Friday Hideaway Film Fest: Batman

The Dark Knight Rises flickers onto cineplex screens across America today.  This weekend, HERC is in one of the few areas of this great country of ours where movie theaters do not exist so he won't be seeing the film until later.  But to celebrate the film's release in the Hideaway Way, we're featuring 1989's Batman on today's Friday Film Fest.

Batman was cool, The Joker was a good villain (he would be taken to the max by Heath Ledger later) and Tim Burton brought his own brand of dark mayhem to the project.  HERC went back and saw the movie two more times before it left the theaters.  When it came out on VHS, HERC again stood in line, waiting for the store to open so he could own a copy.  Eventually, the franchise was driven into the ground and after four films, put on a shelf.

Chris Nolan rebooted Batman with the title that says it all: Batman Begins.  He gave us a detailed, gritty back story and set the stage for The Dark Knight which remains one of HERC's favorite movies of all time.  Christian Bale's portrayal of the Caped Crusader is conflicted, understated and deeply layered and the late Mr. Ledger's fearlessly unhinged performance as The Joker was rightfully awarded an Oscar.  The film should have won an Oscar as Best Picture but wasn't even a nominee but that's water under the Arkham Asylum now.

There are two stories that HERC has read as to how Prince became involved in the Batman project: 1) Burton was a fan and used older Prince songs while filming certain scenes and Warner Brothers executives saw and heard this in the dailies and reached out to Prince's management and 2) executives saw The Joker's purple jacket and thought of Prince and reached out to his management.  Either way, Prince was given an early cut of the film and he holed up in his studio for six weeks and came back with more than enough music for an entire album.

"Batdance" was not featured in the film yet went to Number One for a week anyway.  Legend has it that the track was a last minute replacement for the still officially unreleased "Dance With The Devil" which Prince had deemed too dark. 

The soundtrack sold millions.  A collectible "Bat-tin" version of the soundtrack (above) was released as well.  The record label spun off four more singles from the album in various configurations: 7" and 12" vinyl, cassingles as well as multiple 3" and 5" CDs in several countries.  HERC gobbled them up as if they were mana.  (Well, not the yucky cassingles.)  None of the album's tracks have been featured on any Prince hits compilation due to restrictive franchise rights although several of the non-album b-sides have appeared.

Although it got lots of plays back in the Summer of 1989, Batman is now one of the least listened to Prince albums in HERC's library although "Batdance" pops up occasionally while listening on shuffle play.  To round out the playlist below, HERC included Elfman's music, too.

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