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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Another eggs-citing eggs-ploit of the Dynamic Duo.
If ever there was an actor born to play a 'Batman' villain, it had to be Vincent Price. As well as a horror film star, he was also an accomplished light comedian. He was cast as 'Egghead', a smooth-talking criminal genius whose love of eggs matches Auric Goldfinger's fondness for gold. In the preceding instalment - 'An Egg Grows In Gotham' - millionaires Bruce Wayne, Tim Tyler ( Stephen Dunne ) and Pete Savage ( Albert Garrier ) were about to participate in a ceremony conducted once every five years which involves leasing Gotham City from Chief Screaming Chicken ( Edward Everett Horton ). The payment is five raccoon pelts. Egghead has struck a back-door deal with him, putting him in complete charge. The cliffhanger had Egghead about to destroy the brain of Bruce Wayne, having correctly identified him as the Caped Crusader. Robin saved the day by turning up the power, causing the villain's machine to explode.
Egghead's first act is to sack Commissioner Gordon and Mayor Linseed, and outlaw Batman and Robin from the city. Crime escalates in no time at all; a bank manager reporting a robbery is charged with jay walking, a newsreader gets mugged live on air, and Egghead robs the Gotham Treasury.
The adventure ends in a punch-up at Old MacDonalds Chicken Farm, with eggs flying all over the place like bullets. Needless to say, our heroes win out, and Egghead's criminal career is made eggs-tinct. At least until Season 3, when he reappeared in several more episodes, usually in cahoots with the Russian villainness Olga ( Anne Baxter ).
This is wonderful, daft fun, of course, and Price plays Egghead the way you would expect - way over the top. Writer Stanley Ralph Ross went through his thesaurus, making a list of all words beginning with 'ex' or 'ecc' and incorporated them into Egghead's dialogue. The egg theme is even carried over into the names of his henchmen/women - we have 'Miss Bacon' ( Gail Hire ), Benedict ( Gene Dynarski ) and Foo Yong ( Ben Welden ).
The comical native American might be considered offensive now, but you must remember it was a different era.
"The Yegg Foes in Gotham" begins with Bruce Wayne's secret identity about to be revealed to Egghead (Vincent Price), but not before Dick Grayson manages to short circuit the arch villain's brain draining machine (all he could get out of Bruce was sports trivia!). With Gotham City now owned by Edward Everett Horton's Chief Screaming Chicken ("that's the way the wigwam watusis!"), Egghead leases the city and fires Mayor Linseed (Byron Keith, in the third of his 10 appearances) and Commissioner Gordon, allowing crime to run rampant in the streets, Batman and Robin to be shot on sight if they show their faces within city limits. Bruce Wayne resorts to stealing the Gotham City charter to find a clause that will foil Egghead once and for all, that no criminal may be allowed to lease the property, the climactic egg fight scramble taking place at the chicken farm of Burt Mustin's Old MacDonald. Other surprise cameos abound - the Batclimb features comedian Bill Dana as his famous Jose Jimenez character from Steve Allan's variety shows (he asks, as a jury foreman, if the Dynamic Duo can leave the rope!), actress Mae Clarke, best remembered as the moll who gets half a grapefruit from James Cagney in "The Public Enemy," enjoys one her very last roles as a little old lady arrested for littering by unbilled detective Ben Alexander, a regular as Officer Frank Smith on Jack Webb's DRAGNET, repeating his oft used phrase: "just the facts, ma'am!" Even Groucho's regular announcer from YOU BET YOUR LIFE George Fenneman doesn't escape being robbed on the air in his usual newsman capacity. Elder henchman Foo Yung was played by Superman veteran Ben Welden, his final role after nearly 300 credits over a span of four decades, since working with Bela Lugosi in the British "Phantom Ship." The 82 year old Burt Mustin (the single oldest actor to appear on the show) was such a regular fixture on television for decades that his death at age 93 in 1977 must have been quite a shock. Director George Waggner was another nod to classic Hollywood, a triple threat writer/producer/director, at the helm for Lon Chaney's 1941 "The Wolf Man," after both writing and directing "Man Made Monster" earlier that same year. Vincent Price thoroughly enjoyed his tailor made role of Egghead, but unfortunately when the character returned the third season, he was reduced to a cowering simpleton opposite Anne Baxter's Olga, Queen of the Cossacks. Those unworthy vehicles cannot dim the luster of this egg-cellent example of comic camp.
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