Music for Films: Box Set – The Shadow of the Bat

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With more Batman content (a new Batwoman on the CW, a new film franchise, along with every actor who’s alive and played Batman in a film making a cameo in ‘The Flash’ movie…) the enduring box office appeal of a character that’s now over eighty years old is one of the more curious aspects of American pop culture.

In his autobiography ‘Batman and Me’, Bob Kane states that the villain of Roland West’s thriller ‘The Bat Whispers’ was an inspiration for Batman. (For a less self-aggrandising take on Batman’s origins in the low-rent world of early US comic books, try Gerard Jones’s ‘Men of Tomorrow‘).

As a Halloween treat, this Music for Films is part one of a lucky dip into some of the inspiration for Batman, and also the “Old Dark House” genre of horror-mystery theatre that inspired everything from Lon Chaney’s 1925 ‘The Monster‘ and ‘The Cat and the Canary‘ (1927) through to camp Vincent Price starrer ‘House on Haunted Hill‘ (1959) and Robert Wise’s peerless ‘The Haunting‘, and in 2020 Netflix’s ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor‘.

Roland West’s 1926 ‘The Bat‘.

West’s talkie remake, 1930’s ‘The Bat Whispers‘.

‘The Bat’ was based on Mary Roberts Rinehart’s 1909 hit thriller ‘The Circular Staircase‘, which she adapted for the Broadway stage as ‘The Bat‘ with Avery Hopwood.

In the podcast we mention the Japanese actor Sojin Kamiyama and Thelma Todd.

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