Superman on Television

Adventures of Superman: Episode Reviews

Season 1 - Episode 3: "The Case of the Talkative Dummy"

Reviewed by: James Lantz

Original Broadcast Date: October 03, 1952

Writers: Dennis Cooper and Lee Backman

Director: Tommy Carr

Guest Cast:
Syd Saylor as Marco
Tristram Coffin as E.J. Davis/Al Roselli
Pierre Watkin as Harry Green
Robert Kent as The Safe Mover Who Speaks
Phillip Pine as The Usher
Stephen Carr as Chuck The Armored Car Guard
Hayden Rorke as The Phony Armored Car Guard

"The Case of the Talkative Dummy"

It's Jimmy Olsen's birthday, and Clark Kent and Lois Lane are celebrating by taking the young man to see the ventriloquist act of Marco and Freddie. The routine seems ordinary until Freddie says some things like "Down by the old mill stream," and "Under the apple tree". He also says that his age is eleven and a half when Marco tells the audience that the doll is fourteen years-old. This forces the entertainer to leave the stage shortly after two men exit the theater. Lois, Clark and Jimmy later learn that Freddie had done the same thing when he and Marco had performed in Portersville a month ago. However, that isn't the strange part of this mystery. Both the ventriloquist and the dummy were talking at the same time.

One month ago, an armored truck from Green's, Incorporated carrying half a million dollars had disappeared. It was last seen heading onto the turnpike for Watsonville, but it never made it to its destination. Daily Planet editor Perry White has ordered Lois and Clark to do a follow-up story for the newspaper's Sunday supplement. They are to talk to President Harry Green to get any new developments on this baffling case. After his photo is taken with his secretary E.J. Davis, Green explains some new security measures to the pair of reporters. Both Green and Davis map out the directions for the cars the night before delivery is to occur. Once that is finished, the documents are locked in a filing cabinet for which only Green and Davis have a key. The guards involved are given the vehicle's routes the next day in sealed envelopes prior to departure from Green's, Incorporated.

A Green's armored truck is now at the State Commercial Bank. The guards have finished loading money into it at 11:30 AM. They then open the secret orders from Mister Green. The car is to go down Apple Tree Road and turn onto the Old Mill Cut Off. The men are suddenly forced to stop when they find an automobile being repaired Chuck, the person who had received the instructions from Green, is suspicious, but he has no time to act. The security officer with him knocks him unconscious. The thief then helps his partners load the car into a larger tuck. Another daring robbery has just occurred.

Two hundred thousand dollars was stolen in the second armored car robbery. Lois and Jimmy have figured out the thieves got their information from Freddie the dummy. Since Freddie and Marco were talking at the same time, Lois and Clark tell Metropolis Police Inspector William J. "Bill" Henderson that a second ventriloquist is involved with the band of criminals. It is also possible that members of the group have never met each other to avoid any information being revealed should anyone be arrested. To prove this. Henderson will have to see the next performance of Marco and Freddie to prove this.

Jimmy has gone to Green's, Incorporated to pick up some pictures that Harry Green has chosen for the newspaper story. Suddenly, he sees the usher from the theater in which Marco and Freddie were performing. The man enters the office of E.J. Davis. Jimmy is currently listening to an interesting conversation. Davis is really an ex-convict named Al Roselli, and the usher believes that he is the mastermind behind the robberies. Jimmy then calls Perry to give him this information. However, the cub reporter is grabbed before anything can be revealed, and the telephone conversation with the chief is interrupted. Young Olsen is really in serious danger this time.

Perry has ordered Lois and Clark to find Jimmy. Unfortunately, a traffic jam is making it difficult for them to arrive at Green's, Incorporated, where Jimmy was last seen. Meanwhile. Green has learned that Davis has not seen the cub reporter. Jimmy, meanwhile, has been placed inside a safe that is about to be taken away on a block and tackle pulley by a rental company. At the same time, Lois and Clark are stopped at a traffic light near Green's, Incorporated. Kent's keen eyes sees Jimmy trapped and moving inside the large box. Clark tells this to Lois. However, he disappears before she can question him about this knowledge. Time is running out for Jimmy.

The ropes around the safe have broken, but Superman catches it and saves Jimmy in the nick of time. "How is it you always manage to show up at the right time?," Lois asks.

"That's my job Miss Lane," replies the Man of Steel.

Jimmy has told Lois and Clark what he has learned. They, in turn, give this information to Inspector Henderson, who has gone with Lois and Clark to see Marco and Freddie's next performance. Clark leaves Henderson and Lois to follow the usher, who is really the second ventriloquist. The man goes into a telephone booth, where a call from the mastermind behind the armored truck robberies waits for him. The usher is to give the thieves another job. He agrees to do so. However he wants to be paid more money. Henderson wants to arrest the usher right away, but Clark convinces him to wait. The police can set a trap for the criminals at the location of the next heist and, thereby, discover where the cars, drivers and money are hidden.

