Mystery writer Cornelia Van Gorder has rented a country house called "The Oaks", which not long ago had been the scene of some murders committed by a strange and violent criminal known as "The Bat". Meanwhile, the house's owner, bank president John Fleming, has recently embezzled one million dollars in securities, and has hidden the proceeds in the house, but he is killed before he can retrieve the money. Thus the lonely country house soon becomes the site of many mysterious and dangerous activities.Written by
Now in the public domain, hence the proliferation of versions, often of inferior quality. See more »
The Bat uses a suction cup and a glass cutter to cut a hole in the glass in order to reach in and unlatch the door. The circular piece of glass attached to the suction cup is twice as thick as the glass from which the hole has been cut. The glass attached to the suction cup is also too thick to cut a hole in using a simple glass cutter. See more »
[on the phone]
A police car is outside your house and an officer has reported that there's no sign of a prowler anywhere on the grounds.
Cornelia van Gorder:
Well the man's inside now, he's in the hall just outside my bedroom! Have your men break through the kitchen door and search this place from top to bottom!
Allright Miss Van Gorder, sit tightly.
Cornelia van Gorder:
I will, I have a gun, and I know how to use it!
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Mystery writer Cornelia Van Gorder (Agnes Moorehead) moves into a creepy old house with her chicken secretary and soon afterwards they realize the house was the setting for several murders by a mysterious figure known as The Bat. Pretty soon there's some missing money and the threat of more murders and a variety of suspects including a doctor (Vincent Price) and a banker's nephew (John Bryant).
Previously filmed in 1926 and 1930, THE BAT isn't a complete success but I think it's a somewhat charming mystery that has quite a few interesting things going for it but the rather weak direction by Crane Wilbur keeps it from being better. I think the biggest problem is the actual feel of the picture because it really does seem as if you're watching a television pilot from the era. There's just nothing here that really screams out as a theatrical feature and there's just a low-rent quality about the entire thing.
With that said, there's a lot to enjoy here including the comic timing. I'm sure some might object that the movie isn't a lot darker than it is but I thought the comedy aspect was rather good and there's just something charming about the two women and their back-and-forth talks about the various spooks and chills. It also doesn't hurt that we're given some very good performances with both Price and Moorehead really standing out.
The film has all the trappings that you'd expect from an "old dark house" picture including the mysterious figure in black, which was a terrific look for The Bat. I found his look to be quite effective and then there's the various plot twists throughout. THE BAT isn't a complete success but it's certainly a lot better than many films of its genre.
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