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Monday, January 28, 2013

The Bat (1959)


As I was watching "The Bat" (1926) last wednesday, I decided that I would also watch the 1959 remake starring Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead.  I wanted to compare how it would translate from a silent film to one with sound...

While renting a mansion belonging to a small town's bank manager, mystery writer Cornelia Van Gorder finds herself the target of a mysterious killer called, The Bat.  He's seeking a million dollars in stolen bank money... money he believes is hidden in the mansion...

This film is notable for three of its stars: Vincent Price, Agnes Moorehead (Endora on the TV series "Bewitched"), and Darla Hood (from The Little Rascal films).   This movie marked Hood's last appearance in a movie.

The story doesn't deviate too much from the original 1926 film, but there are some rather drastic changes in regards to characters.  Cornelia's maid is a lot more level headed than in the silent film; the niece is now just a friend, and the butler is no longer Japanese, and has a bit of backstory.  The backstory of some of the characters are explored a bit as well- the scene between the bank manager and the doctor at the cabin was a great example of this.  The costume for The Bat is changed too- but is still cool in my opinion- and fitting for the period.

I have to say that I did like the characters in this version more than I did in the 1926 film.  They aren't as cookie cutter in nature- there's a bit more depth to them, and they were more interesting to me.  I only wished that Cornelia's character had been as cucumber cool as the 1926's Aunt was.  She was still quite engaging though.  While the bank clerk's fiancee was a little bland, the rest of the characters made up for it.

The acting was quite enjoyable.  Vincent Price as the doctor was great.  He was both charming and sinister at the same time.  He really made the character fun to watch.  I also feel that Agnes Moorehead as Cornelia was brilliant as well.    The others did well in their roles, but nothing that stands out in my mind, though it took a lot of skill on the part of the actor playing The Bat to do so without dialogue.

The camera work is fairly standard, though there are some decent shots that I really feel would make great stills and artwork.

As with "The Bat" (1926), I would recommend this to my friends for a viewing, but most likely wouldn't pick it off the shelf just because.  "The Bat" (1959) is going into The Bad.

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