Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Serials - The Heroes Take Over #2 - The Green Hornet Strikes Again!

Okay, kiddies, it's sequel time! Last time out for Serial Sunday, we looked at the first Green Hornet serial, and this time we're gonna take a peek at the 1941 follow-up, The Green Hornet Strikes Again!

First off, it's worth noting that Universal and series creator George Trendle obviously considered the first serial a success, since this time out we get fifteen episodes instead of the first series' twelve. Also, this serial follows the same pattern as the first, with the Hornet investigating and taking down what seem to be an unrelated series of crimes and racketeers with the only real connection being the presence of "big bad" Boss Crogan. This serial also seems to have had something of a larger production budget, allowing for more elaborate set-pieces, such as the fiery explosion of the ship our hero is traveling on in chapter one.

Unfortunately, there are also some changes from the first serial that don't work as well.

The first, and most obvious change, is that Gordon Jones, who brought both the Hornet and his alter-ego Britt Reid to life in the first serial, has been replaced by the rather less-engaging Warren Hull. Though Hull was something of a mainstay in Universal serials and B-pictures, it's easy to see why he never really made the leap to bigger stardom.

Also, unlike the first serial, where Al Hodge, who had potrayed the Hornet on the radio was brought in to provide the voice work once Reid donned his mask, this too fell to Hull, who, though he does have a good-enough voice provides neither the continuity nor the dynamism that Hodge was able to deliver.

Another unfortunate choice for this serial is that while Keye Luke does return for a second outing as Kato, he was apparently told to play up a fake oriental accent in order to provide some comic relief. Instead of the hoped-for effect, however, it simply makes the character seem more artificial than his original portrayal.

Finally, and perhaps most egregiously, however, the biggest let-down of the serial comes in the writing. Though it does get off to a rousing start with the above-mentioned ship-board fire, the action quickly devolves into what is basically a series of fist fights with the Hornet constantly being distracted just as he is getting the drop on the bad guy, then getting slugged, which is fine if it happens once or twice over the course of a 15-chapter play, but here seems to be taking place so often one begins to wonder if Reid might not need a good course of anti ADHD drugs.

In the end, however, while this may not be the best serial Universal made, it is far from the worst, also, providing enough action and entertainment to help pass a series of saturday afternoons in the cinema.

Ok, so let's quit talking about it and get to the action. Here's a look at the first chapter of The Green Hornet Strikes Again!

As usual, you can find the rest of the serial for free streaming or download at the Internet Archive, and it's also available on DVD from Amazon.

Next week, we get patriotic, as Captain America brings his shield (and a gun!) to the silver screen for the first time.

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian


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