The Battle to Make Tim Burton’s 'Batman'
June 25, 2019 11:15 AM   Subscribe

 
"Will their big budget blockbuster be a bat bomb? Will bat fans care that Batman is also Mr. Mom? Tune in tomorrow to learn the rest!"
posted by Melismata at 11:23 AM on June 25 [33 favorites]


In fairness, "Batdance" was pretty bad.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:27 AM on June 25 [8 favorites]


Chrysostom: As bad as The Batusi?
posted by SansPoint at 11:33 AM on June 25 [4 favorites]


It's a push.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:37 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


I was a movie theater usher back when Batman came out. The slides that played before the film back then had a lot of verbiage on them, but the Batman slide was just the logo, and the crowd in the theater would go wild whenever it showed.

After the movie opened, I was able to snag one of the Batman slides (they were physical slides placed in a slide carousel back in those days) and I had it for a long, long time. It's probably still stored somewhere in a box.
posted by xingcat at 11:40 AM on June 25 [30 favorites]


Keaton acquitted himself remarkably well. However, I find that Nicholson's scenery-chewing Joker performance has not aged well.
posted by thelonius at 11:47 AM on June 25 [14 favorites]


In fairness, "Batdance" was pretty bad.
posted by Chrysostom


I would not recommend ever expressing this sentiment out loud in the city of Minneapolis.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 11:49 AM on June 25 [26 favorites]


Call me a fearless truth-telling prophet misunderstood in his own time if you must.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:57 AM on June 25 [17 favorites]


I'll say this for sure: "Batdance" is the song that emphatically disproves the idea that you can work up a lazy person's fooling-around playlist by just going Prince -> shuffle all.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 12:00 PM on June 25 [25 favorites]


Keaton acquitted himself remarkably well. However, I find that Nicholson's scenery-chewing Joker performance has not aged well.

I remember going to see this on opening night; I had some friends who were crazy to go see it, although I didn't expect much (I did buy a couple of Batman T-shirts ahead of time, because the merchandising for this film was insane and a lot of it looked pretty good at the time). Anyways, I was expecting a couple of hours of utter cheese...and I was blown away by Nicholson as the Joker; he had me enthralled. Keaton was good too! It was a much better film than I expected. Anyways, yeah, Nicholson's take on the Joker has not aged well, but at the time it was amazing.
posted by nubs at 12:02 PM on June 25 [7 favorites]


It's really bizarre to hear Michael Keaton described as a comedian. This is the first time I've ever thought of him in that context. I know him from Beatlejuice, while funny, never thought of as a "comedy." Batman, Spiderman, and Birdman are what comes to mind when I think of Michael Keaton. I'm having a hard time envisioning him in a goofy comedy role.
posted by GoblinHoney at 12:07 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


It's really bizarre to hear Michael Keaton described as a comedian.

He's on that new-ish Norm Macdonald Netflix show, and apparently he was a stand-up comedian before he went into acting. It surprised me as well. I'm guessing he probably wasn't great at it, as he's always struck me as an actorly type.
posted by lkc at 12:10 PM on June 25


He was also on Mr. Rogers, too.
posted by Melismata at 12:12 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


He was definitely known as a comedian in the 80s - Night Shift, Mr. Mom (which is a terrible movie, do not watch), Beetlejuice. Even after Batman he made some bad comedy movies (Multiplicity). But no, he was never particularly successful at making comedies the way he has been with dramas. I think there's something about his smile that just comes off badly in comedy.
posted by muddgirl at 12:16 PM on June 25 [9 favorites]


At the risk of a Prince derail ... I am a massive Prince head, and I too am baffled by the continued love for that album among his devotees. I felt like the scales fell from my eyes when it came out, like a bunch of devices and motifs that had worked so well in his music suddenly felt very cornball. (Yes, he went on to make a handful of great records thereafter, but between this and Graffiti Bridge, I spent the dawn of the '90s very worried for my continued fandom.)
posted by mykescipark at 12:19 PM on June 25 [6 favorites]


Nicholson's scenery-chewing Joker performance has not aged well.

At least half the problem is the fact that we now have Heath Ledger's take to contend with towards the pole of plausibility, and Mark Hamill/WBs towards the pole of trickster cartoon, and they retroactively reveal a kind of uncanny valley that Nicholson's performance sometimes falls into.

When the other screen media appearances are the 60s TV series (and maybe somewhere in the Hanna-Barbera run?), this is less of a problem.
posted by wildblueyonder at 12:19 PM on June 25 [21 favorites]


Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys: BATMAN At 30

Good article about how Batman reshaped Hollywood in its wake, and was reshaped in turn.
posted by ejs at 12:20 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


He's got good comedy chops in the right setting. Johnny Dangerously was frigging great.
posted by jzb at 12:21 PM on June 25 [25 favorites]


I think you mean fargin' great.
posted by mark k at 12:26 PM on June 25 [37 favorites]


Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer had previously dated and broken up

Holy crap, I never knew that. Maybe that contributed to the interesting on-screen energy between them in Batman Returns.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 12:29 PM on June 25 [5 favorites]


GoblinHoney: "It's really bizarre to hear Michael Keaton described as a comedian. This is the first time I've ever thought of him in that context. I know him from Beatlejuice, while funny, never thought of as a "comedy." Batman, Spiderman, and Birdman are what comes to mind when I think of Michael Keaton. I'm having a hard time envisioning him in a goofy comedy role."

He and Tom Hanks were the kings of goofy 80's comedies before they both went serious. Keaton didn't do a dramatic role until '88's Clean and Sober.
posted by octothorpe at 12:32 PM on June 25 [24 favorites]


One of my neighbors painted the Bat-Signal on the front doors of his Chevette when this movie came out.
posted by circleofconfusion at 12:32 PM on June 25 [10 favorites]


Also, what didn't really age well from Batman was the whole Vicky Vale plot. Jack's performance as the Joker was great, but the whole "let's make the Joker creep on Vicky Vale" thing was not. The "bad guy / good guy fight over the lady" thing was damned hard to escape in the 80s...

But outside of the Joker / Vicky Vale scenes, I think his performance was pretty much on the money for the time period. Every generation gets the Joker most apt for the time period, and Jack was the Joker that GenX had to contend with.

And... I love Prince's Batman soundtrack, start to finish. No apologies, not even for "Batdance." I'm going to put that on right now.
posted by jzb at 12:33 PM on June 25 [13 favorites]


muddgirl: "Mr. Mom (which is a terrible movie, do not watch)"

Well, its very much of it's time. But, "220, 221, whatever it takes" is one of the great lines.

