THE GREEN HORNET STRIKES AGAIN (1941)
Article #1027 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-6-2004
Posting Date: 6-4-2004
Directed by Ford Beebe and John Rawlins
Featuring Warren Hull, Keye Luke, Wade Boteler
The Green Hornet tries to break up an insurance racket.
I’ve figured out a general rule of serials; usually you have either an interesting hero or an interesting villain; rarely do they give you both. In this case, the hero is the center of attraction. His theme song is the appropriate “Flight of the Bumblebee”, he tools around in a speedy car that makes a buzzing noise, and he has a gas gun (the sole science-fiction concept here) that puts his enemies to sleep. Furthermore, he is not recognized as a hero by the police or the public; he is thought of as a gangster, and he plays the part up. This being the case, he cannot expect the cooperation of the police or his friends when he is disguised as the Hornet; in fact, one of his employees (he is a newspaper editor in real life) is an Irish ex-cop obsessed with catching the Hornet, and this conflict provides one of the better running jokes throughout the serial. The villain, however, is nothing more than a dullish old guy sitting at a desk and telling people what to do. It would have more interesting if Jay Michael, who plays a campy, rather slimy gangster who pops up in the fourteenth episode, had been the real boss; his performance was a hoot.
Oddly enough, I didn’t see a whole lot of cliffhangers that had the cliche I’ve been complaining about in this one; you know, where it looks like the hero is going to crash, and you find out in the next episode he bailed out just in time. However, we do have a number of accident cliffhangers, but the revelation is usually that the hero just happened to survive, which is even less interesting. Maybe it’s because this is the first Universal serial I’ve seen in a while after a string of Republic ones. I also noticed it’s less action-oriented and talkier, the fights are not as interesting, and the cliffhangers in general are rather lame. Still, it gets points for having an interesting hero.