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
Based on the 1908 novel "The Circular Staircase", which was turned into the 1920 play with this film's title that opened at the Morosco Theatre, 217 W. 45th St. on August 23, 1920 and ran for 867 performances until September 1922. It has limited revivals in 1937 and 1953. See more »
When Dr. Wells is at his table getting the bat out of its cage, the phone rings and the caller calls to Dr. Wells. When all of this is happening, the phone is in front of Dr. Wells in plain view and it is off the hook with the handle lying on the table. See more »
Cornelia (Agnes Moorehead) is a mystery writer who temporarily moves into a mansion to attempt to get some work done. She later learns that the homeowner embezzled money and hid it in somewhere in the house. After he turns up dead, Cornelia and her houseguests find that someone knows about the money and will stop at nothing to get it. Could it be the notorious spikey-fingered murderer, "The Bat"?
This is a fun little mystery with a delicious performance by the always fabulous Agnes Moorehead. Vincent Price co-stars as the slightly creepy (of course!) town doctor. One of the most intriguing things about the movie is the refreshing treatment of the lead heroine. She has no love interest--something you don't see often in 50s horror movies. Her only reliance is upon her tough (and slightly butch!) maid, and her independence has garnered admiration by her female houseguests (one of which is played by Little Rascal Darla Hood).
Unfortunately, the movie doesn't really capitalize much on the potential of its "big creepy house with a claw-gloved murderer on the loose" premise, and seems to run out of fuel towards the end. Once the body count starts, the actors look like they couldn't care less. But overall, this is an enjoyable and often creepy mystery with terrific performances by Moorehead and Price.
My Rating: 6.5/10
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