Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews

1946: George Latimer, Crooked Political Boss

Reviewed by: James Lantz

Original Broadcast Dates: September 03, 1946-September 25, 1946

"George Latimer, Crooked Political Boss"

Joe Martin, brother of the Daily Planet copy boy Beany and war hero of the Okinawa Invasion, and his Jewish friend Sam Robbins are in the state capitol speaking with thousands of G.I.s against the policies of Governor Frank C. Wheeler, who has been using prejudiced hiring methods. Most veterans have not gotten work because of their race and/or religion. Many of these jobs were promised to soldiers returning from the war. Both Joe and Sam believe that everyone should have an equal right to have employment. However, they want to protest in a different way. Joe wants to storm the capitol building, but Sam believes a more peaceful solution will work better. However, the men with whom they are talking are impatient and want a quick resolution to this problem.

Governor Wheeler is in a panic. George Latimer, corrupt man that is really controlling the political figure, is trying to calm him down. The state police have been dispatched to protect the area. Latimer has a plan that will make it look like Sam Robbins will do away with Joe Martin. All Wheeler has to do is speak to the G.I.s. He does so by saying he wants to rid the USA of foreigners that can undermine the government for true Americans. His words anger the war veterans, and in a panic, Wheeler orders the state police to fire their tommy guns. Chaos has now rocked the state capitol.

Beany has just received news that his brother had been shot while he and the other G.I.s were demonstrating at the state capitol. Perry White and Clark Kent promise to do everything they can to help Joe. Clark goes to the hospital and speaks with Sam Robbins. He doesn't know how Joe became the only one that could have been shot if tommy guns were used. Clark then investigates further by going to the state police department. Sergeant Adams, a ballistics expert that was at the G.I. protest, had told Governor Wheeler that he and his men didn't want to fire on any soldiers because many were in the war themselves. George Latimer convinced them to shoot, but the weapons were normally issued arms. Only one thing could clear the officers at the capitol building: the type of bullet that hit Joe Martin.

Sergeant Adams has gone with Clark to Metropolis to examine the bullet removed from the comatose Joe Martin. It is from a thirty-two automatic. None of Adams' men carry weapons that fire that kind of projectile. Clark is now left to wonder who shot Beany's brother. George Latimer then enters to answer Clark, but what the crooked political boss says shocks the mild mannered reporter. According to Latimer, Sam Robbins tried to kill Joe.

Clark is trying to calm Sam down after Latimer's accusation. While Sam is taken into police custody, Kent is speaking with the political boss and doesn't like how Latimer is speaking. He is saying things against anyone in America with a foreign background, including Sam Robbins. Clark promises that he'll see the bigot Latimer again very soon.

Clark has been talking Sam into not getting into a fight with Latimer while he speaks with more G.I.s that were at the state capitol. They are currently at the American Legion Post waiting for news of Joe Martin's condition. While Clark is talking to Sam, a reporter from the Daily Clarion overhears the conversation. Sam then loses his temper and gives the Clarion an earful. This later turns out worse for him while Clark is interviewing Sam and Joe's friends. There is a headline in the Clarion that reads, "Gun Found In Veteran's Home."

Clark Kent is speaking with Sergeant Adams while he is running ballistics tests on the bullet taken out of Joe Martin and the gun found in Sam Robbins' drawer. Firing another projectile, Adams finds that the weapon is the same one used to shoot Beany's brother. Kent later speaks with Sam and promises to do everything he can to find the truth. Just then, Jimmy Olsen shows Clark and Sam a new edition of the Daily Clarion that tells of Sam's mother condemning him. Now more than ever, Clark must learn who framed Sam and why.

Joe Martin has just come out of his coma and is asking for Sam. Joe is in a critical state. Only seeing Sam could help Joe. This means Superman may have to break the law to save the lives of two human beings.

Superman has promised the police that he'll bring Sam back to prison after he helps Joe. Sam has just visited and spoke with his friend. Joe Martin, thanks to Sam Robbins and Superman, is now on the slow road to recovery.

