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Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics [Blu-ray]
THE JOKER, LEX LUTHOR, CATWOMAN, DOOMSDAY, BANE. What makes them so thrillingly watchable? So terribly wonderful? So extremely vital to our super heroes and their worlds? This new feature-length documentary explores these questions across seven decades of DC Comics' hallowed Rogues' Gallery of infamous evildoers.
Original Broadcast Dates: April 16, 1946-May 20, 1946
"The Hate Mongers Organization"
Our story begins on the streets of Metropolis at midnight. Two figures are walking down Morton Street. They stop at Hoffman's Drug Store. One of these boys throws a brick through the display window full of perfume while his partner pours gasoline. The two youths start a fire that spreads to six buildings. Danny O'Neil, a newsboy for the Daily Planet, tells his friend Jimmy Olsen, Clark Kent and Perry White that he witnessed the blaze being started. One of the boys was a tough kid named Muggs, who quit school and hangs around the pool hall. When Danny went to ring the bell that calls the fire department, Muggs saw him under a street lamp. It is for this reason that young Danny fears for his life.
Jimmy and Danny have just shared a cab to go to their respective homes. Jimmy has said goodbye to his friend before the taxi leaves. Danny enters the tenement in which he and his mother live when he is greeted by the menacing forms of Muggs and a boy called Skinny. The pair of young hoodlums beat Danny nearly to death. It looks like he may not survive without medical attention.
Beany Martin, copy boy for the Daily Planet, has been trying to call Clark Kent for a half hour. When he finally reaches the mild mannered reporter, he gives him some urgent news. Jimmy Olsen is in the Metropolis Hospital.
Clark has just arrived at the hospital to find Jimmy in the waiting room. Apparently, Beany got mixed up and thought the cub reporter had been hurt. Danny O'Neil is on the Danger List. He was badly beaten by Muggs and Skinny and could have a brain concussion. Father Francis Shian of the Saint Mary's Catholic Church is with the boy. Shian, Jimmy and Clark talk with Danny. He tells them who had attacked him, and he fears that Muggs and his friends will do something to his mother. Shian promises to have someone stay with her until Danny gets well.
Danny is now resting as Father Shian, Clark and Jimmy leave the room. Shian then explains that he had met with local religious leaders from Protestant and Jewish faiths along with a school principal and three men to discuss the creation of Unity House, a community center and playground where children of every race, ethnic background and spiritual belief can play and interact in order to learn that all people are the same. However, the members of the Unity House committee have received threatening letters after news of their efforts had gotten out. Father Shian is certain that the people who sent the notes ordered Muggs to start the fire on Morton Street.
Clark has a plan that will hopefully bring down the hate mongers organization that is trying to prevent the creation of Unity House. Jimmy is essential to the plan, and it could mean that the cub reporter will be risking his life. Upon getting approval from Metropolis Police Inspector Bill Henderson, Clark discusses what he has in mind with Lois Lane and Perry White. Should the police arrest Muggs and his friends, the group behind the threats to the Unity House committee will go into hiding. Jimmy is to pose as a hoodlum to gain Muggs' confidence and join his gang. Should Jimmy be in danger, Superman will provide protection. Despite much debate between Lois, Clark and Perry, Jimmy agrees to proceed with Clark's plan. The cub reporter is willing to do anything to get the punks that hurt Danny and stop the spread of hate through Metropolis.
Father Shian has just called Clark. Danny's condition has worsened. If he's not operated on within the next two hours, the boy could die. Doctor Ernest C. Henley could perform the necessary surgery on Danny. However, he is in Chicago, which is a thousand miles away. Knowing Superman could get there in no time, Clark promises that Henley will be in the hospital at 11:00. However, the doctor isn't at the medical conference in which he had opened. Clark learns that Henley went to the theater to see a play with his wife. Unfortunately, there are many of those in Chicago. Superman may have failed to save the life of young Danny O'Neil.