(Gung Ho, on the other hand...eesh)
posted by Chrysostom at 12:41 PM on June 25 [25 favorites]


There are a couple of things about Burton's Batman I really like.

The scene in which Napier awakens as the Joker for the first time, the Joker screaming with laughter, is still chilling.

And the Joker's "Smylex" gag, via product contamination, was exactly the kind of murderous stunt that the Joker might pull. Up-end the social order, afflict the comfortable and SMILE! (Product contamination scares were still a current thing when the film was released.)
posted by SPrintF at 12:42 PM on June 25 [11 favorites]


The slides that played before the film back then had a lot of verbiage on them, but the Batman slide was just the logo, and the crowd in the theater would go wild whenever it showed.

I miss these slides. They were usually poster-type ads for upcoming movies. Quiet, still. Let you relax before the movie. Now it’s all ads and The 20 or whatever they call previews from TBS these days.
posted by Servo5678 at 12:43 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


One interesting take in Batman '89 that I don't think I've seen in the comics or any other adaptation is that, in this film, Bruce Wayne himself is portrayed as being just as mysterious as his alter-ego Batman. In the beginning of the movie Vale and her partner talk about what a cipher he is, and when Vale goes to Wayne Manor for the party he's such an unknown to her that she doesn't recognize him even after meeting him face-to-face in the armor hall.

I thought that was an interesting contrast to Bruce's usual portrayal as a ditzy celebrity playboy.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:50 PM on June 25 [19 favorites]


How can you hate a movie that climaxes with two men in weird costumes high atop a phallic spire in a church screaming “You created me!” “No, you created me!” over and over at each other?
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:56 PM on June 25 [13 favorites]


But no, he was never particularly successful at making comedies the way he has been with dramas. I think there's something about his smile that just comes off badly in comedy.

See his performance as Dogpatch in Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing. Granted, Shakespeare, but still pitch perfect delivery.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 12:56 PM on June 25 [14 favorites]


About all I had seen Keaton prior to Batman was the merciless repeats of Mr. Mom and Gung Ho on HBO, so it was next to impossible to ever take him remotely serious as Batman. As it was, nobody involved with that movie seemed to have taken anything remotely serious. Which is good, because Batman will always suck despite attempts at either gravitas or levity.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:02 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Well, its very much of it's time. But, "220, 221, whatever it takes" is one of the great lines.

Isn't that Fletch?
posted by dragstroke at 1:03 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


No, it's definitely Mr. Mom, followed up with a return to the joke in the dream sequence where his wife says ".38, .39, whatever it took" about bullet size.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:05 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Like Xingcat, I also was working in a movie theater when this came out. Usually I was in the concession stand.

So I was the one who usually had to deal with the local regular who came in every Saturday during its run for the 2 pm matinee, and who would always do the same thing:

* He would order the largest soda we had.
* He would also order the largest popcorn we had.
* After receiving these items, before he went into the theater, he would lean over and grin and say the following: "I've been coming to see this movie every Saturday, and I'm going to keep coming to see it every Saturday until The Joker wins!"

And then he would walk into the theater as I and the other attendant nervously chuckled at him.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:07 PM on June 25 [36 favorites]


Also, what didn't really age well from Batman was the whole Vicky Vale plot. Jack's performance as the Joker was great, but the whole "let's make the Joker creep on Vicky Vale" thing was not. ... I love Prince's Batman soundtrack, start to finish. No apologies, not even for "Batdance." I'm going to put that on right now.

But "Batdance" (especially the video) creeps on Vicky Vale at least as hard as the Joker does in the movie. Arguably worse since Prince isn't supposed to be a supervillain.
posted by straight at 1:11 PM on June 25


As Sangermaine points out, one of the interesting things about this movie is how it makes Batman & Bruce Wayne mysterious for the characters and the audience. According to IMDB, Batman/Bruce is on screen for 32:30, Napier/Joker for 32:15, and Vicki Vale for 29. But that breakdown doesn't really capture the movie's feel, which centers as much, or more, around Vale & Napier. As Bruce Wayne, Keaton is often not the center of his scenes; as Batman, he's only shown in flashes.

In fact, all of the pre-Nolan films have a pretty even breakdown between the top 3 or 4 characters (Batman Forever has the biggest difference w/ 44:15 for Batman/Bruce, 24:45 for Nygma/Riddler).

Nolan's first film totally departs from that pattern: 69:30 for Batman/Bruce, and the character with the second largest screentime is Ra's Al Ghul with 16:30. Dark Knight is a little more even with 35:30 for Bats, 25:15 for Joker, 22:15 for Harvey Dent, 19:15 for Gordon. The final film is also Bale-heavy at 46:00; Bane gets 22:15, Blake gets 19:45, Catwoman 19:00.
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:20 PM on June 25 [5 favorites]


Michael Keaton isn’t the best Batman ever, but I will maintain to my dying breath that no actor has yet surpassed him as Bruce Wayne, including Kevin Conroy. The only way nobody would suspect Bruce Wayne, the reclusive billionaire who lost his family to street crime, of being Batman is if he comes off as a total goober. Under this metric, Keaton’s crowning achievement is the end of Batman Returns, where Max Schreck sees him unmasked and delivers the completely earned reaction, “Bruce Wayne? Why are you dressed up like Batman?”
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:22 PM on June 25 [65 favorites]


Even after Batman he made some bad comedy movies (Multiplicity).

I like pizza Steve
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:46 PM on June 25 [11 favorites]


Mr. Mom (which is a terrible movie, do not watch)

You take that back or I will turn this car around!
posted by schoolgirl report at 1:50 PM on June 25 [11 favorites]


The Dream Team was a great comedy/drama. Michael Keaton, Stephen Furst, Christopher Lloyd and Peter Boyde star.
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 1:53 PM on June 25 [13 favorites]


The second Burton Batman movie is maybe the best-art-directed superhero movie there is. It's not a CGI toy commercial and it's not "gritty realism"; it's a cool-looking movie full of stuff that you might see in a comic book. That said, the Batmanification of absolutely everything for the last 30 years is difficult to atone for, even by putting Michelle Pfeiffer in a latex body stocking.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 2:00 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]




if loving mr. mom is wrong, i don't want to be right.

schooner tuna... the tuna with a heart.
posted by rude.boy at 2:05 PM on June 25 [10 favorites]




Even after Batman he made some bad comedy movies (Multiplicity).

