Tuesday, October 28, 2014

31 Days of Suspense: "The Whole Town's Sleeping"

For my fourth-favourite episode of Suspense I'm very pleased to revisit my personal favourite author: Ray Bradbury!

Bradbury was a bit of an odd duck; the contrast between his stories which expressed his deep love of nature, small towns and children and those stories which explored the horrors of nature, small towns and children leave an interesting edge to his work. One can discuss the concept of "Bradburyesque" stories, but the first time you hear one of his tales you might not foresee quite where the story is going to end up.

Suspense adapted Bradbury's story "The Whole Town's Sleeping" on two occasions, but I prefer the second from August 31, 1958, appearing during William N. Robson's tenure as producer-director. The so-called "First Lady of Suspense" Agnes Moorehead (so named largely on the strength of her performance in "Sorry, Wrong Number") stars as a spinster who goes for a nice long walk one evening... through a dark ravine... while a killer is on the loose. Check it out by downloading the episode from archive.org here.

In the world of bleak endings, this story wears a heavy crown. In fact, I've noticed online that some people are truly offended by this story mainly because of what their imagination tells them, rather than the text itself. If you'd prefer Bradbury to hold your hand and tell you everything turns out okay, then go read the altered version of this story in his book Dandelion Wine. If you'd rather let him scare your wig off, then stick with the original.

Tomorrow: "No, Ellen, you-you didn't even wake up..."

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