THE GREEN ARCHER (1940)
Article 2520 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-27-2008
Posting Date: 7-6-2008
Directed by James W. Horne
Featuring Victor Jory, Iris Meredith, James Craven
Evil Abel Bellamy has framed and murdered his brother in order to get possession of a castle. He then uses the castle as a secret hideout to perform his criminal activities. However, insurance investigator Spike Holland is on hand to try to catch him. Abel Bellamy has one of his henchman disguise himself as the legendary Green Archer to help him with his plans. However, the real Green Archer shows up, and begins helping Spike Holland to catch the criminals.
For my money, this is one of the most enjoyable serials I’ve ever seen. The story is based on an Edgar Wallace novel, both the hero and villain are fun, it keeps the bail-out cliffhangers to a minimum (though it does have its own default cliffhanger resolution that you can set your clock by), and the secondary characters are well-defined. It also has a good sense of humor, and has one running gag in which one of the henchmen keeps getting confused between the real Green Archer and the bogus Green Archer, and keeps pummeling one of his own men. The mystery of the identity of the Green Archer is a no-brainer; despite the serial’s constant attempts to throw suspicion on a side character, I knew who he was by the end of episode one, and I saw nothing to contradict it; however, given that the Green Archer is exactly who he should be dramatically, this is no problem with me. Throw in some dumb cops, and plot elements that involve fountain pens and tiddlywinks, and you have one of the best of the genre. The Green Archer (who is supposed to be a ghost) adds some of the fantastic element, though there are some obligatory marginal science fiction elements as well.