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The Bat Whispers
The Bat Whispers
Director: Roland West
Writers: Avery Hopwood, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Roland West
Cast: Chester Morris, Chance Ward, Una Merkel, Richard Tucker, Wilson Benge, Maude Eburne, William Bakewell, DeWitt Jennings, Sidney D'Albrook, S.E. Jennings, Grayce Hampton, Spencer Charters, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Hugh Huntley, Charles Dow Clark, Ben Bard
Synopsis: A master criminal terrorizes the occupants of an isolated country mansion.
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Note: This film was a remake of the 1926 silent film, "The Bat", which is known to be the movie that played a key inspiration behind the iconic superhero, Batman. Although this film was merely released four years after "The Bat", this movie was remade during the transitional period when more movies were being made into talkies. Unlike the original film, this is a classic black and white talkie, and it carries less similarities to "Batman"; in spite of the fact that it still follows the same basic story arc as the original silent movie.
As I mentioned in my hub, "The Bat (1926)", this is only one of the many hubs leading up to my review of Nolan's final Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." Anyway, I hope you all enjoy reading.
The Bat returns....
For those who read my review of the 1926 silent movie, "The Bat", then you should know this is the 1930's remake of that same film. Unlike "The Bat", this movie is a talking movie that features a bit less similarities to the iconic superhero known as Batman, as there's no bat signal, and the costume is drastically altered to make the criminal look nothing like a giant bat. However, "The Bat Whispers" still follows the same story arc, as the original silent movie; with the notable exceptions of some of the characters names being changed.
Therefore, if you've already seen the original silent film, then you should already know how "The Bat Whispers" ends; which sadly means that this movie comes off as less interesting. Don't get me wrong, the movie still carries the same charm as the original, but because it follows the same story too closely, it sadly takes away most of the mystery from the film. Hence, I wouldn't advise people who saw the original to see this movie, as most of the mystery kind of gets sucked out of it. Although I didn't mention this in my original review of "The Bat", but part of the film's charm is that it keeps you in suspense about who "The Bat" really is throughout most of the movie.
Unfortunately, once you know who the Bat is, then the movie sort of becomes boring to some degree. Don't get me wrong, it's still an engaging mystery story that meshes in elements of horror, and comedy, but it works better when you don't see the plot twists coming. However, if you have seen the original, then you know exactly when the plot twists are coming, and you know exactly what to expect. Granted, you can still find joy in the over the top humor, and playful banter of some of the characters. Plus, I liked how movie seemed to have a bit darker tone, and atmosphere than the original; hence intensifying the horror aspects of the film a bit.
Before I go any further, I should probably go over the story for a bit first. The film essentially follows a masked criminal known simply as "The Bat." Unlike the original, the Bat doesn't literally dress up in a bat costume, nor does he use a bat signal similar to Batman. No, he merely dons an all black costume, and mask that covers his entire face; with the notable exception of his eyes for obvious reasons. Anyway, he still travels from rooftop to rooftop, while using his complicated system of grappling hooks. And, he still he has his handy utility bag to boot.
Like the original, he travels to a old mansion that's being rented by a mystery writer. At first, nobody knows who "The Bat" really is, but he haunts the inhabitants throughout the night in an attempt to scare them away, so he can rob the place. Along the way, things start to get complicated, as it seems "The Bat" isn't the only thief the inhabitants at the mansion need to worry about. What transpires from here is an elaborate mystery story riddled with suspense to keep the audience guessing until the very end....that is if you didn't see the original..
As I said before, this movie works a whole lot better when you don't see the twists coming, to where you can literally become enthralled in this mystery story. Unfortunately, if you have seen the original, then nothing this movie presents you is going to surprise you. Every scene is shot exactly the same as the original, with the exception of voices and sound being added to the film. Sure, it does feature a darker tone than the last film, and the acting is a lot better, but none of this takes away from the fact that the film mainly hinges on the mystery behind the story itself. Therefore, I would probably only recommend this movie to those that may have missed out on the old silent film version.
(Warning: Possible Spoiler in this paragraph) I especially loved Chester Morris' portrayal of Detective Anderson. Although some of the foreshadowing that surrounds his character is a bit of a dead giveaway, but he still manages to keep you in constant suspense with his performance. Unlike the original where the Detective may have came off as a strict by the book type, this version seems a bit more intense, to the point that you can't help but feel that maybe he could be hiding something as well. Granted, I probably should stop here, as I don't want to give anything away. However, I think it's worth noting that Chester Morris really plays off the deception of his character rather well; which causes the overall feel of the movie to come off as darker through his performance.
Although due to the film's obvious darker tone, some of the humor aspects of the movie do seem a bit out of place at times. However, it's never to the point that it ruins the movie, but it's worth pointing out. I still enjoy the playful humorous banter involving the maid, and her funny over reactions to many of the film's bizarre situations. Plus, I loved the scene where it showed a rather p***ed off Detective Anderson interrogating her, while she coyly tries to flirt with him; which makes it very comical to watch nonetheless.
I also loved how well edited this film was for it's time period, as this one doesn't seem to suffer from the pacing issues that it's predecessor endured, and the lighting still plays a huge role in this movie. Like the original, the lighting is dimly lit enough to allow audiences' imaginations to wander, while keeping it just light enough to where we could still see what's going on. Another thing worth pointing out is the cinematography seems very well shot for it's time period. I especially liked some of the zooming camera shots this film does, to almost give the remake a larger than life kind of feel to it.
Overall, I think as long as you've never seen the original film, then it's worth checking out. However, if you've already seen the original silent movie, "The Bat", then I'd probably avoid this movie at all costs. But, I still found the film to be very enjoyable, and it's fairly interesting to see Roland West put a more darker take on this remake; especially considering that he also directed the original silent film as well. In the end, I'd probably have to give this movie a two and a half out of four.