Governor Wheeler and George Latimer are in the former's office. A message about Sam's visit and Joe's recovery has gotten to Latimer. Now, the corrupt political leader must hatch another sinister plot that could mean trouble for Superman and his friends.

Lippy Williams, reporter for the Daily Clarion, is meeting George Latimer in Governor Wheeler's office. Latimer wants to spread propaganda against Sam Robbins, Jews, Catholics, African Americans and other races and religions in order to give his friends state jobs, and he doesn't care who gets hurt in the process.

An article in the Clarion claims that the shooting of Joe Martin was a foreign plot. While Clark Kent follows a lead given to him by the rival newspaper, Some of the G.I.s at the American Legion that were at the state capitol are taking it upon themselves to attempt to get Sam Robbins out of prison. This makes George Latimer happy. Everything seems to be going better than he had planned. The veterans may very well get themselves into some really big trouble.

Clark has just learned from Sam's mother that he returned to the house to get money he had saved. Sam himself had said he wanted to use the funds for Joe Martin's medical care. Clark also discovers that Lippy Williams was at the Robbins home pretending to be a friend of Sam's from the army. He could have easily planted the gun that shot Joe while Mrs. Robbins was preparing tea and cake.

Sam's brother Lenny has just told his mother and Clark of the enraged mob of G.I.s going to liberate Sam. Superman later convinces them to not take the law into their own hands. He'll do everything he can to prove Sam's innocence.

George Latimer has gotten word of the veterans not getting Sam out of prison. Now, with the aid of Lippy Williams, Latimer's new plan could be even more dangerous for Sam Robbins. He will have Governor Wheeler transfer Sam upstate, where the people hate anyone that is different from them. Can Superman clear Robbins before the crooked Latimer goes through with his vicious plot?

Lippy Williams doesn't like the direction in which Latimer's plan is going and asks for more money from him. However, Williams wants to go to Lourdeville, where the state troopers will drive with Sam Robbins on the way the prison in Grant City. He smells a story there. Latimer says he needs to go to Grant City and will drop Williams off in Lourdeville on the way there. First, Latimer must make a phone call, one that will make a mob in Lourdeville attack Robbins. Superman knows nothing of the transfer and may not be able to save poor Sam.

Clark Kent is in the office of Abner Brown, editor of the Daily Clarion. Kent is with Sam Robbins' mother and wants to see if she can identify Lippy Williams as the man who came by the house to see Sam earlier. Unfortunately, Brown has just received some disturbing news. Williams was found on River Road with his skull caved in. Now with the scandal mongering reporter dead, there seems to be no way to help clear Sam of shooting Joe Martin.

Mrs. Robbins has positively identified the deceased Lippy Williams as the man who claimed to be an old army friend of Sam's. Abner Brown tells Police Inspector Bill Henderson and Clark Kent that Williams called a couple of hours before his death saying that a big story was on the way. This leads Clark to want to pay a visit to Governor Frank C. Wheeler. Meanwhile, the armed mob in Lourdeville has stopped the state patrol car carrying Sam Robbins. Joe Martin's best friend is now in grave danger.

The unruly group of masked vigilantes led by a man named Dean Carter, an ally of George Latimer, has just taken Sam into the woods. In the meantime, Clark Kent has learned of George Latimer's "suggestion" to move Sam Robbins upstate. The irate Kent tells Governor Wheeler to pray that nothing happens to Robbins. Superman then flies to Grant City unaware of the fact that a bound Sam is being beaten by a mob of hate-filled men. Will the Man of Steel learn of young Robbins' peril?

One member of the mob named Doc has had a change of heart. He helps Sam escape the hate mongers. They flee for their lives in the dark woods. Meanwhile, Clark Kent is worried. It's been three hours since the patrol car carrying Sam left Metropolis, and it hasn't reported in anywhere. As Superman, he flies on a frantic search for Sam, who is running through the forest with Doc's aid. A war injury has prevented Sam from moving without help. They make it to an old barn. However, the masked vigilantes are closing in and shooting, and thanks to some burning hay, the structure Doc and Sam are inside is starting to catch on fire.

