Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1940: Lighthouse Point SmugglersReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: July 22, 1940-August 02, 1940
"Lighthouse Point Smugglers"
Clark Kent is discussing a possible vacation with Perry White, who has been reading letters from Jimmy Olsen. Jimmy is on sick leave and visiting his Aunt Louisa Horn, who lives in Horn House at Lighthouse Point, a place off the coast of Maine. Aunt Louisa's grandfather Joshua Horn built the lighthouse on Lighthouse Point to help him find his way to the docks there. However, the light in the lighthouse hasn't worked in nearly fifty years. Jimmy believes Clark Kent should come to investigate strange happenings at Lighthouse Point. When White tells Clark this, he receives a call from Jimmy. The copy boy for the Daily Planet tells Mr. White that smugglers are doing something in Lighthouse Point, but young Olsen puts down the phone abruptly before he can continue. Clark then decides to use his vacation time to go to Lighthouse Point and help Jimmy.
Jimmy later meets Clark with a boat he had driven from his aunt's house. While on the rainy boat trip to Lighthouse Point, Clark notices that the light from the Crumble Island Lighthouse has gone out. Jimmy says that it's probably just to advise boats about the bad weather. He then tells Clark why he put down the phone so suddenly while talking to Perry. He had seen the men that he believes are smugglers come into the store from where Jimmy had called. The men have also have been coming to Lighthouse Point at night, but Aunt Louisa's dog Tiger scared them off.
Suddenly, Clark hears a speedboat with its lights off come at them fast. Jimmy turns off his running lights. At the last second, the speedboat changes direction. Jimmy believes that the boat belongs to the smugglers and wants to find out where they're going. Clark wants to know this, too, but he lets Jimmy continue to tell him about what has happened at Lighthouse Point.
The night before last, Jimmy had heard Tiger barking. He and Aunt Louisa had awakened and went to investigate. When they had gotten to the kitchen, Jimmy and his aunt heard some bumping and dragging noises coming from the cellar. When Aunt Louisa and Jimmy had gone into the cellar, they found it completely empty. Tiger then had stopped barking.
When Clark asks if Aunt Louisa is alone in her house right now, Jimmy responds affirmatively. Clark believes that he and Jimmy should get to Lighthouse Point as fast as possible. Continuing on their route to Lighthouse Point, Clark and Jimmy see the light from Crumble Island come back. The light then begins to blink. Clark and Jimmy's boat suddenly begins to head for some rocks. Jimmy goes up to the bow of the ship while Clark tries to hold it steady.
Suddenly, Jimmy is thrown overboard. Clark changes into Superman just before the boat sinks. Superman saves Jimmy and brings him ashore before resuming his guise of Clark Kent. Jimmy is okay if you exclude a hurt leg. When Jimmy regains consciousness, he says to Clark that they've washed ashore onto Lighthouse Point. Clark and Jimmy then see the blinking light again, but they discover it is not coming from Crumble Island. It's coming from Lighthouse Point.
A short time later, Jimmy and Clark hear the sound of someone running. They run toward the sound of the footsteps despite Jimmy's injury and see Jimmy's Aunt Louisa running toward Horn House in the rainy, stormy night. She falls and hits her head. Clark and Jimmy bring the unconscious Aunt Louisa home.
While waiting for his aunt to recover, Jimmy tells Clark that a boat the size of a clipper ship could dock at Lighthouse Point. The point makes a regular little bay, and the bay leads into Lighthouse Creek.
Before Jimmy can continue, Aunt Louisa wakes up repeating the name of her nephew Christopher. Aunt Lou, as Jimmy calls her, raised Christopher when he was a boy until he one day just decided to leave.
Clark and Jimmy ask Aunt Lou why she ran out into the rainy night alone. After much hesitation, she says that she was worried about Clark and Jimmy being out in a boat during the storm. She thought she could yell to them or wave a lantern. Jimmy then is about tell Aunt Lou about the blinking light in the lighthouse when Clark steps on his injured foot to interrupt him.
All of a sudden, Clark hears the same bumping and dragging noises that Aunt Lou and Jimmy had heard before. Clark wants to investigate what's causing them despite Louisa Horn's protests. Jimmy and Clark go downstairs to learn what's causing the noise. When they are alone, Clark tells Jimmy that he believes Aunt Louisa knows more about what's going on than she is admitting. Once they reach the cellar, Jimmy and Clark find nothing unusual. Clark then notices that one wall is made of cemented stone blocks. He asks Jimmy to go upstairs to get a hammer and let Aunt Lou know that they're okay.