I don’t recall that as bad, per se, so much as unmemorable. I know I have seen it, but the funniest thing about it that comes to mind is that the title in its Italian dub was Mi Sdoppio in Quattro, or I Have Split Myself in Four.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:25 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


It aslo helped shape Kevin Smith's career
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 2:36 PM on June 25


It's really bizarre to hear Michael Keaton described as a comedian. This is the first time I've ever thought of him in that context.

It was like saying Jerry Seinfeld or Conan O'Brien was going to be Batman. Just a tilt head "Whaaaaat?"

I saw Night Shift probably 20-30 times in the 80's, was obviously a Keaton fan, a huge Batman comics fan, and it's hard to underestimate how weird this whole thing sounded at the time. (On a side note, the weird thing for most people about Night Shift at the time was seeing Henry Winkler playing a meek serious guy, and they weren't going for it).

Most people thought of Batman as the silly TV show, almost everyone. The comics were hot again, in a very underground sort of way, and turning very dark. It was two different worlds. Even if you tried to describe the seriousness of the comics to someone they would probably laugh, "Batman?" Keaton was a goofball comedy actor, Tim Burton made quirky comedies, Prince?

I wasn't a huge fan, but I liked it at the time, haven't seen it recently, but it's hard to not to think of this as one of those events that's so influential that things would be different now without it.
posted by bongo_x at 2:41 PM on June 25 [8 favorites]


Here's the thing about Nicholson's performance: he gives the Joker a solid reason for existence. Jack Napier is terribly vain and also a misogynist; when he confronts his old boss, he screams at him, "You set me up.... over a woman. A WOMAN! You must be insane." After killing Grissom, he disfigures the woman in question, then kills her after getting infatuated with Vicki Vale. And, even though he changes up his act a bit when he goes Joker, he's still basically the same guy, just turned up to eleven. To the extent that anyone else gives the Joker an origin (Alan Moore in The Killing Joke, the upcoming Joaquin Phoenix movie), they get tempted to make him a sympathetic character, or they make a point that he doesn't have a definitive origin (Moore again, The Dark Knight). Nicholson is willing to let the shtick drop at times, especially near the end, to show Napier's still-smoldering rage underneath the clowning.

I also like the choice of Keaton, a lot, because (especially with his prior work as Beetlejuice), you get the feeling that he would not have been half bad as the Joker himself. He's had touches of comedy in his more serious roles and vice versa, and in a way, he's more like the kind of guy who would spend a fortune developing customized weapons and vehicles and then go out to battle evil in a bat suit than a lot of his successors.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:51 PM on June 25 [18 favorites]


...Inherent in the dance was the idea that the duality of man as regards paired concepts such as chaos and order, lust and divinity, law and crime, etc was being expressed in terms of the batmans and jokers. Gemini himself seemed to express the irresovably twinned yet balanced nature of these forces. The keyboard man provided an excellent guitar solo, causing the batmans to rage in an orgy of law and order, suppressing and restraining the jokers from expressing their natural tendency to chaos. Gemini could barely stand to watch. No sooner had this new state been arrived at then a third elemental force entered the purple area, that of the vickivales, themselves five in number. Now it seemed like all the batmans and jokers were not so much concerned at expressing their fundamental natures as they were subsumed into an expression of lust and lasciviousness by Gemini towards the vickivales. Vickivales expressed in turn a balanced allegiance to the batmans and jokers leaving gemini suspended exactly between these two elemental forces in the purple area. The batmans were helpless as the jokers staged a display of arbitrarily erotic violence. Gemini experiences a reverie of the ultimate mortal punishment as the jokers arrive at a climax of rage. Gemini's mortal fury expresses itself outwardly as an attempt on the keyboard man's life. As the batman/joker forces begin to express their rage towards Gemini himself Gemini forestalls his final judgement through the destruction of the appartion of punishment. In the end, the keyboard man appears, reappears. "Stop." Make sense who may.
posted by anazgnos at 3:19 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


I don't remember - was Philadelphia considered such a huge, out-of-character moment for Tom Hanks as well? For Hanks it almost feels like his career has two periods, even though he did do some romantic comedies after Philadelphia.
posted by muddgirl at 3:21 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


if loving mr. mom is wrong, i don't want to be right.

Lucky you. Because you aren't right.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 3:23 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


It is really the combination of Keaton and Nicholson that makes the movie work. Two men with matching eyebrows.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:28 PM on June 25 [10 favorites]


We were all ready for a grown-up Batman, and instead we got this.

Tim Burton said he wasn't going for the kind of camp found in the 60's TV show, and yet we had a Joker who felt perfectly in line with Cesar Romero's portrayal of the character.

Nicholson's performance was so superficial and unengaging that it turned me off to him as an actor for decades.

Most of the people I know who thought that this Batman was great were in the age range of 6 - 14 years old when it came out, which sounds about right. A lot of people my own age were psyched for it to come out and defended it for years, but now most of them admit they were in a Batman derangement field, and they acknowledge it's not actually very good.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 3:49 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


I like those two Tim Burton movies because they are serious and they are pretty dark, but they're not "gritty." Yeah, I was too young for The Dark Knight comics and so I wasn't expecting that, maybe older fans were. I've never wanted grimdark superheroes. Comics are supposed to be my escape from reality, not all the worst parts of humanity distilled.
posted by muddgirl at 3:55 PM on June 25 [8 favorites]


I just can't get past the sight of Batman running around trying to do athletic stuff in a full back and neck brace. He just looks so stiff and clumsy.
posted by straight at 3:56 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


And for me, even watching it now Nicholson exudes such an intense, angry sense of sexual threat. That scene in the museum was disturbing as a young girl and it's still disturbing now.
posted by muddgirl at 3:58 PM on June 25 [9 favorites]


In fairness, "Batdance" was pretty bad.

OK, buster, let's step outside.
posted by azpenguin at 4:16 PM on June 25 [7 favorites]


If you want to see Michael Keaton at his comedic best, try Johnny Dangerously. It's a good, underappreciated movie.
posted by kyrademon at 4:43 PM on June 25 [10 favorites]


It's really bizarre to hear Michael Keaton described as a comedian. This is the first time I've ever thought of him in that context.

It was like saying Jerry Seinfeld or Conan O'Brien was going to be Batman. Just a tilt head "Whaaaaat?"


