Bat, The (Silent - 1926)
Starring: Jack Pickford
Plot: An outstanding picture in so many ways. Based on the play by Mary Roberts Rhinehart, The Bat tells the story of a master criminal who tries to scare some people out of an old, dark house. The trouble is that there are other criminals afoot, and the story becomes a mystery as to who is hiding behind the mask (looking very much like the inspiration for Batman for a young Bob Kane). The acting is very good for this silent picture and first of several film adaptations of Rhinehart's work. Louise Fazenda steals much of her screen time as an easily frightened maid/companion. She uses her face to its limits whether it be for screaming or being childish. A real treat to watch. Emily Fitzroy is equally good in her role as a woman with a lot of smarts. The real star here though is Roland West, who takes parlour room material and turns it into something grandiose. The mood West creates is hypnotic. The camera shots he uses are phenomenal. West also is ably assisted by the tremendous sets employed by art director William Cameron Menzies. The house is awesome and the opening settings are just breathtaking. Another real plus here is the titles used throughout the film. They are informative, yet not too wordy. They help create, maintain, and sustain suspense throughout the picture. This is a craft not too easily belittled. The film was and is an absolute joy!