Batman Returns, the 1992 Tim Burton film, features a memorable scene with an evil poodle doing the Penguin’s bidding. The story finds the caped crusader facing off against the Penguin and his side-show-themed gang. One member of this gang carries a little pooch dubbed “Ratty Poodle.”
The poodle becomes a surprisingly formidable foe in Batman Returns. She’s maybe even the MVP of the Penguin’s gang. She effortlessly catches his self-operating Batarang, which is then weaponized to incriminate him for the murder of the Ice Princess. In another scene, she uses a hand grenade to destroy a storefront.
However, the Batman Returns poodle is actually named Darla, and she has several credits in high-profile films. Her outing facing off against the Dark Knight is her final film role. She was reportedly as old as 17 when she filmed the part but was still spry.
Darla’s first notable appearance was in another Tim Burton film, 1985’s Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. She’s credited there as credited as “Pink Poodle.” Of course, she played key roles in two other iconic films for major directors.
Darla Had a More Sympathetic Role in an Oscar Winning Film
Perhaps Darla’s most well-known part is as Precious in 1991’s Silence of the Lambs. Jonathan Demme’s Oscar-winning film is stacked with unforgettable performances. Anthony Hopkins’ became a cultural phenomenon as Hannibal, while Jodie Foster proved she was a leading lady as Clarice Starling. Brooke Smith’s kidnap victim Catherine Martin also gave a haunting performance. Meanwhile, serial killer Buffalo Bill is played by a very game Ted Levine.
Of course, Darla shares most of her scenes with Levine as Buffalo Bill. Poor Precious is innocent of all of the serial killer shenanigans her owner is up to. However, her character eventually becomes instrumental in a plot to help Bill’s captive escape.
The ‘Batman Returns’ Poodle Took Another Evil Turn In ‘The Burbs’
Of course, Darla really excelled at playing antagonists. She worked with Gremlins director Joe Dante in the 1989 dark comedy, The ‘Burbs. In the film, Carrie Fisher and Tom Hanks play a married couple on the brink of uncovering a malevolent conspiracy within their quaint suburban community. Darla plays Queenie, a neighbor’s dog that is the bane of Hanks’ existence. It seems her owner has trained her to gleefully take her morning constitutional in Hanks’ yard.
Darla snagged a couple of high-profile TV roles around this era. She appeared on the Craig T. Nelson sitcom Coach. She also reteamed with Joe Dante for an episode of his oddball kid’s show, Eerie, Indiana.
Regrettably, Darla, the poodle passed away in 1992 at 17 years old, shortly after the release of Batman Returns. However, her legacy lives on in these memorable 80s and 90s film appearances.
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