Danny has been moved to the operating room. It is now 10:45 PM. Doctor Henley still hasn't arrived, and Danny's life hangs in the balance as the clock continues to tick. Five minutes later in Chicago, Clark Kent finds Doctor Henley and convinces him to go with Superman to Metropolis Hospital to operate on Danny. Carrying the noted brain surgeon, the Man of Steel streaks eastward to save the life of an innocent newsboy.
It is now midnight in Metropolis. Doctor Henley has just finished an hour-long operation on Danny O'Neil. On two different sides of town, two youths pray for the newsboy's survival. One is Jimmy Olsen, who is waiting with Clark Kent in the offices of the Daily Planet. The other lad is Muggs. The mysterious leader of the hate mongers organization, who hides his identity behind a black velvet curtain, has chided the boy for beating Danny. Muggs was not ordered to beat the young man. Should Danny die, the hate mongers' leader will make certain that Muggs is punished.
Danny O'Neil is out of danger. Perry White and Lois Lane want to know how Clark was able to bring Doctor Henley to Metropolis so fast. Kent says he has close contact with Superman. To prove this, Clark must produce the Man of Tomorrow in thirty seconds. If he does so, Perry will give Clark ten thousand dollars. Superman arrives in Perry's office in twenty-seven seconds, flies Lois through the city and leaves the Daily Planet.
Lois is suspicious because Clark was not in Perry's office when Superman showed up. Beany Martin tells her that Clark went into the storage room, but she finds nobody there. Superman had left when he heard her walking to the door. He exits from the elevator in his reporter's guise. Clark then tells Lois that he was in the storage before leaving to contact Superman. Despite still being suspicious, Lois doesn't press the issue - for now.
Clark and Lois have returned to Perry's office. Clark asks for the ten thousand dollars to go to the Unity House Building Fund. He then goes on to say that he discussed his plan involving Jimmy with Inspector Henderson, Father Shian and Rabbi Stone. Jimmy's mother also knows that he will not be home for a few days. Tonight at 6:00 PM, the cub reporter will go to the pool hall where Muggs hangs out in order to try the join the hooligan's gang. Once Jimmy gains Muggs' confidence, he can help Clark Kent and Superman bring down the hate mongers organization.
Jimmy, claiming to be from Philadelphia, has found Muggs and convinced him to join his gang. If he doesn't see Muggs at the pool hall, Jimmy is to talk to a boy named Dutch. Muggs and his friends are keeping a low profile since they beat up Danny O'Neil, but there might be something for Jimmy to do tomorrow night. To make sure the cub reporter can be trusted, Muggs has Dutch follow him.
Jimmy has gone to a drug store phone booth to call Clark Kent. He talks about what Muggs had told him, but he suddenly stops speaking. Jimmy sees Dutch come out of the next booth. He possibly overheard the cub reporter talking to Kent. Jimmy's cover may very well be blown.
Clark has just told Jimmy not to worry. He'll find a way to stop Dutch before he gets back to the pool hall to report to Muggs. Jimmy is to hang up the telephone and remain in the booth. Removing his glasses and reporter's garb, Clark streaks to Market Street as Superman to stop Dutch. However, once he returns to his Clark Kent persona, Dutch is hit by a car while being pursued by our hero. Clark and the driver of the vehicle take the lad to the Metropolis Hospital, where Clark orders that Dutch get no visitors besides Kent himself. Dutch wasn't seriously hurt, but he knows too much to have anyone other than Clark see the boy.
As ordered by Clark, Jimmy tells Muggs of witnessing Dutch getting hit by an automobile. He didn't say anything about knowing Dutch because he was ordered by Muggs to keep quiet. Dutch was to do something involving cars tomorrow night for Muggs, but he wants Jimmy to do it in the hospitalized lad's place. As he brags about starting the Morton Street fire in an effort to scare Hoffman, who was a member of the Unity House Committee, Muggs tells Jimmy about how his gang helps teach a lesson to all foreign people that come into America. Muggs continues to say that their next target is someone named Murphy. Suddenly, Dutch, who has escaped from the hospital, enters the pool hall. Jimmy has now become worried. It looks like Clark Kent's plan might have failed.
