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Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Bat Whispers (1930)

Starring Chester Morris, Chance Ward, Una Merkel, Richard Tucker, Wilson Benge
Directed by Roland West
(actor & director credits courtesy

After renting the house of a prestigious banker, a lady and her housemaid are frightened by the appearance of "The Bat," a masked villain after a sum of money hidden in the house. 

According to Wikipedia, this film is reputed for being filmed in an early widescreen format and also as a possible inspiration for the creator of the comic book hero Batman.  I found it to be an interesting and well-filmed mystery, although it has probably a few too many characters to keep track of.  The camerawork in particular should be singled out, which is very dynamic for an early sound film, panning up buildings and through windows and following a police car as it darts in and out of traffic during a high speed chase.  Based on a story and stageplay by Mary Roberts Rinehart, and previously filmed by director West in the 1920s as a silent film, the spoken dialogue this time around benefits the comic moments in the screenplay, and gives Morris a fine showcase.  However, there's just a bit too many characters and too much going on to follow for my taste.

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