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The Bat Whispers (1930)

Passed | | Crime, Thriller, Horror | 13 November 1930 (USA)
A master criminal terrorizes the occupants of an isolated country mansion.

Director:

Roland West

Writers:

Mary Roberts Rinehart (based upon a stage play by), Avery Hopwood (based upon a stage play by)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Chance Ward Chance Ward ... Police Lieutenant
Richard Tucker ... Mr. Bell
Wilson Benge Wilson Benge ... The Butler
DeWitt Jennings ... Police Captain
Sidney D'Albrook Sidney D'Albrook ... Police Sergeant
S.E. Jennings S.E. Jennings ... Man in Black Mask
Grayce Hampton ... Miss Cornelia van Gorder
Maude Eburne ... Lizzie Allen
Spencer Charters ... The Caretaker
Una Merkel ... Dale Van Gorder
William Bakewell ... Brook
Gustav von Seyffertitz ... Dr. Venrees
Chester Morris ... Detective Anderson
Hugh Huntley Hugh Huntley ... Richard Fleming
Charles Dow Clark Charles Dow Clark ... Detective Jones
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Storyline

Despite advance warning to the police, who seal off the area, The Bat, a master criminal, steals a necklace from the safe in the house of a rich socialite. He leaves a note saying he is going to the country to give the police a rest. Pausing only to rob a bank at Oakdale, he proceeds to terrorise the occupants of a lonely country mansion, in a mixture of thrills, chills and laughs. At the end, an actor steps forward through a proscenium arch and asks the viewers not to reveal the Bat's identity to their friends. A film noir shot in black and white, mainly at night in dimly lit scenes. Written by Michael Crew <m.crew@bbcnc.org.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Look out! The arch criminal is here!


Certificate:

Passed
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 November 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Roland West's The Bat Whispers See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was first telecast on New York City's pioneer television station W2XBS Saturday 4 May 1940. It is one of over 200 titles in the list of independent feature films made available for television presentation by Advance Television Pictures announced in Motion Picture Herald 4 April 1942. At this time, television broadcasting was in its infancy, almost totally curtailed by the advent of World War II, and would not continue to develop until 1945-1946. See more »

Goofs

When Lizzie screams after seeing "The Bat" coming in through the window and going up the stairs, Cornelia enters the room and turns the light switch - but the lights don't come on until she's a couple steps into the room. See more »

Quotes

Brook: He's coming! The Bat is coming down the stairs!
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the film an actor comes onto a movie house stage and implores the audience to withhold the identity of the bat from family and friends so they can also enjoy the movie. See more »

Alternate Versions

This film was shot in two versions with a different director of photography for each. One is in standard 35mm and the other in an early 65mm process. The 65mm version is considered "stagebound" (it was actually based on a popular play) while the 35mm version is considered more "cinematic". Prints of both versions still exist. See more »

Connections

Featured in Cinemassacre's Monster Madness: The Monster (2015) See more »

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User Reviews

Surprisingly scary early talkie with flowing camera movements...
21 May 2001 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

No doubt about it, the silent screen acting technique is still present in this early talkie. Everyone behaves as though they had a case of first night stage jitters--and the supposedly comic moments are painfully obvious and tainted with smokehouse ham.

But aside from the theatrics of some of the cast, this is an entertaining and truly spooky old dark house kind of comedy-mystery that was so popular during the '30s and '40s. What is most amazing is the fluidity of the camerawork through the innovative use of miniatures and the camera's ability to zoom forward and slink along the exteriors of an old mansion like a prowling cat. It is worth seeing alone for the atmospheric sets and photography, especially considering that this was filmed in 1930 when sound itself was only two years old.

Only Chester Morris among the performers delivers a really credible performance acceptable by today's standards of acting. The others are way over the top--including Una Merkel and just about all of the supporting players with the exception of William Bakewell.

If you're a fan of Mary Roberts Rinehart stories, you'll enjoy this version of her successful play. It's far superior to the later remake with Vincent Price. Be sure to see this in the newly released Wide Screen Version. It's a pristine transfer from the restoration by the UCLA Film and Television Archive.


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