Review: ‘The Bat Whispers’

Of the clutching hand school that the stage smash, The Bat [by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood], was probably the real parent of, The Bat Whispers, in its talking version, is a good picture in the class division, for shivers and smiles.

Of the clutching hand school that the stage smash, The Bat [by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood], was probably the real parent of, The Bat Whispers, in its talking version, is a good picture in the class division, for shivers and smiles.

The wide-screen [Magnifilm] film, United Artists’ first, is somewhat grandiloquent. Bits of direction with the camera, particularly early on, are very engaging. The same effects will come over in a lesser way on the standard size screen.

Most of the comedy is by Maude Eburne, as the lady’s maid. Some more is quietly injected by Spencer Chartres. It’s not the noisy kind of ghostly slapstick so long associated with haunted house stories.

Chester Morris [as Detective Anderson] has little to do. It’s some time before his appearance and shortly after that he’s knocked out for another lapse. At the finale the audience is halted by a cry from the screen not to leave, and, as a sort of epilog, Morris reappears to request the audience not to divulge the identity of the Bat in the picture. Other cast players take care of their portions without distinction either way. Una Merkel is the girl, with William Bakewell opposite.

The Bat Whispers

Production

Art Cinema/United Artists. Director Roland West; Producer Roland West; Camera Ray June (standard version), Robert H. Planck (65mm version); Editor James Smith; Music [uncredited]; Art Director Paul Roe Crawley

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1931. Running time: 82 MIN.

With

Chester Morris Una Merkel Chance Ward Richard Tucker Wilson Benge DeWitt Jennings
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