Marco and Freddie have begun their act. This time the dummy says, "With Uncle Irving and Aunt Magnolia" and tells the audience that he's thirteen and a half instead of fourteen. Once again, two men leave the theater before Marco walks off stage. In the meantime, the clues that the puppet has given tell Lois, Clark and Henderson that the next crime will be at the corner of Irving Boulevard and Magnolia Street, and the armored car will leave the bank at 1:30 PM. Clark then reveals that he had heard Harry Green give the usher his orders. Henderson and Lois do not believe him. However, Clark remains undaunted. He leaves to prove that Green is the mastermind behind these strange robberies.

After the police have arrested the usher and searched E.J. Davis/Al Roselli's apartment, Roselli himself is pointing a gun at Harry Green. He refuses to allow Green to frame him for crime that he did not commit. Suddenly, before Roselli can shoot his boss, Superman leaps into the office. The Man of Tomorrow makes the ex convict realize that killing Green would only make things worse. Superman knows that Green engineered the robberies. Our hero proves this by using his X-ray vision to find a half of million dollars in the office safe. This clears Roselli of any wrongdoing.

With Green's gang now in prison and the money returned to the banks, Lois wants Clark to tell Henderson and her how he learned that Green had planned these operations. Suddenly, the telephone in Henderson's office rings. Lois, thinking Clark got lucky, asks him who is speaking to the Inspector. The chief." Clark replies, "And if we're not back at the Planet in fifteen seconds flat, we're fired. Come on!"

With that, the pair of reporters runs out of police headquarters just before Henderson can tell Kent that he was right.

4Rating - 4 (out of 5): Noted actor Pierre Watkin makes an appearance in this episode. Watkin has been in such movie serials as The Lost Planet and The Green Hornet Strikes Again. Superman fans will recognize him as Perry White in 1948's Superman and 1950's The Atom Man Versus Superman. Watkin would later act in three other episodes of The Adventures of Superman.

Like Stephen Carr, Tristram Coffin and Phillip Pine make one of their many cameos in The Adventures of Superman beginning with "The Case of the Talkative Dummy." Watch out for them in the episodes to come. Also be on the look-out for Hayden Rorke, who played Doctor Alfred Bellows in I Dream of Jeannie, in this story. While his role is considered unconfirmed by the Internet Movie Database, many of his facial expressions during the armored car theft scene are similar to those used in Jeannie. I even heard his distinct voice in my head saying "Major Nelson" when he was on screen.

"The Case of the Talkative Dummy" marks the first television appearance Metropolis Police Inspector William J. "Bill" Henderson. Robert Shayne made the character famous, but Henderson actually was taken from the radio show. He was in such serials as "Doctor Blythe's Confidence Gang" and "The Monkey Burglar". Henderson was also briefly a part of the comic books' supporting cast of characters in the middle to late 1980s. Artists, particularly Jerry Ordway, would base his looks on Shayne because they had grown up watching The Adventures of Superman on television.

There are moments in "The Case of the Talkative Dummy" in which Clark Kent nearly reveals that he is Superman. This happens often in The Adventures of Superman. One notable incident will be in "Panic in the Sky" from season two. Lois Lane, in particular, is always trying to prove that the mild mannered reporter is the Man of Steel, which often tends to get her into trouble. Inspector Henderson, Perry White and Jimmy Olsen seem to be waiting for Clark to come out with the truth about his double life. This is one of the beautiful things about the series It's one of the many things that makes it so much fun

"The Case of the Talkative Dummy" is a superbly done. The acting and writing is stupendous. However, one important thing is missing is missing from the story - motive. Harry Green's reasons for stealing from his own company are never mentioned. Did he have gambling debts, or was he just trying to prove some to the city of Metropolis? Inspector Henderson even asks why Green would commit the robberies, but his question is never answered. This creates a huge, gaping hole in the plot. As the episode is, it feels like Dennis Cooper and Lee Backman pulled the identity of the crimes' mastermind out of the air.

For a television show, movie or radio drama to succeed, the cast members must provide the characters they portray with a chemistry in which they can work together to compliment each other. This is one of the weak points in the film Superman Returns. Brandon Routh and Kate Bosworth don't seem to work well together. The opposite is true with the cast of The Adventures of Superman, and "The Case of the Talkative Dummy" is one episode that proves this. The performances of everyone involved makes one understand why this series is and always will be considered a classic for many years to come.

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