Adventures of Superman

Season 5 Episode 9

The Phony Alibi

Aired Friday 3:30 PM May 03, 1957 on
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Episode Summary

When Professor Pepperwinkle invents a machine to transport people by telephone wire, crooks use the machine to commit robberies -- and to send Lois and Jimmy to Alaska.

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  • This episode is one from the 1956 season and it is, like so many other episodes, ahead of it's time. The show started out with Clark receiving a call from Inspector Bill Henderson.moreless

    Bill told Clark that the Crowley gang just robbed the Wentworth jewelry store and that Schultzy Garfield was driving the getaway car. He was on highway 201 and driving at 120 M.P.H. Clark hung up the phone, changed into Superman and flew down in front of Schultzy's car and used his super-strength to stop him.

    Lois was in Clark's office waiting for him when Professor Pepperwinkle came by to tell them about his new invention, a de-atmosphering chamber. He explained to Lois that people are made up predominantly of air and he discovered a way to take most of the air out of the body and vibrate the atoms anywhere you wanted to go by using the telephone. Lois was skeptical and told the Professor to go back home.

    The scene changed to Ed Crowley, the crime Boss, who was trying to set a new world record with a yo-yo. Benny the Brain was counting when Clippy walked in telling them that Superman captured Schultzy. Clippy was supposed to do a job the next morning but he is concerned that he would get caught too. Clippy told Ed and the Brain that he wanted out until the Boss could think up some good alibis for them. After leaving, Clippy went back to Professor Pepperwinkle's house, where he had been renting a room.

    Clippy walked in on the Professor and asked him what was for dinner. The Professor was too concerned about getting someone to try his new invention to think about cooking dinner. The Professor asked Clippy if he had a friend that he had not seen in long time. Clippy told him yes "Old Moe Bilky" who was in Kansas City. The Professor put Clippy into his de-atmosphering chamber and phoned him to Kansas City.

    The scene changed to where we see a man (Moe) sleeping in a run-down room. The phone was literality ringing off the hook. Moe got up to answer the phone. When he lifted the receiver, smoke came out and Clippy appeared.

    After their visit, Clippy returned to Metropolis to tell Ed and the Brain that he just saw Moe in Kansas City. They thought he was crazy but he explained to them about Professor Pepperwinkle's invention. The Boss, Ed, came up with an idea to establish alibis for the next crime jobs they had planned.

    The three men went to the Professor's and Clippy came up with a story that Ed and the Brain were his long lost brothers. He asked the Professor if they could rent the extra room that he had so they could get to know each other again. The Professor agreed after hearing the tale that they had concocted.

    The next day, Clippy robbed a bank and told Ed to phone him to San Francisco where he could establish an alibi. Ed did that and Clippy was sent to a phone booth where this time the receiver fell off the hook all by itself and Clippy appeared in a puff of smoke.

    Next we see Bill Henderson telling Clark that Clippy held up the 5th Street Bank at 2:45pm and he was seen by the Chief of Police in San Francisco at 3:05pm. There was no way he could get from Metropolis to San Francisco in 20 minutes. With the next crime, Benny the Brain held up a jewelry store in Metropolis and had an alibi in Chicago. Clark told Lois and Jimmy about the two crimes and Lois realized that the Crowley gang was using the Professor's invention to establish their alibis.

    Lois and Jimmy went to visit the Professor and Ed Crowley recognized them. Ed told Professor Pepperwinkle that his brother the Brain had a headache and asked if he had anything that would help his brother. When the Professor left the room, Ed put the two reporters into the chamber and phoned them to Alaska. When Clark noticed that Lois and Jimmy were late for work, he went to visit the Professor. Professor Pepperwinkle told him that they were there but they left. He also told Clark that he is in his workshop everyday except when he takes his daily nap: between three and five every afternoon.

