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7

THURSDAY

If Roland West’s 1930 film The Bat Whispers was indeed Bob Kane’s inspiration for Batman, as is often suggested, the thing that must have grabbed Kane is the film’s remarkable prologue: swooping widescreen shots of skyscrapers and a high-rise jewel theft by the film’s title character, a costumed supervillain. The rest of the movie is an “old dark house” mystery/thriller/farce that reveals its stage-play origins a little too clearly as a large cast rushes around pursuing or fleeing the Bat. Even at its most contrived, though, West shows a flair for dramatic camera angles and deep shadows that owe more to German expressionism than to Broadway. And the epilogue’s a hoot. This screening complements the Hirshhorn’s current show of work by sculptor H.C. Westermann, who credited the film as an influence and dedicated one of his pieces, Fool’s Gold, to Bat Whispers star Chester Morris. The film screens at 8 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Ring Auditorium, 7th and Independence Avenue SW. Free. (202) 357-2700. (Mark Jenkins)