Clark Kent on the Night Beat

Jim Roeg’s description of “the Metropolis story” genre of Superman tales reminds me of one of my favorite radio dramas called Nightbeat and “starring Frank Lovejoy as Randy Stone,” a reporter for the Chicago Star who strolls the streets of windy city in search of a story for tomorrow morning’s column. Airing from 1950 to ’52, Nightbeat was a superior production thanks in large part to Frank Lovejoy, one of the finest radio actors with a distinctive voice that nonchalantly exuded cool, making his occasionally Chandlereque narration sound completely natural rather than self-consciously stylish.

Though his stories were usually the type that found their way to private investigators like Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe, the fact that Randy Stone was a reporter searching for a human interest story made him, if not less cynical, at least a little more sympathetic than the ordinary noir protagonist.

This situating of a reporter in a noir tale made for one of the best installments of the Bruce Timm-created Superman animated series. Titled “The Late Mr. Kent”, the episode not only features first person narration but one of the darkest endings of a children’s cartoon ever!

It begins with a memorial service for Clark Kent witnessed by Superman who then begins narrating in noirish voice-over how Clark’s “death” came about while investigating a murder. Not only does it end with a very crooked cop being executed via gas chamber (a Saturday morning first?), but he realizes Superman’s secret identity seconds beforehand, making Superman an unwitting beneficiary of his death!

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2 thoughts on “Clark Kent on the Night Beat

  1. Ryan says:

    Do you know which season that episode is on?

  2. Nobody says:

    Yeah, it’s one of the last episodes in Volume Two. Second disc, side B.

    (It really irritates me that the Superman collections have only been two discs with one of them double-sided, especially compared to their Batman counterparts with four single-sided discs in each voulme.)

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