Thursday, December 27, 2012
I can remember seeing it for the first time at Cincinnati's Twin Drive-In Theater, and looking forward to seeing the animated titles from the television show unfold in full color on the giant outdoor screen with Neal Hefti's theme kicking in... but something else happened. Instead, Richard Kuhn -- a titles designer on staff at 20th Century Fox (IN LIKE FLINT, FANTASTIC VOYAGE, etc) -- created the sort of sequence that could only have come from someone who had never seen the series, but was given a brief amount of time to utilize the film's various performers in costume. He created a more monochromatic, yet boldly tinted, high contrast universe for these characters, intercutting them with imagery out of a 1940s French potboiler, coated in washes of deep blue, cautionary yellow, garish green and sexy lavender. Since the Twin had two screens, I was worried for a moment that we'd been given the wrong directions to the right screen, but then Adam West sauntered onscreen in a blue spotlight worthy of Carol Doda and my young heart soared back up to the right place. And when the "Rogues Gallery of Supervillains" made their appearances, this more adult context actually made them look satanic and lethal.
Set to one of the most exciting pieces of music that Nelson Riddle ever performed, with the leitmotifs for the various crooks inserted with terrific timing and flair, the titles are so vibrant, so different, so extraordinarily promising that little 10 year old me was -- incredibly, one would imagine, for a Batfan of my age and intensity -- actually disappointed by the movie that followed, though I sure found Lee Meriwether's Catwoman interesting. And that may point to why: my tastes were maturing, and Richard Kuhn's credit sequence with its manic European flair, may have helped nudge my nascent aesthetics over the edge into puberty, with a little subsequent help from Ms. Meriwether's purring. It took me years to appreciate the comparatively style-less movie as the endlessly quotable, hilarious gem that it is.
Posted by Tim Lucas at Thursday, December 27, 2012