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Monday, January 28, 2013

The Bat (1926)

This past "What Movie Wednesday" saw the first time that a silent film was chosen for me to watch and tweet along to...

While staying at the mansion of the local bank manager, a group of people are searching for the money that had been recently stolen from the bank.  Soon, their lives are at stake as well as The Bat searches for the hidden loot... and kills anyone who gets in their way...

"The Bat" was originally based on a hit Broadway play written by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood.  Until recently, this silent film was thought to have been a lost film- as are many films from the silent era of cinema.  Roland West went on to remake this film in 1930 as "The Bat Whispers"- which Bob Kane credited as the inspiration for the creation of Batman.

I always enjoy the opportunity to watch silent films.  Some are masterpieces of cinematic magic and creativity, while others are interesting as a reminder of how far we have come in regards to what can be done on the big screen.  "The Bat" falls into the latter in my opinion.

The story is interesting, and well crafted- enough so that I actually wanted to figure out which of the characters was actually The Bat.  It takes skill to tell a story without sound effects, and with a minimum of title cards with dialogue on them.  This film did a great job of that.

The characters aren't too bad, but none really stood out as noteworthy... other than The Bat himself.  They are rather typical characters you'd find in a suspense film with a couple of comedic characters thrown in.  If it wasn't for The Bat, this movie would've been filled with less than average characters.  It was the mystery of trying to figure out who the villain was that made the characters more interesting than they normally would've been.  Actually, there WAS one other character that I liked- the Aunt.  It takes a cool, badass woman to be able to knit calmly while people are being killed all around her... that appealed to me.

The acting is also fairly average and typical of the silent film era- exaggerated facial expressions and movements.  It really worked in the scenes with The Bat- especially with some of the camera work.  There are some excellent shots in this film, and great use of shadow and light.

The only problem I can see people having with "The Bat" is the fact that the 1930 remake led to the creation of Batman.  That knowledge brings some inadvertent comedy to the film- from the costume, the utility pouch, and even the precursor to the Bat Signal.  Of course, while it adds comedy to the film, it also adds historical interest to the movie as well.

Even though I enjoyed "The Bat," and would tell my friends to give it a watching, I'm not going to be inclined to watch it again on my own.  Because of that, I'm going to have to put it in The Bad.

Special Shout Out:

I'd like to thank everyone that voted in the January 23rd "What Movie Wednesday", and especially those that voted for "The Bat" (1926):

Jay (from "Film Reviews From the Basement")

Tanya Marie
Jessica Hewlett
Maria Esparza
Rene Hofman
Jason Walsh

The next "What Movie Wednesday" takes place 30 January, 2013!

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