After Jimmy leaves, Clark becomes Superman. He begins to examine the brick floor, but only finds it to be very common and extremely solid. Before he can continue his investigation, Jimmy and his aunt call to Clark Kent. He resumes his guise of the reporter and runs upstairs to them.
Aunt Lou says that she saw a light. She isn't completely sure, but she believes the light came from the nearby lighthouse. Clark and Jimmy go to the point to investigate the lighthouse after giving Aunt Lou a shot gun from the closet. She's to use the gun to signal to Clark and Jimmy if she needs help. Clark orders Jimmy's aunt to keep the door bolted and to not go into the cellar until he and Jimmy return.
After Jimmy and Clark are outside, Clark asks Jimmy if he saw the light that his aunt had seen. Jimmy says that he didn't see the light. Thinking that Aunt Lou is hiding something because of fear, and that she wants to keep him and Jimmy away for some reason, Clark decides that he and Jimmy will not go the lighthouse. They'll stay behind a nearby bush to watch and see what happens. Clark suddenly sees a light from the lighthouse. Jimmy and Clark then run to investigate the light.
Upon entering the lighthouse, Clark theorizes that the smugglers used the light to guide boats like the speedboat that he and Jimmy encountered earlier. The noises they had heard coming from Aunt Lou's cellar were the smugglers moving items to and from the boats. The movement was so close that it could be heard like it was coming from inside Horn House. Jimmy then shows Clark a telephone line that goes from the lighthouse's phone to his aunt's kitchen in Horn House. Once Jimmy and Clark get to lightroom door, Clark orders Jimmy to go downstairs. Jimmy is to ring the fogbell if he needs help. The mild mannered reporter then uses Jimmy's exit to become Superman.
Superman breaks the door open and smashes the lighthouse light while beating and interrogating a smuggler. The smuggler does a five foot jump out the lighthouse window into the water. In his attempt to swim, the smuggler nearly sinks into the water's murky depths. Superman and a smuggler's boat both race to capture the man before he drowns. The Man of Steel succeeds. He grabs the drenched smuggler with one hand. He tries to grab the boat with the other hand, but Jimmy suddenly rings the fogbell. Superman takes the unconscious smuggler with him and resumes his guise of Clark Kent before going to Jimmy.
The frantic young copy boy tells Clark that the lighthouse phone rang while he was in the lightroom, but when Jimmy answered, nobody responded. The phone rings again. This time, Clark answers while Jimmy guards the knocked out smuggler. Clark asks if it's Aunt Louisa on the other end of the line. He gets no reply, but he says that if she needs help, she's to ring the phone three times after he hangs up. Clark hangs up the phone, and shortly afterwards, it rings three times. Clark and Jimmy, with the unconscious man in tow, run back to Horn House.
When they arrive, they find the kitchen dark and empty. The cellar door has been opened, and the dog Tiger is in the closet. Clark wants Tiger to guard the unconscious man. However, the dog licks his face as if he knows the man. Jimmy has Tiger guard the man anyway while he and Clark search the house for Aunt Lou. Clark goes to examine the cellar while Jimmy looks around the rest of the house. Kent uses this opportunity to become Superman.
When the Man of Steel is in the cellar, he sees a hidden door closing. The door leads to a passage behind the cement stone wall he saw earlier. He hears Aunt Lou call for help from the passage just as the door closes. After smashing the large door, Superman runs down the passage and resumes his guise of Clark Kent before Jimmy and Aunt Lou can see him. Aunt Lou then explains to Jimmy and Clark why she went down into the cellar
She had heard the same noises from before coming from the cellar and went to see what was causing them after ringing Clark three times. When she got to the cellar, Aunt Lou saw some men carrying a box down the passage way. She followed them and saw them put the box in a boat. Aunt Lou then shows Clark and Jimmy that the passage leads to water right under the dock. The trio then hears a boat coming, but it goes away after a few seconds.
Suddenly, Aunt Lou, Jimmy and Clark hear Tiger barking from the house. When they return, they find the dog going after Jasper Quinby. Quinby came to talk to Aunt Louisa about her mortgage and placed the unconscious man on the sofa thinking he had been killed. Quinby angrily insists on speaking with Louisa about her mortgage, but she refuses to talk to him. Quinby then reluctantly leaves Horn House after Jimmy unlocks the kitchen door to see him out.
