February 10, 2007
The Bat (1959) is a tight little thriller starring Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead. The plot is quite intricate, and the cast is very much up to the challenge.
Agnes Moorehead plays an author who writes murder whodunnits, and she's rented a mansion for the summer. The mansion is owned by the local banker, who's away on an extended hunting trip with his doctor (Vincent Price). Price gives a wonderfully understated performance, unlike some of his later scenery-chewing roles where his inner-ham shines brightly.
In the story, the banker has embezzled a million dollars from his bank and figures that his head cashier will be blamed. Before you know it, the banker winds up dead and the scramble begins as several people have figured out what must be one of the worst-kept secrets in movie history, namely, where the money is hidden.
Mix in a mysterious serial killer nicknamed "The Bat" who's terrorizing the town, an outbreak of actual rabid bats, murder on the side, greed, embezzlement, and a missing million dollars, and you have a whole lot of possibilities to consider. The movie manages to juggle all the details in such a way to keep you guessing and not confuse the basic story.
Agnes Moorehead's character is refined and well-to-do, but she's no pushover. In fact, all of the women in the movie are strong.
Doctor: Do you know how to use that gun?
Agnes Moorehead: My books are full of guns, and I only write about what I know.
You may remember Darla Hood of Little Rascals fame. She appears here, all grown up in what turned out to be her final movie role.
I'm not sure why, but the servants always seem to get all the best comic lines. In this case it's the maid, and she's a hoot.
Something else that I saw that amused me no end is that the men all wear suits, which is normal for movies in the 40's and 50's. The funny part is that even The Bat is wearing a suit while he prowls around looking to murder again.
This one is worth looking for, especially if you're a Vincent Price fan. Recommended.
Update: Victor points out that this is a remake of the original 1926 silent version! Cool. Now I'll have to look for it.
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