The Bat Whispers (1930) & the Bat (1926) cliche ridden staple of 1920s Broadway is frozen in time for our viewing pleasure by Roland West. West may have come from the theatre but he must have seen what was coming out of German cinema, because his playful visual style is still a joy to behold. Except for the actual bat costume cause that’s just stupid, except if you are Bruce Wayne. Whatever you call Rineharts play, it is ‘old dark house’ full of silly people, at least one villain and somewhere is a missing treasure, which is apparently why the silly people STAY IN THE HOUSE with the villain! In the 10 or 15 times I have watched it, I still can’t keep the motives of all the people straight. But at least in the 1930s production there is an added twist to the twist, which I thought was a good decision. and seriously burglar’s rarely cap their marks, so that part is just completely unbelievable. What is also unbelievable is that this play ran 900 times and people still went to see it on film, TWICE. oh the days before television…..
It is not the least bit scary, nor even THAT funny, once you get past the hysterical maid, who I would just sock in the jaw. Roland West’s visual style is the reason to blow the dust off this disc now and then. The restoration of the 1930 was money well spent, instead of pointing at what the Germans were doing, we can point to what WE were doing in the cinema. This last time through I REALLY watched the overly theatrical blocking and scene work, I think he was actually trying to recreate the theater experience for the viewer…doubling down in the last scene of the picture when actual curtains close and the lead addresses the audience…reminds one of the opening of Frankenstein. I am sure it wasn’t the first fourth wall break in a movie, but I think considering the picture as if it were a live theater production actually improves it. Otherwise there is absodamntively no reason for a guy dressed in a cape and cowl to creep around in a room where he is totally alone….that’s just weird. I wish someone would do a restoration on the goofier 1926 version. West does some very interesting work with miniatures that should be appreciated. He does some great work in Alibi and Corsair too if you can find them.