Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1950: Dead Men Tell No TalesReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Date: January 21, 1950
"Dead Men Tell No Tales"
Someone has broken into Clark Kent's apartment. The secret closet in his bedroom has been opened, and his spare Superman costume is missing. This could only mean one thing. Someone now knows that Clark Kent is Superman.
Fingerprint analysis from private detective Candy Meyers and the Metropolis Police Department reveals that Lefty Noonan had stolen Superman's costume. Noonan was shot by a police officer when he was seen leaving Kent's apartment building. Lefty is currently near death in the home of gangster Nick Morelli. The last words from his lips say that he had taken the suit from Apartment 5-C at 160 Standish Street. Morelli has just tested the outfit to see if it is fire proof. Now, with the experiments having positive results, Nick Morelli may have the very means of controlling the Man of Steel.
Lefty Noonan has been found dead without Superman's famous red and blue suit, and Clark has received a mysterious telephone call from Nick Morelli's girlfriend. He is to meet her in twenty minutes in front of his apartment building if he wants the costume back. Candy Meyers, despite losing his patience with Kent's evasiveness, has left the mild mannered reporter's home to meet with the person or persons that are searching for Superman. Not knowing that Candy is only pretending to be Clark, Nick Morelli and his girlfriend take him to their hideout. However, Morelli needs further proof. He has just pulled a gun on Candy. Should it be fired, the private detective will be dead and, thereby, prove that he isn't Superman.
It has been an hour since Clark had received the telephone call from Morelli's girlfriend. He has just removed his reporter's guise to become Superman. The Man of Steel rockets to 45 Carlton Street, where he sees that Morelli is about to shoot Candy. Superman crashes through the window like a projectile and knocks Meyers unconscious. Morelli tries to make a deal with Superman, but the angry Kryptonian refuses. In fact, he nearly breaks his oath not to kill. Instead, he maroons Morelli and his girlfriend on a four thousand foot high mountain. To show that he is not completely heartless, he promises to find provisions for them to survive for a long time. However, Morelli and his lady fall to their deaths while climbing to escape. The Man of Steel's greatest secret is once again safe.
Candy Meyers has called Clark Kent to warn him about Morelli. However, the mild mannered reporter tells the detective not to worry about the gangster. Both Morelli and his girl are dead. Superman can now continue his never ending battle for truth and justice.
This episode is an abridged version of the March 10, 1948-April 01, 1948 serial "The Mystery of the Stolen Costume," which was also turned into a classic episode of the television series starring George Reeves.
After "Dead Men Tell No Tales," The Adventures of Superman cast and crew took some time off. The show would return to the air on June 05, 1950.
"Dead Men Tell No Tales" is the final episode in the series to feature Clayton "Bud" Collyer in the roles of Clark Kent and Superman. He would return to do the characters' voices in the 1966 Filmation animated cartoons.
Michael Fitzmaurice, who had replaced Collyer in The Adventures of Superman, would later be in a rebroadcast of this story on January 16, 1951. The episode is currently unavailable and used the original title of "The Mystery of the Stolen Costume."
"Dead Men Tell No Tales" has a title that misleads the audience a bit. I honestly didn't expect another version of "The Mystery of the Stolen Costume." I thought it was going to be another murder mystery before I pressed the play button. However, this is still one of my all-time favorite Superman stories.
Significant changes in "The Stolen Costume" were made to "Dead Men Tell No Tales." The biggest, and perhaps the most notable, difference is that Batman and Robin were in the original 1948 serial. The Dynamic Duo is replaced by Candy Meyers in this episode, thereby making it closer to the television version. The Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder are missed greatly, but Candy does well to throw Nick Morelli off from his true objective of Clark Kent. He deliberately walks into the lion's den, and without realizing it, he even saves Superman.
There is one major diversity between "Dead Men Tell No Tales" and the television version of "The Stolen Costume." In the latter, Candy is mistaken for Clark Kent, whereas in this radio episode, Meyers pretends to be Kent to protect his friend from danger. Each situation works well to make the character of Candy Meyers more than a mere footnote in the supporting cast of Superman. It's just too bad that more has not been done with poor Candy. There are so many stories in which he could work so well.
Like any good villain should when he learns his foe's secret, Nick Morelli tried to exploit Superman once he had discovered that he was Clark Kent. His plan failed when he realized that Superman doesn't make deals with criminals, but he did try to use his knowledge against the Man of Steel. Manchester Black and Conduit used this information to make our hero's life a torture in the comic books. This is what helps to create more interesting conflicts and intense situations that, in turn, make stories like "Dead Men Tell No Tales" so incredible.
After World War II, Superman never killed anyone until the end of John Byrne's run in the comic books. Pre-war stories showed a Man of Steel with more extreme methods because that's how he was created in the Siegel and Shuster tales. However, "Dead Men Tell No Tales" shows that Superman is so desperate to keep his double life a secret that he almost breaks his most sacred vow. This gives the episode more tension. The audience is asking themselves if he'll actually do it, and that makes this one of the most thrilling thirty minutes ever produced. That's how great it is.
"Dead Men Tell No Tales," despite its unusual choice of titles, is one of the best adventures in the Superman radio series. I would recommend it highly to anyone. Next week, Superman and friends will tell us "The Story of Marina Baum." It will feature Michael Fitzmaurice as the Man of Steel. See you in seven days or so, Superfans. Until then, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky. Now, go read the other marvelous articles and reviews on the Superman Homepage. You'll be glad you did.
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