"Best action movie ever. Guy gets trapped in a skyscraper with a bunch of terrorists holding hostages on Christmas Eve."
"Yeah? It's actually good? Who's in it?"
"That guy from Moonlighting."
"...the fuck?"
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:43 PM on June 25 [35 favorites]


I also would just like to point out that Batman kills a lot of people in the first Tim Burton film -- these folks put it at 17. (Why does he have machine guns on the Batwing?!)
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:44 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


Which is good, because Batman will always suck despite attempts at either gravitas or levity.

Even Lego Batman?
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:46 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


Batman derangement field

expect an extra kitten in your pay envelope this month
posted by thelonius at 4:47 PM on June 25 [9 favorites]


I think you mean fargin' great.

No need to be an icehole about it.
posted by srboisvert at 5:10 PM on June 25 [11 favorites]


Why does he have machine guns on the Batwing?!

"Rubber bullets. Honest."
Frank Miller
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:18 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Apologies, I will make an exception for the Lego Batman movie because it is indeed best of the Batman franchise by orders of magnitude.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:27 PM on June 25 [8 favorites]




Well, he does have an interesting arc with superhero films:

-he played a superhero (Batman)
-he played an actor best known for playing a superhero (Birdman)
-he played the villain in a superhero film (Spiderman: Homecoming)
posted by nubs at 5:42 PM on June 25 [12 favorites]


Johnny Dangerously was frigging great.

I saw that film once.

Once.
posted by rokusan at 5:52 PM on June 25 [22 favorites]


You can argue whether or not the 1989 Batman is the best Batman movie, but there's no argument it's got the best Batmobile.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:59 PM on June 25 [6 favorites]


Oh, we’ve got a live one here!

Batdance is an amazing medley, and the video is better than half of the Batman feature films.

Keep bustin’.
posted by sixswitch at 6:05 PM on June 25 [6 favorites]


Did anyone else notice how quickly radio stations stopped playing Batdance as soon as Batman was out of theaters?
posted by Burhanistan at 6:16 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


You’re listening to the wrong radio stations, pal.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:48 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


But "Batdance" (especially the video) creeps on Vicky Vale at least as hard as the Joker does in the movie. Arguably worse since Prince isn't supposed to be a supervillain.

Well, um.. is it creeping if you're fucking the guy who made the video? Like, seriously, and a lot?
posted by hippybear at 7:29 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


"I've been coming to see this movie every Saturday, and I'm going to keep coming to see it every Saturday until The Joker wins!"

ಠ_ಠ
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:41 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


"220, 221, whatever it takes"

Isn't that Fletch?


What is it with misattributing that line?? I was all in a huff to come in here and say ACTUALLY NO, that line was certainly in Christmas Vacation. Then I watched the YouTube videos and lo and behold, it was Mr. Mom. Which I don't think I've ever seen, but I definitely know the 220/221 line. Huh.

... in conclusion, I think we can safely say it definitely seems like a Chevy Chase sort of thing to say.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 9:11 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Chase, Keaton, whatever it takes
posted by nubs at 9:22 PM on June 25 [7 favorites]


Ahem, if we're going to link to the Batusi, let's link to the Batusi.

“You shake a pretty mean cape, Batman.”
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:44 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


One thing Keaton did which no other actor has, before or since, he managed to make Batman sexy.

STARES DEFIANTLY
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:49 PM on June 25 [7 favorites]


See his performance as Dogpatch in Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing. Granted, Shakespeare, but still pitch perfect delivery.

"Dogberry," he annotated. But yes, I was going to make this point, too. It was a masterful comedic performance.
posted by bryon at 9:57 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Well, um.. is it creeping if you're fucking the guy who made the video? Like, seriously, and a lot?

A question further complicated by the fact that Basinger isn't in the video, rather a group of models representing the character Vicky Vale who the song is creeping on.

("Dude, you got it all wrong. When Gemini says he wants to bust that body, he means he wants to zap Vicky Vale into a Muon Trap. Bustin' makes him feel good.")
posted by straight at 10:06 PM on June 25


(I did buy a couple of Batman T-shirts ahead of time, because the merchandising for this film was insane and a lot of it looked pretty good at the time)

If anyone bought or even saw the shiny gold foil Batsignal logo shirts... there is a much larger than non-zero chance I might have helped make it and had my hands on it when I was a kid. My dad's company made all of those hideous things, and I handled tens of thousands of them personally.

The total run was probably hundreds of thousands of shirts, maybe better part of a million units all told.

I'm sorry if the shiny crap probably didn't last more than a few washings, even if you always washed it inside out and tried not to stretch it.

We basically invented the process to put foil transfers on t-shirt fabric and have it remain relatively shiny even after stretching it or wearing it, and that was among the very first commercial orders for the technology. We basically rush-developed it and nearly but not quite perfected it specifically because of the Batman merch line because they had to have it.

If you're curious it was a multi-step process that involved printing a special clear waterbase adhesive directly on to the shirts just like a regular t-shirt textile print, then applying a certain kind of colored aluminum foil on a mylar substrate using a heat transfer press causing it to stick to the re-heated adhesive, then allowing it to cool to a specific temp then peeling it off to leave the foil adhered to the shirt. Another part of the trick is that we were using silicon-teflon mats that were basically the same thing as Silpat baking sheets to help give it a smooth, chrome-like finish as the texture of the metal heat transfer platen would dull it like brushed metal.

Then we often had to vacuum off all the bits of confetti glitter left over.

It was really labor intensive, and probably produced a fuckton of microplastics. We went through miles and miles of that foil and it produced a depressing amount of mixed plastic and metal trash throwing away the used foil sheets with whatever aluminum was left on them. (Just like a hot stamp foil machine for books, really.)


And I remember the hype, marketing and merchandising around that movie because it was BONKERS even by today's standards.

I wore one of our own foil-logo shirts for a while because I had 'em before they were even in stores and everyone was like "woah, cool, shiny, Batmaaaan!"

And then the movie came out.

I remember seeing it in the theaters and even as a kid and young adult I remember immediately thinking "Well, shit, I sure hope they don't send all those t-shirts back because WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST WATCH?"

Nah, they sold out. And Warner Bros ordered more. If I'm recalling correctly we were printing those damn things for months.

I stopped wearing mine right after I saw the movie. I just couldn't deal with it. The whole episode, that fucking movie and likely most of 1989 was just that confusing and awkward.
posted by loquacious at 10:13 PM on June 25 [37 favorites]


As a result, it took 10 years from the time they bought the rights to the day that the film was released. Ten very long years that Uslan refers to as a “human endurance contest.”

