Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1947: Knights of the White CarnationReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: February 26, 1947-March 17, 1947
"Knights of the White Carnation"
Our story begins in the aristocratic home of Vincent Kirby. He is meeting with his secret organization the Knights of the White Carnation. Each member has a white carnation in their jacket lapels as they look at an article in the Daily Planet. The Metropolis High School Varsity Basketball Team is about to go to the state championship. According to Kirby, four of the five players are "Un-American foreigners," and he wants to rid the country of this element. A member named Charles Canfield, a friend of Planet editor Perry White, is offended by the hate mongering words of Vincent Kirby. Canfield wants no part of the Knights of the White Carnation and intends to expose their racist activities to the press. He later phones Perry from a drug store to make a lunch date for the next day to discuss the story of the Knights of the White Carnation. Unfortunately, Canfield will not be able to speak with the chief. Not long after he had called Perry, he was stabbed in what was believed to be a mugging. However, White is under the impression that Canfield was murdered.
Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen are discussing the killing of Charles Canfield with Metropolis Police Inspector Bill Henderson. He also believes that the wealthy, respected business man was murdered. The assassin made it look like it was a common robbery. However, they only took Canfield's wallet and left behind a watch and other things that the victim had with him that were worth more than a thousand dollars. Clark notices a newspaper clipping from the Daily Planet that was found in Canfield's jacket. It is about the Metropolis High School Basketball Team. Jimmy had written the story and gets into games with his press pass. The cub reporter and Kent, believing that it's connected to Canfield's death, go to the state championship only to find that four of the five first team members, the same ones that the Knights of the White Carnation had targeted, have been substituted. The coach announces that the players were suspended for gambling. Jimmy and Clark are suspicious of this and intend to find out what's really happening.
As Clark and Jimmy go to speak with the basketball coach. The former asks the latter to call the police. Steel girders supporting the grand stand are breaking from the weight of the stamping, screaming, angry crowd's frantic running. Superman supports the load as Inspector Henderson's men calm the mob and call off the basketball competition. Later, Jimmy speaks with Jack Wilson, the only remaining member of the first string squad. He said that school principal Mister Baden told the coach to remove the other four students from the basketball team. Baden got his orders from Henry Mortimer, chairman of the Metropolis School Board. Suspicious, Clark confronts Mortimer about evidence of the accusations against the players. The mild mannered reporter connects the removal of the star athletes to the death of Charles Canfield. Mortimer then becomes worried and advises Vincent Kirby, who had threatened Mortimer into suspending the lads. Now, as a result of his investigation, Clark Kent has become a target of the Knights of the White Carnation.
The four students have been cleared of all gambling charges. However, the tension is still high because Coach Reed tells Clark and Jimmy that he was visited by a man named Joe McMillan, who threatens and bribes him to throw the basketball game. Reed refuses and gets into a fight with Joe. The petty thug leaves after being beaten, but he and a man named Fargo go to an apartment building. Two of the Metropolis High School basketball players, Tony Risutti and Casimir Polaski, exit from there to go play in the championship game. Suddenly Joe and Fargo attack the two boys. Will they be able to participate in the competition?
Both Polaski and Risutti are injured, but they still able to play in the game. Unfortunately, they are not doing their best as Metropolis has lost the game. Suspecting something is wrong with the boys, Clark and Jimmy go to the team's dressing room. They are surprised to find some of Inspector Henderson's men arresting Polaski and Risutti. The district attorney says that professional gambler Jib Monroe confessed to bribing the lads into throwing the game. The Knights of the White Carnation seem to have succeeded with their sinister plan.
District Attorney Frank Agnew, who got his gambling evidence from Henry Mortimer, has made Clark Kent listen to Jib Monroe's confession. Agnew is convinced that Polaski and Risutti are guilty, but Kent and Jimmy Olsen believe that the boys were framed. While Vincent Kirby plots further hate mongering tactics, the mild mannered reporter tells Perry White that the article found with Charles Canfield had Risutti and Polaski's names underlined in red along with two other names on the list of five players. Clark feels the death of Canfield and the charges against Polaski and Risutti are connected to something bigger. Unfortunately, he may have to wait to prove this. According to Coach Reed, Jimmy Olsen is in danger at Metropolis High School, and Superman is needed.
