Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1946: The Story of the CenturyReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: March 29, 1946-April 15, 1946
"The Story of the Century"
In an effort to escape a dust storm in a car going from Carson City to San Francisco, the greedy German agent Carl Schroeder has left his partner Manfred and Lois Lane, star reporter for the Daily Planet, to brave the elements in the prairie. Superman found Schroeder by the burned automobile that contained the ten jade dragon's teeth. The villain is seconds away from death because of a serious skull fracture. Each jade tooth that was in his possession carried the secret of ten Chinese herbs that could cure most diseases. Schroeder wished to give the teeth to his comrades that wish to bring about another world war by creating an army of supermen with the formula of the dragon's teeth. However, the ten jade pieces were fused together in the blaze. Their mysteries still remain as unknown as the fates of Manfred and Lois.
Lois and Manfred continue to travel through the stinging dust storm. The head injury Carl Schroeder had given Manfred has made him delirious. He attacks Lois. The timely arrival of Superman prevents him from reaching his target. The Man of Steel takes both Manfred and Lois away from the dust storm and back to Metropolis. The authorities take Manfred into custody.
It is now 10:00 at night in Metropolis. The story of the dragon's teeth made it into the Daily Planet a few hours ago. Clark Kent has just received a call from Perry White. Clark is to pick up Lois and meet with the editor at his suburban home. Perry won't say much over the telephone. He only tells Clark that it's a matter of life and death.
Clark has arrived at Lois' apartment building. Morrissey the doorman says that she's expecting the mild mannered reporter. However, Lois does not respond to the switchboard phone. Morrissey and Clark find her door opened, and the rooms look as though a cyclone had hit them. Worse yet, Lois herself is missing. Morrissey questions Lois' neighbors while Clark calls Perry about the star reporter. Clark also receives another shocking surprise. Perry was asleep at 9:00 and never called him at 10:00. Someone has possibly impersonated the chief.
Nearly twelve hours have passed since Lois had disappeared. Metropolis Police Inspector William Henderson and Superman have had no luck in finding her. A sudden phone call from her surprises Clark and the others. Lois has learned of the Story of the Century and needs ten thousand dollars brought to Mrs. Lenora Walsh's theatrical boarding house on 407 Clover Street in order to start it. Perry reluctantly decides to take the money to Lois. Clark wants to go with the editor, but he orders the mild mannered reporter to stay by the telephone to take down the article.
Perry has been gone for about an hour and a half. Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen are waiting for the chief's call for the noon edition of the newspaper. Perry contacts Clark from Mrs. Walsh's rooming house saying that he needs another ten thousand dollars. However, Darwin the cashier won't give Clark the money without knowing what department of the Daily Planet for which he's to write the voucher. Jimmy goes to the city room to call information about the number of Mrs. Walsh's theatrical boarding house on 407 Clover Street, but he's stunned to learn that there is no telephone listed for that address.
Superman has just flown to 407 Clover Street. Having resumed his guise of Clark Kent, he is greeted by Mrs. Lenora Walsh, who recounts her days in the Shakespearean theater. Clark hears a telephone ring despite Jimmy's telling him that there was none at this address. The call is for Clark. Perry wants to know about the second ten thousand dollars. He orders Clark to go back to the newspaper. He'll straighten things out with Darwin so Clark can bring the money back to the rooming house.
Clark has returned to the Daily Planet. He receives a call from Lois. She says that people are watching her. She wants to know about the second ten thousand dollars. Jimmy had told Clark that Darwin was getting it after Perry explained everything. Lois suddenly hangs up after saying that the people watching her are now nearby. Clark then hears a knock on his office door. He is astonished to see that entering the room is Lois Lane herself.
Lois is explaining to a baffled Clark that she was with her sister Diana, who was ill. Clark had tried to call Diana, but nobody answered. Clark thinks nothing of it as Lois tells him that she knows nothing of the condition in which he and Morrissey had found her apartment. She is also surprised about the money that Clark says that she asked for. This can mean only one thing. Someone has been impersonating her like they did with Perry last night, and the chief could possibly be in danger.
A phone call from Perry has arrived just as Lois and Clark are about to go to 407 Clover Street. He asks about the second ten thousand dollars. Darwin enters Clark's office with the money. However, a suspicious Clark tells the cashier to take it back to the bank as they leave for Mrs. Walsh's house.
