Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1946: The Secret Menace StrikesReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: August 01, 1946-August 21, 1946
"The Secret Menace Strikes"
Having prevented the former Scotland Yard detective Herbert Kawkins from learning his secret identity with the aid of Batman, Superman, in his guise of Clark Kent, has just returned to the Daily Planet only to find that editor Perry White's office door has been locked. Much of the newspaper's staff wants to see the chief. There is a commotion inside, and Clark must force the door open. He and Lois see Perry yelling at Homer S. Smith. Smith has been appointed by John W. Grayson, publisher of the Daily Planet, to go over matters of editorial policy. According to Smith, Grayson wants to withdraw support of the World Peace Federation despite having helped the organization in recent weeks. There are to be articles against the W.P.F. in the periodical as often as possible.
Perry and Clark have just gone to see Grayson about the new editorial policies. There is nothing they can do to change his new stance against the World Peace Federation, and Homer Smith should be obeyed no matter what. After convincing his angry editor that they should leave the Grayson home, Clark tells White of something that he noticed. John W. Grayson was scared of something. Has a sinister force influenced the publisher of the great Metropolitan newspaper?
Clark, Lois and Jimmy Olsen are speaking with Perry in his office. They are about to resign and go to another newspaper when Clark tells them of his theory that Grayson is being forced to not support the World Peace Federation. Suddenly, Homer Smith enters. He is angry because his editorial against the W.P.F. is not on page one. Perry doesn't want to run it, and Smith is forced to cancel White's contract, which doesn't expire for ten months. Smith will pay Perry ten months worth of his salary. However, Clark points out a clause that gives the chief the say-so on editorial policy. Smith will have to find another means of controlling the Daily Planet, and he may do so after making a phone call to an associate.
It is now 7:00 PM in the dining room of the Metropolis Hotel. Lois and Clark have been waiting for Jimmy and Perry to arrive for dinner. Copy boy Beany Martin had said that they both weren't in the newspaper offices when Kent had called. Jimmy arrives some minutes later, but he had seen Perry take a cab from his lawyer's office to the hotel while the cub reporter went to put White's contract in the bank vault. The taxi had left over an hour ago, but Perry has not shown up for his appointment with his staff. The chief is possibly in danger.
There has been no luck in finding Perry White. Jimmy and Clark haven't found the taxi driver, a redhead resembling Mickey Rooney, that picked up the chief, and publisher John Grayson has just left town for unknown reasons. Worried, Clark believes that Jimmy and Lois' lives are at risk from the person or persons that took Perry. At 11:00 PM, Clark makes Jimmy promise to go straight home in a cab he hires and not leave the house until he's to go to work in the morning. However, the cub reporter may have to break his word. A mysterious individual has telephoned the lad saying that he has a message from Perry for Clark, Lois and Jimmy. Young Olsen will have to go to the newspaper club to get the envelope.
Clark Kent is questioning John Grayson's wife. While she doesn't know where her husband has gone, she does tell the mild mannered reporter that the normally jolly Grayson has become nervous, frightened and sad. He has particularly been this way after a visit from Homer S. Smith, who lives in the Metropolis Hotel. That is the exact place where Clark had left Lois.
Boris Arcinko, the former Superman impersonator that is now foreman of the printing rooms for the Daily Planet, is under orders from Clark to keep Jimmy from leaving home. When that's unsuccessful, the burly man accompanies the cub reporter to the newspaper club. They find nobody with a message from Perry and take a cab back to Jimmy's house. Unfortunately, Jimmy recognizes the voice of the driver as the person that called him earlier in the night. He is also the man whose taxi picked up Perry White at his lawyer's office. The cabbie knows that Jimmy saw him. He now has a gun pointed at the boy and brawny press operator. The street is empty at this time of night. There seems to be no way to save Boris and Jimmy.
The taxi driver and his friends have taken Jimmy and the now unconscious Boris. Meanwhile, Clark Kent has returned to the Metropolis Hotel, where Lois Lane is safe and sound. Not finding Homer Smith in his room, Lois and Clark go to the office of Metropolis Police Inspector Bill Henderson. Kent wants Henderson to investigate Smith, but the inspector thinks that that is a bad idea. At that moment, Sergeant Heally says that he has found the cab that took Perry, Jimmy and Boris. However, neither the driver nor his passengers are in the car. Jimmy and Boris are bound hand and foot in a basement seconds away from being shot to death, and Superman knows nothing of this.
