The Bat Whispers

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The Bat Whispers
Directed by Roland West
Produced by Joseph M. Schenck
Written by Avery Hopwood (play)
Mary Roberts Rinehart (play)
Roland West
Starring Chester Morris
Una Merkel
Music by Hugo Riesenfeld
Cinematography Ray June (35mm)
Robert H. Planck (70mm)
Edited by Hal C. Kern
James Smith
Joseph M. Schenck Productions for Art Cinema Corporation
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • November 13, 1930 (1930-11-13)
Running time
83 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Bat Whispers is a 1930 American Pre-Code mystery film directed by Roland West, produced by Joseph M. Schenck, and released by United Artists. The film is based on the 1920 mystery play The Bat, written by Avery Hopwood and Mary Roberts Rinehart and previously adapted to film in 1926.


A mysterious criminal by the name of "The Bat" eludes police and then finally announces his retirement to the country, while a wealthy Cornelia Van Gorder takes up residence in the estate of a famous banker. Along with her maid Lizzie, her niece Dale, and a bank teller disguised as a gardener, she is terrorized by a series of strange events seemingly set in motion by the mysterious Bat. Possible suspects include a doctor, an elderly police lieutenant, a butler, a handyman, and a big-city cop.

Production background[edit]

An early talkie, this film is the second film version of the 1920 hit Broadway play The Bat, written by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood. The first film version of the play, The Bat (1926), was also directed by Roland West. Just as in the play and the first film, people explore an old mansion looking for a hidden treasure while a caped killer picks them off one by one. This film is noted by Bob Kane as one of the inspirations for some elements of the Batman character, which he co-created with Bill Finger.

The film was shot in three versions: a pair of 1.33:1 aspect ratio, 35mm negatives for US and foreign prints; and a 2:1 aspect ratio 65mm widescreen "Magnifilm" version (misspelled "Magnafilm" in some ads).[1] The domestic negative was cut down to 72 minutes for the 1938 Atlantic Pictures reissue, and subsequently was lost.

In 1988 the UCLA Film and Television Archive restored and preserved the 35mm foreign version and the 65mm Magnifilm from the original camera negatives.[2]

This film was remade again in 1959 as The Bat with Agnes Moorehead and Vincent Price.

Connection to Bob Kane's "Batman"[edit]

Comic-book creator Bob Kane said in his 1989 autobiography Batman and Me that the villain of The Bat Whispers was an inspiration for his character Batman.[3]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ David Coles, "Magnified Grandeur, Widescreen 1926-1931"
  2. ^ BBC Online Network
  3. ^ The Haunting of Robert Kane!,, September 2007. Retrieved November 9, 2011.

External links[edit]