Tag Archives: Adam West

Alexander the Great (1963, Phil Karlson)

Had Alexander the Great gone to series instead of just being a passed over pilot and footnote in many recognizable actors filmographies, it seems likely the series would’ve had William Shatner’s Alexander continue his conquest of the Persian Empire. The pilot is this strange mix of occasional action, Greek generals arguing, and battle footage from Italian epics. The Utah location shooting is great, but director Karlson’s bad at the direction. John Cassavetes, Joseph Cotten, and Simon Oakland play the arguing generals. They can argue. But Robert Pirosh and William Robert Yates’s teleplay is lacking.

And there’s nothing to be done about integrating that battle footage. If Alexander the Great is going to be talking heads, which Karlson definitely directs better than the action, the action is going to have to be spectacular. And it’s not. There’s some tension with it in the original footage, but the reused stuff? The pilot doesn’t get any mileage out of it.

Cassavetes is pretty cool as this disagreeable young general. By cool, I mean he’s good at the yelling. His character yells. Cotten’s character counsels. Cotten’s good at the counseling. But the pilot doesn’t really know what to do with Shatner. It’s called Alexander the Great and everyone’s a lot more comfortable dealing with Cassavetes’s hurt feelings. Shatner’s appealing and he manages to get through the overdone dialogue, but he’s got no character.

He’s got a love interest–Ziva Rodann–and a sidekick–Adam West–but Pirosh and Yates don’t give either any attention in the script. Rodann’s biggest scene is with Cotten and West is part of the set decoration. Though he gets enough closeups to suggest he’d played a bigger part in the series.

It’s a long fifty minutes. The recycled battle footage and some red herrings drag it out too. It’s kind of too bad, for Alexander, but good for the rest of us it didn’t get picked up.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Phil Karlson; teleplay by Robert Pirosh and William Robert Yates, based on a story by Pirosh; director of photography, Lester Shorr; music by Leonard Rosenman; produced by Albert McCleery; aired by the American Broadcasting Company.

Starring William Shatner (Alexander), Joseph Cotten (Antigonus), John Cassavetes (Karonos), Adam West (Cleander), Simon Oakland (Attalos), Ziva Rodann (Ada), John Doucette (Kleitos), Robert Fortier (Aristander), Peter Hansen (Tauron), and Cliff Osmond (Memnon).


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Batman: The Movie (1966, Leslie H. Martinson)

Burt Ward is really bad in Batman: The Movie. Sure, he’s just around to parrot Adam West, who’s a horny, kind of dumb, know-it-all. The problem is it doesn’t seem like anyone else is in on the joke because director Martinson does such a bad job. There are some okay scenes in Lorenzo Semple Jr.’s script–none for West and Ward but, they’re still okay scenes. And Martinson screws them up. Yes, Howard Schwartz’s cinematography is bland but why bother with anything given Martinson never does anything.

Until the big fight scene at the end. The big fight scene at the end has the potential to be a farcical masterpiece. It could even be one subtly. But Martinson. And editor Harry W. Gerstad. He cuts the action too long; it gives more time to the actors, which they don’t need given the scale of the action. It’s too bad. Some gem in Batman: The Movie would be nice to find.

At best, the film has an amusing moment for Alan Napier (as Alfred), who apparently wants to perve on West romancing Lee Meriwether and Ward has to shut it down. Ward’s Robin is an obnoxious little yes boy, spouting off stupid ideas. It’s like West isn’t even letting Ward in on the joke.

Meriwether’s Catwoman is bad. She’s kind of likable, but only because West’s such a dumb horny guy around her and she gets it. So she’s in on the joke. But she’s not good at all.

Burgess Meredith has some moments. Less than if Martinson and Gerstad cut his close-ups better. The composition is a mess. Martinson’s framing for The Movie is way too much like a TV show (shocker) and it needs to be more open. Just enough for headroom in some cases.

