The Bat (1959 film)
theatrical film poster
|Directed by||Crane Wilbur|
|Produced by||C. J. Tevlin|
|Written by||Crane Wilbur (screen story & screenplay)|
|Based on||The Circular Staircase (1908 novel) by
Mary Roberts Rinehart and
The Bat (1920 play) by Mary Roberts Rinehart
|Music by||Louis Forbes|
|Cinematography||Joseph F. Biroc|
|Edited by||William Austin|
|Distributed by||Allied Artists|
The Bat is an American mystery film from 1959 starring Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead. It is the fourth film adaption of the story which began as the 1908 novel The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart, which she later adapted with Avery Hopwood into the 1920 play The Bat, which ran for 867 performances on Broadway, and was revived twice. The film was adapted by playwright Crane Wilbur, who also directed it.
Cornelia Van Gorder (Agnes Moorehead) is a mystery author who lives in a town terrorized by a mysterious murderer known only as "The Bat". The Bat is said to be a man with no face who murders women at night by ripping out their throats with steel claws. Early in the film, The Bat enters Van Gorder's house and releases a bat, which bites van Gorder's maid Lizzy (Lenita Lane). With Lizzy in a panic, fearing she may now have contracted "the rabies", an outbreak of which local papers have reported, Van Gorder calls her doctor, Dr Malcolm Wells (Vincent Price), who is conducting research on bats.
Meanwhile, the whole town is searching for a million-dollar stash of looted bank securities that were recently stolen. Dr. Wells discovers the location of the treasure when the thief confides in him. Wells then murders the thief in cold blood, presumably so that he can take the treasure for himself, which he believes to be hidden in van Gorder's house.
A series of break-ins and murders by The Bat brings the local chief of detectives, Andy Anderson (Gavin Gordon) to the Van Gorder house. The Bat then murders two people in the Van Gorder house, Mark Fleming (John Bryant) and Judy Hollander (Darla Hood). Anderson attempts to determine the identity of The Bat, suspecting both Wells and Van Gorder's new butler, Warner (John Sutton). Wells is removed from suspicion, however, when he is murdered by The Bat in his lab.
Van Gorder cleverly manages to capture The Bat inside the secret room in her house. The Bat shoots a detective named Davenport (Robert Williams), and is then shot by Warner. Warner unmasks The Bat and he is revealed to be Lieutenant Anderson.
- Vincent Price as Dr. Malcolm Wells
- Agnes Moorehead as Cornelia van Gorder
- Gavin Gordon as Lt. Andy Anderson/The Bat
- John Sutton as Warner
- Lenita Lane as Lizzie Allen
- Elaine Edwards as Dale Bailey
- Darla Hood as Judy Hollander
- John Bryant as Mark Fleming
- Harvey Stephens as John Fleming
- The Bat was the final film appearance for Darla Hood, who played "Darla" in The Little Rascals shorts.
RKO Pictures bought the rights to remake the film from Mary Pickford, who produced the original 1926 film adaptation for United Artists, the studio she founded in 1919 with Douglas Fairbanks, Charles Chaplin and D. W. Griffith.
According to Turner Classic Movies, in an era of movies featuring "rampaging aliens and sinister ghouls", the film's period piece approach was not a crowd pleaser, although its reputation has improved over time.
Allmovie gave the film a mixed review, complimenting the film's screenplay, but criticized the script's mechanical nature and lack of scariness, as well as the varying quality of performances from the cast. But they also stated, "While it's all done in a by-the-numbers manner, there's more than enough here to entertain whodunit fans".
- Thompson, Nathaniel "The Bat" (article) on TCM.com
- "The Bat" (1920) on Internet Broadway Database
- "The Bat" (show) on Internet Broadway Database
- Erickson, Hal. "The-Bat - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes - NYTimes.com". New York Times.com. Hal Erickson. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
- The Bat (1959) is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- "Notes" on TCM.com
- Maltin, Leonard; Green, Spencer; Edelman, Rob (January 2010). Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide. Plume. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-452-29577-3.
- Butler, Craig. "The Bat.(1959) - Crane Wilbur". AllMovie.com. Craig Butler. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
- The Bat (1959) at Rotten Tomatoes
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