Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Batscholar on Episodes 53 & 54


By Joel Eisner

George Sanders was supposed to return as Mr. Freeze, but due to other commitments was unable to return in time for the filming of this episode, so Otto Preminger was selected to take over the role. (When Otto was unavailable to return for the next Mr. Freeze episode, Eli Wallach assayed the role of the frozen fiend.)

Producer William Dozier, “Otto I had known for a long time, and he called me from New York and said, ‘Bill, I must do a “Batman.” If I don’t do a “Batman,” my children won’t let me come home.’ He hadn’t acted in seventeen years, since ‘Watch on the Rhine’ on Broadway. He complained about the money but the guest villains all got the same amount of money: twenty-five hundred dollars. That’s what they got, period.” He complained because the Screen Actors Guild found out about this, and ordered that none of their members were to work for Preminger unless he paid the SAG dues for his appearance in Batman, and various other monies he owed them dating back to his acting career. As a result, Preminger ended up $7,600 out of pocket from his turn as Mr. Freeze.

Due to the cost of the red/blue opticial overlays used in the George Sanders episodes, and the problems with the dome helmet Sanders wore, It was changed to the now familari freeze collar, which kept him cool put did not have the drawbacks of the helmet, plus it enabled them to use Preminger's trademarked bald head to their advantage, complete with full white/blue makeup and colorful eyebrows.

Makeup Artist Bruce Hutchinson: “Preminger wanted bright red downy looking eyebrows on the character, which the producers approved of. Otto Preminger was very good, a very nice man. As an actor, he couldn’t have been more gracious. He was very cooperative and very enthused with what we were doing.”

He may have been the only one who thought Preminger was a nice man. Everyone else had their own opinions.

Alan Napier “I had worked before ‘Batman’ with Awful Otto Preminger on the film ‘Forever Amber’ as the English expert and dialogue director. Otto got me mad because, if anyone dried up on a close-up, he would say, ‘Why don’t you concentrate?’ Then he comes on the set of ‘Batman.’ Instead of looking six foot tall, as I thought, he looks five foot tall, because it is now my territory and he is playing Mr. Freeze. It happens that I was on the set while he was doing a series of close-ups. And in every one of them Otto dried up, and it was only because of the gentleman built into my nature that I didn’t say, ‘Otto, why don’t you concentrate?’

Adam West, “Mr. Freeze was out cold on the floor and Batman was supposed to run in and pick him up. In most cases an unconscious actor will help the person trying to pick him or her up. They’ll go with that person move the shoulders, bend at the waist, and do something. Not Otto. When I ran to pick him up, he stiffened like a sand bag and literally dug his nails into the floor. I couldn’t lift two hundred pounds of resisting weight. I dropped him down and we tried again. Same thing, on the next take my foot accidentally stepped on his hand. He yelled but he got the message and we were able to continue.”

Dialogue Coach Milton Stark: “When we ran over time, the director would decide what to cut. I told Preminger we have to cut some of his speeches. ‘You’re taking out my best lines’ he said. I started to laugh. He asked, ‘What are you laughing about?’ I said, ‘How many times have actors said that to you?’ He laughed and said, ‘By God, it’s true, you know.’”

Otto Preminger was part actor and part director. He spent most of his career in Hollywood playing villains and most of them were Nazis, which I am sure did not sit well with the Jewish Preminger. His most well known Nazi was the commander in the film Stalag 17 (which was the basis for the Hogan's Heroes tv series). He played Mr Freeze the same way, but not as subdued. Of the three Mr Freeze episodes, I have a special place for this one. Sanders was too subdued, more like an old James Bond villains. Eli Wallach which gave the character an almost cute nutty German professor, type that you found in old movie serials and three stooges films. Otto, in my opinion, gave a performance that copied if not resembled Bela Lugosi, in the film The Devil Bat. The voice, the laugh, the manical Wild, Batman, Wild! This was Lugosi reborn, and being a Lugosi fan, was like Lugosimania.


Actor Otto Preminger: “My last appearance on the screen was as Mr. Freeze in Batman. Now, I have twins, who used to watch Batman every Wednesday and Thursday on television and the producer of Batman, Bill Dozier, was a friend of mine. When he said to me, ‘Why don’t you play one of the heavies? ‘ (which I normally would never have done) “Play Mr. Freeze in Batman!“ I said it would be a wonderful surprise and wonderful to watch my children when they turn on this program and suddenly see me there. And it was wonderful and they became very famous in school, and I must tell you, there was really something very funny in connection with this. They went to a French school in New York, because we travel a lot and this school has branches everywhere in the world, in London, in Paris, in Los Angeles, in Rome, and there are very many children of ambassadors to the United Nations there, and one of their friends called Boday was an African boy, whose father was an ambassador from Guinea or some place.. When my children spread the word in school about me playing Mr. Freeze in Batman, Boday told them, “My father is standing by, and as soon as a part is available, he will also be in Batman.”

