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The Green Hornet (1940)

Approved | | Adventure, Crime, Drama | 9 January 1940 (USA)
A newspaper publisher and his Korean servant fight crime as vigilantes who pose as a notorious masked gangster and his aide.




(screenplay) (as Geo. H. Plympton), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Wade Boteler ...
Phillip Trent ...
Jasper Jenks
Curtis Monroe
Police Commissioner [Chs. 1, 5, 8, 9, 13]
District Attorney [Chs. 4, 10]
Judge Stanton [Chs. 1, 9, 10, 13]
John Kelly ...
Pete Hawks
Eddie Dunn ...
D.H. Sligby [Ch. 7]
Felix Grant [Ch. 1]
Phil Bartlett [Chs. 3-4]


Faced with rising crime and increased racketeering activity, intrepid newspaper editor Britt Reid becomes the crime fighter the Green Hornet. Donning a disguise, the Hornet and his brilliant Korean inventor/sidekick Kato fight an infamous racket that's menacing their city. Written by Jeremy Lunt <durlinlunt@acadia.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Radio Drama More Vivid On Screen! (original poster)


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

9 January 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El avispón verde  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(13 episodes) | (movie)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Chapter Titles: 1. The Tunnel of Terror, 2. The Thundering Terror, 3. Flying Coffins, 4. Pillar of Flame, 5. The Time Bomb, 6. Highways of Peril, 7. Bridge of Disaster, 8. Dead or Alive, 9. The Hornets Trapped, 10. Bullets and Ballots, 11. Disaster Rides the Rails, 12. Panic in the Zoo, 13. Doom of the Underworld See more »


Chapter four: Bartlett, unconscious, wraps his arms around The Green Hornet's shoulders. See more »


Britt Reid: You're a rotten shot, Michael!
Michael Axford: Ah, 'tis this reconditioned ammunition I'm usin'.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening Credits include ropes, daggers, automatic pistol, blackjacks and airplanes. See more »


Version of The Green Hornet (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

Fun, Escapist, and True to the Original.
11 February 2008 | by (Portland, OR, United States) – See all my reviews

'The Green Hornet' is, overall, a pretty good serial. Certainly it is a darn sight better than the superhero movies made since about, say, 2005, when suddenly Batman was willing to confess his true identity to a deputy DA just because he has the hots for her, or since 2006, when we learned that Superman was a dead-beat dad and a stalker (and don't get me started on the Fantastic Four or 'Spider-Man 3': blech!). 'The Green Hornet' features a hero unencumbered by ridiculous modern angst and subplots, who is good in a fight, yet is only able to perform feats that actual human beings could conceivably perform.

This serial has a good plot, or rather a series of good plots, that are much more grounded in reality than most other serials. It does not involve super-powers, magic, outer space, or super-villains. It's about crime. I myself enjoy the demented hallucinations of 'Flash Gordon' or 'Atom Man Vs. Superman' as much as the next person, but I like crime stories too.

This serial has decent fight scenes, not dazzling like 'Spy Smasher,' but nothing like the painfully ridiculous fights in Columbia's two horrible Batman serials. The cliff hangers are generally good, with the average amount of 'cheating' to resolve some of them. There is a good sequence with the Hornet jumping from his car onto a moving train, and who doesn't like that? To predict if you are going to like this serial, a lot depends on if you like the Green Hornet as a hero. This serial is very faithful to the original radio show, even to the extent that whenever actor Gordon Jones puts on the Green Hornet mask, his voice is dubbed in by Al Hodge, who played the Hornet on radio and later went on to be the best Captain Video on TV.

I like the Green Hornet because he has a super cool gas gun to knock out crooks (the special effect for this action works well here) and has a super cool souped-up car to chase crooks. Also, instead of wearing tights, he wears a suit and a hat, which looks a lot classier and certainly less sissy than superhero tights.

But now a word about Kato: in this version of Green Hornet, Kato is the one who invents the super cool gas gun and high powered engine that powers the super cool car. In real life, a guy that smart would have patented those things and gotten rich from them. Or if he got into the crime fighting business, he might have kept the gas gun and super motor secret so as to avoid them falling into the wrong hands, but certainly he would have invented other things and gotten rich from them.

Also, besides being a scientific genius, Kato is the one who knows martial arts. The Green Hornet is pretty good in a fight, but a Judo expert would outfight him every time.

What I am getting at is that Kato should have been the main hero, and the Hornet should have been his sidekick. My guess as to why the Hornet was dominant is that is something to do with the fact that Kato was not a Caucasian and Hollywood has been known to, from time to time, exhibit a little institutional racism.

To the credit of the writers, however, at least Kato was portrayed as smart, tough and valiant, rather than being a subhuman idiot or a satanic sadist (many non-Caucasians were represented thusly by Hollywood at the time). There are several instances in this serial when Kato saves the Hornet's butt.

Keye Luke, who played Kato in this and the 2nd Green Hornet serial, was a good actor who, while he never became a household name, worked steadily on a multitude of roles for about 50 years. He played Number One Son in many Charlie Chan movies, and had small to medium-sized roles in scores of other films. He was a constant guest star in TV shows of the 1960's, ranging from 'My Three Sons' to 'Star Trek.' But my favorite role of Keye Luke's was his excellent portrayal of Master Po, the all-seeing yet blind teacher from TV's 'Kung Fu.' IMO, he was the coolest person on the show. Strangely, the original concept for 'Kung Fu' would have had Bruce Lee playing the hero. Unfortunately some twit in Hollywood decided to hire David Carradine, who was pretty good, but still Lee would have been cooler. Bruce Lee, of course, besides being a martial arts movie superstar, played Kato in the underrated TV version of the Green Hornet.

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