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The Bat (1959)
Topic Started: May 6 2018, 09:29 AM (195 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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The Bat (1959) Dir. Crane Wilbur
An Allied Artists Release
80 min. / B&W / 1.85:1
Blu-ray: The Film Detective

ITB Shock Theatre #223

A crooked bank president has stolen a million bucks and stashed it in a secret room in his sprawling country mansion, and everybody's looking for it, including the local police lieutenant, the town doctor, the butler, the lady whose innocent bank teller husband's been accused of the crime, the mystery writer who's rented the house for the summer and her daffy maid, Darla from the Our Gang pictures, and a maniacal killer called The Bat, who paralyzes his victims with a punch in the neck and then rips their throat out. Ouch.

No doubt looking for a successful followup to the previous year's House on Haunted Hill, Allied Artists dusted off this chestnut, a Broadway hit in 1920 and filmed several times, including Balcony fave The Bat Whispers (1930). I will admit, I have a long-time fondness for this picture since seeing it over the teevee when I was a small child (several times seeing it, in fact; was it ALWAYS in the public domain?) - the darn thing is scary when you're a kid, but not TOO scary (despite all the throat ripping going on, there's not an ounce of blood in the picture. Also, had I known that was "my" Darla in the picture, I probably would've felt bad when she gets HER turn with the titular murderer). Watching it now after all these years, I still think it works better as a kid's movie; based on a play, we get the setup, with easy-to-understand introductions to all the characters and their relationship to each other in the plot (the opening scene in the bank cracked me up - nearly everybody in the cast comes up one by one, shakes the leading lady's hand, and introduces themself, including those people she seems to know already). Even the acting is, to put it kindly, "broad" (Halliwell: "everyone chews the scenery") and fine for kids.

Agnes Moorehead is the mystery writer, Vinnie Price is the town doctor who is obsessed by bats, Gavin Gordon is Lt. "Andy" Anderson, John Sutton is the creepy butler, Darla Hood is I don't know who but now that I knew she's Darla Hood I couldn't tear my eyes off her and I kept hoping she'd break out singing "The Love Bug'll Get Ya if Ya Don't Watch Out", and Lenita Lane is the "comic relief" hired help who should be played by a Patsy Kelly type, she's really miscast.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Agnes, after her maid gives a perfectly reasonable explanation for all the noises they've been hearing in the night, when a crash that could've waken the dead on some other continent occurs: "And I suppose that's the cat dropping its dentures?"

This was about the time that Mr. Price gave up his regular gig as an actor and became strictly a horror performer; Roger Corman came calling next.

Just a good ol' fun movie and I'm not going to be hard on it. The Bat is featured on a lovely Blu-ray from The Film Detective. Includes sub-titles.


For the kiddies, a trio of color cartoons, including Magoo Makes News (the blind-as-The-Bat guy goes to the electric company to complain about his bill but ends up breaking into a newspaper; it's complicated but we're into the CinemaScope Magoos and they look phenomenal); Mighty Mouse and the Pirates, which is the first Mighty Mouse cartoon told as a singing operetta (and interesting, Mighty Mouse is wearing another new costume, his fourth of the 17 cartoons in the series so far - this time, it's either brown with red cape and tights or he's ONLY wearing red cape and tights, since he's brown ANYWAY. Maybe his yellow suit was in the cleaners); and Billion Dollar Limited, a Max Fleischer Superman cartoon, and ain't these beautiful? We also watched the fourth episode of the Superman serial (1948); Lois gets herself electrocuted in the Spider Lady's web and saw trailers for an upcoming double-feature of The Wasp Woman and Creature from the Haunted Sea. Wowdy-wow-WOW!

"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Balcony Gang, Foist Class
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Speaking of different versions of The Bat, here's one most folks forget about. Originally shown live on television--with Helen Hayes and Jason Robards. Amazing how, with a running time of only 50 minutes, they still manage to squeeze in most of the plot points.

"For life is short, but death is long."
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Movie Watcha Foist Class
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They showed this at least once a quarter on my local horror host show and I didn't care for it at all the first time I saw it-- 400 viewings later and it grew on me.
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