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Saturday, December 14, 2013

the bat - 1959

the bat
starring vincent price, agnes moorehead
1959

the circular staircase, a novel by mary roberts rinehart, appeared in many different forms in the years following its first publication in 1908. by 1915 it was already the subject of a silent film of the same name. in 1920 it was adapted as a popular play called the bat by the author and dramatist avery hopwood. this was further adapted into a silent version called the bat in 1926 and with sound in 1930 as the bat whispers.

the bat made its way to tv in a 1953 episode of broadway television theatre and the circular staircase was produced for the tv anthology series climax! three years later. three years after that, in 1959, it was time for the bat to make its way to the big screen again in a version that starred horror movie standby vincent price and agnes moorehead (people from my generation know her best from her role as endora, on the tv series bewitched).

moorehead takes the starring role in this version of the bat, playing cornelia van gorder, a well-to-do mystery writer who rents a mansion where all manner of unsettling things are going on. there's a large sum of money missing from a nearby bank and several people really want it and a maniac killer named the bat is on the loose and that's about all i'll say about the nuts and bolts of it all.

if you're a fan of old dark house stuff (guilty) with a dash of mystery thrown in - and there usually is - you'll probably go for this one. although i have to say that the pace was just a bit on the glacial side and i found my attention lagging a bit in the latter stages. overall the movie felt like it might have been made three decades earlier. i don't recall if i saw the earlier version, the one that actually was made about three decades earlier, and i might be confusing my bats with my cats as in the cat and the canary (1927, 1939) but these old dark house mysteries do tend to blend together sometimes.

here's a brief contemporary review from the new york times that also considers a hammer remake of the mummy (it's not like this current fever for remaking movies is a new thing, mind you).