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

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(based upon a stage play by), (based upon a stage play by)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Chance Ward ...
Richard Tucker ...
Wilson Benge ...
DeWitt Jennings ...
Police Captain
Sidney D'Albrook ...
Police Sergeant
S.E. Jennings ...
Grayce Hampton ...
...
Spencer Charters ...
The Caretaker
Una Merkel ...
...
Brook
Gustav von Seyffertitz ...
Dr. Venrees
...
Hugh Huntley ...
Charles Dow Clark ...
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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!


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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 November 1930 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Roland West's The Bat Whispers  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

After the bank robbery, there is a obvious slot in the "road" where the miniature car travels. See more »

Quotes

Dale Van Gorder: Sorry, Auntie, the train was late. But nice Mr. Fleming was good enough to give me a ride from the station.
Cornelia van Gorder: I should think the less you have to do with Richard Fleming, the better.
Dale Van Gorder: Oh, but why, Auntie?
Cornelia van Gorder: I don't like him, he leased this house to me.
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 »

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 (U.S.A.) – See 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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