Story by: Alan Burnett & Michael Reaves Teleplay by: Joe R Lansdale Directed by: Boyd Kirkland
Scarface – “I smell a double cross.Woke up last night with one of them what-chya-ma call its?A prima.. primanotion.
The Ventriloquist – “Premonition?”
Scarface – “Don’t put words in my mouth!”
SOMETIMES A SITUATION...
...can seem so real, so believable, that it seems difficult to completely get your head around it.For The Ventriloquist in the episode, Read My Lips, it was the fact that his boss, the gangster known as Scarface, wasn’t real.That’s not to say that Scarface wasn’t physically there, in fact technically he was, but the reality was that he existd as a little wooden puppet that The Ventriloquist carried around with him.For The Ventriloquist, Scarface was as real as the next person and that was because he suffered from Multiple Personality Syndrome Disorder, which caused a second personality to exist within his mind, which he transfered over to the doll.
The Ventriloquist didn’t just provide the voice for Scarface though; he also followed his orders, acting as his servant, because he was genuinely scared of what he might do to him if he didn’t comply with his wishes.When Batman came across the pair, after a series of heists led back to Scarface, he couldn’t quite work out what the situation was.At first he was unsure if Scarface was just a doll operated by The Ventriloquist or if he was actually alive, and it wasn’t until further investigation that he started to realise how much control Scarface had over The Ventriloquist.
It was also not just Batman who was confused, even Scarface’s own henchmen didn’t know the real deal, which meant The Ventriloquist was unlikely to be able to understand for himself what he had created!The situation continued until Batman was able to get a handle on The Ventriloquist’s condition and managed to play elements of the illness off against each other.Unlike Harvey Dent, whose condition took over and submerged the less dominant personality creating the villainous Two-Face, the relationship between Scarface and The Ventriloquist caused Scarface to become the puppeteer, with The Ventriloquist being led by the strings.Ultimately a link was severed when Scarface was destroyed during a fight with Batman, but in reality it was only the vessel which was lost and not the person inside.The relationship would seem baffling to anyone unable to get into The Ventriloquist’s way of thinking but that never quite stopped it from being so believable. So next time you hear a voice, maybe you should check with someone else...to find out if they heard it too!
SPEAK EASY: *George Dzundza who provided the voice of Scarface and The Ventriloquist, also voiced Daily Planet editor, Perry White, on Superman: The Animated Series.
*The Multiple Personality Syndrome Disorder which The Ventriloquist suffered from didn’t just confuse Batman; it even confused the Bat-computer.
*When talking to Alfred about his knowledge of being able to throw his own voice, Batman mentioned that he learnt the technique whilst training with Zatara the magician.Bruce’s past with Zatara was detailed during the episode, Zatanna (1993).