Besides the costume being redone, the freeze rifle was also done over, actually it was a redone version of a rifle used on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Lost in Space. Only know it was just a freeze gun, no more lasers. Either the optics were too expensive or it was considered a little too violent. or Both. Either way it was now just a fancy fire extinguisher in a gun. If you look closely in the photo you can see the batteries (just above the blue gun stock) that allowed the gun to light up when used.

Besides fighting with the cast, Otto the director had a fight with series director George WaGGner. Waggner (who only used the GG when he worked on Batman) went back a lot further than Preminger. He directed a number of classic films including the 1941 Lon Chaney film The Wolfman.

Director of Photography Howard Schwartz: “We had an old-time director by the name of George WaGGner, who used to remind everybody that you spelled his name with two capital Gs, and he was directing the show that Otto Preminger did. Otto was a pretty fair director in his own right. So, he and George discussed how he was going to play a scene, and he didn’t like the way George had decided to do it. So, he said, ‘George, I have been in the business so many years, and I have never seen it done like this.’ George turned to him and said, ‘Well, Otto, now you have.’ That stopped him and turned him right off.”

Other problems occured on the set according to Burt Ward "The special effects men didn’t take enough precautions with the explosions. I was hurt several times, and had to be taken to the hospital. On this Mr. Freeze episode, I sensed that a particular charge was going to be highly dangerous. I closed my eyes just in time for the cue for the explosion. It’s a good thing I did, because I was knocked down by the impact. Instead of going up, the explosion blew outwards. I had second and third degree burns on my face and arms. I was rushed to the hospital, and the doctor said that if my eyes had been open, I would have been blind”

“Afterwards, I naturally became cautious whenever there were any special effects explosions. I didn’t have the kind of cowl Adam had, to protect me from burns. I only wore a little mask, which meant I often had to be used in the close shots with the explosions because it was more difficult to double me with a stuntman. So, I asked questions about the explosions. I wanted to know where the charges were, and in which direction they would go off. I wasn’t trying to be a Prima Donna—I was concerned for my safety.”


The part of Miss Iceland was played by Dee Hartford, who had been working on Lost in Space as the android Verda. Hartford (whose real name was Donna Higgins) was the sister of Eden Hartford, the wife of Groucho Marx, she was also the ex-wife of producer Howard Hawks. Her acting career such as it was ended after a number of appearances on Irwin Allen shows (her first was in the Allen produced Groucho film A Girl in Every Port), She later opened an art gallery.

Of the two main henchman Kem Dibbs as Chill was a bit player who worked mostly in tv westerns. Nicky Blair was more famous for the number of Hollywood restaurants he had on Sunset Blvd, which catered to the Hollywood elite. Many times he played himself in many films including Rocky V and the Godfather pt 3. Marie Windsor often played in low budget films and tv shows playing a tough woman or schemer. She was the female villain in Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy.

In the last episode we had a number of game show hosts, in cameo roles. In this episode Charlie O'Donnell who appeared as the TV Newsman, spent the last 25 years of his life as the announcer on the Wheel of Fortune tv series.


Next the Joker returns for his first 2nd season adventure.

8 comments:

  1. "Preminger ended up $7,600 out of pocket from his turn as Mr. Freeze." Sounds like he deserved every penny of that.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I guess I will do this, just once. It is how I reply to emails. I hope you like it!


    George Sanders was supposed to return as Mr. Freeze, but due to other commitments was unable to return in time for the filming of this episode, so Otto Preminger was selected to take over the role.

    >>>This seems to happen a lot on Batman. Are schedules so chaotic and haphazard in Hollywood that actors miss out on good roles and great opportunities with such regularity?

    (When Otto was unavailable to return for the next Mr. Freeze episode, Eli Wallach assayed the role of the frozen fiend.)

    >>>Not sure why this is in parenthesis. Or what it has to do with this particular episode.


    Producer William Dozier, “Otto I had known for a long time, and he called me from New York and said, ‘Bill, I must do a “Batman.” If I don’t do a “Batman,” my children won’t let me come home.’

    >>>The correct use of a colon, instead of a comma after the word "Dozier" would have made this confusing sentence easier to unravel.

    He hadn’t acted in seventeen years, since ‘Watch on the Rhine’ on Broadway.