IT TOOK THEM TEN FUCKING YEARS TO MAKE THIS... THIS PIPING HOT SHIT SANDWICH WITH A HEARTY SIDE OF SHITSLAW AND SHITPICKLES? TEN FUCKING YEARS, THE FUCK!?


Keaton acquitted himself remarkably well. However, I find that Nicholson's scenery-chewing Joker performance has not aged well.


It wasn't so tasty when it was fresh, either.

He didn't so much as chew on the scenery as masticate it into cud, spit it out and make entirely new little chewed up paper mache replicas of the scenery and then when he was done with the scenery he started chewing on the replicas of the scenery and actually eating them, ate a bunch of Ex-Lax for dinner and then the next day... well, let's not talk about the next day. The next day was really special. Artistic. Peak Nicholson, really.

Somewhere out there Dennis Hopper's King Koopa and Nicolson's Joker are hanging out in a bar and everyone who isn't a hardcore alcoholic left three hours ago and everyone else wants to leave but can't because they're too drunk and the bartender just called his plug to order an 8-ball so he doesn't murder anyone with a bar stool before last call.
posted by loquacious at 10:40 PM on June 25 [7 favorites]


Dutch: They made it for him special. It's an .88 Magnum.
Danny Vermin: It shoots through schools.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:05 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: This thread needs an enema.
posted by zaixfeep at 12:24 AM on June 26 [14 favorites]


This was pre-Batman Keaton:
1978: Keaton, Letterman and MTM song-and-dance
1979: Keaton and Jim Belushi, Working Stiffs sitcom

Fun fact: Keaton's birth name is Michael Douglas. He changed it to avoid confusion with the talk show host. Or it might have been some other guy who was also big at the time, I'm not sure.
posted by zaixfeep at 12:52 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


I mean he did attend Juilliard and Harvard Business School.
posted by um at 1:56 AM on June 26 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure what's more interesting: the alternating adoration and vitriol in this thread, or the fact that I can totally see both sides. I was in the target age bracket when this came out, and it's accurate to say it had a big impact on me (and I got it on VHS because how could I not? and consequently watched it enough to memorize it)…but it has a great many elements that are at minimum very strange (like, how-was-this-a-blockbuster strange) and arguably very awkward.

I've often wondered whether Batman Returns isn't a better film in just about every way.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:59 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


was Philadelphia considered such a huge, out-of-character moment for Tom Hanks as well?

It was indeed.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:08 AM on June 26 [6 favorites]


I've never seen Philadelphia, but when Forrest Gump came out shortly afterward, I remember being shocked that Tom Hanks was actually a really great actor. I kind of thought of him as a kind of b-grade actor up to that point, there mostly because he was boyishly cute. I'd only seen him in corny rom-coms, and didn't care for them. I went from "Ewww a Tom Hanks movie" to "Oh! A Tom Hanks movie!"
posted by lordrunningclam at 5:28 AM on June 26


I'm of the opinion that Tim Burton's style in general hasn't aged well. Very few of his films that I once enjoyed have held up on recent rewatch.

Some of that may be I'll feelings from how his recent output seems to waver between unexceptional and bad. It rarely feels like he has anything in particular to say anymore, he's just looking for high profile established properties onto which he can slather that ol' Burton razzmatazz.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:53 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


This movie has produced one of my favorite images:
”You wanna get nuts?! Let’s get nuts!”.
posted by blueberry at 6:23 AM on June 26 [8 favorites]


WRT Tom Hanks, I'd suggest seeing Nothing in Common, maybe Hanks' first attempt at doing a serious movie role; it's also Jackie Gleason's last film. He also had a turn on Family Ties as alcoholic Uncle Ned, although I think that it tends to get written off as a Very Special Episode.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:28 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


And now Hanks has morphed into playing non-fictional older men such as Walt Disney, Richard Phillips, and Chesley Sullenberger. Life is weird.
posted by Melismata at 7:25 AM on June 26


I think that Mazes and Monsters was Hanks' first dramatic role.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:27 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


Arguably the best part of this Batman movie is the part where he DJ-scratches a spinning CD. Which at the time everyone knew was impossible because CDs don't work like that. Now they make CD DJ players that do that, though you still don't get to touch the CD.

I'm pretty sure that was this Batman movie. I might be mixing them up.
posted by loquacious at 7:32 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


The CD scratch was in Batman Returns.
posted by octothorpe at 7:47 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


I am mildly surprised that Kim Basinger gave comments for the article. Not sure why I was.

Came away impressed at her intelligence as an actor.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:59 AM on June 26


CheesesOfBrazil: "I've often wondered whether Batman Returns isn't a better film in just about every way."

Returns has too many characters and plots stuffed in. Just Catwoman would have worked great.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:35 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


The CD scratch was in Batman Returns.

I suspected my memory was failing on that one.

Also... morning coffee thought: I'm starting to think there's a shared universe and weird arc of weirdly bad 80s/90s movies that are a bit... too colorful, odd and hyperkinetic. I think Batman might be in the same universe as, say, Dick Tracy and even the live action Howard the Duck. Roger Rabbit might be in there, too, and maybe even Super Mario Bros. This might even include the Superman III movie with Pryor.
posted by loquacious at 8:48 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


I really enjoyed how seriously Basinger took the role and the subsequent cosplaying she'd do for kids. I really like how she and Keaton never seemed embarassed by it (half the fun during the Spider-man: Homecoming prequel is watching him going, 'I'm Batman!' in his various interviews )

god, i must've been such a wee third world pop culture dork, because the other surprise of this thread is finding out people being surprised that Keaton was considered a comic. (his standup career was brief but he's got some good ones, esp the more abstract bits - i think the yt algorithm threw up at me an old video of him in a famous LA club once)
posted by cendawanita at 9:01 AM on June 26 [4 favorites]


I'm guessing age is probably the biggest factor in the whole "Keaton is a comic?!?" thing; if you were a kid in the eighties US you most likely knew the guy from Working Stiffs, Night Shift, etc., where his post-Batman roles are overall more "serious."

