DVD Review: THE GREEN HORNET(1940)

With the recent release of the 2010 version of THE GREEN HORNET with Seth Rogen, the new generation may not realize that the story has been around since the 1930’s as a radio show and as a 1940’s era movie theater serial. With the help of GREEN HORNET historian, Martin Grams, Jr. the original 13 episodes of the 1940 serial have been complied into a movie form for DVD by VCI. The result is an enjoyable 84 minute film history of this crime fighter, his faithful sidekick, Kato, and his luxury Black Beauty automobile.

Interestingly, due to the wartime tensions with Japan, the original Kato who was first known as being Japanese in 1940 was later identified as being from the Philippines, and then later Korea. His nationality began to ever shift over the years. But, in every incarnation of THE GREEN HORNET, millionaire newspaper editor Britt Reid is misunderstood by the police as being a criminal, allowing him to infiltrate dangerous criminal organizations and bring them down into destruction.

The 1960’s TV version of THE GREEN HORNET, which only ran during the 1966-67 season, was a ratings failure for ABC despite the success of the BATMAN series which did far better in the ratings and lasted for three seasons. BATMAN was able to garner many memorable guest stars to play the villains on the show, unlike THE GREEN HORNET which also seemed like a more stripped down TV show in many ways.

If anything, THE GREEN HORNET TV series did work as an important medium to introduce kung fu expert Bruce Lee to the American public. Bruce Lee emerged as a major star in the years after the show was canceled. His popularity increased until his death. After his death, he became a cult legend.

The Bottom Line: The DVD of the original GREEN HORNET from 1940 is an important milestone in this 75 year old crime fighter story that started with the 1936 radio show. ++ 1/2(Two and a half stars, or nearly good. A good compilation of an old serial. Perhaps, not the best serial ever made. Yet, an interesting piece of history of the GREEN HORNET character).

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