C.J. Tevlin for Liberty Pictures/Allied Artists
directed by Crane Wilbur
starring Vincent Price, Agnes Moorehead, Gavin Gordon, John Sutton, Lenita Lane, Elaine Edwards, Darla Hood, John Bryant, Harvey Stephens, Mike Steele, Riza Royce, Robert B. Williams
screenplay by Crane Wilbur, based on the play by Avery Hopwood, Mary Roberts Rinehart, music by Louis Forbes
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Mystery writer Cornelia Van Gorder (Agnes Moorehead) has taken up
residence in the mansion of banker John Fleming (Harvey Stephens) while
he's out on a hunting trip with his friend doctor Wells (Vincent Price).
What nobody knows is that Fleming has actually embezzled a million Dollars from
his own bank, and he wants to make Wells his accomplice to fake his death
to get away with the loot scot-free, promising half the money in return. Wells though thinks it's a better idea to kill
Fleming for real and then go and get the money from Fleming's family
vault, which is hidden somewhere in the mansion.
Back at the mansion,
Cornelia and her maid Lizzie (Lenita Lane) find themselves under attack
from a mysterious and masked killer locally known only as the Bat,
who seems to be able to slip into and out of the house with the greatest
of ease, but who every now and again leaves a dead person behind. Soon,
police Lt. Anderson (Gavin Gordon) starts to investigate, but seems to be
unable to take control of the situation - and thus, Dr Wells has to be
called upon frequently to do a first autopsy on the dead bodies, but he
sometimes also shows up just like that, and of course, he's on the look-out
for the family vault. There is no love between Wells and Anderson, that
much is for sure, as each seems to suspect the other of something, but
then even a third suspect is thrown into the mix, Warner (John Sutton),
whom everybody soon believes to being the Bat.
Eventually, the Bat shows
up at Wells' place and kills him, just to eliminate the competition ...
all this is happening, Cornelia comes to her own conclusions (she wouldn't
be a good mystery writer if she didn't), and eventually, she is able to
find the family vault before everyone else - but as she finds out, that
only puts her more at risk ...
The as of then third adaptation of Mario Roberts Rinehart and Avery
Hopwood's play, and certainly not the most impressive one. Basically it's
a bit over-crowded and thus over-convoluted, is not all there when it
comes to atmosphere, and can't totally shake its staginess - not so much
due to its source material as that has been quite some liberties with, but
simply its modest budget that doesn't allow for much more than what's on
screen. But that said, The Bat is stil a film that's very much
worth your while, for one as it's an epitomy of 1950s low budget horror,
but more importantly it's also carried by a top-notch cast that really
makes up for most of the film's shortcomings and should make this a
favourite with any vintage horror fan!