Clark has received a call from the hospital about Dutch's escaping. He then asks Inspector Henderson to have a policeman meet him at the pool hall and arrest Jimmy and take Dutch back to the hospital under guard. Jimmy's true identity is safe for now.
Muggs is now speaking with the mysteriously hidden leader of the organization of bigots. The chief racist wants to know more about Jimmy. Muggs tells him what he does know and of the car accident. However, it's not enough. The leader will make sure his lawyers learn everything about young Olsen. The cub reporter may yet again be in danger of being discovered by the hate mongers.
It's after midnight in Clark Kent's apartment. Jimmy can't seem to shake the feeling that something is wrong. He realizes how right he is when Inspector Henderson calls Kent. A lawyer named Walter Greene, who represents an unknown person or group, has asked about Jimmy's arrest. Henderson has kept everything quiet, but Jimmy will have to return to police headquarters to be locked in a detention cell. He will have to play tough and act cagey when Greene asks him questions.
Walter Greene has questioned Jimmy. Jimmy hasn't answered the lawyer and has acted suspicious of everyone. Greene and Jimmy slowly gain each other's confidence. However, claiming to know of something big, Jimmy asks to see the big boss of the group that Greene represents. He believes that going to the pool hall will be too dangerous. Greene agrees to this. Young Jimmy Olsen will soon get to meet with the leader of the hate mongers organization.
Jimmy has been taken to the chief of the hate mongers. Both the disguised cub reporter and the head of the group distrust each other, but eventually the mysterious leader of the organization calling itself the Guardians of America discusses his plans to make every race and religion hate each other by spreading stories full of vicious lies. However, the creation of Unity House interferes with this sinister plot.
Now feeling that he can trust Jimmy, the big boss gives him a job to do. An art gallery owner named Adolf Klein has sent money to the Unity House Building Fund despite the warnings sent by the Guardians of America. Tomorrow, Jimmy is to go to the art gallery posing as a student writing a composition on famous painters. He is to take a razor blade and slash some paintings. Jimmy will be given the gallery's address and the list of pictures to be cut. He will also be paid fifty dollars for each piece of art destroyed. Should he do this well, Jimmy could replace Muggs as the leader of the gang of young hoodlums.
It's 1:00 AM. Jimmy is telling Clark Kent of his meeting with the big boss of the Guardians of America. He also speaks of the art gallery job given to him. Clark decides to talk with Mister Klein in the morning. If he agrees to Kent's plan, the paintings will not be slashed, but an article in the Daily Planet will make it seem as if they were. It will be written in a way that will possibly allow Jimmy to meet the big boss face-to-face.
Clark has just asked Jimmy if he heard anything about Rabbi Stone from the big boss or Muggs. Stone has received threats from the Guardians of America. Jimmy says that he hadn't learned anything, but when he later arrives in the pool hall to talk to Muggs, he finds out that Murphy will not be tonight's target as had been originally planned. The gang of juvenile delinquents will vandalize Rabbi Stone's synagogue. Faking a stomach ache, Jimmy goes to the drug store phone booth to call Clark. Unfortunately, there is no answer in Kent's apartment so far. Superman may not save the Jewish temple in time from a serious crime of hate.
Five minutes have passed since Jimmy called Clark. Finally, the reporter answers and promises to get Superman to the synagogue. The Man of Steel takes Rabbi Stone to the temple with him and waits for Muggs and his gang of thugs. While waiting, Stone tells Superman of his friendship with Father Shian and other religious leaders. Shortly afterwards, Muggs' gang enters the synagogue. The lights are turned on as Rabbi Stone gives the delinquents the thrashing they deserve. Suddenly, a boy named Lefty stabs Rabbi Stone before he and the others run away. A shocked Superman comes out of hiding to see Stone bleeding. He now wonders if even his tremendous speed can get him the aid he needs before it's too late.
