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Monday, November 16, 2015

Video Beaverhausen: Agnes Moorehead, Vincent Price in The Bat

The Bat (1959) is one of the films I remember fondly from tv, it being in frequent rotation on the old Million Dollar Movie. It is handsomely filmed in black-and-white and has a strong cast. Vincent Price is in this as are Agnes Moorehead, well before she became identified with Endora on Bewitched, and Darla (Hood), of Little Rascals fame, herein a lovely young lady who never went on to make more films.

This is a trim little thriller running 80 minutes, so it's fast-paced. It's based on a Mary Roberts Rinehart mystery and was filmed previously in 1925. It was also a Broadway and West End play.

Most of the film is set inside an old mansion where the house's owner, a bank president, has stashed a lot of embezzled cash. Unfortunately, he comes to a bad end. But somebody is determined to get the loot -- no matter whom they have to kill to get at it.

Agnes plays mystery writer Cornelia van Gorder, current tenant at the mansion.  Comic relief is provided in her scenes with her feisty assistant, Lizzie Allen, played by character actress Lenita Lane. The acting in this suspenseful whodunnit is uniformly good, especially by its two leads.

The cliche of the old, dark house and its trap doors and secret passageways are actually part of what appeals to me in The Bat. Give this film a try. The camp factor's high, there's plenty of tension and it moves at a clip. The killer's clawed gloves are to die for -- literally.

Best viewed at home on a rainy night with the blankets on and popcorn by your side.


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