Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1949: The Mystery of the Ten Thousand Dollar GhostReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Date: March 04, 1949
"The Mystery of the Ten Thousand Dollar Ghost"
Our story begins in an old bank building in an abandoned town. Surprisingly enough, the inside is freshly painted and well furnished. A dice game is going on as an extremely short man named Shortcake, who is dressed in a child's clothes, is nervous. He is worried about someone called Eddie bringing Adolf Melcher. Shortcake is scared that the police will become suspicious of what is going on. His partner Lucky tells him not worry as Eddie brings Melcher. Now, Melcher can add ten thousand dollars to the city's treasury and a ghost to the community's population.
Editor Perry White is having a conference with Clark Kent in the offices of the Daily Planet. Three shopkeepers in Metropolis, including Adolf Melcher, are missing. Each man had withdrawn ten thousand dollars from the bank before disappearing, and neither one of them has a family. The employees of the people were told nothing of any trips. The only thing certain is that Melcher and the others didn't leave the country. Kent, who is really Superman, has been assigned to investigate this mystery. He is not to come back until Melcher and the others have been found.
As Shortcake and Lucky discuss the arrival of Anton Lesinski, another shopkeeper from Metropolis, Clark needs help with a lead at a rooming house at 1061 Archer Avenue. Jimmy Olsen is in Willow Falls, and Lois Lane has gone with Horatio F. Horn to investigate the ghost town of Nugget City. Perry is sending Tony Sloan. Meanwhile, Horatio is telling Lois how, while working as Screen Run, Ohio's postmaster, he had received a letter addressed to Anton Lesinski of 2836 West Street in Metropolis from the First National Bank of Nugget City. The strange thing is that Nugget City has been deserted for forty-eight years.
Horn and Lois have just told Lesinski the truth about Nugget City. Mister Lesinski goes on to say that he was told in the letter that the son of a distant cousin has come to America and has assets frozen in the old country. If Lesinski brings ten thousand dollars with him to First National Bank of Nugget City, he can adopt the boy and have the funds from Europe, which will amount to one hundred thousand dollars - enough for the lad's education and Lesinski's old age. While in Nugget City, Lesinski will meet his relative once the ten grand is deposited. The optical shopkeeper was to say nothing of the note or the transaction. Suspecting a racket, Lois is about to call Metropolis Police Inspector Bill Henderson. Suddenly, two of Lucky and Shortcake's men burst into Lesinski's home to take Lois, Horatio and Lesinski himself on a trip that could very well be their last.
Lois and Horatio have awakened in a dark room inside the First National Bank of Nugget City. Mister Lesinski is still unconscious, but the pair of Daily Planet reporters manage to possibly escape thanks to Horatio's battery powered drill cutting through a locked door. Meanwhile, in Metropolis, Clark is telling Perry that a priest from the church that Adolf Melcher attends had learned that the shopkeeper would not be at Sunday services because he was going to Nugget City, the same ghost town that Horatio had told Lois and Perry about. Worried for Lois and Horatio's safely, Clark changes into the red and blue costume of Superman. The Man of Steel flies to Screen Run, Ohio to see if Horatio's sister can provide more clues about Nugget City. Hopefully, our hero will learn the truth in time to save his friends.
Lois and Horatio have discovered that door leads to a cellar where the dead bodies of the missing shopkeepers are kept. Now, Lucky has ordered that Lois, Horatio and Lesinski be eliminated. However, before anything can be done, Superman arrives to deal with the entire gang. Lois and Horatio then tell our hero that Lucky had come up with the racket in which Shortcake poses as a child that is a European relative of the missing shopkeepers. The men are then murdered after the confidence gang gets ten thousand dollars from them. Now, the only thing Lucky and his group of criminals will get is prison time thanks to Superman.
The Adventures of Superman radio show went through some changes in 1949. The last of the fifteen minute serial episodes aired on February 04, 1949. It was extended to half hour completed stories on February 07, 1949. The show had also moved from the Mutual Network to ABC.
After more than a thousand episodes of the fifteen minute serial episodes of The Adventures of Superman, it took some adjustment to the half hour format of the series. There are still elements left over from the Mutual episodes. Jackson Beck is still narrator, much of the cast from the previous run is on hand for the ABC show, the public service announcements from 1948 are there, and Perry White is still pulling double duty as editor and mayor. I have a problem with that last element, but thirty minutes of adventure has some advantages and disadvantages in the case of the Man of Steel's audio dramas.
The pros are that one can get a completed story without having to wait for the next chapter, and Bud Collyer is still in the role of Clark Kent/Superman. However, the fifteen minute serial allowed for more expansion of various story and character elements. Plus, there seemed to be more suspense in them. The half hour format is good, but as of this writing at least, I find the Mutual version better.
"The Mystery of the Ten Thousand Dollar Ghost" is a good story. However, the title does mislead one to believe that a phantasm is involved. Perhaps a better title would "The Mystery of the Ten Thousand Dollar Ghost Town." Despite this, the tale is well done. It's a fun romp that mixes the fun elements of the Kirk Alyn movie serials with the television series that starred George Reeves.
The eccentric and often wacky Horatio "F for French" Horn is back in all his glory. His appearance in "The Mystery of the Ten Thousand Dollar Ghost" is fairly typical of the character, but this helps the story to be less heavy. The lighthearted moments with Horn make this episode more enjoyable.
My only complaint about "The Mystery of the Ten Thousand Dollar Ghost" as a story is the fact that it feels like the writers were trying to cram too many elements into the episode. This could be due to the fact that I am more used to the fifteen minute serial arcs that were anywhere from two to thirty-three chapters long. Maybe once I've adapted to the half hour format, this won't be a problem for me.
Lucky and Shortcake's gang don't really get much time in the spotlight, but than again, neither do Clark Kent and Superman. This, once again, could be because of the fact that I need to adjust to format transition. Still, the characters work well for the story and seem to be pretty typical villains for The Adventures of Superman. We'll wait and see what bad guys the Man of Steel will face in future episodes, but for now, I'll just say that Lucky and Shortcake, while they are merely confidence men, are not that badly done.
Despite needing settle into this thirty minute version of the series, I found that "The Mystery of the Ten Thousand Dollar Ghost" is a darn good adventure despite being slightly misled by the title. In seven days or so, Superman and his friends must confront "The Mystery of the Flying Monster." Is it from Krypton, or is it the Goodyear Blimp gone bad? We'll find out next week, Superfans. Until then, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky. Now, go read some of the other great articles and reviews on the Superman Homepage. You'll be glad you did.
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