Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lost Crawford Footage Found!

In the very same Argentinean museum where the original Metropolis footage was recently discovered, another bit of cinematic history was recovered from the abyss of time: the lost Joan Crawford Batman episode.

It is not widely known*, that Crawford, like all great stars of the time, was asked to appear as a nemesis of the Dynamic Duo on the campy Batman television series of the 1960's. In fact, she was to play a new villainess, named Mildred Fierce, in the third season finale of the program, with a young Stephen Spielberg (making his directorial debut) at the helm of the episode.

Unfortunately, after very little was shot, both Crawford and Spielberg were fired by 20th Century Fox, the show's studio, due to budgetary concerns; trade papers of the day blamed Crawford's exorbitant salary demands and Spielberg's insistence of constructing an elaborate set for a single scene set in Gotham City's Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane.

The episode was retooled for Zsa Zsa Gabor and, ironically, ended up being the last show of the series, as it was cancelled soon after. (Crawford, nevertheless impressed with the moxie of the young Spielberg, would work with him again the following year on the pilot episode of Rod Serling's Night Gallery.)

The lone scene shot, which set up the character of Mildred Fierce as she escaped from Arkham, has never been seen by the general public ... until now. Film historians have widely assumed that all prints were destroyed in a mysterious fire in the Fox studio archives in the mid-1970s; how one copy not only survived, but also made its way to Argentina, is unknown.

But now it has been lovingly restored, under the guidance of Spielberg himself, and is now available exclusively for Movie Dearest readers to view online. I know you are all very excited to see this extremely rare footage, so click here and enjoy!

* In fact, it may be entirely made up.

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