    >>>So the style guide says that TV shows get put inside quotation marks, while Broadway shows get put inside apostrophes? That's probably not the case, is it?


    He complained about the money but the guest villains all got the same amount of money: twenty-five hundred dollars. That’s what they got, period.” He complained because the Screen Actors Guild found out about this, and ordered that none of their members were to work for Preminger unless he paid the SAG dues for his appearance in Batman, and various other monies he owed them dating back to his acting career. As a result, Preminger ended up $7,600 out of pocket from his turn as Mr. Freeze.

    >>>That is such an interesting fact! He must have really wanted to be in the show if he was willing to take such a financial loss. I love reading details such as these!


    Due to the cost of the red/blue opticial overlays used in the George Sanders episodes, and the problems with the dome helmet Sanders wore, It was changed to the now familari freeze collar, which kept him cool put did not have the drawbacks of the helmet, plus it enabled them to use Preminger's trademarked bald head to their advantage, complete with full white/blue makeup and colorful eyebrows.

    >>> I am loving the random capitalization of the word "It", the use of the Italian "familari" and something about "cool put". The Joker has white makeup and colorful eyebrows, but not a bald head. How was Preminger's used to their advantage?


    Makeup Artist Bruce Hutchinson: “Preminger wanted bright red downy looking eyebrows on the character, which the producers approved of.

    >>> I am sure they did that by not ending their sentence with a preposition. And if they did indeed approve of bright red, why did they end up being orange?

    Otto Preminger was very good, a very nice man. As an actor, he couldn’t have been more gracious. He was very cooperative and very enthused with what we were doing.”

    >>>That enthusiasm comes across in his performance. I really loved his take on Mr. Freeze.


    He may have been the only one who thought Preminger was a nice man. Everyone else had their own opinions.

    >>> What does that mean? That the makeup artist was not expressing his own opinion? Did you mean to say that everyone else had a different opinion?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Continuing...


    Alan Napier “I had worked before ‘Batman’ with Awful Otto Preminger on the film ‘Forever Amber’ as the English expert and dialogue director. Otto got me mad because, if anyone dried up on a close-up, he would say, ‘Why don’t you concentrate?’ Then he comes on the set of ‘Batman.’ Instead of looking six foot tall, as I thought, he looks five foot tall, because it is now my territory and he is playing Mr. Freeze. It happens that I was on the set while he was doing a series of close-ups. And in every one of them Otto dried up, and it was only because of the gentleman built into my nature that I didn’t say, ‘Otto, why don’t you concentrate?’

    >>> Seems ungentlemanly to me that Napier would make these snide comments. He has no scenes in this episode with Otto, and seems to dislike him based on an earlier work experience, and not for how he may or may not have behaved while filming "Batman".

    Proper punctuation would have made this passage easier to read.


    Adam West, “Mr. Freeze was out cold on the floor and Batman was supposed to run in and pick him up. In most cases an unconscious actor will help the person trying to pick him or her up. They’ll go with that person move the shoulders, bend at the waist, and do something. Not Otto. When I ran to pick him up, he stiffened like a sand bag and literally dug his nails into the floor. I couldn’t lift two hundred pounds of resisting weight. I dropped him down and we tried again. Same thing, on the next take my foot accidentally stepped on his hand. He yelled but he got the message and we were able to continue.”

    >>> Is this how Otto earned his reputation as being difficult to work with on the set of "Batman"? Because the director did not step in after the first take and coach Preminger on how to act when unconscious? West's comments imply that Otto was doing it on purpose, but maybe he never had to play dead before. They also imply that he stepped on Preminger's hand in order to send a message, and not accidentally. So who was really being the difficult actor, in this case?

    Dialogue Coach Milton Stark: “When we ran over time, the director would decide what to cut. I told Preminger we have to cut some of his speeches. ‘You’re taking out my best lines’ he said. I started to laugh. He asked, ‘What are you laughing about?’ I said, ‘How many times have actors said that to you?’ He laughed and said, ‘By God, it’s true, you know.’”

    >>> Great story, and certainly portrays Preminger in a genial light.

    You certainly are showing the infinite possibilities when the rules of grammar are ignored.

    Otto Preminger was part actor and part director. He spent most of his career in Hollywood playing villains and most of them were Nazis, which I am sure did not sit well with the Jewish Preminger.

    >>> Because he would have preferred to have portrayed the Nazis as heroes.

    Because he would have preferred to work alongside actual Nazis.

