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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:
... Britt Reid / The Green Hornet
... Michael Axford
... Kato
... Leonore Case
... Jasper Jenks
... Curtis Monroe
... Police Commissioner [Chs. 1, 5, 8, 9, 13]
... District Attorney [Chs. 4, 10]
... Judge Stanton [Chs. 1, 9, 10, 13]
... Dean
... Corey
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 more on  »

Technical Specs


(13 episodes) | (movie)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When the Black Beauty is moving on screen, the soundtrack contains the sound of a buzzing hornet. See more »


'Black Beauty' is driven forward into the secret garage. Ensuing shots when driven out of the garage, it is facing outwards. See more »


Britt Reid: Funny isn't it, Kato?
Kato: What Mr. Britt?
Britt Reid: When we built this secret garage to construct our Super Speedster, we never thought it would become the lair for a modern Robin Hood. Are you sure our photo-electric cells will close the doors after we've driven through?
Kato: Yes. They did when I tested the car.
Britt Reid: How fast will she go?
Kato: Faster than two hundred.
Britt Reid: [he whistles] Alright, Kato, we're going to introduce Mr. Grant and the world to the Green Hornet!
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Edited into Who Dunit Theater: Mr Moto's Last Warning (2016) See more »

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User Reviews

This "Sting" is no Con Job! The Hornet's flight from Star Radio attraction to Top Flight Serial was strictly a Bee Line!!
1 January 2008 | by See all my reviews

It should not have been surprising to the World that the dynamic, young Publisher of The Daily Sentinel, Mr. Britt Reid, would become that double-agent of crime fighting, The Green Hornet. You see, Britt Reid had a Great, great, great Uncle, John Reed. Uncle John had been a Texas Ranger and the only one to survive as a group of those Lawmen were ambushed by the gang of cut-throats and their leader, Butch Cavendish.

Do you give up? Of course you don't, for everybody in 3 or 4 generations knows of the exploits of "the masked rider of the Plains" and his Indian companion, Tonto. This is just too easy, so there's no prize! I bet ya'll knowed it was the Lone Ranger all along! So being that there's those "Champion of the People" gene in his lineage it followed that in the mid-Twentieth Century, when the Nation was being plagued with Organized Crime and free-lancing Bank Robbers & Stick-up men that somebody in the family would assume an identity of a Masked Man to strike back at the Underworld in an extra-legal manner.

"THE GREEN HORNET" was born on the Radio. It was in the fertile Studios of WXYZ Radio in Detroit that Mr. Britt Reed and alter-ego, The Green Hornet, first HEARD the light of day. (Remember, this is Radio and only the mind can see!) Soon, the whole Green Hornet ensemble was present and prepared for action. There was Kato, Valet to Mr. Reed but secretly the Hornet's partner in crime-fighting, expert driver of the super-auto, the Black Beauty. Kato is as well, a great inventor and scientist-innovator in that he is responsible for the powerful sedan's make-up underneath the hood, as well as its futuristic design.

Kato was also responsible for the "Hornet's Sting" a sort of stun gun-type weapon. But Kato could and did deliver a stun of his own; via his mastery of the Martial Arts, being Jiu-jitsu, Judo, Karate, Aikido and other related disciplines.

So, let's imagine. This is 1940 and Universal Pictures, one of the 3 Hollywood Studios that regularly turned out the Serials as a part of their films, was looking for new properties suitable for adaptation to a Screen Chapter-play. And from out of the airwaves, presto! There's The Green Hornet, already known and quite popular! It has made its theme music, Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Flight of the Bumble Bee" into a well known household tune.

Universal wasted no time in putting the project on their production schedule. For the leads they cast a slender and youthful Gordon Jones as Britt Reed/The Green Hornet, Keye Luke portrayed his partner Kato, Anne Nagel as his Secretary and Confidant Miss Lenore Case (just "Casey" for short), Wade Boteler as retired Cop turned Reporter Mike Axford, Selmer Jackson as the District Attorney, Stanley Andrews as the Police Commissioner; also Cy Kendall, Joseph Crehan, Walter McGrail, Gene Rizzi, John Kelly and a cast of thousands! (Well a lot more anywho!) They did one more thing with the cast. As the sound of voice was the story telling medium on the Radio, a popular leading character's voice was as well known as the face of a Movie Star. So the Universal production team decided to give us the "real" voice of The Green Hornet from the Radio. Actor Al Hodge* dubbed in his voice to speak any of the lines that Gordon Jones spoke when he was decked out in the Hornet's garb. It was a very neat and effective dramatic device.

As for the story and plot of THE GREEN HORNET serial, the usual subjects of international espionage agents and Renegade Super Scientists were jettisoned away from the first Hornet Screen appearance. Instead The Green Hornet, Kato and company concentrated on Organized Crime and their involvement with rackets in the building of sub-standard buildings, collapsing public works, intimidation and extortion. All of these are real-life type problems being dealt with then, now and as long as Man walks the face of our home, Planet Earth.

NOTE: * Actor Al Hodge not only got to be well known as the Radio Voice of the Green Hornet/Britt Reed; but also during the period of 1949-55, he was famous World-Wide as Television's CAPTAIN VIDEO.

Addendum: 1/07/2008. Oh, by the way, we did forget to mention that a condensed feature version of this Universal Serial was released to TV and to video in 1990. There still may be some of those VHS Casettes floating around out there.

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