Category Archives: Directed by Leslie H. Martinson

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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Half a Death (1972, Leslie H. Martinson)

Half a Death gets off to a troubled start thanks to Tod Andrews. He’s only in the episode (of “Ghost Story”) for the first scene, but he’s just awful. Watching Eleanor Parker act opposite him is painful. While Henry Slesar’s script is no great shakes in the dialogue department, Parker still turns in a good performance. Andrews just flops.

Then Pamela Franklin–the protagonist–shows up and Death gets quite a bit better. Franklin and Parker are both excellent and they often make Death worthwhile. Slesar has a decent plot, if a bit contrived at times.

But the ending is so contrived, even with good supporting performances from Signe Hasso and, to a lesser extent, Stephen Brooks, it’s hard to get involved. Slesar jumps forward too much in the timeline, making his long scenes the only effective ones.

The ending is summary.

Still, Franklin and Parker give outstanding, complex performances.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Leslie H. Martinson; teleplay by Harry Slesar; “Ghost Story” created by William Castle; director of photography, Emmett Bergholz; edited by John Sheets; music by Billy Goldenberg and Robert Prince; produced by Joel Rogosin; aired by the Columbia Broadcasting System.

Starring Pamela Franklin (Christina Burgess), Stephen Brooks (Ethan), Andrew Duggan (Jeremy), Tod Andrews (Andrew Burgess), Signe Hasso (Mrs. Eliscu), Taylor Lacher (Charlie Eliscu) and Eleanor Parker (Paula Burgess).


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THIS FILM IS ALSO DISCUSSED IN SUM UP | ELEANOR PARKER, PART 4: GUEST STAR.

Wonder Woman (1967, Leslie H. Martinson)

Here’s a weird one. A short pilot for a “Wonder Woman” sitcom. Ellie Wood Walker’s Diana Prince lives at home with her mother (Maudie Prickett), who wishes her daughter would just find a man.

The pilot consists mostly of their bickering, which isn’t unfunny–thoroughly modern Walker versus nagging Prickett. But once Walker changes into Wonder Woman, the pilot becomes very strange.

Yes, she’s a superhero, but she also sees herself as “beautiful.” At this point, neither Walker nor Prickett had called Walker homely; it’s unclear until the narrator explains.

Obviously, if the pilot had been picked up, it would have been a lousy show, but the idea is interesting. An otherwise completely confident woman whose superhero alter ego includes wish fulfillment unrelated to the “duties” of a superhero.

Walker is appealing until the plot twist. Prickett balances annoying and funny pretty well….

It’s a strange few minutes of television.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Leslie H. Martinson; screenplay by Stan Hart, Stanley Ralph Ross and Larry Siegel, based on a character created by William M. Marston; produced by William Dozier.

Starring Ellie Wood Walker (Diana Prince) and Maudie Prickett (Diana’s mother).


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