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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.


Ford Beebe, Ray Taylor


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




Cast overview, first billed only:
Gordon Jones ... Britt Reid / The Green Hornet
Wade Boteler ... Michael Axford
Keye Luke ... Kato
Anne Nagel ... Leonore Case
Phillip Trent ... Jasper Jenks
Cy Kendall ... Curtis Monroe
Stanley Andrews ... Police Commissioner [Chs. 1, 5, 8, 9, 13]
Selmer Jackson ... District Attorney [Chs. 4, 10]
Joseph Crehan ... Judge Stanton [Chs. 1, 9, 10, 13]
Walter McGrail ... Dean
Gene Rizzi ... Corey
John Kelly ... Pete Hawks
Eddie Dunn Eddie Dunn ... D.H. Sligby [Ch. 7]
Edward Earle ... Felix Grant [Ch. 1]
Ben Taggart ... Phil Bartlett [Chs. 3-4]
Learn more

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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 »

Did You Know?


Among the many featured serials on BETA MAX TV "Don's Breakfast Serial". See more »


Chapter 6: The bus that picks up people says "Whippet" on the side of it but when the brakes fail the bus says "Greyhound" on the front and "Pacific Greyhound" on the side. See more »


[last lines]
Britt Reid: The Green Hornet is gone. He said his job was finished.
Leonore Case: I don't believe he's gone. I believe he's just been too clever for us. And he's probably someplace close right now, laughing at us all for our stupidity.
Britt Reid: Miss Case, you're positively psychic!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening Credits include ropes, daggers, automatic pistol, blackjacks, brass knuckles, and airplanes as the letters to 'The Green Hornet' title. See more »


Edited into Who Dunit Theater: The Scarlet Clue (2016) See more »

User Reviews

Fun, Escapist, and True to the Original.
11 February 2008 | by flapdoodle64See 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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Release Date:

9 January 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El avispón verde See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(13 episodes) | (movie)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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