DescriptionThe Bat Whispers (United Artists, 1930). One Sheet (27" X 41"). Style B.
An early entry in the "old dark house" genre (it predates James Whale's aptly titled The Old Dark House by two years), this is the story of a master criminal, known only as "The Bat," who terrorizes the inhabitants of a lonely country estate. Starring Chester Morris as the detective assigned to get to the bottom of things, the film was originally shot in a wide-screen format known as "Grandeur," but most exhibitors, struggling after making a recent - and very expensive - investment in sound technology, simply showed the picture in standard 35mm, resulting in the loss of some breathtaking cinematography.
What is perhaps most intriguing about this picture, however, is its connection to one of the 20th century's leading pop cultural icons. Writing in his autobiography, Batman and Me, Bob Kane, the creator of the Caped Crusader and a self-professed movie buff, remembers, "The third influence [after the drawings of Leonardo DaVinci and the classic Douglas Fairbanks film, The Mark of Zorro (1920)] on Batman was a movie I saw when I was fourteen called The Bat Whispers. It was a remake of a silent film called The Bat, which itself had been an adaptation of a novel by the great mystery writer Mary Roberts Rinehart. In the 1931 sound version Chester Morris, who played Boston Blackie in films, had a dual role: he was a detective who tried to track down the mysterious Bat, and was revealed to be the killer himself at the end of the film. The story concerned a number of murders which took place in an old mansion. I remember his shadowy outline on the wall when he was about to kill somebody. They caught up with him in the attic - he wore a costume that looked a little like my early Batman's, with a black robe and a bat-shaped head. This made him look like a bat - very ominous. The film not only helped inspire Batman's costume but also the bat-signal, a prototype of which appeared on the wall when the Bat announced his next victim." With gorgeous artwork by Hap Hadley, this stunning stone litho poster has never before been offered by Heritage. Prior to expert professional restoration, the poster had pinholes in the top right, and a small chip in both the right and bottom border. Additionally, approximately one inch of paper has been replaced in the top and left borders. Strikingly beautiful and exceptionally rare, this one sheet is, perhaps, a once-in-a-lifetime find for one lucky collector. From the Berwick Discovery. Fine+ on Linen.
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