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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mr. Bel is shown to be living where the window is lighted, which is the top floor. When the bat leaves through the window and climbs a rope to the roof he is seen climbing up from below the to floor. See more »
I avoided seeing The Bat Whispers for many years because I had seen a documentary called "The Horror of it All". In it they used clips and gave away the killer by showing us the ending!!! Not that it cannot be figured out by many. The great news is I thoroughly enjoyed the film (with many repeated viewings) anyway. It has become a Halloween tradition for me as I watch it once every year. The killer's identity is only part of the fun.
My writing this post is due to a wonderful thunder storm we had that exactly matched the intensity and character of the storm in this film - Lightning with long pauses before thunder and NO RAIN.
I have seen tons of old dark house mystery/horror/comedies from the 20s, 30s and 40s and I dare anyone to name better ones than this, Paul Leni's two mysteries, and Whale's The Old Dark House. Many of the ODH films of that time were poverty row. Some were downright boring, others interesting, but none with such a distinctive style as those mentioned. I cannot understand the harshness people can feel about this film. One has to put themselves in a mood to watch such a film. It was never intended to be incredibly meaningful like Ben- Hur, or All Quiet on the Western Front. This is pure pulp from start to end.
The Bat Whispers, is in many ways, a forerunner to today's gigantic comic book movies. Some have much style (Batman, The Matrix, X-Men) and some are totally ridiculous with the same absurd plot holes (Batman, The Matrix, X-Men, etc.).
So, what can one expect? A totally fun, old-fashioned mystery romp that satisfies one's need for shadows, lighting, special effects, atmosphere, mystery, horror and downright silliness. This is a masterpiece in the genre and also Roland West's greatest film. It is consistent with the films that West shot. It's a shame he didn't continue with his dark style of film-making. Chester Morris has been called a ham in these posts and that's true. And what terrific ham! He gives one of the best performances in an ODH movie. His intensity was perfectly enhanced by the powerful arc lamps that under lit him, so much so that he suffered scorched retinas and unfortunately suffered visually for the rest of his life. That is a man dedicated to the art of his film! Morris makes the proceeds far more interesting than any other 'detective' I have seen in this type of film. The supporting cast makes this effectively spooky (Gustav von Seyferritz as Ven Rees leads the way).
Overall, this is stylish escapism at its' best in the old-fashioned sense. Special credit goes to the camera operators and art director. Both standard and widescreen versions are completely different takes and different films. I prefer the standard version, as Morris' close-ups are far more effective. The one when he returns and stands at the top of the stairs is avant-garde in how he is so perfectly centered and unnaturally under lit. I could go on.... a great fun film!
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