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The Bat Whispers (1930)

Passed | | Crime, Thriller, Horror | 13 November 1930 (USA)
A master criminal terrorizes the occupants of an isolated country mansion.


Roland West


Mary Roberts Rinehart (based upon a stage play by), Avery Hopwood (based upon a stage play by)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Chance Ward Chance Ward ... Police Lieutenant
Richard Tucker ... Mr. Bell
Wilson Benge Wilson Benge ... The Butler
DeWitt Jennings ... Police Captain
Sidney D'Albrook Sidney D'Albrook ... Police Sergeant
S.E. Jennings S.E. Jennings ... Man in Black Mask
Grayce Hampton ... Miss Cornelia van Gorder
Maude Eburne ... Lizzie Allen
Spencer Charters ... The Caretaker
Una Merkel ... Dale Van Gorder
William Bakewell ... Brook
Gustav von Seyffertitz ... Dr. Venrees
Chester Morris ... Detective Anderson
Hugh Huntley Hugh Huntley ... Richard Fleming
Charles Dow Clark Charles Dow Clark ... Detective Jones


Despite advance warning to the police, who seal off the area, The Bat, a master criminal, steals a necklace from the safe in the house of a rich socialite. He leaves a note saying he is going to the country to give the police a rest. Pausing only to rob a bank at Oakdale, he proceeds to terrorise the occupants of a lonely country mansion, in a mixture of thrills, chills and laughs. At the end, an actor steps forward through a proscenium arch and asks the viewers not to reveal the Bat's identity to their friends. A film noir shot in black and white, mainly at night in dimly lit scenes. Written by Michael Crew <m.crew@bbcnc.org.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Look out! The arch criminal is here!








Release Date:

13 November 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Roland West's The Bat Whispers See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film was first telecast on New York City's pioneer television station W2XBS Saturday 4 May 1940. It is one of over 200 titles in the list of independent feature films made available for television presentation by Advance Television Pictures announced in Motion Picture Herald 4 April 1942. At this time, television broadcasting was in its infancy, almost totally curtailed by the advent of World War II, and would not continue to develop until 1945-1946. See more »


When Detective Jones starts firing wildly up the stairs with revolvers in each hand, we can see him shoot three times, then the next shot is of the wall where his bullets are striking. That wall already has seven bullet holes in it. Jones fires all 12 shots from his two revolvers, but we see 16 bullet holes in the wall. And, all are in a tight grouping, despite his wild shooting motions. See more »


Lizzie Allen: Aren't you going to take me up with you?
Cornelia van Gorder: You're nothing but trouble on the ground floor, you'll be a nuisance on the roof.
[goes up the stairs]
Cornelia van Gorder: If I yell you come up!
Detective Jones: Who, me?
Cornelia van Gorder: Yes you!
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the film an actor comes onto a movie house stage and implores the audience to withhold the identity of the bat from family and friends so they can also enjoy the movie. See more »

Alternate Versions

This film was shot in two versions with a different director of photography for each. One is in standard 35mm and the other in an early 65mm process. The 65mm version is considered "stagebound" (it was actually based on a popular play) while the 35mm version is considered more "cinematic". Prints of both versions still exist. See more »


Referenced in The Horror of It All (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

Totally fun! Grand mysterioso!
14 December 2004 | by the_mysteriousxSee all my reviews

I avoided seeing The Bat Whispers for many years because I had seen a documentary called "The Horror of it All". In it they used clips and gave away the killer by showing us the ending!!! Not that it cannot be figured out by many. The great news is I thoroughly enjoyed the film (with many repeated viewings) anyway. It has become a Halloween tradition for me as I watch it once every year. The killer's identity is only part of the fun.

My writing this post is due to a wonderful thunder storm we had that exactly matched the intensity and character of the storm in this film - Lightning with long pauses before thunder and NO RAIN.

I have seen tons of old dark house mystery/horror/comedies from the 20s, 30s and 40s and I dare anyone to name better ones than this, Paul Leni's two mysteries, and Whale's The Old Dark House. Many of the ODH films of that time were poverty row. Some were downright boring, others interesting, but none with such a distinctive style as those mentioned. I cannot understand the harshness people can feel about this film. One has to put themselves in a mood to watch such a film. It was never intended to be incredibly meaningful like Ben- Hur, or All Quiet on the Western Front. This is pure pulp from start to end.

The Bat Whispers, is in many ways, a forerunner to today's gigantic comic book movies. Some have much style (Batman, The Matrix, X-Men) and some are totally ridiculous with the same absurd plot holes (Batman, The Matrix, X-Men, etc.).

So, what can one expect? A totally fun, old-fashioned mystery romp that satisfies one's need for shadows, lighting, special effects, atmosphere, mystery, horror and downright silliness. This is a masterpiece in the genre and also Roland West's greatest film. It is consistent with the films that West shot. It's a shame he didn't continue with his dark style of film-making. Chester Morris has been called a ham in these posts and that's true. And what terrific ham! He gives one of the best performances in an ODH movie. His intensity was perfectly enhanced by the powerful arc lamps that under lit him, so much so that he suffered scorched retinas and unfortunately suffered visually for the rest of his life. That is a man dedicated to the art of his film! Morris makes the proceeds far more interesting than any other 'detective' I have seen in this type of film. The supporting cast makes this effectively spooky (Gustav von Seyferritz as Ven Rees leads the way).

Overall, this is stylish escapism at its' best in the old-fashioned sense. Special credit goes to the camera operators and art director. Both standard and widescreen versions are completely different takes and different films. I prefer the standard version, as Morris' close-ups are far more effective. The one when he returns and stands at the top of the stairs is avant-garde in how he is so perfectly centered and unnaturally under lit. I could go on.... a great fun film!

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