I'm of the opinion that Tim Burton's style in general hasn't aged well.
I largely agree, although IMO Beetlejuice holds up better than e.g. Nightmare Before Christmas, and Big Fish remains surprisingly watchable, especially by comparison.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:51 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


Re: Keaton as a comic

I was born in '76; Keaton and Hanks were 2 of my favorite comic actors as a kid growing up. I loved pretty much every one of their projects I'd seen, many of which I was probably too young to see... Night Shift, Mr. Mom, Johnny Dangerously, Gung Ho, Bosom Buddies, Splash, Bachelor Party, The Man with One Red Shoe, Dragnet, The 'Burbs, Nothing in Common, Punchline... memories.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:03 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


& the Money Pit!
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:03 AM on June 26 [4 favorites]


I still like the early Burton films but feel like his style really got pretty stale toward the late '90s. I don't think that there's one that I like after Ed Wood. I do feel like he was an odd choice for Batman considering that he'd not a very good action director.
posted by octothorpe at 10:04 AM on June 26


I still like the early Burton films but feel like his style really got pretty stale toward the late '90s.

You mean the one where Johnny Depp plays a pale, socially-isolated weirdo? Or the one where Johnny Depp plays a pale, socially-isolated weirdo? Or the one where Johnny Depp plays a pale, socially-isolated weirdo? Or the one where Johnny Depp plays a pale, socially-isolated weirdo? Or the one where Johnny Depp plays a pale, socially-isolated weirdo? Or the one where Johnny Depp plays a pale, socially-isolated weirdo? Or the one where Johnny Depp plays a pale, socially-isolated weirdo? Or the one where Johnny Depp plays a pale, socially-isolated weirdo?

The Man with One Red Shoe

Whoa. I was pretty sure I was the only person who had ever seen this movie.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:27 AM on June 26 [7 favorites]


The Man With One Red Shoe was always at the video store.

Bachelor Party

"I hope you like potato salad...it's chunky style."
posted by Chrysostom at 10:32 AM on June 26


For those of us in the UK, the release came nearly two months later (11 August, it says here), which of course only ramped up the massive anticipation. I was taking my first steps as a film critic then, so went to the press show at the start of August, wrote up my 300ww (I think I liked it) then went off for my usual slot volunteering at a kids camp.

When word got around among these teenagers that I had already seen Batman...
posted by YoungStencil at 10:49 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


Arguably the best part of this Batman movie is the part where he DJ-scratches a spinning CD. Which at the time everyone knew was impossible because CDs don't work like that.

Well not in a regular CD player, but that was a Bat-CD-Player. Those were Bat-Scratches.
posted by straight at 11:02 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Fun fact: Keaton's birth name is Michael Douglas. He changed it to avoid confusion with the talk show host. Or it might have been some other guy who was also big at the time, I'm not sure

SAG rules require that no one can have exactly the same name, and Kirk's kid was obviously in show business from an early age.

Extra fun facts: Keaton was credited as "Michael Douglas" on his first gig, Mr Rodgers' Neighborhood. Also, he only uses "Keaton" professionally, he uses Douglas in his regular life.
posted by sideshow at 11:10 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Mr. Mom was never a great movie, and I'm sure it doesn't hold up. However, I would estimate that I shout "I WAS NEVER IN AISLE 7" at least once a week.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 11:27 AM on June 26 [5 favorites]


Mr. Mom was never a great movie, and I'm sure it doesn't hold up.

"So what's your script about?"

"It's a comedy where a man has to be an actual parent to his children."

"OK and?"

"That's the joke."

"Do you want your money in check or cash?"
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:38 AM on June 26 [6 favorites]


Well, its very much of it's time. But, "220, 221, whatever it takes" is one of the great lines.

We used that line a lot when I was working as a house-painter.

referring to sand-paper grit rather than volts
posted by octothorpe at 11:53 AM on June 26


"So what's your script about?"

"It's a comedy where a man has to be an actual parent to his children."


Look, it was 1983, okay? Teri Garr is always charming, and Martin Mull is in it!
posted by Chrysostom at 11:59 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


Michael Keaton and I share a name. It doesn't seem like it would be hard to spell, but it evidently is. For years I would say "Keaton, like Batman," and people instantly knew how to spell it.

A few years ago we had an intern in our office. She wanted to email me something, so she asked for my email address. "Keaton," I said, "like Batman." She just looked at me. I sighed and spelled it out.

An hour or so later I got an email from her with her question, which was all fine. Then as a PS, she wrote:

"I looked it up. Michael Keaton played Batman! That movie came out two years before I was born. There have been six Batmans since then."

It happens to all of us eventually, but I somehow thought it would be more dignified when it finally happened to me.
posted by zap rowsdower at 12:01 PM on June 26 [30 favorites]


Batman 1989 was not an easy movie to make in that time.

Creatively, things were grim. Superman spent the 1980s being ground down from sublime (II), ridiculous (III), to pathetic (IV). Star Trek traced a similar path from II to V (V came out after Batman but that it was going no place good was no secret). Star Wars was shelved while Lucas waited for better CGI.

Also, the mid-80s were nothing like today in terms of what seems like guaranteed box office for comic book/SciFi product. 1985's top 10 had only 2 (Back to the Future and Cocoon), 1986 ditto (Star Trek IV and Aliens), and 1987 zero of the top 10 (and only 2 of the next 10, Predator and Robocop). (Compare 2017 [9/10], and 2018 [7/10]).

Bottom line losing a bundle of cash while dirtying the brand was a real worry.
posted by MattD at 12:01 PM on June 26 [3 favorites]


"I also like the choice of Keaton, a lot, because (especially with his prior work as Beetlejuice), you get the feeling that he would not have been half bad as the Joker himself."

"It is really the combination of Keaton and Nicholson that makes the movie work. Two men with matching eyebrows."

1989: I was twelve years old when I saw the first trailer and let me tell you I was excited. I also had basically no grasp of names of actors, apparently. There's a scene in the trailer where pre-Joker Jack Napier and his girlfriend Alicia are sitting in front of a mirror as Jack gets ready.
ALICIA: You look fine.
JACK: I didn't ask.

I literally thought that was Michael-Keaton-as-Bruce-Wayne and I was sad and disappointed because Bruce Wayne wouldn't be a jerk like that to his girlfriend, right? He's a Good Guy.

In my defense this was obviously before the days of YouTube where you could watch a trailer endlessly - I probably saw it like one time on television - and also I didn't realize there would be scenes of Joker without makeup but yeah. I thought Michael Keaton was going to play Asshole Bruce Wayne and well it's not like it kept me from seeing the movie and loving it but it sure did leave me confused for a little bit.
posted by komara at 12:17 PM on June 26 [3 favorites]


I do feel like he was an odd choice for Batman considering that he'd not a very good action director.