The hulking Boris has managed to untie himself and Jimmy. They are now barricaded in a windowless bedroom. The men that had captured them were able to overturn the dresser that blocked the door. The only hope that Jimmy and Boris have is that someone will follow the green ink path left by the cub reporter's fountain pen. Superman did so and crashes through a wall in the room just as the villains are about to close in on Jimmy and Boris. Both the Man of Steel and the burly foreman take care of the crooks, and one of them says they work for Joe Barton, the cab driver that took Perry. Barton lives in the Miller Hotel on Morton Street. As Inspector Henderson arrives to arrest Barton's men, Superman and Jimmy go to the Miller Hotel. Hopefully, they will learn what has happened to Perry White.
Homer Smith is meeting with his boss millionaire arms dealer Rufus Pelli while Superman and Jimmy find Joe Barton dead in his hotel room. Pelli wants editorials that spread lies about the World Peace Federation printed in future editions of the Daily Planet. The first is to be published the next afternoon. Lois and Clark discuss this when a phone call for Clark arrives. He only says that the odds are against Perry White and W.P.F. Seconds count as Kent is like stone before mysteriously leaving Lois' office.
Two hundred miles out of Metropolis, John Grayson is due east and a point or two south on a cabin cruiser boat in middle of a horrible hurricane. Superman is searching the storm-churned waters for the publisher of the Daily Planet. Meanwhile, Lois and Jimmy are wondering how to stop the first vicious editorial against the W.P.F. Can the Man of Steel and his friends do what they must in the name of world peace?
Superman has found John Grayson barely alive. He takes the publisher to a nearby village to a Doctor Agnu after resuming his guise of Clark Kent. The doctor was able to help somewhat, but something has to be done to get Grayson to regain the will to live. Clark is doing everything he can to get Grayson to awaken so he can learn the location of Perry White. Can he help his editor before it's too late?
In Metropolis, the afternoon edition of the Daily Planet with the editorial attacking the World Peace Federation will be on the streets in thirty minutes. Lois and Jimmy have convinced Boris to help in preventing the vicious lies being printed. He does so by smearing ink on Homer Smith's article. Boris is then fired and replaced. Should the burly foreman return, he will be shot for trespassing. The anti-peace propaganda will be in the next issue of the Planet in two hours. Smith's new regime seems to be holding onto the newspaper with an iron fist.
John Grayson has awakened, and he's confessing to Clark. An old college roommate had asked him for money to aid those driven from their homes by the Nazis during the war. Grayson's friend actually used the funds to help German sympathizers without the publisher's knowledge and was later hanged for treason. Homer Smith had the letters and checks Grayson had written to his school chum along with some forgeries showing that Grayson himself is a traitor. Had Grayson not cooperated with Smith, the false papers would have been made public.
Clark has an idea that can help prevent the printing of Smith's editorials. Giving Grayson a fountain pen, he dictates to the publisher a letter that the mild mannered reporter gives to Homer Smith. However, he has an ace in the hole. Kent follows him into the press room, where he is surrounded by men armed with machine guns. With Clark now fired, he will be shot if he so much as screams, "Stop the presses!"
Clark has been ordered to sit down in the printing room. Tensing his muscles a bit, he causes the first press to go out of alignment and creates a power outage. In the darkness, Superman moves the other five ton machines. As the lights come back on, Smith sees that no edition of the Daily Planet will be printed until at least sometime tomorrow. Clark Kent happily leaves knowing that Smith is beaten for now.
Superman has returned to the remote village where he had taken John Grayson for medical aid. He has a plan that will hopefully help find Perry White. Grayson is to call for a meeting with Homer Smith. They will talk in the publisher's home because Grayson is to say he cannot leave because he doesn't feel well. However, Rufus Pelli senses a trap and orders Smith to not go to Grayson. Pelli also has a plan to make sure his propaganda against the W.P.F. will be published no matter what it takes.
Smith has called Grayson to say he cannot speak with the publisher. Clark and Inspector Henderson listen to the conversation. Smith even says that he'll disobey the orders in the letter Grayson had written to him. The Daily Planet will still be published. What can Superman do now that Smith has not fallen into his trap?
Clark has received a call from a Doctor Arnold at the Flower Ridge Hospital. Jimmy Olsen had given Grayson's number to him. Arnold said that Lois Lane was in a terrible accident. Clark and Inspector Henderson go there only to have the admitting physician Doctor Gibbs say to them that Lois isn't there. Plus, there is no Doctor Arnold at the Flower Ridge Hospital. Suspecting a ruse, both Kent and Henderson now must return to Grayson's house before it's too late.