Lois and Clark have arrived at 407 Clover Street. The "Rooms For Rent" sign is gone, and a brass plate near the door reads, "John Simmons, Teacher of Piano." The interior of the house is also different from when Clark was here speaking with Mrs. Walsh two hours ago. Clark is bewildered and believes that he's possibly losing his mind.
Clark and Lois have just left Mister Simmons. Lois realizes that there is a Dover Street in Metropolis. However, number 407 is an empty store, and the name on the apartment above is George Anthar. An unusual man allows Lois and Clark to enter. Anthar says that Clark's friends are waiting for him, but he means that people Clark knew that have passed away as George Anthar is a spiritualist and fortune teller.
Lois and Clark are baffled by the situation. As they leave Anthar, she tells Clark of a Stover Street in the city. However, Clark decides to call Jimmy at the Daily Planet from a drug store telephone booth in case Perry or his impersonator had tried to get in touch with him or Lois. Perry's secretary tells the mild mannered reporter that Jimmy left the office after receiving a phone call a few minutes ago. The cub reporter was told to get the other ten thousand dollars from Darwin and bring it to an address. Jimmy was ordered to do this by Clark Kent himself.
Unable to find any clues to the whereabouts of Jimmy Olsen and Perry White, Lois and Clark go to private detective Candy Meyers for help. He tells them of Jack Andrews, a master of disguise that can imitate anyone's voice. However, there is no way to get Andrews as he can become anyone. A phone call for Clark interrupts Candy. The mysterious Mrs. Walsh is on the line. She orders Clark to not speak her name. He is to go to his apartment alone and tell nobody of this. Someone will call for him there. If Clark doesn't follow Mrs. Walsh's instructions, he will never see Perry and Jimmy again.
It is now 5:00 PM. Clark is nervously pacing in his apartment as he waits for Mrs. Walsh's mystery person to arrive. He is surprised to finds that it is none other than Batman. He knows everything about Mrs. Walsh's call, including more than what Clark may wish to learn. The Dark Knight will tell the mild mannered reporter everything, but he must be prepared for the shock of his life.
Batman now explains further. Mrs. Walsh lives in a hotel and doesn't run a theatrical rooming house. In addition to this, both Batman and Candy Meyers say that Inspector Henderson suspects Kent of stealing the twenty thousand dollars that Perry and Jimmy had taken with them. To further this claim, Candy finds the money in a hat box in Clark's hall closet. Seeing that Kent has no clue about how the cash got there, Candy thinks it's a good idea for Clark to stay with Batman until things are straightened out. However, the mild mannered reporter flies to police headquarters as Superman. After resuming his guise of Clark Kent, he talks with Henderson, who tells him that he hasn't spoken to Candy Meyers in about six months.
Clark is still speaking with Inspector Henderson. He says that he believes that he has solved the mystery surrounding the wrecked apartment of Lois Lane, the disappearances of Jimmy Olsen and Perry White and the mysterious Mrs. Walsh. It is all an April Fool's Day practical joke concocted by Lois because the mild mannered reporter said that every mystery can be solved. She convinced Perry and Jimmy to be in on the gag. Batman and Candy confirm this by telling them that Mrs. Walsh was an actress whom Lois had hired, and the piano teacher Mister Simmons is a friend of Perry's who had agreed to let the editor and the others use his house for the prank.
Perry, Lois and Jimmy, who have been hiding out at the newspaper club, are driving to the editor's suburban home in Brentwood. They are laughing because Candy Meyers has told them that Clark is so confused that he had to take a sedative. They are now shocked to find a huge gaping hole where Perry's house once stood. However, when Perry brings the sheriff, the chief's home is back where it belongs. At the same time, Superman chuckles as he flies through the night sky. The Man of Steel is just beginning to teach his friends the dangers of practical jokes.
The sheriff has warned Perry, Lois and Jimmy to never call him again unless it's a real emergency. Upon entering his home, Perry receives a call from reporter Tony Sloan. He tells the editor that he's found Judge Harrison, who disappeared about two years ago after sentencing members of the Scolsi gang. Harrison was a friend of Perry's and promised the exclusive of his whereabouts to the Daily Planet. Perry, Lois and Jimmy are to go 2117 March Banks Drive to learn more. Inside the old house at that address, they find a homeless man, who gives them a note from Tony. They are to go to Pier Six at the North Docks on the waterfront. The homeless man tells them that Tony and the judge were to meet someone named Ellis there. However, they only find a gunman when they arrive at the pier, and this man seems eager to get rid of them for knowing too much.