Later, Clark tells Jimmy that he's suspicious of Quinby. Why would he come to talk about a mortgage in the middle of the night? If the door was locked before Jimmy opened it, how did he get in to supposedly help a man that was on the floor? Clark believes Quinby was in the house the entire time, but nobody saw him until Tiger barked. According to Clark, there's another secret passage in Horn House. Clark makes Jimmy promise to keep this from Aunt Lou until more is known.
Meanwhile, Aunt Lou is near the sofa crying over the smuggler Clark had captured as Superman. She reveals that she was trying to keep Clark and Jimmy from finding out the truth because the man on the sofa is her nephew Christopher Horn. Clark and the others try to revive Christopher with no success.
The next morning over breakfast, Aunt Louisa is telling Clark and Jimmy of her grandfather's exploits as a clipper ship captain. It seems Joshua Horn picked up some amazing things on his trips to China, including dishes Aunt Lou uses when guests like Clark are in Horn House, the kitchen wallpaper and a trunk full of a fortune in Chinese jade. However, nobody knows where the jade is. Nearly sixty-five years ago, it had disappeared. Nobody could ask Joshua where the jade was because he was found dead on the beach two weeks after it had vanished.
Aunt Lou is now showing Clark and Jimmy the kitchen wallpaper. It's faded, but a picture on the wall shows how the design had originally looked. The picture is of the Golden Gardens. However, Louisa discovers the picture is missing when Christopher wakes up. He tells everyone in the kitchen that Jasper Quinby had tried to kill him. If Tiger hadn't had saved Christopher, he would have been dead.
Quinby is the leader of the smuggling racket, and Christopher Horn was a part of the gang because he wanted to know what Quinby knew about Horn House. Quinby knows that there are secret passages all over the house, and Joshua Horn's jade is possibly hidden somewhere in those passages. Quinby is after the treasure of Joshua Horn. This is all Chris knows, but all of Joshua's log books are in the library. Chris had read them all when he was living with Aunt Lou. However, Quinby has taken pages that give the jade treasure's location from some of the log books, and Chris only remembers that one could only go to the jade's location a couple of times every year. Chris believes this has to do with the tides. According to him, it's getting close to the time of accessing the jade's location, and this is why Quinby wants Horn House. Quinby had apparently found what he wanted before trying to kill Christopher, and whatever it was, according to Clark, is in the missing picture.
After Clark leaves Horn House to find Quinby, Jimmy notices that the area of wallpaper where the picture of the Golden Gardens had been hanging is not faded. He stands on his head and discovers the wallpaper pattern is a map to the treasure's location. There is also writing on the pattern's edges that reads as follows:
"Take twice three turns and two turns more.
The water waits behind the door.
Turn seven stones. Make haste. For then,
The sea, too soon, comes in again."
After reading these words, Jimmy notices a long line going into another one with a design that looks like a sun on top of it. Jimmy believes that the sun marks the location of Joshua Horn's jade treasure. He cuts out the unfaded piece of wallpaper and tells Aunt Lou that he'll find the jade with her help.
While Aunt Lou and Jimmy are going down the secret paths to the treasure, Jasper Quinby and his assistant Pete are in front of the door of a water tight chamber. Quinby says that Joshua Horn hid the Chinese jade in this room. Horn designed the room so one could only enter it two or three times a year when the tide is very low, and low tide will be coming very soon. Captain Horn also made the room's doors close automatically when high tide comes a few seconds after the low tide arrives and floods the chamber. Pete and Quinby try to force open the door, but water comes out of the opening. The time for entering the chamber isn't right, but Quinby is willing to wait for the perfect moment to take Captain Horn's treasure.
Meanwhile, Jimmy and Aunt Lou follow the path written on the piece of wallpaper. After Jimmy turns some stones, a secret door opens to a room with water on the floor. The room is also full of packages. Aunt Lou opens one of the packages and finds it contains Chinese jade. Captain Joshua Horn's treasure has been found
Aunt Louisa cries for joy when she sees the jade. She won't have to sell Horn House to pay off her mortgage.
