Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Bradbury 31, Day 12: "And So Died Riabouchinska"

There are many great tales about ventriloquist's dummies, usually involving the ventriloquist grappling with his own identity. There's the great horror film Dead of Night and William Goldman's novel Magic (also made into a film). A rather unusual one is Ray Bradbury's short story "And So Died Riabouchinska," about a murder investigation which involves a famous ventriloquist.

Bradbury's story was the first sale he ever made to the radio program Suspense, which is where the story was first released in 1947 (the print version would arrive in 1953). What with the tradition Edgar Bergen had started with ventriloquism on the radio, it's appropriate for "Riabouchinska" to debut there. You can listen to the episode yourself at archive.org here. In 1956, the story was adapted during the first season of Alfred Hitchcock Presents with the great Claude Rains as ventriloquist John Fabian.

In 1988, TV's Ray Bradbury Theater created another adaptation with a disconcertingly uncanny ventriloquist's dummy. As the series was produced in Canada in those years, they changed the setting to Canada rather than try to disguise the filming locations. It's all right, but in my opinion doesn't hold up to the Suspense and Hitchcock versions.

Another Bradbury tale tomorrow!

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