The Bat Whispers

1930

Roland West
Director
United Artists
Studio

Master criminal "The Bat" teases and confounds the police while commititng brazen robberies right under their noses, at least until he announces his retirement. Meanwhile strange events at a country estate pile up, suggesting the Bat is still on the prowl.

Enjoyable film that is remarkable for a number of reasons, from its pioneering use of an early form of widescreen (Magnifilm, a 65mm format), to its high degree of technical accomplishment. The mobility of the camera is amazing for such an early talkie, as is its use of miniatures (including slot cars!). The comedic elements haven't stood up as well, though, and the cast is stiff, especially Morris. The influence of serials like Judex and Fantomas, as well as films like Dr. Mabuse, is obvious. Equally so is the influence it must have had on Bob Kane when he created Batman, and which resonates to this day.

A remake of a 1926 film, which was in turn based on a 1920 play. Badly and blandly remade in 1959. Actually filmed twice, once in 35mm and once in 65mm. Thae latter is more often seen, but does not quite have the same impact acting-wise that the 35mm version does. Screencaps here are from the 65mm Magnifilm version.

-Dave W.



13th November 1930
Cinema



83 mins
2.00:1


4th April 1931
Cinema






30th November 1999
DVD



83 mins
2.00:1




"
Chance Ward
Police Lieutenant
Richard Tucker
Mr. Bell
Wilson Benge
The Butler
DeWitt Jennings
Police Captain
Sidney D'Albrook
Police Sergeant
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 M. R. Anderson
Hugh Huntley
Richard Fleming
Charles Dow Clark
Detective W. T. Jones
Ben Bard
The Unknown

Dave Wright: Screencaps & Notes