    Clark used the Professor's phone to call Bill Henderson. He told Bill to have two of his best men at the Professor's workshop at 3:00pm. Clark then called the operator to see if any long distance calls were made from Professor's line. The operator told him there was one made to Alaska. After changing into Superman, he followed the telephone line that carried Lois and Jimmy. When he caught up to where Lois and Jimmy were in the line, he flew down and pulled the line out of the pole to release the two reporters.

    Back at the Daily Planet, Inspector Henderson thanks Clark for his help in catching the Crowley gang. Professor Pepperwinkle walked into Clark's office and exclaimed that he had to destroy his de-atmosphering chamber because he could not afford the long distance phone bill.

    This episode was a science fiction classic. It was also ahead of it's time due to the fact that Professor Pepperwinkle discovered a way to vibrate a person's atoms and transport them anywhere. This was done ten years before Star Trek premiered and used the transporter beam to scramble someone's atoms and send them to a planet or another part of the space ship. Another way this was ahead of it's time was when Clippy was sent to Moe's and to the telephone booth in San Francisco, the receiver came off and smoke appeared. When the smoke came, Clippy appeared. This was done a decade before I Dream of Jeannie.

    This episode was free of violence but still showed us the intellect of the criminals and it was Clark Kent that came up with a way to capture the Crowley gang, and Superman, just like in all the episodes, was the one who saved Lois and Jimmy from a "frosty fate". A very good episode to sit, watch and enjoy over and over again.moreless
  • When a crazy scientist ivents a telephone transporter, it becomes a field day for a bunch of bumbling crooks. How does Superman prove that the crooks did the crimes when the crooks have an airtight alibi?moreless

    "The Phony Alibi" was a fairly good show, although some of the things were quite silly and unbelievable. But, at the same time you've got to remember that this show was made in the 1950's when atomic powered cars were being advertised as the replacement car for the aging gasolene powered, internal combustion enging automobile. And, everyone thought that there were Martians on Mars. But we've also got to remember that this episode was made about ten years before {I}Star Trek{/I} debutted.

    The main plot device is the "deatmospherizer", a machine that looks like an old-fahsioned 1930's furnace, that people step into, have all the air removed from their bodies and sent, via telephone, to a far off place (in the show people go from Metropolis to Kansas City and San Francisco in about three minutes, while Lois and Jimmy go to Alaska and take about half-an-hour to get to the middle of nowhere, due to Superman ripping out the phone lines near to a bus station in an unnamed town). The whole device works like the transporter from {I}Star Trek{/I}, however the transporter is capable of beaming people back, the telephone transporter only works one way, and then it is up to you to find your own way back. Anyway, the bad guys use the phone to committ robberies and to have airtight alibi's so that if the police questioned them, they could say that they were somewhere out west.

    Problems: While I'm no mathematician or scientist, I know that the human body contains a lot of water, and yet nobody mentions where the water from a person goes. The machine just seems to suck the air out of you and somehow sends your atoms through the telephone and rematerializes you in a puff of smoke from the receiver on the other end. I think the writer should've thought of a better device, but still the plot is a fun plot for kids to watch, and for adults to rewatch over and over.moreless
Phil Tead

Phil Tead

Professor Pepperwinkle

Guest Star

John Cliff

John Cliff

Ed Crowley

Guest Star

William Challee

William Challee


Guest Star

Jack Larson

Jack Larson

Jimmy Olsen

Recurring Role

Noel Neill

Noel Neill

Lois Lane

Recurring Role

John Hamilton

John Hamilton

Perry White

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (2)

    • This episode marked the first of two unrelated appearances from Harry Arnie.

      This episode marked the third of six recurring appearances from Phil Tead.

      This episode marked the second of two unrelated appearances from John Cliff.

      This episode marked the third of three unrelated appearances from William Challee.

      This episode marked the only appearance from Frank Kreig.


    • Notice the Periodic Table of the Elements in Professor Pepperwinkle's lab. The highest element with a name is #96 Cm(Curium), the table goes up to #101. The highest element with a name on today's table is #112 Cn(Copernicium). Today's table goes up to #118.


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