Superman has stopped the students of Metropolis High School from rioting. Some pamphlets were passed out calling Polaski and Risutti dirty foreigners that will do anything for money, including throwing a basketball game. It was these papers that created the angry mob that wanted the basketball team's blood. Jack Wilson later tells Clark Kent that one of the men passing out the documents was Joe, the man that had bribed Coach Reed and had beaten Risutti and Polaski. Kent then asks Jimmy to stay in order to see if Joe returns. The cub reporter is to contact Clark and/or the police if they spot the hate monger. Jimmy and Jack later see Joe coming out of Pete's Lunch Wagon near the school, but they must follow him. Clark Kent and Inspector Henderson will never catch up with him. Will the two boys be in danger when they find Joe?
Fargo has caught Jimmy and Jack and has taken the boys to Joe. Desperate, the lads pretend to want revenge on the dirty foreigners that threw the championship basketball game. Joe gives them both white carnations and tells them to be at Pete's Lunch Wagon at 8:00 PM tonight. The hate monger will telephone them when Jack and Jimmy are there. The cub reporter and star athlete then tell Clark Kent of what Joe had said to them. It is at this point that Clark outlines a plan. After getting their orders from Joe, Jimmy and Jack are to contact Clark and the district attorney. Agnew and Kent will take care of Joe when they hear from the young men. However, the plan changes when Jimmy and Jack are in Pete's Lunch Wagon. Instead of telephoning, Joe decides to take them on s trip somewhere to give them their job. Now, Superman may not be able to stop the Knights of the White Carnation.
Clark Kent is in the office of District Attorney Frank Agnew. The mild mannered reporter is clearly worried about Jimmy and Jack. It's been twelve minutes since they were supposed to get the telephone call from Joe. The two boys are actually at Benjamin Franklin High School. Joe has ordered them to paste racist handbills inside the lockers. Their only hope of contacting Clark is the phone in the Principal's office. Unfortunately, Joe has caught Jimmy and Jack trying to dial the number of Frank Agnew's office. The two youths are in grave peril as Joe is pointing a knife at them.
Superman has questioned the lunch wagon owner Pete and searched throughout Metropolis for Jimmy and Jack with no luck. The boys are being questioned by Vincent Kirby, who is wearing a mask to hide his face. The leader of the Knights of the White Carnation now knows that Clark Kent and the Daily Planet are trying to stop his hate mongering organization. To avoid any interference, Kirby must call Clark to make him believe that Jack and Jimmy are okay. He later gets Kent at the district attorney's office. Posing as a store owner, Kirby tells Clark that the lads are following a lead in the story of the basketball game being thrown. The mild mannered reporter is suspicious, but this doesn't matter to Kirby. Soon, the Knights of the White Carnation will make the streets of Metropolis become full of rioting, hate and blood.
Kirby is explaining his plan to Joe. He wants Jimmy to tell the Daily Planet night man that two other Metropolis High School basketball players Michael Kelly and Phil Kaplin were also bribed to throw the championship game. Jimmy refuses to do this until the masked Kirby threatens to have Joe and Fargo beat Jack to death. He stalls for time by saying he needs to write copy for the editor presently on duty. Kirby continues to whisper more of his plot to Joe. In the Daily Blade, a newspaper in which Kirby has controlling interest, there will be an article saying that Jimmy and Jack, while on their way to the D.A.'s office with evidence against the athletes, were captured by foreigners. Jimmy is writing on a paper in hope that Clark Kent will read it. Kent, in the meantime, is speaking with private detective Candy Meyers. Her tells Candy of he fears that Jimmy and Jack are in trouble. The two men then search the city florists for the only clue in which they have - the white carnations that Joe had purchased. At the same time, the night chief of the Planet has received the article that Vincent Kirby had forced Jimmy to write, and it will be placed on page one. Will the Knights of the White Carnation succeed with their diabolical scheme?
Superman has, so far, reached a dead in his search for the Knights of the White Carnation. He is now in his guise of Clark Kent the next morning reading the story Jimmy had phoned into the night editor only to find that it is a false article. Jimmy had placed a code in every fourth word of the piece to advise Clark. At the same time, Jimmy and Jack are attempting to escape from Joe McMillan's apartment. Jimmy hits Fargo will a chair, but as he and Jack run away, Fargo knocks out the cub reporter. Jimmy is not responding to Jack as the star basketball player calls to him. Has young Olsen met the same fate as Charles Canfield?
