Milking a 50-odd year rivalry, John Gustafson (Lemmon) and Max Goldman (Matthau), for reasons where logic dare not tread, live right next to each other in suburban Minnesota. Their lives hinge on very few things: Their kids, fishing, grandkids, fishing, evading tax collectors, fishing, and going to the bait shop to talk with Charlie (Ossie Davis) about fishing. That is when they aren't being a royal pain in each other's asses.
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The storyline of 1966's Batman offers up the four main villains from the series -- The Joker (Cesar Romero), The Penguin (Burgess Meredith), The Riddler (Frank Gorshin), and Catwoman (Lee Meriwether, subbing for a previously committed Julie Newmar) -- uniting to bring down Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) once and for all. Using a device known as a dehydrator, they kidnap the United World Security Council, determined to use their crime to dismantle the organization and take over the world. With the leaders now turned to dust, our bad-guy-busting duo must save the day, hopefully restoring the assembly before the planet devolves into chaos.
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In hindsight, the first chapter of the rigorous franchise has a healthy leg-up on the rest of the films and feels uniquely homegrown in tone. It's almost basic mythology at this point: Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone at the peak of his durability) works for a two-bit loan shark as freelance muscle while he trains to become a boxer and does amateur bouts for 40 bucks a pop. It's his nickname, The Italian Stallion, which catches the eye of heavyweight champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) when the champ is looking for a gimmick. Creed is more of an entrepreneur than an athlete: When someone calls the gimmick "American," he quips back, "No, it's smart."
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Hawn plays a San Francisco librarian who unwittingly gets wrapped up in a massive conspiracy revolving around the Catholic church and a host of bad guys, including an albino and a dwarf (possibly teaming up these two iconic movie evildoers for the first time in cinema). Chase, after appearing in one early scene, vanishes for the first 45 minutes, returning to reveal himself as a bumbling cop who protects her for the remainder of the film. Together they crack the case, one of the most absurd stories ever put on film.
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Otto Preminger turned his eyes from the legal system (Anatomy of a Murder) to American politics in the underseen and tragically underappreciated Advise and Consent.
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