Superman has just seen the barn fire. He shields Sam and Doc just as the roof collapses. Taking Dean Carter's mob of bigots to the state policemen he had untied, the Man of Steel is now prepared to take Doc and Sam to Metropolis. Later, in Perry White's office, Clark Kent tells the chief of recent events and new information. The G.I.s with Joe Martin and Sam Robbins swear that the latter didn't have a gun. Plus, the direction of the bullet that hit Joe indicates that it was shot from the steps of the state capitol building.

Governor Wheeler's secretary Briggs has just called Clark. The political figure wishes to speak with Kent alone. Thinking this is either a lead in the Robbins investigation or trap, Clark's curiosity makes him promise to see Wheeler. When Clark arrives at the governor's mansion, the distraught Wheeler gives the mild mannered reporter a shock. Frank Wheeler intends to commit suicide.

Governor Wheeler elaborates on his intentions. He actually plans a political suicide. He confesses all that he and Latimer have done, including the fact that Latimer practically admitted to Sam Robbins being innocent of the Joe Martin shooting. However, Wheeler's word is not sufficient proof against the corrupt political boss. Clark suggests that Wheeler make Latimer come to see him. Clark will hide a listening device owned by private detective Candy Meyers behind a flag in the library where the governor will talk with Latimer. Just then, Briggs advises Wheeler that Latimer is to leave town tonight. He wants to see the governor before going away. This doesn't give Kent much time to plant the recorder.

Superman has just placed Candy Meyers' listening device behind the American flag in Wheeler's library. Latimer and the governor enter mere seconds after the Man of Steel leaves. Wheeler tries to get Latimer to confess about the shooting of Joe Martin. Suspicious, Latimer finds and destroys the recorder. He then confesses that he shot Beany's brother just as he points a gun at Governor Wheeler. The state political figure's very life is now in grave danger.

Latimer has just revealed that Briggs is a spy for the crooked political boss. Briggs could hear Clark's conversation with Governor Wheeler from his room's chimney flue that was over the fireplace in the library and reported his findings to Latimer. Now, George Latimer must plan a method of eliminating Governor Frank C. Wheeler.

Briggs and Latimer are about to make Wheeler's being beaten look like an accident until they see some veterans protesting. Latimer then calls the state police. Meanwhile, Perry White and Clark Kent receive news from the teletype that shocks them. Frank C. Wheeler is near death after being attacked at the governor's mansion by radical G.I.s. The person that told the authorities of this is none other than George Latimer. How can Superman defeat the hate mongering political boss now that Wheeler is in serious condition?

As Clark arrives at the governor's mansion, Inspector Henderson is questioning the veterans and George Latimer about what happened to Governor Wheeler. Briggs and Latimer heard Wheeler cry out. When they ran to the governor's side, they saw a group of G.I.s standing over Wheeler in the driveway. The soldiers claim to have found the state executive unconscious. Clark later tells Henderson of how he had planned to trap Latimer. Seeing that the microphone that was with the listening device in the library is missing, Clark suspects the Briggs is a spy for Latimer. Just then, Henderson and Clark get word of the governor's condition. Frank Wheeler needs to speak with both of them.

Clark and Henderson are now inside the governor's bedroom. Wheeler will recover and tells them that George Latimer had beaten him. However, Henderson cannot arrest Latimer without proof. The only way that the crooked political boss to hang himself is for him to believe that Wheeler is dead, and Clark has a plan on how to do that.

Latimer wants to pay his respects to Frank Wheeler, who is drugged in a way that simulate death. The next afternoon, Wheeler speaks a message for George Latimer into a microphone. That night, Briggs is nervous about the recent events, and Latimer reassures him by telling him that nobody, even Clark Kent, can prove what happened to Wheeler.

