In the late 30's/early 40's movie serials fully embraced the
comic/pulp hero. Starting with The
Spider's Web (1938) the screens were
flooded with superhero chapter plays including Mandrake
the Magician (1939), The
Shadow (1940), The Adventures o f
Captain Marvel (1941), and The
Phantom (1943), to name a few.
Universal's 1940 hero serial, The
Green Hornet did so well that the
following year they brought back most of the original cast for a
Green Hornet Strikes Again. VCI has
released this fun action/adventure show with a nicely restored print
For a little bit of information about the origin and
background of the Green Hornet, check out my review of the first serial
Britt Reid (Gordon Jones) is the publisher of a large
metropolitan newspaper. He's a bit of a
playboy and a slacker, shunning the hard-hitting editorials that his
would publish pointing out corruption in the city, Britt's happy to
more sedate paper that doesn't make waves. This
only proves that Britt is not nearly the
man his father was to his secretary Lenore Case (Anne Nagel).
In the evenings however, Reid donned a mask and gas gun and
turned into the Green Hornet! With his
manservant Kato (Keye Luke), a Korean1
Reid rescued from certain death in
the Orient, he hunts down the racketeers and organized mobsters who are
the law. The Hornet is armed only with a
gas gun that shoots pellets that explode on impact and temporarily
his target. He also has Kato, a master
at martial arts who comes in very handy in a fight (though he sometimes
that fact and allows himself to be easily overcome when the plot calls
it.) Kato also designed the Green Hornet's
car, the Black Beauty. It's capable of
going 200 miles per hour and makes the sound of an angry bee when it
by. (This can be turned off when the
and Kato need to sneak up on somebody however.
Which begs the question: Why turn
As this serial starts, Reid and Kato are vacationing in Hawaii but when
the Sentinel's editors is brutally murdered, Green Hornet decides to
things out. It turns out that a criminal
mastermind who goes by the name Grogan (sounds like a thug, doesn't
him so he could be replaced by one of his own men.
The editor could then make sure that any
stories exposing Grogan's schemes would be killed before they saw the
day. (Hey, he's not a criminal
mastermind for nothin'!)
Returning to the mainland The Hornet and Kato expose one
racket after another over the 15 chapters of this serial always inching
little bit closer to Grogan. During that
time however, the crooks try to kill the crime fighting duo by shooting
them, blowing them up, running them down, and causing a plane crash. Also a boat explosion, car wrecks, bombing
the Hornet from a plane, and much, much more.
As the one-sheet exclaims, there are "15 All New Exciting
I enjoyed this serial just a tad more than the
original. Several of the chapters were
reworked radio scripts brought to life, and the adaptations worked well. Warren Hull, who stared as The Spider in The Spider's Web (1938) and the title
character in Mandrake the Magician
(1939), was comfortable putting on a strange costume to fight evil by
this time. He does a good job and is a little bit more convincing than his
One drawback that this series has is that it reuses a lot of
footage. None of the shots of the Black
Beauty cruising through the city streets were new (at least I didn't
that weren't in the previous serial) and a lot of the exotic places
stock film. That does make the serial a
bit stale, especially when watching several episodes in one sitting. "Oh wow, they're driving by that building for
the third time this episode!"
This 15-chpater serial is presented on two DVDs housed in a
single width DVD case.
The two channel DD mono soundtrack sounds good for a serial
this old. The dialg is easy to hear and
while there isn't much in the way of dynamic range the audio is fairly
clear, especially for a title this old.
This serial looks just as good as the first one, it's an
excellent looking DVD set. The full
frame image is very clear with great contrast and deep blacks. Spots are scratches are minimal and the black
and white image is very, very good. The
picture isn't perfect, some details are lost in dark areas, but I can't
serial fans complaining about the presentation on this disc.
There is a nice selection of bonus materials, though not as
much as on the first serial, all included on the second disc. I really enjoyed the two GH radio shows: Paroles for Sale from 8-16-41 and The Corpse That
There from 2-28-43. Unfortunately none
of these audio extras are included as MP3 files, so you have to listen
through your TV. Including extra MP3
files would add a lot of value as you could then transfer them easily
iPod or Zune.
The other extras include a photo gallery, a text biography
of Keye Luke (Kato), and a short before-and after demonstration of the
restoration that was done on the serial.
There's also a 9-page printed history of the serial and a
listing of the cast members on an insert included with the discs.
Like the first Green Hornet serial, this was a fun action
romp. When all is said and done it was
enjoyable and entertaining, but it doesn't have that quality of
imaginative traps that the top-tier serials do.
Even so it's easy to recommend
this amusing cliffhanger.
1) In the radio
series Kato was from the Philippines.
There is an urban legend that still floats
around stating that Kato was originally from Japan
but that his nationality was
changed after December 7th 1941.
This is totally false. There are
several radio shows that were broadcast before Pearl
Harbor where it's clearly indicated that Kato is Philippine.