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"Batman" Zelda the Great (1966)

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Anne Baxter and Jack Kruschen

Author: kevin olzak ( from Youngstown, Ohio
8 May 2016

"Zelda the Great" introduces Anne Baxter as the show's first female villain, a master illusionist who calls herself Zelda the Great, all of her magic tricks supplied by Albanian Eivol Ekdal (Jack Kruschen), at a very high price, $100,000 to be exact. We open inside a bank vault where the disguised assailant makes off with that same amount, the guard unable to stop him because bullets have no effect on the criminal. One of the bullets leads Batman to conclude that the thief was a woman, but without any leads decides to create one by planting a false newspaper story informing the crooks that the stolen money was counterfeit. This irks the greedy Ekdal, who has promised to show Zelda his latest creation, 'an indestructible doom trap,' seemingly inescapable, but not until she can come up with another 100 grand to save her failing act. The phony emerald planted in the salon of Hilary Stonewin (Barbara Heller) is quickly thrown away by Zelda, proving to Batman that she correctly smelled a trap, instead kidnapping none other than Dick Grayson's Aunt Harriet (Madge Blake) for a ransom of $100,000. Best remembered for "All About Eve" and "The Ten Commandments," the smolderingly sexy Baxter makes for a fun loving yet reluctant criminal, eager to display her prowess to taunt and befuddle the Dynamic Duo (after this two parter, she would return the third season as a new villainess, Olga, Queen of the Cossacks, opposite Vincent Price as Egghead). Watch for a cameo from longtime Hollywood veteran Frankie Darro as the newsman who reads about the counterfeit cash.

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Great Escape Artist

Author: getyourdander from United States
28 December 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In this one, the script is pretty good considering the first woman criminal is on the series. The bad ones are Zelda The Great and her henchman played by Anne Baxter and Jack Kruschen. Kruschen is an interesting character actor who appeared in a lot of roles, most notably in The Apartment, McClintock, and Cape Fear. Eviol Ekdal as his character is known, and Zelda steal $100,000 cash to start off the episode.

Batman seems a little different here, as he plants a phony article in the newspaper that the money is phony. Angry, Zelda and Eviol attempt to steal a special jewel that Batman has planted a homing device in from a jewelry store. It turns out that they figure out Batman's ruse after the robbery and leave the phony stone in the street.

Then Zelda makes a phony call to Wayne Mansion and kidnaps Aunt Harriett. She gives the dynamic duo 1 hour to rescue the kidnapped woman of Wayne Manor.

Stay Tuned tomorrow, same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel.

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Batman - Zelda, the Great

Author: Scarecrow-88 from United States
25 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Anne Baxter of All About Eve stars as a famous female magician (marketing herself as better than Houdini!) turned bank robber, Zelda the Great, joining forces with a "mad Albanian", Eivol Ekdal (Jack Kruschen) as they continue to build protective gear and escape traps in order to steal and thwart the authorities. So Batman and Robin are called in by Commissioner Gordon to help his police department catch the culprit behind $100,000 (not any more than this, leaving behind millions more) stolen from each bank, as his law enforcement have been unable to secure even a single clue as to who is responsible. Batman deduces a gem—no literally a gem—as a lure to catch Zelda, but instead a "trap with mirrors" (a mocking of the Caped Crusaders) tricks the crimefighters, and instead she kidnaps their beloved Aunt Harriet (Madge Blake), threatening to "boil her in oil". That's how the first episode concludes. The sight of a strait-jacketed Aunt Harriet, blind folded, hanging over a flaming giant pot of oil is hilarious. Baxter is a doll, but her acting style has always been that slinky voice, use of her eyes for expressing what she feels, and an elegant walk and talk. She seems like an odd choice for a series accustomed to campy delivery and overexpression. Kruschen, however, is perfect as the diabolical inventor of "getaway" disguises and traps. He is comfortable as a criminal mastermind while Zelda is less so. There is a nice nod to Baxter's acting style, maybe even her character in All About Eve (the art of deception to get what she wants), regarding "fake tears" that is especially well done at the end of the second part of this story arc.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

One of the very best

Author: tforbes-2 from Massachusetts, USA
7 March 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Not everyone likes this episode, but "Zelda the Great" and "A Death Worse Than Fate" are among the very best of the entire 1966 "Batman" series. Unlike most episodes, there is no Bat fight, and we have a villain who is actually reluctant to do what she is doing.

What makes this an outstanding outing is the fact that this is not a standard typical "Batman" episode. First, this is a case where we really see Batman as The Great Detective, piecing together evidence. And then, we have a wonderful human element that is sorely missing in later episodes. There is a lot of heart in this episode, and the cliffhanger is also unusual.

And then there is Anne Baxter.

The first notable female villain in the series, Ms. Baxter shines in this episode, better here than her 1967 outings as Olga, Queen of the Cossacks. She made an impression on this viewer as a 6-year-old in 1966. Though in her early 40s, she was as gorgeous as ever.

Jack Kruschen also fares well as Eivol Ekdol, as do other cast members.

And interestingly, in this first part, we have the first reference to Catwoman, who had been absent from the comics since 1954. She would appear in the the following month, and then in the comics later in 1966.

I rate the Zelda episodes a 10/10, because they are so refreshingly different, and because they showcase Batman as a detective. Had the series varied its stories more, I think it could have enjoyed a longer run. While the show pilot is my all-time favourite, this episode ranks awfully close.

Check it out, if you can!

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