    What you are saying is that you believe it bothered Preminger to portray Nazis, as he was Jewish. That's not giving him much credit for being able to assay a role (I stole that from you!) regardless of the nationality, race or politics of the character.


    His most well known Nazi was the commander in the film Stalag 17 (which was the basis for the Hogan's Heroes tv series). He played Mr Freeze the same way, but not as subdued.

    >>> So you are sure that Preminger did not like playing Nazis, but then chose to portray Mr. Freeze as a Nazi? That is illogical.

    Did you notice the way I spell "Mr."? With a period at the end?

    ReplyDelete
  4. More...

    Of the three Mr Freeze episodes, I have a special place for this one.

    >>>Really? Do you mean you have a special place in your heart for this one, since your really liked it, or perhaps a special place in Hell for it, like the two guys on this website that gave it such a poor review?

    Sanders was too subdued, more like an old James Bond villains.

    "An" indicates singular, whereas "villians" indicates more than one. You type this like you don't give two figs for how it will read.


    Eli Wallach which gave the character an almost cute nutty German professor, type that you found in old movie serials and three stooges films.

    >>> Since Eli Wallach is a person, not a thing, you need to use "who" and not "which". And this sentence has no predicate, thanks to the way you bungled it.


    Otto, in my opinion, gave a performance that copied if not resembled Bela Lugosi, in the film The Devil Bat.

    >>> When using the comparative "if not", you always move from the weaker to the stronger. This sentence should say that he "resembled, if not copied Bela Lugosi".

    I would have loved to have seen the title of the motion picture inside of quotation marks.


    The voice, the laugh, the manical Wild, Batman, Wild! This was Lugosi reborn, and being a Lugosi fan, was like Lugosimania.

    >>> Mr. Freeze's quotes ought to be inside


    ...wait for it...


    quotation marks!


    Actor Otto Preminger: “My last appearance on the screen was as Mr. Freeze in Batman. Now, I have twins, who used to watch Batman every Wednesday and Thursday on television and the producer of Batman, Bill Dozier, was a friend of mine. When he said to me, ‘Why don’t you play one of the heavies? ‘ (which I normally would never have done) “Play Mr. Freeze in Batman!“ I said it would be a wonderful surprise and wonderful to watch my children when they turn on this program and suddenly see me there. And it was wonderful and they became very famous in school, and I must tell you, there was really something very funny in connection with this. They went to a French school in New York, because we travel a lot and this school has branches everywhere in the world, in London, in Paris, in Los Angeles, in Rome, and there are very many children of ambassadors to the United Nations there, and one of their friends called Boday was an African boy, whose father was an ambassador from Guinea or some place.. When my children spread the word in school about me playing Mr. Freeze in Batman, Boday told them, “My father is standing by, and as soon as a part is available, he will also be in Batman.”

    >>>What a great story! That is just how kids behave! I really enjoyed reading that.

    It does create a conflict with what you wrote earlier about Preminger nearly always playing villains, and this quote where he says it is something he would not normally do.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Besides the costume being redone, the freeze rifle was also done over, actually it was a redone version of a rifle used on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Lost in Space. Only know it was just a freeze gun, no more lasers. Either the optics were too expensive or it was considered a little too violent. or Both. Either way it was now just a fancy fire extinguisher in a gun. If you look closely in the photo you can see the batteries (just above the blue gun stock) that allowed the gun to light up when used.

    >>> Too many grammatical errors in this paragraph to cite. So I'll just pick on your random opinion about why the freeze gun was changed, or modified, or updated, or redesigned, or anything other than "redone", which you managed to use 3 times in one sentence. Ugh!

    If it was now "just a freeze gun. No more lasers." then how do you account for the glowing effect it has on the police officer at Aunt Harriet's party? And if adding the laser effect was too costly, why would they go for that glowing green effect at all? Just dust him with fake snow, like they did Gordon and O'Hara at the beginning of the episode!

    (Note to those who watch this on The Hub channel: right after the officer is show glowing green, they gut to commercial, starting with a picture of Batman, who is outlined in a similar frozen green! Kind of a happy accident!!!)

    Besides fighting with the cast,

    >>> Which we have yet to hear about...


    Otto the director had a fight with series director George WaGGner. Waggner (who only used the GG when he worked on Batman)

    >>>While we're pointing this out, it is "george waGGner" when he works on "Batman", not "George WaGGner". You blew it again!

    went back a lot further than Preminger. He directed a number of classic films including the 1941 Lon Chaney film The Wolfman.