It is now the morning after Rabbi Stone had been attacked. Inspector Henderson wants to arrest Muggs' gang, but Clark and Jimmy convince him to give them twenty-four hours to get proof against the leader of Guardians of America before arresting the boys. At that moment, Father Shian calls Henderson's office to speak to Clark, the Reverend Doctor Charles Leeds, pastor of the Methodist Church who is doing Rabbi Stone's sermons for him while he recovers in the hospital, has received a threatening note from the hate mongers. This changes Clark's plan slightly. Jimmy will have to pretend to be a spy for Muggs in order to learn what his gang will do next.
Jimmy had met with Muggs earlier in the day and is now telling Clark what he has learned. Muggs wants to put a bomb in the engine of someone's automobile. Once the vehicle starts, it explodes. Thinking that Doctor Leeds is the intended victim, Clark calls him only to receive a surprising bit of information. Doctor Leeds doesn't even own a car.
Father Shian is discussing the recent events with Clark and Jimmy. They deduce that not a single one of the Metropolis religious leaders in the Unity House Committee own a car. This leaves three other members of the group as next target for the Guardians of America: pharmacist Dave Hoffman - whose drug store was burned down in the Morton Street fire, public school principal Mister Walters and retired policeman George Murphy. Inspector Henderson will have mechanics control the three men's automobiles. However, nobody realizes that Perry White is really the intended victim after an article about the ten thousand dollars donated to the Unity House Fund by the Daily Planet.
A man named Erik calls Muggs at the pool hall to make sure the boy comes to see the leader of the Guardians of America. He wants Muggs to put the car bomb in Perry's car. To make his scheme more diabolical, the head hate monger poses as Father Shian on the telephone. He asks Perry to come to the parish house for a Unity House Committee meeting. The editor is also to pick up Doctor Leeds on the way. The big boss intends to kill two birds with one stone, or one bomb in this case.
Perry White is telling copy boy Beany Martin that he wants to see Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen. As if to respond to the chief, a phone call arrives from Kent. Perry orders him to return to the office. Clark says he'll be there in twenty minutes. After Kent has left Jimmy alone, the cub reporter sees Muggs and Lefty from the window. The two hoodlums apparently followed Jimmy. He calls the Daily Planet while the boys enter the apartment building. Jimmy eventually gets Perry on the line as the doorbell rings. The editor reluctantly gives the phone to Clark, who changes into Superman once he hears of Jimmy's peril.
Superman has just sped Jimmy to the pool hall in seconds. It normally takes thirty minutes to walk from Clark Kent's apartment building to the hangout of Muggs' gang. This gives Jimmy an alibi when Muggs returns. However, he is still suspicious of Jimmy despite ordering him to go to the next job with him: placing the bomb on Perry White's car. A boy named Charlie is ordered to make sure Jimmy doesn't leave the pool hall while Muggs is gone. The cub reporter has no way of warning the chief of the danger to his life.
Muggs and Jimmy have arrived at Doctor Leeds' house not long before Perry's car. They place the bomb onto the engine while the editor is inside the pastor's home. Jimmy makes a lot of noise while helping Muggs in order to warn Perry and Doctor Leeds. The boys run away, but Jimmy pretends to have a leg injury. He then rushes to disconnect the explosive while Muggs races around a corner. However, the young thug returns to knock out the cub reporter with a lead pipe.
Jimmy has awakened in the home of Doctor Leeds. Leeds himself has taken Muggs to Inspector Henderson. Perry and Clark Kent thank Jimmy for his quick work in saving the chief and the reverend, Jimmy is worried because his cover is blown. Clark tells him that everything will be fine. If his plan involving the story of Adolf Klein's art gallery works, they can bring down the Guardians of America and unmask their leader. Clark isn't the only one who is confident, for the big boss has also hatched a scheme. His sinister plot could mean the end of all that the Unity House Committee holds dear.
