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The Bat Whispers (1930)

A master criminal terrorizes the occupants of an isolated country mansion.



(based upon a stage play by), (based upon a stage play by)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Chance Ward ...
Police Lieutenant
Mr. Bell
Wilson Benge ...
The Butler
Sidney D'Albrook ...
Police Sergeant
S.E. Jennings ...
Hugh Huntley ...
Richard Fleming
Charles Dow Clark ...


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


Look out! The arch criminal is here!





Release Date:

13 November 1930 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Roland West's The Bat Whispers  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of only a handful of films to be shot in the widescreen Magnifilm 65mm format. (Other studios were also experimenting with other wide formats at the time.) The expense of upgrading theaters with new screens and projectors - after just having to install sound equipment - coupled with the Depression and the December, 1930 edict from the MPPDA that the film industry not cause "the public's curiosity to be aroused about any new innovations for at least two years" effectively killed the new format. Widescreen formats did not return until the middle of the 1950's out of the necessity to compete with television. See more »


When Detective Jones starts firing wildly up the stairs with revolvers in each hand, we can see him shoot three times, then the next shot is of the wall where his bullets are striking. That wall already has seven bullet holes in it. Jones fires all 12 shots from his two revolvers, but we see 16 bullet holes in the wall. And, all are in a tight grouping, despite his wild shooting motions. See more »


The Caretaker: I don't like that doctor. One look at him would cure anybody!
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 »


Remade as The Gorilla (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

Great Atmosphere and Impressive Sets
1 April 2002 | by See all my reviews

Roland West first filmed the story of the Bat, a killer that steals money and jewels for their value as well as for adventure, in 1926. He then made The Bat Whispers in 1930, which is a sound version of his silent film. The transition is not entirely smooth yet rewarding. Let me first state that the silent film is easily the superior of the two. The silent film had a much more creepier feeling to it. The acting was far superior, and the sets were incredible. West does duplicate much of the sets and shots that were in his first version. The acting, however, is not very good as it is obvious that sound pictures have not been around too long. West tries to accommodate that new innovation which sometimes results in stagey scenes and long dialogue sessions. Chester Morris is...well, to say the least...a ham. His performance is a bit over-the-top for me. He does show glimmers of talent though. The story is pretty much the same and that is the film's strength. It's a fun mystery that by today's standards will seem crude and silly, but taken in context of its time should provide some entertainment. Oddly enough, the mystery seemed less mysterious in this version. I knew who the killer was with ease(trying to distance myself from the memory of the first film as I did this). West again has some impressive camera shots. The opening scene of the bat stealing a jewel from an apartment high in the sky was incredible as was the journey of the bat over a bank and following a man with a lot of money. The camera work of West is innovative, and it is a pity that his life was cut short and we did not get a chance to see him employ his talents in other projects.

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