James Batman (1966)

James Batman (1966)‘Listen, I’m at the hospital. I was bitten by a centipede.’

An international conference of world leaders is interrupted by a representative of the CLAW organisation. He demands that all countries submit to communist rule or they will be destroyed. The authorities recruit James Bond and Batman and Robin to fight back…

What could possibly be better than a 1960s, unlicensed, black and white, Filipino Bond and Batman spoof? Yes, the over-sexed superspy teams up with the Caped Crusaders to take on the evil Red minions of CLAW who have acquired some kind of superweapon which puts the world on the brink of destruction. Unfortunately, professional rivalry threatens to torpedo this uneasy alliance, and there are only five days before the dirty pinko commies are due to make good on their threat.

We open at a meeting of international importance, called to discuss the growing power and influence of a secret organisation that’s rapidly becoming a danger to world peace. Unfortunately, before the diplomats can form endless sub-committees and working groups, they are interrupted by an envoy from the sinister group itself. In one of the film’s most entertaining sequences, this intruder overacts outrageously, shows the assembly some stock footage of a nuclear bomb going off and disappears in a puff of smoke.

James Batman (1966)v

‘The name’s Batman…               …….James Batman.’

After that, we get our first look at our heroes; Bond, played by well-known Filipino comedian Dolphy and Batman, played by Dolphy again. He’s accompanied by Robin, of course, played by Boy Alano. And that’s all the casting information that’s available here; other actors are listed, but there’s no information on which parts they play. There’s not exactly a lot of production information available about a low-budget 1960’s comedy from the Philippines.

And low-budget this seems to be. We get our first clue of limited resources when we see how our leads are dressed. Sure, Robin’s costume is a pretty accurate representation of Burt Ward’s look from the iconic US TV Show, but Batman’s gear? Not so much. The cowl seems a good size too big for Dolphy’s head and seems to be attached to his striped(!) cape, and I’ve no idea what that symbol on his chest is supposed to be. As for Bond, he comes in a hideous check suit with matching hat! The Batmobile looks a lot like an early 1960s Cadillac Eldorado just with bigger tail fins, and it even has striped seat covers. I guess to match Batman’s cape?

The plot, such as it is, mostly consists of excuses for a lot of running about and fight sequences. These are executed with admirable energy, but are never remotely convincing, although, being a parody, it’s probable that this was intentional. Check-suit Bond has an eye for the ladies, of course, and even Bad Cosplay Batman has romance on his mind. He’s in love with the daughter of the Chairman of the conference. Unfortunately, she’s fixated on the man in the cowl, rather than the man without the costume.

James Batman (1966)

‘Holy Copyright Infringement, Batman! Is that your lawyer?’

The soundtrack also includes the classic ‘Batman Theme’ and snatches of Monty Norman’s iconic Bond music. Sure, these are arranged differently from the originals, but they’re not going to fool even the most tone-deaf copyright lawyer. There’s even an appearance by the Penguin, top hat, monocle, cigar and cane all present and correct. Unfortunately, he’s played by a tall, slim actor who makes no effort to do a silly voice.

The comedy is relentlessly juvenile and predictable, but there are a few notable moments. Robin has forgotten to pay the electricity bill, and the Batcave is in darkness, so he lights the place by putting a bulb in his mouth. The main villain has a giant hand behind his desk, which fires deadly lasers from its fingers. Batman gets a call on his Batphone from someone wanting to book a taxi. There’s also a bizarre sequence where the dynamic duo shovel olives and rice into their mouths, before a man’s hand emerges from a machine to hand Batman a banana. Sadly, the device isn’t labelled the ‘Bat-Banana Dispenser’ or anything like that. Writer-director Artemio Marquez missed a trick there.

Goofy comedy that’s going to be far too infantile for a lot of tastes. It’s difficult to spoof subjects that are arguably a spoof already and this feature would have been much more effective as a short subject.


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