Frank Gorshin’s okay. You know, he’s okay. He’s weird. It works. A lot better than Cesar Romero’s Cowardly Lion Joker character. But Romero’s kind of likable. You feel a little bad for him. You don’t feel bad for the scenes of West and Ward acting like clowns. Batman: The Movie is most engaging when the lack of awareness about the absurdity–the complete lack of verisimilitude, if you would–makes it an unbearable experience.

And what’s up with the music? Nelson Riddle has some pretty decent music and then some awful music. It’s a toss-up. It’s probably the best thing about the movie–except the opening titles. They’re actually pretty darn cool.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Leslie H. Martinson; screenplay by Lorenzo Semple Jr., based on characters created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger; director of photography, Howard Schwartz; edited by Harry W. Gerstad; music by Nelson Riddle; produced by William Dozier; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Adam West (Batman / Bruce Wayne), Burt Ward (Robin / Dick Grayson), Lee Meriwether (The Catwoman), Cesar Romero (The Joker), Burgess Meredith (The Penguin), Frank Gorshin (The Riddler), Alan Napier (Alfred), Neil Hamilton (Commissioner Gordon), Stafford Repp (Chief O’Hara), Madge Blake (Aunt Harriet Cooper) and Reginald Denny (Commodore Schmidlapp).


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Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964, Byron Haskin)

Robinson Crusoe on Mars is silly. It’s inconsistent and silly. The film survives a weak first act–the narrative trick of opening with one character (played, poorly, by Adam West) and then transferring to another (Paul Mantee) is fine, only Mantee doesn’t get any good material for quite a while. Mars, which–as the title suggests–is about a man alone on Mars–often requires its characters to act like complete morons.

Could the film get away with it if characters were exhibiting real panic? Sure. But they don’t. Mantee gets a dream sequence at one point in the early second act; the movie could have gotten real interesting at that point, but doesn’t. It does, however, get better. Mantee, all by himself, gets a lot better.

And director Haskin shows some creativity with the pacing through these sequences. Mars surprises, something Ib Melchior and John C. Higgins’s script otherwise seems hesitant to attempt. Instead, the script usually plays for the most obvious. Unfortunately, Haskin doesn’t have any problem with it–especially in the third act, which goes on forever and never does anything.

There’s a lot with Mantee’s monkey sidekick. Then Mantee upgrades to a humanoid–Victor Lundin as an escaped alien slave–and the monkey disappears. Only the script’s so bad regarding Mantee and Lundin’s relationship and character development, Mars worked a lot better with the monkey.

The ending flops too.

Rather good editing from Terry O. Morse helps things and Van Cleave’s music’s nice.

Otherwise, Mars’s rough.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Byron Haskin; screenplay by Ib Melchior and John C. Higgins, based on a novel by Daniel Defoe; director of photography, Winton C. Hoch; edited by Terry O. Morse; music by Van Cleave; produced by Aubrey Schenck; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring Paul Mantee (Cmdr. Christopher Draper), Victor Lundin (Friday) and Adam West (Col. Dan McReady).


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Batgirl (1967)

I’m not sure the actual story, but I’ll just assume at the height of the “Batman” show’s popularity, the producers thought about doing a “Batgirl” series. The pilot, if it’s any indication of the prospective series, suggests the world didn’t miss anything by it going unmade.

The approach is a sexist one, with everyone mooning over Yvonne Craig. She doesn’t fight crime, just sits around and watches the boys do it. Her performance is awful, though she’s much worse as Batgirl than her civilian persona.

Burt Ward and Adam West show up and turn in a couple dreadful performance. It’s hard to believe the pilot’s for a “Batgirl” series since Craig’s just guesting in a “Batman” scene.

The only good thing is the library set. Craig’s a librarian when not wearing spandex to attract Batman. It doesn’t make much sense when she destroys the library.

“Batgirl”‘s a horrific seven minutes.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Based on characters created by Bob Kane.

Starring Yvonne Craig (Batgirl / Barbara Gordon), Adam West (Batman / Bruce Wayne), Burt Ward (Robin / Dick Grayson), Tim Herbert (Killer Moth), Joe E. Tata (Mothman #1) and Neil Hamilton (Commissioner Gordon); narrated by William Dozier.


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