Saturday, October 26, 2013
The Vincent Price Blogathon | The Bat (1959)
Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Vincent Price's death, and to celebrate his life and work, The Nitrate Diva is hosting The Vincent Price Blogathon all weekend. Click that link for the portal to reviews of several Price films with more coming today and tomorrow. For mine, I picked:
Who's in it?: Vincent Price (of course) and Agnes Moorehead (Citizen Kane, Bewitched)
What's it about?: A mystery novelist (Moorehead) rents a large mansion in a town plagued by a serial killer.
How is it?: Vincent Price gets top billing for being the bigger star, but Agnes Moorehead's Cornelia van Gorder is the main character in this Murder, She Wrote-like tale. Before the movie even begins, the murderer known only as the Bat (because he may or may not also be responsible for the town's infestation of rabid bats) has been at work for a while. But just as Cornelia moves in, an embezzlement at the bank sends several people looking for the money, the clue to which is possibly hidden in Cornelia's house. Price plays the local doctor who's certainly up to no good and is also a strong suspect for the Bat.
It's a simple mystery and even with lots of attempted misdirection it's not difficult to figure out who the killer is. The dialogue is also extremely clunky with the worst kind of exposition shoved in all over the place. There are a few occasions early on where instead of seeing something cool happen, we just get to hear a couple of people talk about it.
But what the movie lacks in craft it makes up in charm. I naturally hoped for Price to be the eponymous villain, but whether he is or not, he's perfectly sinister and Vincent Pricey. I also spotted a lot of Endora's wicked playfulness in Cornelia, just five years before the debut of Bewitched. It's a treat watching those two, especially in the scenes they have together. And of course there's also the spooky, old house with its secret rooms and the marvelous look of the faceless, fedora-wearing, claw-handed Bat. For those who can forgive its B-movie plot and dialogue, The Bat offers a lot to love.
Rating: Four out of five foreboding physicians.