    Director of Photography Howard Schwartz: “We had an old-time director by the name of George WaGGner, who used to remind everybody that you spelled his name with two capital Gs, and he was directing the show that Otto Preminger did. Otto was a pretty fair director in his own right. So, he and George discussed how he was going to play a scene, and he didn’t like the way George had decided to do it. So, he said, ‘George, I have been in the business so many years, and I have never seen it done like this.’ George turned to him and said, ‘Well, Otto, now you have.’ That stopped him and turned him right off.”

    >>> For those taking notes, it is waGGner being the prick here, not Preminger.

    Needless to say, I am not drinking the Kool-Aid you are serving up, since all of it seems to be *somebody's* invention, and not supported by any facts.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Other problems occured on the set according to Burt Ward "The special effects men didn’t take enough precautions with the explosions. I was hurt several times, and had to be taken to the hospital. On this Mr. Freeze episode, I sensed that a particular charge was going to be highly dangerous. I closed my eyes just in time for the cue for the explosion. It’s a good thing I did, because I was knocked down by the impact. Instead of going up, the explosion blew outwards. I had second and third degree burns on my face and arms. I was rushed to the hospital, and the doctor said that if my eyes had been open, I would have been blind”

    >>> Having just watched the episode, I think this is where Batman blows Gordon's door with the plastic explosive. One charge was right at eye level for Robin, so the potential for injury was very real.


    “Afterwards, I naturally became cautious whenever there were any special effects explosions. I didn’t have the kind of cowl Adam had, to protect me from burns. I only wore a little mask, which meant I often had to be used in the close shots with the explosions because it was more difficult to double me with a stuntman. So, I asked questions about the explosions. I wanted to know where the charges were, and in which direction they would go off. I wasn’t trying to be a Prima Donna—I was concerned for my safety.”


    The part of Miss Iceland was played by Dee Hartford, who had been working on Lost in Space as the android Verda.

    >>>"Handsome, pretty, handsome! Dr. Smith!" She was great!

    Hartford (whose real name was Donna Higgins) was the sister of Eden Hartford, the wife of Groucho Marx,

    >>> A period at the end of this sentence would have been nice. So, both sisters changed their real last name (Higgins) to the same last stage name "Hartford"? Did the Gabor sisters do that?


    she was also the ex-wife of producer Howard Hawks. Her acting career such as it was ended after a number of appearances on Irwin Allen shows (her first was in the Allen produced Groucho film A Girl in Every Port), She later opened an art gallery.

    >>> A capital letter after a comma? Priceless!


    Of the two main henchman Kem Dibbs as Chill was a bit player who worked mostly in tv westerns. Nicky Blair was more famous for the number of Hollywood restaurants he had on Sunset Blvd, which catered to the Hollywood elite.

    >>> If you read the "Review" of this episode by the two guys who hate "Batman", you are lead to believe that it is West's and Ward's stunt doubles. Don't those guys bother to read what you write? Should I?

    Many times he played himself in many films

    >>> Surely you can see how ridiculous this phrase sounds!

    including Rocky V and the Godfather pt 3.

    >>> Is that true? The "Rocky" movies used Roman numerals, while the "Godfather" ones used Arabic numbers? Fascinating!!!



    Marie Windsor often played in low budget films and tv shows playing a tough woman or schemer. She was the female villain in Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy.

    >>> Very interesting. Why do you bring her up? Was she in this episode of "Batman"?

    In the last episode we had a number of game show hosts, in cameo roles. In this episode Charlie O'Donnell who appeared as the TV Newsman, spent the last 25 years of his life as the announcer on the Wheel of Fortune tv series.

    >>>Another cool fact!

    Next the Joker returns for his first 2nd season adventure.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Preminger and Sanders were the two best actors as Mr. Freeze. Eli Wallach looked more like Jack Frost in a spacesuit than a tormented, cold-hearted villain.

    There are two scenes from part one that stand out for me. The first is when Mr. Freeze begins to turn Commissioner Gordon's office into the inside of the refrigerator as the latter is calling Batman. Alfred answers the phone as Gordon is shivering for help. The butler dryly responds, "Naturally, sir" just as Bruce and Dick enter the study.

    The other is Freeze's taunt of Batman in the Frosty Freezies fatory after Robin reads off all the flavors: "Take your pick, Boy Wonder. Have you been reading the papers, Batman; have you read the stories? The public is fickle. You are no longer the great crimefighter. Now you'll know what it's like to be hated, hated like me. WILD!" (I'm paraphrasing.) Preminger's delivery in this scene builds nicely into the BatFight.

    ReplyDelete
  8. george waGGner also worked on the TV series
    "The Veil".He spelt his name with all lower case letters and the double capital G on that show as well.

    ReplyDelete