The Bat

October 30, 2016 at 4:06 pm (6 Heads, Bat, The) (, , , )

The Bat – 1926 – United States

A crook robs a bank and stashes the loot in an old mansion. A woman and her niece rent the mansion. The women are embroiled in a criminal plot as the crook battles The Bat (a murderous thief in a bat costume) to retrieve the loot. Also staying in the house is a shifty doctor, a hardnosed police detective, a bumbling private detective, a desperate gangster, a badly injured stranger, a sinister Japanese butler (wearing cadaver-like makeup), a hysterical maid, and the niece’s nerdy boyfriend.

The Bat is a silent whodunit mystery. Its twisty plot falsely implicates nearly every character at one point or another, but The Bat’s identity is easy to guess. Nonetheless, for a film of its era, The Bat is fast paced and exciting. The many diverse characters have interesting relationships and motivations. The hero of the story is the middle-aged aunt. She makes all the clever deductions, has all the smarmy lines, and defeats The Bat in the climactic hostage situation.

It has been alleged that The Bat was an influence on the Batman comic book character created in 1939. This might be true. The Bat wears a bat costume (although much more ugly and fearsome than Batman’s) and has a grappling hook. The film even contains a scene where a bat casts a Bat Signal-like shadow on the wall. The Bat’s stylized visuals are also similar to early Batman comics. The film’s cavernous sets and shadowy lighting create an atmosphere of mystery and danger, enhanced by perpetually gloomy music.

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. The Bat has been remade as The Bat Whispers (1930) and The Bat (1959).

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