Superman is flying over Lois' apartment. The star reporter is well and talking on the telephone. Returning to the Grayson home as Clark Kent, he learns from the publisher's butler Philips that Grayson had been arrested. However, the car that took Grayson was a maroon Sedan, and Metropolis police use blue and green automobiles. Rufus Pelli and Homer S. Smith have once again gotten the upper hand.
While Superman and Inspector Henderson search for John Grayson and Perry White, Rufus Pelli, with the aid of his giant servant Hugo, is using every devious method to get both men to sell him two percent of their stocks in the Daily Planet. Pelli owns forty-nine percent controlling in the newspaper. If they don't sell their parts, Perry and Grayson will be dead, and the latter will be branded a traitor.
Superman, carrying Inspector Henderson, has found the maroon Sedan in the murky waters of the river. The Man of Steel lifts the car while he and Henderson look for clues. The investigation leads them to a gas station owner named Paul Brower in New Beacon. They then go to the small town to get further information.
Pelli's man Hugo is in a speed boat. The ship is towing a bound and gagged Perry and Grayson in a rowboat with explosives. A radio wave will activate Pelli's munitions that will kill Perry and Grayson, and Superman is in another town unable to save his editor and publisher.
Superman and Inspector Henderson are questioning Paul Brower. Knowing he's lying, they follow a telephone line that can possibly lead them to Perry and Grayson's captors. Can Henderson and the Man of Steel stop Pelli before he eliminates the editor and publisher of the Daily Planet?
Superman, in the guise of an overcoat, and Henderson are in Rufus Pelli's home. Pelli claims to not know Homer Smith. Superman knows that he's lying because he saw a message from Smith for The war mongering arms dealer. Desperate, Pelli is about to shoot Henderson before the Man of Steel blocks the bullet.
Henderson now has Pelli in custody. This gives Superman a chance to stop Hugo's speed boat and save John Grayson and Perry White. Meanwhile Henderson's men are arresting Homer Smith. With Rufus Pelli's schemes of blackmail and anti-peace propaganda foiled by Superman and Inspector Henderson, Perry White now has the scoop of the year to mark his return to the Daily Planet.
Clark Kent has just received a phone call from detective Candy Meyers. He's asking Clark to meet him in thirty minutes for a big story. Fifteen minutes later, some men beat Candy in the back yard of the private eye's waterfront home. "Candy Meyers' Big Story" may mean big trouble for him and Clark. Be here in seven days, boys and girls, to see what happens to them in The Adventures of Superman.
"Horatio F. Horn: Detective/The Super Sleuth" Update:
I heard from Fred Shay shortly after the review for "The Super Sleuth" had been posted. He stands by the fact that the eight chapter serial is still part of "Horatio F. Horn: Detective." The content in the episodes from "Sleuth" suggests otherwise. It is for this reason I disagree with Mister Shay. However, I have the utmost respect for him, and his knowledge of The Adventures of Superman radio series makes him the "Go to guy" about the show.
In the first chapter, the publisher is referred to as John W. Grayson. However, Jackson Beck calls him John J. Grayson in the opening narration of part two.
Someone who has written me periodically since I began reviewing these radio programs has pointed out many times that while The Adventures of Superman story arcs of 1946 have a good lesson, some have crossed the line of being too preachy. This is true in the case of "The Secret Menace Strikes." It's not a bad effort, and I have nothing against messages of peace and equality. However, this serial jams its moral down the listeners' throats to the point they almost choke on it.
The writing seems rather similar to a movie that was on Mystery Science Theater 3000 called Invasion USA (not the Chuck Norris one, but it's almost as bad), which featured cameos from both Lois Lanes from the George Reeves television series. It's well-meaning, but the execution is rather exaggerated. This makes it difficult for the audience to take the story seriously. The same can be said for this serial's villains.
Speaking of the villains, who the heck thought Rufus Pelli and Homer Smith were menaces? I understand Pelli was an arms dealer, but firstly, his appearances in this serial make him look as threatening as a girl scout jamboree. Secondly, he doesn't show up often in "The Secret Menace Strikes," and when he is in the story, his villainy is nearly laughable and extremely melodramatic.
Let's move on to Homer Smith. This guy is about as dangerous as sitting in a chair. This serial is called "The Secret Menace Strikes," not "Strange Guy In Accounting Working With A Cesar Romero Impersonator." However, the latter title seems to fit this story arc better. The actual one makes the listener believe that there really was a threat to Superman and his friends. I only wish that was true.
The cast and crew do deserve an "A" for their efforts, but the flaws in the writing and poor execution make "The Secret Menace Strikes" feel like a bad movie. Let's hope "Candy Meyers' Big Story" turns out to be better. We'll find out 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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