Jimmy and Clark are in Inspector Henderson's office. The twenty-four hours given to them to bring down the Guardians of America has expired. The two reporters want one more chance. Henderson doesn't want to give it to them until Clark outlines his plan about Klein's Art Gallery further. Now, Jimmy and Clark can hopefully learn the true identity of the big boss.
Jimmy has just entered the penthouse headquarters of the Guardians of America. The leader has become so impressed with the accounts of Jimmy's work that he offers him the rare privilege of seeing the head hate monger's face. He introduces himself as Frank Hill. Jimmy acts glad to meet him, but he's in for a shock when he learns that someone familiar to him is a part of the organization of bigots. Adolf Klein is face-to-face with Jimmy, and he knows every part of Clark Kent's plan for the art gallery and Frank Hill's unmasking.
Perry White and Clark Kent are waiting for Jimmy to call. The printers need the final edition of the newspaper soon, and they have been there for forty minutes. What our friends don't know is that Jimmy is trapped in a room within the penthouse headquarters of the Guardians of America. Frank Hill and his minions plan to throw the cub reporter off the Metropolis Bridge. All hope seems lost for Jimmy until he sees an organ grinder and monkey from the window. He writes a note to give to Clark, wraps it around a coin and sends it sailing to the street below, where it lands near the monkey's feet. All Jimmy can do now is wait and hope that Clark gets his message despite the fact that the organ grinder cannot read English.
Frank Hill and his two henchmen Karl and Erik enter the room where Jimmy Olsen is being held within their penthouse headquarters. The young reporter holds them back with his pocket knife, but the fight in him doesn't last long. Hill fires a gas gun into Jimmy's eyes. He is now temporarily blind. Karl and Erik bound and gag him and prepare to take the lad on a car trip to the Metropolis Bridge.
Clark Kent has become worried about Jimmy. As Superman, he begins to search Metropolis for him. Not finding young Olsen, he returns to Perry's office as the mild mannered reporter. At the same time, Erik and Carl are driving their black Sedan. Jimmy is bound and gagged in the rear seat as they discuss throwing him off the Metropolis Bridge. Meanwhile, Maria, daughter of the Italian organ grinder, finds Jimmy's note in the torn pocket of her father's pants and reads it. She is about to ask her father about it, but he is fast asleep. Maria crumples the paper, places it in an ashtray and sews her father's tattered pocket. Jimmy's life now hangs by a thread thinner than the one Maria is using.
Karl and Eric's car will be on the Metropolis Bridge in fifteen minutes. This is the same amount of time Perry has given Clark to call the police. In the meantime, Maria feels compelled to read the note again and call Clark. With just five minutes remaining, she tells Clark of Jimmy's peril. However, Perry won't let the mild mannered reporter leave the office to become Superman. Our hero is forced to knock out the chief before donning the blue costume and red cape once again. Superman is traveling extremely fast, but even he may not make it in time to prevent Jimmy's death at the hands of the Guardians of America.
Jimmy has just landed in the Metropolis River. Superman has dived into the water in the nick of time to save the cub reporter. Now, they both are in the penthouse headquarters of the Guardians of America. Superman moves to the side while Jimmy enters Frank Hill's office. Believing the boy is a ghost, Erik and Karl become frightened. However, Hill is not so easily fooled. He is about to shoot Jimmy, but Superman gets in front of the boy. Bullets bounce off the Man of Steel's skin, but he suddenly clutches at his stomach while staggering. The maniacal Frank Hill could have possibly found a way to defeat Superman.