The gunman and his partner have brought Lois, Perry and Jimmy onto a motorboat that will take them to a freighter, where they are to meet the big boss. The big boss is none other than Clark Kent. He had hired the gunmen and the homeless man at 2117 March Banks Drive from the same theatrical agency where Lois had found Mrs. Walsh. He had also asked Tony Sloan to help with his prank to get back at Perry, Lois and Jimmy. As everyone laughs about their respective practical jokes, Clark says that Candy Meyers is in Clark's apartment guarding the twenty thousand dollars.
Speaking of Candy, he's asleep on Clark's sofa when someone rings the doorbell. Someone has a telegram for Clark Kent. Candy allows them to enter only to discover that two masked men want the twenty thousand dollars. Candy protests and fights until he is shot. The masked men then take the unconscious Candy and the large sum of money with them.
Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent return to the reporter's apartment an hour later. Clark finds it odd that Candy isn't guarding the twenty thousand dollars. He finds a thirty-eight caliber shell that had been fired and Candy's shoulder holster. Meyers' gun is a Colt Forty-Five. Clark asks his neighbor Mister Neilson, who thought that Candy was drunk at first, about what happened, but all he can remember is brown leather petis. However, this might be sufficient. The taxi drivers in Metropolis wear them, and Bruce was with Lois and the others when they planned the prank with the money. The cabbie might have overheard them and saw a chance to steal the cash. Bruce goes to Lois to ask if she remembers the driver's face while Clark calls Inspector Henderson and investigates the actors involved in the practical joke.
Lois and Batman go through photographs of taxi drivers and find the correct one, a redhead named Fred Johnson. They ask the Metropolis Cab Company for his address. Once there, Batman finds Candy and the twenty thousand dollars, but before the Dark Knight can help the private detective escape, one of Johnson's friends has captured Lois. He forces Candy and Batman to surrender. The sudden arrival of Superman stops Johnson and his partners in crime from harming Lois, Candy and Batman.
The twenty thousand dollars has been returned to the bank, Fred Johnson's gang has been arrested, Candy Meyers is safe, and our friends promise to no longer play any dangerous practical jokes. Everything has come to a positive close, but a menace far worse than the atomic bomb looms in the shadows of Metropolis. "The Hate Mongers Organization" will surely cause major problems for Superman next week, boys and girls. Be sure to tune in then to see what happens in The Adventures of Superman.
This serial is a retooled version of "A Mystery for Superman," which originally aired on the dates February 27, 1942-March 09, 1942. That story arc was five chapters. This one contains twelve.
Chapter one is missing as of this writing. However, Jackson Beck tells the listeners what had happened in it at the beginning of the second episode.
One of the down sides to rebroadcasts is that if one has heard previous versions of the story, there is very little, if any, suspense in the retold version. This, however, is not the case with "The Story of the Century." In many ways, it improves upon the original "A Mystery for Superman" serial on which it is based. There are many of the same elements of "Mystery," but some additional twists were added. One such twist was Clark Kent learning of someone calling Jimmy claiming to be him. This makes the audience think in similar ways that "Is There Another Superman?" did. It makes them more eager for the solution of the mystery.
Another thing that makes "The Story of the Century" different from "Mystery" is that it seems more focused and less irritating. When I listened to the 1942 serial, I sometimes found myself wondering if the writers were out to drive the listeners insane. Fortunately, they learned from the original arc and tried to make it feel less like we were being thrown from a roller coaster at the speed of light after eating a Denny's Grand Slam Breakfast. (Does that still exist, or am I dating myself?)
While Batman's entrance into this story arc seems slightly forced. His overall appearance in "The Story of the Century" works for the serial. it just would have been better to make him come in just before Clark discovers Candy had been kidnapped. Perhaps it would have also worked better for this tale if Bruce Wayne had not been involved in planning the prank on Clark Kent.
I don't believe that I've ever discussed the character of Candy Meyers in my reviews of story arcs in which he is featured. I honestly like the character and wonder why he never went beyond the George Reeves TV Series. Candy appears in "The Stolen Costume" episode which was adapted from the radio show. In the right hands, Candy Meyers has the potential to be a great supporting character in the current Superman universe. Let's hope Candy shows up in the future adventures of the Man of Tomorrow.
Overall. "The Story of the Century" fixed all of the flaws in "A Mystery for Superman" while telling a different story that's fun and entertaining. Perhaps, the writers wanted to give us a change of pace from next week's "The Hate Mongers Organization." We'll find out in seven days or so, Superfans. Until we meet then, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky.
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