Watching Batman re-runs with John late at night – an episode about arch-villan “Mr. Freeze” – skin bluish silver, tanks of mixed gases around his neck, and henchmen with names like “Chill” and “Ice” – his weapon, natch, a gun designed to shoot a stream of liquid nitrogen or similar at his foe and freeze them on the spot. Every few minutes he would run a finger along an S-shaped eyebrow and hiss “W-i-i-i-i-i-l-l-l-d.”
Then the credits rolled at the end of the show and it turned out the actor playing Mr. Freeze was none other than director Otto Preminger, for whom Miles was almost named (Amy tried for more than a year to convince me and others that Otto would be a great name for our kid – only about 10% of people agreed, the other 90%, including me, had a gag reflex to the name). But I just couldn’t believe Preminger was doing Batman. W-i-i-i-i-i-l-l-l-d.
I have such warm Batman memories from childhood – the campiness of it never struck – the late 60s and early 70s were the last period before the dawn of pomo, now everything is boiled in the stew of irony. The original Star Trek and the original Batman share the same kind of cheap sets and (by today’s standards) simple stories that we gladly forgive because of their sincerity.
My dad worked at MGM in the early 70s and got to watch them shooting Batman episodes. He once saw Batman and Robin climbing up the side of a building – on the set the “building” was horizontal and the camera sideways – and this just blew my 7-year-old world wide-open — at once revealing and fascinating, but also the magic was sucked out just like that – a bittersweet process that continues today.