Superman, much to Frank Hill's shock, was only pretending to be injured. He knocks out Erik and Karl while Jimmy calls Inspector Henderson. Hill tries to get away while Superman speaks with Henderson. The Man of Steel punches Hill unconscious and later rips open the hate monger's office safe. In addition to a bunch of money, there are documents inside showing that Hill is a draft dodger and a Nazi spy during the war whose real name is Franz Hiller. Superman later tells this to Muggs' gang in Inspector Henderson's office. This angers all of the boys in the group because they all have fathers or brothers that were killed or injured during the war. Muggs now regrets his actions and wants his entire gang to help raise funds for Unity House. The evil plans of the Guardians of America have been foiled by Superman and Jimmy Olsen.
Jimmy has just told Lois of how he and Superman helped bring about the fall of the Guardians of America. She doesn't have much time to talk, however, because she is to give the opening speech at a rally for District Attorney Henry Marshall. Marshall is running for mayor against the corrupt Martin Higgins, who is supported by gangsters and racketeers. Before leaving her office, Lois receives a phone call. She is to not go to the Marshall rally. Otherwise, she will be hurt badly. What will Superman do when he learns that "Al Vincent's Corrupt Political Machine" has threatened Lois? Tune in next week to find out, gang, and be sure not to miss another minute of The Adventures of Superman.
Chapters five and six are missing as of this writing. However, the events of those episodes are spectacularly recapped by Jackson Beck
In chapter fifteen, Clark says Doctor Leeds' name is Charles. However, he is called William Leeds in the Daily Planet article read by the leader of the Guardians of America in episode sixteen.
The leader of Guardians of America says he's from Saint Catherine's Church when he poses as Father Shian. However, Shian is introduced as the priest of Saint Mary's Church in this serial.
Beginning with this story arc, Jackson Beck began announcing episode titles for the next days' chapters.
The music played in the beginning of each episode is from the Fleischer cartoons.
"The Hate Mongers Organization" is one of those stories I think other radio programs might have been afraid to tackle in 1946. Had a show such as Dragnet used the same subject matter, it probably would not have had the same impact. Perhaps Gunsmoke and The Green Hornet could have pulled it off. The latter sure would have gotten the attention of children listening. However, Bitt Reid's alter ego, while famous at the time, didn't have the iconic status of Superman in my opinion. If Superman said religious and racial intolerance was wrong, they believed him. Had Joe Friday or Matt Dillon told the audience the same thing, the youths of the time probably would not have thought much about it.
The story of "The Hate Mongers Organization" itself, while melodramatic at times, is well done and makes its point. Had America and the rest of the world not still had World War II and Hitler's hateful propaganda freshly burned into their minds, the message may have come across differently to listeners. They possibly would have said, "It will never happen here."
I only have two complaints about "The Hate Mongers Organization." The first is rather minor, but I still find it irritating to a small degree. The names of the youth gang members are rather ridiculous. Muggs, Lefty, Skinny and Dutch sound like nicknames of characters from a badly written, low budget gangster film. They would work well for a serial like "Donelli's Protection Racket," but they don't work for a gang of tough kids. The second thing that I had problems with is the fact that Frank Hill didn't know about Superman. The Nazis, particularly Der Teufel, were aware of the Man of Steel's existence. Therefore, it would be safe to say all of Hitler's agents and spies had this information. How could Hill ask who Superman was if his comrade Der Teufel had created the Atom Man to kill him mere months ago?
There's a lot of jumping from one point to another in "The Hate Mongers Organization." However, this is merely done to cover all the characters and events fairly. It's not done in a way that bothers the listener. Superman and his friends had a lot to do in this serial. Jimmy especially does more than usual. In fact, he seems to be in danger throughout this story arc. One can feel this in many of the cliffhangers.
Overall, "The Hate Mongers Organization" provides the audience with a good lesson and an exciting story. Let's hope that the latter part is also true when Superman comes face-to-face with "Al Vincent's Corrupt Political Machine" next week, Superfans. Until we see each other in seven days or so, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky.