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The Bat (1926)

6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 448 users  
Reviews: 24 user | 8 critic

A masked criminal who dresses like a giant bat terrorizes the guests at an old house rented by a mystery writer.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
George Beranger ...
Charles Herzinger ...
Courleigh Fleming
Emily Fitzroy ...
...
Arthur Housman ...
Richard Fleming (as Arthur Houseman)
Robert McKim ...
Jack Pickford ...
Jewel Carmen ...
Sôjin Kamiyama ...
Billy - the Butler (as Kamiyama Sojin)
Tullio Carminati ...
Eddie Gribbon ...
Lee Shumway ...
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Storyline

A masked criminal who dresses like a giant bat terrorizes the guests at an old house rented by a mystery writer.

Add Full Plot | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A laugh with every gasp!

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 May 1927 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Das Rätsel der Fledermaus  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Filming took place almost entirely at night. See more »

Quotes

Detective Moletti: What's your full name?
Lizzie Allen: Lizzie Allen - whether I'm full or not.
See more »

Connections

Version of The Bat Whispers (1930) See more »

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User Reviews

 
THE BAT (Roland West, 1926) ***
27 September 2008 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Like WEST OF ZANZIBAR (1928), this was a much-desired Silent ‘horror’ classic even if I had already watched the plot in action, so to speak, via a couple of Sound remakes – the 1930 version (from the same director!) and a later one made in 1959. Actually, this first adaptation of a popular ‘old dark house’-type play of the 1920s – when these proliferated in both mediums – was long considered a lost film; I watched it, in fact, via a serviceable 16mm print which suffered from constant (though not overly distracting) combing whenever characters moved!

To get back to the later versions, I’ve enjoyed THE BAT WHISPERS (1930) twice in its “Grandeur” i.e. early Widescreen format – I own the now out-of-print Image/Milestone DVD (which also includes the alternate “Standard” edition filmed simultaneously by a different cinematographer, but I’ve yet to check it out). Now, the film seems to elicit mixed reactions from most viewers (including myself): that is to say, being impressed with its distinctive visuals (spare but stylish production design, clever models – both qualities also evident in the original – and fluid, ground-breaking camera-work) yet being put off by the unfortunately archaic comedy relief supplied by an ugly and diminutive middle-aged maid (still, this ‘fraidy cat’ figure was something of a pre-requisite for the subgenre concerned). The 1959 film was a major disappointment on first viewing (dubbed in Italian) – despite the presence of an icon like Vincent Price; I do recall liking it a bit more in English (re-watched by way of a budget DVD I rented), but the result still lagged far behind either Roland West version!

Now that I’ve caught up with the original as well, I can safely say that it more than holds its own alongside THE BAT WHISPERS; I’m not always partial to directors remaking their own work but, in spite of my even greater reservations about the maid’s histrionics in the later version (remember that we can also hear her now and, therefore, is all the more liable to get on one’s nerves!), as I said, the gliding cinematography – presumably intended to emulate the movements of a real bat – was a lot more pronounced in the remake…where we also had archetypal lines (missing from the 1926 film) such as “Reach for the ceiling!” that were even parodied by Tex Avery in the cartoon short WHO KILLED WHO? (1943). The intricacies of the plot – revolving around a remote country estate which is gradually inundated by people (relatives of the current elderly female tenant, the doctor charged with her care, employees of the house’s recently murdered banker owner accused of embezzling funds, police officers on the trail of arch-criminal “The Bat” whose intended crime at the bank was anticipated but who has followed the culprit to the premises, etc.) – are pretty much identical, and the result equally entertaining. Incidentally, while the villain here sports a grotesque bat mask, in the 1930 film he exchanges this for a black cape (thus both helped give cartoon artist Bob Kane the idea for Batman, extending also to that character’s trademark ‘Bat Signal’!).

It’s been some time since my last viewing of THE BAT WHISPERS, so I’m understandably fuzzy about some aspects: I know the villain adopts a particular disguise in order to roam freely about the house – but he goes by different names in each version (the one from the remake is also present in the original but it turns out not to be him after all and is, in fact, a bit of a buffoon!); both, then, feature a suave male lead – Tullio Carminati (in his first American film and looking an awful lot like Rudolf Kleine-Rogge!) here and Chester Morris in the 1930 version (I’ll be seeing him presently in another title by director West, the noir precursor ALIBI [1929]). For the record and, as far as I can recall, the only other films in this vein from the Silent era I’ve watched were the interesting but lesser THE MONSTER (1925; yet another Roland West picture – with Lon Chaney, no less, though their individual styles didn’t really jell) and two outstanding efforts by similarly gifted film-makers, namely Paul Leni’s THE CAT AND THE CANARY (1927; itself adapted three more times for the screen!) and Benjamin Christensen’s SEVEN FOOTPRINTS TO Satan (1929; which is an even rarer title than THE BAT – since the copy I own only carries Italian intertitles which, luckily, I’m able to understand).

Trivia: leading lady Jewel Carmen was married to her director at the time; apparently, the couple remained on friendly terms after their separation and she would, in fact, become involved in a restaurant business with him and future companion Thelma Todd (a venture which, however, ended badly with the latter’s notorious and still unsolved mysterious demise in 1935!).


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