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Transportation is disrupted in Metropolis when an extortionist who calls himself "The Wrecker" begin blowing up ships, trains, and planes. Because he has so many targets, it is hard to track him down but a coalition of big time owners of these conveyances is brought to the Planet offices to try to find an answer. Perry White blusters around and Superman gets into the act. At one point, a remote control plane with a warhead is intercepted by the Man of Steel. This is the way these things are being blown up even though they have been thoroughly checked out by the authorities. It is now a matter of how to be in two places at the same time that makes for a difficult solution.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
ONCE again the ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN Series looked to Hollywood and
the Theatrical Feature Film in order to provide inspiration for an
Episode of the Super Show. In the initial Season, the production team
had "gone to the well" more than once or twice in order to make use of
plots such as 'the Haunted House' (The Haunted Lighthouse), "Aliens
from Space" (The Unknown People, Parts 1 & 2*), 'Cops 'n' Robbers'
(Crime Wave) and 'Organized Crime/Racketeering' (No Holds Barred).
SO it was that the Man of Steel was called upon to essay the role of the central hero in a cliff-hanger type of story.** The scenario has the City of Metropolis quivering under the threats and bombings of its major transportation venues. Airlines, Passenger Trains and Steamship lines are all subject to the murderous extortion plot being engineered by the unknown criminal mastermind in "Beware The Wrecker".
INTERVENTION by the 1st Citizen of Metropolis, namely Superman, brings the revelation that the threats of destruction to the Rail, Ship and Airlines are being carried out via the use of remote control model airplanes (the remote model plane being a very popular hobby of the 1950's). Detective work done by Miss Lois Lane, Clark Kent and young Master Olsen leads to a Carnival Grounds and an operative named Emile Hatch (Mr. Denver Pyle), but he is killed by his superior before he can be any help. The leadership of Metropolis is stymied; seemingly running into a dead end.
Conferring with Superman, Inspector Henderson convenes a meeting at the Editorial Offices of the Daily Planet. Hosted by Editor-in-Chief, Perry White, himself; the participants are the big-shots from the three affected modes of transportation involved. We have Steamship, Mr. Crane (William Forrest), Airlines (Pierre Watkin) and Railroad (Tom Powers).** The threesome is brought together under the pretext of having the Metropolis Police Department's case reviewed and re-examining whatever evidence that is out there.
IN the best PERRY MASON tradition, the plan is to trick the guilty party, who would presumably be present. The use of a sudden appearance of a miniature model plane flying in the open window of Mr. White's office would catch the real "Wrecker" unawares and trick him into self-revelation of his identity. Sure enough, a plane did appear and the identity of the super extortionist is revealed as NO, we won't go that far. You see and judge for yourself.
INSPECTOR Henderson and Superman place the wrong-doer in custody, as Superman explains that this particular miniature plane is a harmless model, devoid of any explosive ordinance capacity. Superman continues; "It's a remote control plane, operated by young Jimmy Olsen, who is across the way on the roof of another building across the street." The knowledge of the, up 'til then, unknown felon being betrayed by his fearful reaction to the sudden mini air attack; which proves to be his ultimate undoing.
BEWARE THE WRECKER is a well made 30 minute combination of the classic detective story and (by then) the now nearly defunct genre of the Movie Serial/Cliff Hanger/Chapter-Play.*** It surely would be rated on just about anybody's list of SUPERMAN Episodes in the Upper 1/3 of the 100+ shows.
WHATTA you think, Schultz? NOTE * Okay, we know what you're thinking; the invaders in Unknown People, the only 2 partner in the series (adapted from the theatrical Superman Pilot Feature, SUPERMAN AND THE MOLEMEN National Comics/Lippert Pictures, 1951), aren't from space; but rather from beneath the Earth's crust. Well, we disagree. If there's "Outer Space", there must also be an "Inner Space", right Schultz? NOTE: ** This must be possibly the most distinguished three to be guest starring in supporting featured roles in this series. Pierre Watkin had many a fine part in so many features, including Lou Gehrig's (Gary Cooper) Father-in-Law to be in PRIDE OF THE YANKEES (Goldwyn/RKO, 1942) and was the screen's first Perry White in the Columbia Serials SUPERMAN (1948) an ATOMMAN VS. SUPERMAN (1950). Tom Powers had an equally prolific film acting career with his r5ole as the ill-fated Mr. Dietrich to Barbara Stanwick's fem fetal in Billy Wilder's DOUBLE INDEMNITY (Paramount, 1944). William Forrest is seen in numerous spots in a multitude of "A" and "B" Pictures; usually as a Doctor, Lawyer or Judge. He is very prominent in a nearly identical Wartime role to this one in the Serial, THE MASKED MARVEL (Republic, 1944); where his name is even the same, Mr. Crane. Mr. Forrest even got top billing.
NOTE: *** The Series would pay another visit to the Movie Serial Genre in the 1956 Episode, "The Perils of Superman"; which turned out to be the penultimate episode of the now legendary TV series. It was directed by fledgling Director George Reeves as homage to the Movie Cliff Hanger, which became extinct that year.
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