The Back Row’s Weekly Serial Review: The Green Hornet Strikes Again!

Quick Facts
Released in 1941
Directed by Ford Beebe and John Rawlins
Written by George Plympton, Basil Dickey, Sherman Lowe
Starring Warren Hull, Keye Luke, Anne Nagel, and Wade Boteler

Basic Story Line
Brit Reid resurrects his alter ego, The Green Hornet, to fight racketeers who are doing business with “foreign agents” during the Second World War.

When comparing The Green Hornet Strikes Again! with the original Green Hornet serial it seems to have taken one step forward and two steps back.

There are two ways to approach doing a sequel. The first way is to take the original story and expand it. Give the audience more information on the characters and the world they inhabit. Unfortunately, The Green Hornet Strikes Again! doesn’t do this. They simply rehash what was done in the first serial without bothering to raise the stakes or give us new and colourful locations. They stick to the format of having The Green Hornet break up a different racket every chapter. This is unfortunate, because the first chapter shows promise. Brit Reid and Kato are in Hawaii, and in his absence, a criminal syndicate has infiltrated his newspaper, and are now running it. When Brit Reid is scheduled to return, they send an agent to Hawaii to have him killed. Unfortunately this premise only lasts the first chapter and Brit is back in charge of his paper by chapter two.

Although the stories lack novelty, compared to the previous serial, the secondary characters have made a giant leap forward. In the first Green Hornet, Mike Axford is not much more then a comic buffoon. In this serial he is still a comic character but the comedy comes from his relationship with his co-worker, reporter Lowery. The two act like children trying to one up each other and impress the boss. Anne Nagel as Miss Case also has a lot more to work with this time around. In the previous serial she basically stood there and said things like, “I don’t think the Green Hornet is guilty.” Here, we see her anticipate and make suggestions. She shows initiative and is actually allowed to leave the office. Kato is also given more to do and comes off less as a plot devise and more of an actual character.

This serial was released in 1941 and the war looms large over it. There are not the over the top patriotic speeches or the anti Japanese rhetoric that you find in the Batman serial but the war is there and this serial does have its share of propaganda. Most of the crimes being committed by the syndicate could either undermine America’s security or the syndicate is selling munitions, technology, or equipment to “foreign agents”. It isn’t the worst bit of propaganda I’ve seen but it can be a little clunky and its pervasiveness makes it stand out even more.

On the whole, The Green Hornet Strikes Again! is a pedestrian sequel. It is not like Undersea Kingdom or The Three Musketeers, where you want to bash your head against something hard as punishment for being stupid enough to waste four hours of your life. However, unlike Flash Gordon or Adventures of Captain Marvel, there is nothing about it to make it memorable.

Things to watch for
-Montague Shaw, who played, The Clay King in Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars, Prof. Huler in Buck Rogers, and Prof. Norton in Undersea Kingdom, makes a brief appearance.

The Back Row Weekly Serial Drinking Game
While watching a serial, anytime you or a friend point out a plot hole or inconsistency, take a drink. (Note: It is not a plot hole to have the Green Hornet survive a terrible accident. However, being the sole survivor of multiple terrible accidents is stretching it.)
Odds of getting sloshed: Medium

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