Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1947: The Phony Inheritance RacketReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: January 09, 1947-January 20, 1947
"The Phony Inheritance Racket"
As you recall, Lois Lane had returned to the Daily Planet from her holiday vacation. She had received a letter from the law firm of Harris, Grady and Harris. Her uncle John Morris Lane in South Africa has passed away, and his estate, which includes shares in the Crescent Diamond Mine, will go to her. Its total worth is one and a half million dollars. Everyone is overjoyed until Clark Kent points out the postmark blocks part of the name and address on the envelope. It was actually meant to go to Louisa Lane at 125 East 73rd Street in Metropolis. Lois lives at 125 East 72nd Street.
Lois has gone to the elderly Louisa Lane's apartment to give the woman her mail. The star reporter is shocked when Miss Lane recites the letter from the lawyers word for word. The woman later explains that a fortune teller named Zara had said that she would receive the law firm's document. Somewhat suspicious, Lois takes Louisa to the offices of Harris, Grady and Harris. Both women learn that Louisa must pay one thousand two hundred and fifty dollars, which is all she has, before the necessary papers are ready tomorrow. Lois is even more convinced that Louisa is a victim of a racket. To confirm this, Lois must pay a visit to Zara.
Zara the seer is speaking with Mister Harris, who had spoken with Louisa and Lois earlier in the day. The lawyer says that Louisa came with her niece Lois. However, Zara reveals that Louisa's only relatives are two nephews in the military. At that moment, Zara is about to receive a visit from Lois, whom the fortune teller believes suspects that the inheritance of Louisa Lane is not what it seems. Now, Zara must find a way to eliminate the star reporter.
Zara has met with Lois and shown his "powers" by looking into a crystal ball and mentioning the events that had occurred in Mister Harris' office. Still believing Louisa Lane is the victim of a racket, Lois tells Clark Kent of her findings. In the meantime, Zara has his assistant Nella send someone named Pinky to follow Lois. Clark, meanwhile, asks if Lois has the letter that Harris' law firm had sent to Louisa. She does and gives it to the mild mannered reporter. With the paper now in his hand, Superman flies to South Africa to see if John Morris Lane really was really there.
Pinky is in a telephone booth in the lobby of the Daily Planet. He calls Zara telling him that Lois is a reporter that had just entered the newspaper offices. Zara is now worried. He now must find the letter for Louisa Lane from the law firm of Harris, Grady and Harris. That paper could send Zara's confidence gang to prison. The false fortune teller will now go to see if Louisa has the note. However, if Lois Lane has it, Pinky is to get it by any means necessary.
Zara has made sure that Louisa Lane trusts him. He tells her that it's important to find the letter from Harris. She reveals that Lois has the paper. Zara then makes the elderly lady believe that Lois wants to cheat her out of her inheritance. Afterwards, while Superman is investigating things in South Africa, Zara meets with Pinky at the Daily Planet. They wait for Lois to leave the building to follow her. After dinner, the star reporter is escorted to her home by Perry White. Pinky points a gun at Lois after the chief leaves. Pinky, angry because he hasn't found the note Zara wants, knocks Lois against the wall. She is now unconscious and in the clutches of the nefarious fortune teller.
Superman, in his guise of Clark Kent, has learned that John Morris Lane did actually live and die in South Africa. However, he was a pauper. The Man of Steel flies back to Metropolis, where it is now 5:30 AM, to awaken Perry with the news. Kent continues by telling his editor that he intends to let Louisa Lane give Harris the money so Clark, Lois and Metropolis Police Inspector Bill Henderson can put Harris and Zara behind bars. Clark telephones Lois to inform her of his plan. Unfortunately, Ms. Lane doesn't answer the call. Clark somehow feels that Lois is in trouble. Can he, as Superman, save her and stop the racketeers?
Clark, Perry and Inspector Henderson have had no luck in finding Lois. Nella says nothing of Zara's location, and Harris has left town. Their only lead comes from Louisa Lane's landlady. She saw someone fitting Zara's description take the elderly woman somewhere with him. Both Lane women are most likely in grave danger now.
Inspector Henderson has hit a dead end in his questioning Nella, whom he learns is Zara's sister. She will not tell him anything. After she's escorted out of Henderson's office, Clark outlines a plan. Now that Henderson had revealed to Nella that he has the letter for Louisa Lane written by Harris, she is to be released. Once free, she will call her brother from her telephone, which will be tapped. Clark and Henderson will follow her to learn of the confidence man's location. It looks like this information could possibly help Superman find Lois and Louisa.
Harris has become nervous. Zara, knowing the lawyer wrote the letter to Louisa Lane, see his uneasiness as a liability and shoots him. His next targets are his captives Lois and Louisa. Can Superman save the two women before it's too late?
While Superman traces Nella's call to Zara, the fortune teller is preparing to shoot Lois and Louisa Lane. The Man of Steel arrives just before any bullets hit their target. He knocks out Zara and Pinky before untying the ladies. Zara and Pinky are then later given to the police. It looks like another group of racketeers has been stopped by Superman.
Lois has just given her story of Zara's confidence gang to Perry. Not long afterwards, the chief receives a telegram that angers him. Three reporters have been sent to Freeville to investigate a twenty-six day period without rain. The men would later resign within twenty-four hours of receiving the assignment. Perry wants to send Clark, who is visiting Jimmy Olsen in the hospital, but Lois convinces him to let her cover the story. What will she find? Will the "Drought in Freeville" become a mystery that even Superman can't solve? Only the next serial in The Adventures of Superman can tell us, boys and girls. Be sure not to miss it.
"The Phony Inheritance Racket" brings to a close the entire "Phony Racket" story arc. As a whole, it was very good despite the irritating Poco being in the first serial of the saga. Its basic "Superman stops the criminals" elements work well to give the audience some adventure and action to help them take a break from reality after a tough day at work or school. It wasn't bogged down by too much, and it's a simple tale of a hero stopping confidence men. This really helps the "Racket" episodes work so well into the Superman radio show. I had a lot of fun listening to "The Phony Inheritance Racket."
Zara the fortune teller seems more sinister than Professor Blessing as far as villains go. Sure, Blessing is a racketeer and has attempted to murder people, but there's something about him as a character that just doesn't say "Pure Evil" like it does for Zara. My guess is that it has to do with the acting. Blessing's voice could be considered one that is similar to the stereotypical mad scientist who wants to use his creations to conquer the world. With Zara, on the other hand, there is something downright creepy in the way he speaks in "The Phony Inheritance Racket." He seems to be more than just a confidence man, and he works perfectly in this serial.
As Beany and the others said in the beginning of "The Phony Inheritance Racket," "We sure did miss you around here, Miss Lane."
Lois Lane is finally back in The Adventures of Superman serials. There were moments in the story arcs from the past month or so when her absence can be felt tremendously. Her return shines the spotlight on her and shows the audience why she is the star reporter that she has always been in the seven decades of the Man of Steel's various adventures. She has a gift for getting into dangerous situations, but that's what makes her Lois Lane. Whether she's being held at gunpoint or falling out a window, Lois is willing to take all sorts of risks for a front page headline. I happen to love this about her as a character.
Miss Lane will be back with another scoop for the Daily Planet when she investigates the "Drought in Freeville." Is it a common dry spell, or is something else more strange and evil behind it? We'll find out in seven days or so, Superfans. Until next week, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky.
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