Without having read the article, IIRC this was another one of the factors in the public consternation around the Keaton/Burton Batman at the time - everyone expected a superhero movie to have a bunch of action, and Burton wasn't known for that. Plus even besides Keaton's previous outings in comedies, he certainly wasn't the jacked-up muscleman Schwarzenegger/Stallone model or the badass Eastwood/Bronson/Gibson/Norris model of action hero that was the standard for the times.
posted by soundguy99 at 12:20 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Batman was also the movie that changed home video. The VHS came out just a few months after the movie was done in theaters, and it was $20. Both of those things were unheard of before this for blockbusters.
posted by azpenguin at 12:55 PM on June 26 [5 favorites]


Burton wasn't known for that.
Burton wasn't known for much of anything yet in 1989 - if you had cable you might have seen his Disney shorts, otherwise it was the Pee-Wee movie, Beetlejuice, and/or his association with Danny Elfman through the former.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:08 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Jeez, yeah. Retail VHS copies of Hollywood movies was like $70 each back in the 80s. Obviously structured to favor the rental model and to supplant loss from inevitable copying. But damn.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:08 PM on June 26 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that I still have my VHS copy of Batman somewhere in the garage.
posted by octothorpe at 1:31 PM on June 26


If I'm being honest, I didn't even actually see Batman 1989 in the movie theater, which came out when I was fourteen. Oh, I had a ticket, and sat down right in front with a big group of friends. But five minutes in, the girls decided we should bail and spend the next two hours playing Spin the Bottle behind the Sears. Which ended up being my first kiss. And second. And third.

It was a little weird not being up to date on the big pop culture moment that movie represented, but having to pretend I was when my folks were around. Eventually I insisted on "seeing it again" so I could get right.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:36 PM on June 26


Burton wasn't known for much of anything yet in 1989 - if you had cable you might have seen his Disney shorts, otherwise it was the Pee-Wee movie, Beetlejuice,

Those two movies made more than $110M between them, in a time when $100M was real money in Hollywood. He was known.
posted by Etrigan at 1:44 PM on June 26 [3 favorites]


I am pretty sure that Batman 1989 was the first VHS tape my family bought that wasn't a blank for recording TV.
posted by mmascolino at 2:05 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Saw the movie on opening night in Hamilton, Ontario (Jackson Square Mall Cinema, if any hammer peeps is out there) when I was in Grade 12. Didn't care about the movie or the character but my Nerd Herd wanted to go. The main thing this did was convince me that I would never care again about waiting in line to see a movie on opening night.

Somewhere in this house there exists a videotape which includes Michael Keaton doing standup on Bud Freedman's Evening at the Improv at least twice. I grew up ADORING Night Shift ("It's okay, the floor broke my fall", "LOVE BROKERS!" etc) and, yes, Mr Mom, which I saw in the theatre at a very formative age. ("Where does mommy keep the extra diapers?","You'll be strung out on bedspreads, Ken", and a line I still use semi regularly. "My brain? Is like OATMEAL.") The movie is a product of its time with a great cast, I am apologetically Canadian in not getting all the hate.

Multiplicity was funny solely because he wore a rubber boot on his head.

SO I spent a looooong time being quietly baffled at Keaton in Serious Roles because it wasnt' the context I grew up with. The shakespeare in particular kind of broke my head at the time. Now of course I totally get it and think he's great.

In summary, it's all a rich tapestry.
posted by hearthpig at 4:22 PM on June 26 [3 favorites]


This discussion reminds me of Eric Bana's career tbh. I know his Hollywood output is all dramatic but back in Australia he was specific kind of comic, practically a doofus.

It does feel fairly self-evident to me at my age, considering comedy is harder to execute than drama that if you have the looks for it or the production talent, a comedian can make a more seamless transition than vice versa (see also Ryan Reynolds and even Jordan Peele). I can't quite recall if we can point to Keaton if that's where that started in a big way.
posted by cendawanita at 4:59 PM on June 26 [2 favorites]


I do want to note that without this movie, we would not have the entire DC Animated Universe that started with Batman: The Animated Series, and for that I am willing to forgive a number of its sins.
posted by mephron at 7:23 PM on June 26 [4 favorites]


Bachelor Party

"Gentlemen, start your boners."
posted by kirkaracha at 7:41 PM on June 26


SO I spent a looooong time being quietly baffled at Keaton in Serious Roles because it wasnt' the context I grew up with. The shakespeare in particular kind of broke my head at the time. Now of course I totally get it and think he's great.

tbf, his part in MAaN is a comic role.

Also, he only uses "Keaton" professionally, he uses Douglas in his regular life.

That's funny. I can imagine a celebrity stalker finding the address for "Michael Douglas" being very confused upon finding Michael Keaton there. "Why is he opening Michael Douglas's mail? And wearing his clothes? He must be stalking Michael Douglas too!"

"Rubber bullets. Honest."
Frank Miller


Which, if fired from a high-powered machine gun, would probably pulverize your fricking face into chunks and goo. You can google images of what rubber bullets fired from normal guns do to people. It's not pretty. According to Batman Wiki, the Batwing in Burton's film had twin M134 Miniguns, which, according to regular Wiki, fire with a muzzle velocity of 853 m/s, which is just slightly less than an AR-15, and about 3x that of a Glock 9mm. I imagine that unless they were seriously downgraded in power, a shot to the head from one of those is almost a guaranteed fatality.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:01 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance) was a pretty fucking excellent film.