Suddenly, the secret door closes while Jimmy and his aunt are still inside. Aunt Lou hears the sound of water coming into the chamber. Both she and Jimmy try unsuccessfully to get the door opened. The water is rising further as Jimmy Olsen and Louisa Horn call for help.
Meanwhile, Superman has had no luck finding Jasper Quinby at his home. He returns to Horn House and resumes his guise of Clark Kent. He searches for Jimmy and Louisa, but he doesn't find them. Tiger then barks and jumps on Clark as if to tell him something about where Jimmy and his aunt went. The dog leads him to the cellar and the secret passage.
Meanwhile Quinby and Pete are trying to open the door to the water tight chamber. They hear Jimmy and Aunt Lou call for help. Not wanting to be in the secret passages when the water comes further, Pete and Quinby try to make a getaway. They run back to their boat when they hear Tiger bark.
Superman follows the dog to the room where Jimmy and Louisa are trapped, but he only sees a wall until he hears them scream for help. He smashes the wall and quickly resumes his guise of Clark Kent. He then takes the chest of jade and follows Jimmy and his aunt out of the secret passages and back into Horn House. Everybody is safe, the treasure of Joshua Horn is now in the hands of his family, and Jimmy Olsen and Clark Kent have a story for the Daily Planet. However, while they telegraph their story to Perry White, another adventure awaits Superman in the next story in The Adventures of Superman.
This serial was later turned into an episode of the George Reeves television series called "The Haunted Lighthouse."
If you listen to chapter one closely, you'll notice a blooper made by the actor who played Jimmy Olsen. He says that he wrote Mr. Kent when he actually wrote Mr. White. Clark didn't know about Jimmy's letters until Perry told him about them at the beginning of this serial.
Someone told me recently that it would be fun to watch Superman TV episodes based on radio serials before or after listening to the radio serial version, and he was right. Having seen "The Haunted Lighthouse" and having just finished listening to "Lighthouse Point Smugglers," I can see the fun in comparing the two stories. Which is better? Well, you'll probably get varying opinions on that, but I honestly find the television episode slightly better. The reason for the TV version being better for me is simple. We see our title character more in both of his identities. Sure we have Clark and Superman in this story, but the writing on this radio serial, in my opinion, makes the listener feel like both Clark and Superman are just along for the ride while Jimmy Olsen and Aunt Louisa are the stars of the story.
"Lighthouse Point Smugglers" isn't bad, but there are parts of the story that seem to drag and go very slowly. I understand that the writers were trying to get the story into a serialized format, but this one could have easily been made into a three or four chapter serial instead of having six chapters. The story itself is fun, but it would be more enjoyable if it didn't crawl at a snail's pace during parts of chapters three and five.
Another thing I didn't care for was the ending. I was really let down by it. Sure we have the classic "Superman saves the day at the last minute." However, he does nothing about this serial's villains Quinby and Pete, even if he clearly knows about their illegal activities. We don't know what happens to Quinby and Pete after they leave the secret passages under Horn House. If my memory serves me well, George Reeves caught the criminals in "The Haunted Lighthouse." Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. It's been quite some time since I saw that episode. Anyway, I wish there had been a better resolution of Quinby's fate in this version of the story. His exit feels like a dangling plot thread for which someone ran out of ideas in the end.
Despite not liking the unresolved ending of Quinby. I did like Quinby as a villain. He's another pretty straightforward character, and his motivations are pretty cut and dry. He wants the treasure of Joshua Horn, and he doesn't care how he gets it. He created a smuggling organization to help him find the jade. That's fairly simple to understand. I'm glad he and Midway Martin (from "Happyland Amusement Park") were pretty basic and didn't leave a lot of questions in my head about them.
I also liked following the mystery of the treasure's location. I can't help but wonder if some children in 1940 were waiting in anticipation to find out where Captain Joshua Horn had hidden the jade. If so, I know how they felt because I felt like a kid again when I asked, "But where's the treasure?" as each chapter progressed. That, in my opinion, is what every Superman story from yesteryear should do.
All in all, "Lighthouse Point Smugglers" is a good story, but it really needed some improvements made to it. Perhaps this is why "The Haunted Lighthouse" was done. Let's just consider the radio serial a rough draft to the TV episode. If one looks at it that way, it's possibly easier to accept the flaws in the radio serial version of the story.
Our next serial will be a three chapter story called "Pillar of Fire at Graves End." We'll see how that one is in seven days. Until then, remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky.
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