pictures dug out 15 episodes of the vintage serial from the bottom of their film files and strung them together to make a mammoth 248-minute movie, the result entranced young, and not so young, Americans.

 

"'Batmania' started in America last year. The revival has been attributed to many sources: to an American university which screened the old serials for their students; to the Chicago Playboy Club, which showed one serial to its members, then ran the lot when it turned out to be a huge success; and to the cellar coffee lounges which are always on the lookout for POP entertainment.

 

"Partly responsible for the revival were POP artists Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, who had started exhibiting paintings of old-time comic strips along with soup-cans and hotdogs.

 

"Other artists began looking for more specimens of what America currently calls 'camp': something so absurdly old-fashioned that it's new.

 

"'Batman' was an obvious choice. It WAS square, it WAS different. It was a change from the Bond-type movies of slick sophistication and gimmickry.

 

"'Batman' offered a more rough-and-tumble entertainment, where audiences could boo the 'baddies' and cheer the 'goodies'. It offered audience participation at an uninhibited level.

 

"Next, television jumped on the bandwagon and made a new series of Bat adventures.

 

"In some quarters they were an instant success. Others felt that the TV producers had tried too hard, that the 1966 version was too contrived, and lacked the appeal of the unintentional.

 

"But, wherever its rebirth, 'Batman' is back in its vintage glory, with fashions of the '40s, diabolical plots, and melodramatic dialogue."

 

"THE 'GOODIES': Batman (played by Lewis Wilson) and his able young assistant, Robin (Douglas Croft), in the disguise they wear when combating the forces of evil. No one guesses their identities."

 

THE 'BADDIES': Dr. Dakar (played by J. Carrol Naish), flanked by two of his henchmen, holds a menacing radium gun in this scene from the adventure film 'Batman'. The film, which comprises 15 episodes of an old-time serial, runs for 248 minutes."

 

"After the screening of 'Batman' in Sydney, it will have preview screenings in other states."

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Taken on September 16, 2018