Bill Jackson, one of Candy Meyers' employees, calls Clark Kent from Smythe's Flower Shop on Second and Maple Streets. The delivery boy there tells Kent and Jackson that Joe McMillan lives in an apartment above Baron's Pool Hall. Clark and Bill go there only to find that Jimmy and Jack are gone. Joe and Fargo are taking both boys with them to the mountain lodge of Vincent Kirby. They later have a change of heart. In order to save themselves, Fargo and Joe plan to kill the unconscious Jimmy Olsen and the bound and gagged Jack Wilson. Clark and Bill, meanwhile, are searching for clues to the lads' whereabouts. Pieces of a white carnation are arranged in a particular way. This could possibly help Superman find Jimmy and Jack.
Clark has figured out that Jimmy and Jack were taken into the hills. While Bill Jackson calls D.A. Frank Agnew about this, Clark changes into Superman. The Man of Steel swoops down from the skies to save the boys from being killed in Vincent Kirby's lodge. Now back in his guise of Clark Kent, he's made sure a doctor takes care of Jimmy. Shortly afterwards. Agnew tells Kent that Fargo and Joe have talked. This true identity of the head of the Knights of the White Carnation is currently known by the district attorney and our hero. They are inside Kirby's home. However, before anything can be done about Vincent Kirby, guns are felt in the backs of Kent and Agnew as they spy on a meeting of the Knights of the White Carnation. Clark Kent, as we know, is Superman, but he cannot do anything to save Agnew without revealing his true identity.
Clark and Agnew have been taken to Vincent Kirby, and they refuse to give in to the hate monger's demands. The gunman that found the D.A. and reporter fires his weapon. In the confusion, Clark stomps a hole into the library floor. The henchman, Kirby, Agnew and Kent then begin descending to the basement level of the house. Moving at the speed of light, Kent resumes his true identity of Superman. The Man of Steel breaks Agnew's fall and deals with Vincent Kirby and his racist followers. Now, the Knights of the White Carnation have been brought to justice. Another group of hate mongers has been stopped thanks to Superman.
We now return to the Daily Planet. The arrests of all the members of the Knights of the White Carnation is big news. Editor Perry White wants to see Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Foreign correspondent Hobie Taylor was killed during the war just before he was about to give a big story to Perry. Hobie's son Bucky was with him at the time because the boy's mother had passed away years earlier. Bucky had been in a German concentration camp until he had managed to escape. He later travelled throughput Europe. Now, he is arriving in Metropolis by boat, and the lad knows all about what his father wanted Perry to publish. Lois and Clark are to meet Bucky when he arrives. However, the captain of the steamship says that the boy is missing. What has happened to Bucky Taylor? How is "The Man Without a Face" involved? Tune in next week, gang, to The Adventures of Superman, and find out.
Mason Adams returned in "Knights of the White Carnation" to play Joe McMillan and Pete the lunch wagon owner.
The message of "Knights of the White Carnation" is a good one, but it's about as subtle as a punch in the face. The fact that many chapters are poorly acted and peppered with dialogue that is delivered by the players in a ridiculous manner does not help it. Even Jackson Beck's normally great narration is exaggerated to the point where it's difficult to take him seriously. The writers gave us this lesson before, but they did a lot better with previous serials. This story was overblown, and performances were nearly laughable.
There is also a huge plot hole in "Knights of the White Carnation." When Vincent Kirby encounters Clark in the last chapter, he asks, "Who are you?" Now, seeing as Kirby held controlling interest in the Daily Blade, one would think that he would know the reporters from rival newspapers like the Daily Planet to, at the very least, be aware of the competition. Plus, there are moments when Kirby mentions Clark like he knows of him or has met him in the past. It's extremely hard for me to believe that a prominent fellow like Kirby didn't know Kent in the last episode of this story arc.
The main thing that really brings down the quality of "Knights of the White Carnation" is Vincent Kirby. He had the potential to be a truly evil, vicious villain. Instead, the actor's over the top delivery of the character's dialogue makes one believe that the only thing this bad guy can do is make the audience die laughing. It's easier to take William Shatner more seriously while he sings. Kirby honestly makes second rate antagonists like the Master Jailer look like Brainiac.
As much as I've tried, I cannot seem to find anything positive in "Knights of the White Carnation." We've basically been given a recycled plot that was executed poorly. Even the radio series' main cast doesn't seem to have their hearts in their performances. They could have just as easily phoned in their lines. Who knows? Maybe they wished they had done that. Skip this one, folks, if you haven't heard it yet. If you're playing this one as you read this review or plan to do so, my heart goes out you. Let's hope "The Man Without a Face" is a serial worthy of The Adventures of Superman when we get to it 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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