Superman is meeting with Inspector Henderson later that night. The Man of Steel carries him and lands on the balcony of Latimer's apartment home. Henderson also has a small record player and a record. Superman takes both and prepares to get a confession from George Latimer. The voice of Governor Wheeler is heard in the hate mongering political boss' bedroom. Latimer is crazed with fear. Taking a revolver, he fires at the shadowed figure of Superman. As the Governor Wheeler's voice continues, Latimer confesses to all of his crimes and is taken to prison. As a result of Latimer's arrest, Governor Wheeler resigns his post in the state government. Superman has once again fought injustice.

It is late at night in the home of Clark Kent. Bruce Wayne, who is Batman, has just called the reporter for help. At the Wayne home, Bruce tells Clark how his friend John Grayson and his wife were killed during an acrobatic act that they had performed five years ago in the circus. John's last words were for Bruce to take care of his son Dick, who we all know is Robin the Boy Wonder. John Grayson's diary and conversations Dick had overheard say that a man named George Larson had blackmailed the Graysons because Mrs. Grayson was French and had family that was part of the underground during the war. When the Graysons could no longer pay Larson, they threatened to go to the district attorney. Larson had later tampered with the high wire used in the Graysons' performance.

Dick Grayson has been receiving threatening phone calls and letters in the past few days. Recordings of the conversations and people that worked in the circus confirm that the voice belongs to George Larson, who swore to get revenge on Dick at the extortionist's trial. There is only one problem. Larson died in prison two weeks ago. How will Superman and Batman save Robin and solve the mystery of "The Dead Voice"? Tune in for The Adventures of Superman next week to find out, boys and girls.

Trivia:

Mason Adams, who played the Atom Man, portrays two characters in this serial: Sam Robbins' brother Lenny and reporter Lippy Williams.

Charles Boulty, Chairman of the American Veterans Committee, gives the series a commendation for fighting against prejudice before the beginning of chapter eleven.

Review:

I admit that when I first began listening "George Latimer, Crooked Political Boss," I was expecting something overly preachy that would be as subtle as a bull in a china shop with its moral. However, I'm glad to say I was wrong. There is the message of religious and racial tolerance, but it doesn't make the story lose sight of its title character and his agenda. One might even go as far to say that Latimer himself is, to some degree, similar to Senator Kelly in X-Men. He was portrayed very well as the perfect crooked political boss that could possibly work in a tale set in the present day.

It was good to learn a little more about Beany Martin and his family in this serial. This likable character seemed to be standing in the sidelines until "The Clan of the Fiery Cross" when he helped Clark and Superman find Jimmy and Perry. I liked the fact that his brother was part of "George Latimer, Crooked Political Boss." It made Beany more than just someone who says, "Sure thing, Mister White." Let's hope he's part of more story arcs in the future.

Inspector Henderson has been getting a lot of exposure in recent serials. Television fans will most likely remember Robert Shayne playing the role in the series starring George Reeves. Henderson also showed up from time to time in the Post-Crisis comics from the late 1980s, but what many don't realize is that the character began in the radio serials. I personally like the character and think Tom Snyder would have forced to eat his words had he listened to these audio dramas before saying that Henderson never solved a case. I mean how else did he become a police inspector? Kellogg's Pep sure didn't put rank promotions in their cereal boxes.

I've mentioned quite a few times that many serials in The Adventures of Superman have different kinds of feelings to them. Last week's story seemed like an episode of the George Reeves show, and "George Latimer, Crooked Political Boss" could have worked very well as a Siegel and Shuster comic book story. The atmosphere of the story makes one feel like they are reading a classic from the Golden Age.

Overall, "George Latimer, Crooked Political Boss" delivered its anti-prejudice message without forcing it down our throats, and it told an adventure story worthy of the Superman legend. Maybe "The Dead Voice" will do the same for us, Superfans, when the Man of Steel helps Batman and Robin next week. See you in seven days or so. Until then, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky.



Back to the "Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews" Contents page.

Back to the main RADIO page.