Keaton has the chops to do all kinds of things. I've long felt it was a crime we haven't seen him more. Maybe he crossed the wrong person at some point and was shut out? I have no idea. But I've always admired and enjoyed his work, from his early comic days in through his middle years and now that he's found a renaissance of sorts.
posted by hippybear at 9:25 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


I liked Keaton as ATF/FBI agent Ray Nicolette in Jackie Brown and Out of Sight. (Out of Sight is the first movie to feature two actors who have previously played Batman.)
posted by kirkaracha at 9:48 PM on June 26 [5 favorites]


"Hey kid, you like music?"
"Nice frame"
"doesn't even belong in this word really, so let's get rid of that"
posted by bongo_x at 1:48 AM on June 27


Saxon Kane: "Re: Keaton as a comic

I was born in '76; Keaton and Hanks were 2 of my favorite comic actors as a kid growing up. I loved pretty much every one of their projects I'd seen, many of which I was probably too young to see... Night Shift, Mr. Mom, Johnny Dangerously, Gung Ho, Bosom Buddies, Splash, Bachelor Party, The Man with One Red Shoe, Dragnet, The 'Burbs, Nothing in Common, Punchline... memories.
"

My go-to example of what a bar argument was like in the '80s was a big fight my friends and I had over which of those movies had Hanks and which had Keaton. It's the kind of argument that would be over in seconds now with a quick lookup on Wikipedia or IMDB but there was no way to resolve the dispute back then without a trip to the library to find Maltin's Guide or equivalent.
posted by octothorpe at 4:39 AM on June 27


"doesn't even belong in this word really, so let's get rid of that"

what word?
posted by thelonius at 5:03 AM on June 27


Those two movies made more than $110M between them
I don't think our points are contradictory. Hollywood knew who he was, but Burton was still on the rise in 1989 when a whole bunch of people took a chance on the weirdness that became Batman, and if the general public knew his name they knew it from a handful of credits, mainly Beetlejuice. Which was many things, but not an obvious precursor to a superhero movie.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:21 AM on June 27


Fun fact: Keaton's birth name is Michael Douglas. He changed it to avoid confusion with the talk show host. Or it might have been some other guy who was also big at the time, I'm not sure

Even more fun: if you search for “Michael Douglas” on IMDb, Keaton comes up before the guy more commonly known as Michael Douglas. How cool do you have to be to outflank Michael Douglas at being Michael Douglas?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:58 AM on June 27 [3 favorites]


> "I've been coming to see this movie every Saturday, and I'm going to keep coming to see it every Saturday until The Joker wins!"

ಠ_ಠ


Yeah, that pretty much was the look on our faces when 2 pm Matinee Guy said that....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:09 AM on June 27


His ig and I think Twitter is straight up @michaelkeatondouglas. I genuinely don't know if he's worth a follow but there's something about his feed (where he mostly posts photos of newspaper article or TV shows he's literally in the middle of reading/watching without links) that's deeply funny to me. These days he's more pro-upset at media's coverage of Biden tho (???)

Bringing back to this movie, on balance, of the two movie superhero journalists, Vicky Vale had more to do than Lois Lane in their first outing imo but I never could get into VV for a long time because the damsel-y parts felt more egregious (it could just be I forgot much about the first Superman when I watched this Batman, because in my first adult rewatch all the ditzy tropes LL got was annoying me).
posted by cendawanita at 9:17 AM on June 27


Oh, and:

Came away impressed at [Kim Basinger's] intelligence as an actor.

Kim Basinger's career took a bit of a hit and her rep may have suffered as a result of some other incident: she was initially under contract to play the lead in the movie Boxing Helena, a weird mystery/thriller/erotic film by David Lynch's daughter Jennifer. But when she finally saw the script - which is about a doctor who's obsessed with a woman, but also has a fetish for amputation - Basinger said "oh heeeeeeelllllll no" and backed out. The producers sued her for breach of contract and won $9 million in damages, and her attitude was pretty much "yeah, that financial hit sucks, but not as bad as being in that movie would have sucked".

She was already on shaky ground because of a bad real estate investment, and had to lay low for a few years to get her finances in order before she came back with L.A. Confidential. But that may have affected her reputation overall.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:42 AM on June 27 [4 favorites]


But that may have affected her reputation overall.

As being a woman who ever says "No" in Hollywood often does.
posted by Etrigan at 10:01 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]


She was already on shaky ground because of a bad real estate investment

Wasn't that when she bought a town?
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:23 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]


Some of her family had the idea that she could buy up a lot of the privately-owned land in a small town in Georgia and set up movie studios and a film festival and make it something that sounds like this Sundance-Meets-Dollywood thing. But that never materialized and she had to sell a lot of the land back off to pay for the Boxing Helena suit.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:48 AM on June 27 [2 favorites]


....and to bring things back around to Batman, it was probably about the time that Batman was released that she bought the land in the first place the end
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:49 AM on June 27


Saw the movie on opening night in Hamilton, Ontario (Jackson Square Mall Cinema

Yay! I was last there to look at Endgame. For Batman my sweetie and I made a trip into Toronto and saw it at the sadly now-demolished Uptown.

I recall that the streets were full of people sporting Bat-gear -- really, never before or since have I seen that level of embrace of branding. Walking around that afternoon, by chance we ran into my friend Andre who -- ever the iconoclast -- was wearing a shirt with a Superman shield.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:25 PM on June 27 [2 favorites]


is it [Prince on Vale/Bassinger in Batdance] creeping if you're fucking the guy who made the video? Like, seriously, and a lot?
A question further complicated by the fact that Basinger isn't in the video, rather a group of models representing the character Vicky Vale who the song is creeping on.


Which I suppose raises the question of what the chances are that none of the models were fucking Prince.

(Also: if every man in the world is somehow threatened by the #metoo movement, how in the world are there not a boatload of stories about that guy unless he was actually good at consent?)
posted by wildblueyonder at 2:36 PM on June 28


I would totally watch a documentary about late-'80s Kim Basinger, Hollywood litigation, and Braselton, GA.

Also Boxing Helena has both Sherilyn Fenn and Bill Paxton, was shot in the mansion from Driving Miss Daisy, and is in some ways a more ambitious film than anything Tim Burton ever made.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:21 AM on June 29 [1 favorite]


Huh, Jennifer Lynch seems to have a very solid career as an TV director on pretty A-list shows.
posted by octothorpe at 6:32 AM on June 29 [1 favorite]


Boxing Helena is a remarkable film, a fantasia which projects into literal physical manifestation the way a particularly toxic over-caring co-dependent relationship plays out. I've only seen it once, but it left an indelible mark on me, and made me pay attention to things I might be doing in a relationship which I should avoid.

I understand why Basinger didn't want to play the part in the film. But it's really a pretty good film, one I've recommended to others along the years. It's certainly not for everyone, much more art house than mainstream.
posted by hippybear at 8:37 AM on June 30


Bill Paxton's leather pants in Boxing Helena are AMAZING
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:08 PM on July 1


I was pretty young but didn’t Bassinger have a suspiciously sniffly rambling meltdown at the Oscars after Batman?
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:23 PM on July 1


All I’m finding is her speaking out about Spike Lee so I must be mixing her up with someone else who powdered their nose a bit too heavily.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:28 PM on July 1


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