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Back to the Batcave Paperback – September 1, 1994
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The appeal of a Batman book by a guy who still regularly appears in public in full Bat-regalia is overwhelming, particularly when in places it reads like the old TV show's dialogue: "[Julie Newmar] caused curious stirrings in my utility belt." But West, Batman's TV avatar, can also be introspective: "The time [the mid-1960s] was wrong for a sinister, film noir Batman." And sometimes, were it not for the possibility that West may soon appear at a mall opening nearby, his narrative would be sad: "I was angry and profoundly disappointed when I was not asked to reprise the role" (in Tim Burton's feature film). In short, this is an informative book about a classic bit of television history by a participant who cared and still cares about the character he portrayed. Oh, some parts seem strained or naive, but this merely makes the book more evocative of its subject. A light but interesting memoir that as pop culture history is valuable for, besides West's insights, its annotated episode guide featuring his commentary. Mike Tribby
From Kirkus Reviews
An amiably ungrandiose, entertaining memoir of TV's Batman by the Caped Crusader himself. Aided by thriller writer Rovin (co-author of The Red Arrow, 1990), West devotes the first quarter of the book to his youth in Walla Walla, Wash., his eclectic early acting career in the thespian un-center of Honolulu, and his move into Hollywood westerns, at which time he jettisoned his birth name of Billy West Anderson. Selected in 1965 to play Batman, the actor prepared by reading novels whose heroes had dual identities, such as The Scarlet Pimpernel, and by scouring 1940s ``Batman'' comic books, trying to make his character ``as plausible as a superhero can be.'' West recalls how producers saved money by using sound-effects cards--``POW''--in place of transition shots, how he improvised the ``Batusi'' into a dance craze, and how difficult it was to shed his tight-fitting outfit on the way to the ``Batroom.'' He repeats his defense of the show as hard-working farce to critics who disparaged it as camp and his response to watchdog groups who suggested the crime-fighting team was gay (``Aunt Harriet wouldn't allow it''). He also offers thumbnail sketches of the actors who played show's villains, including the tormentingly sexy Julie Newmar as Catwoman, the distinguished Cesar Romero as the Joker, and the good-natured Liberace, miscast as an evil twin. After the show went off the air in 1968, West retreated into smaller roles and ``Batman'' nostalgia. While the actor hints that his Bat-fame gained him a good deal of recreational sex, he modestly leaves out the salacious details. Of the 1989 film version starring Michael Keaton, he observes that it showed ``an emotionally scarred Batman'' and regrets he wasn't offered the role. It won't make anyone cry ``Holy Publishing Event,'' but there's good fun for Batfans. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Top Customer Reviews
Second, my opinion of his tome. Simply stated, it's a fun ride back to your childhood. It gave me the scoop on everything and anything that was "bat-ified" because of that show. The only thing I wished was that there were more stories, even if little ones.
It was like a peek over the shoulder of one of my heroes from my youth. The difference now is that I can appreciate the reality of what went on outside the fantasy of Batman; what Mr. West sacrificed for the character. If you have the chance to see him in any other role, you would then understand "what could have been" in his career, though I think that he was born to be "The Caped Crusader".
What a look into the 60's and what was happening! Some of it delicious, and other parts, sobering. It seems that fame and fortune truly do have a price, but dealing with its effects is what made Mr. West a real man. He does this by being humble, quite honest, and quite funny, depending what part of his on-screen/off-screen life you're reading.
Some of his tales are pleasantly quirky, and others, detailed enough to feel like you were there; you remember an episode he speaks of, then you begin to think about what went on while he was filming it (the cast, the guests, etc.). Pure reading pleasure. Even the story surrounding the movie was wonderful.
I feel that he respected the reader enough, as well as himself, to describe the events of his life before, during, and after "Batman" by giving you insight that spins the yarn of all that was good and not-so-good, without having to give some of the harsh details. I make great mention of this because his co-star, Burt Ward, wrote his own version of life during "Batman" and if you have any morals or sense of respect for yourself or the show, DO NOT waste your time with his book. Mr. West was most gracious in his storytelling, and he deserves all your attention.
Get the book because "we haven't one moment to lose!".
Another item that slightly ticked me off was that he mentioned he was in the recent Batman the animated series playing a "villian" called the Grey Ghost. He must think the majority of us readers who followed the Batmania trend closely are really stupid. The Grey Ghost mirrored West's life, a fact he may never want to admit.
I have to admit his book was far more digestable than Burt Ward's book. With the exception of Rudy Valley and Otto Preminger he never bad-mouthed anybody. Especially Burt Ward. He mentioned the ego wars between them but thankfully it was resolved peacefully and within a short period of time. Adam West ought to be commended for his maturity and insightfulness. It's a shame Burt Ward chose to run over his mentor for the sake of selling a book. I wouldn't blame Adam if he never spoke to Ward again.