|Tallulah Bankhead faces down Batman|
"You may be caped and you may be dynamic, but I find you a crashing bore!" -- Black Widow
When the campy Batman TV series hit the airwaves in the late sixties, a number of well-known actors were signed to play guest villains. Definitely the most memorable was talented stage [and screen] actress Tallulah Bankhead, with her trade mark gravelly voice and withering, highly amusing delivery. Bankhead had already shown how good she could be in TV comedy when she guest-starred on what was probably the best Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour episode. On this two-part second season episode of Batman, she plays the comically sinister Black Widow, who apparently rode roughshod over Gotham City in the past [but never appeared previously on the show] and now is robbing banks with the aid of several confederates and a machine that saps men's wills. Therefore she sort of hypnotizes the bank officers into simply handing her oodles of cash. The cliffhanger has Bankhead unleashing cat-sized black widow spiders on Batman and Robin ["Batman! They're getting closer!"/ "I know, Robin!"]. Arguably the funniest sequence has the Widow dressing up as Robin and growling at police officers, with her voice coming out of Burt Ward's body as the actor does a funny parody of Bankhead. Bolstering the proceedings -- along with Adam West as Batman and Ward as Robin, both excellent as usual [not to mention wonderful Neil Hamilton and Stafford Repp as the police and Alan Napier as Alfred]-- are the appearances of Grady Sutton [The Bank Dick] as a nervous bank teller and the unidentified actor who plays the bank president. The campy approach to Batman is now passe, but I must say this was a very, very funny and clever episode of the often dopey series. Bankhead's most famous movie is Hitchcock's Lifeboat; she starred in Die, Die My Darling two years before doing Batman.
Verdict: Bankhead and Batman are an unbeatable combination. ***.