Classic Crime-Fighting Tale, My Experience With the 1940s Green Hornet Serial
The Green Hornet (13 Episode Serial)
Approved Rating -
Genre: Adventure, Crime, Family
Year Released: 1940, 2023 VCI Blu-ray
Runtime: 4h 18m
Director(s): Ford Beebe, Ray Taylor
Writer(s): George H. Plympton (screenplay,) Basil Dickey (screenplay,) Morrison Wood (screenplay,) Lyonel Margolies (screenplay,) Fran Striker (adapted from the radio dramatic adventure serial by)
Cast: Gordon Jones, Wade Boteler, Keye Luke, Anne Nagel, Phillip Trent, Cy Kendall
Where To Watch: Releasing April 25, 2023, available for pre-order now at www.vcientertainment.com or www.mvdshop.com
RAVING REVIEW: I recently immersed myself in the stunning restoration of the 1940 serial adaptation of THE GREEN HORNET. In this tale, we follow the adventures of the newspaper editor Britt Reid, played by Gordon Jones, who assumes the Green Hornet persona to fight corruption and bring justice to the city. Conceived by George W. Trendle, the character first graced the airwaves in the 1930s as part of an American radio show and has since appeared in several different mediums; however, this was the first 13-episode installment where we got to see him in live action.
In this series, the Green Hornet, aided by his resourceful partner Kato, portrayed by Keye Luke (surprisingly respectfully for the most part,) is the only individual privy to the Hornet's true identity. This dynamic duo tackles crime and racketeering, all while dodging the police because of their vigilante actions allowing them to act as their enforcement without answering to law enforcement.
Every episode presents the Green Hornet and Kato with challenges and concludes with cliffhangers that keep the audience engaged. So it was predictable, but as a whole, it was a very engaging experience. Getting to watch them almost as one giant film was a great experience. I can’t imagine having to head to the theater each week to catch the newest episode (and if you missed a week!)
Keye Luke's portrayal of Kato is praiseworthy, even if his martial arts prowess doesn't quite reach Bruce Lee's level (who played Kato in a later series.) The serial may not have a complex plot or deep character development, but it more than compensates with action-packed sequences and sheer enjoyment. The series stays grounded in reality, concentrating on crime-fighting rather than supernatural phenomena or superpowers.
Kato got the opportunity to shine as the mastermind behind the gas gun, the car's powerful engine (that goes 200+,) among other creations that helped in this fight against crime. The series even acknowledges Kato's vital role in saving the Hornet's life on numerous occasions.
The minor flaws can be forgiven as this had to be an ambitious project for the time. This wasn’t a TV series or a movie but the predecessor to today’s streaming series in a way. This classic series easily outclasses Seth Rogen's 2011 interpretation of the Green Hornet character in almost every possible way.
Compared to other serials of the time, THE GREEN HORNET delivers solid action and thrills, providing an engaging glimpse into the early days of this legendary crime-fighting figure.
Liner Notes by author Martin Grams Jr.
Two Radio Episodes of THE GREEN HORNET
'I AM THE GREEN HORNET' Audio Piece by Clifford Weimer
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[photo courtesy of VCI ENTERTAINMENT, MVD ENTERTAINMENT]