Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Green Hornet – Chapter 1: The Tunnel of Terror



Now that we’ve all had a few days to recover from the cliffhanger atrocity that was Jungle Queen (1945), I thought I’d serve up a far better serial for our weekly taste of action and thrills here at Serial Saturdays…and because one of my childhood heroes was The Green Hornet, this 1940 Universal adaptation of the popular radio program should be just the tonic.  While I was born a good deal after the “Har-nut’s” heyday over the ether (the show ran from 1936 to 1952, leaving the airwaves when Orange Crush dropped its sponsorship) the show was one of several that emerged during a resurgence known as the “nostalgia boom” in the 1970s.  My family and I lived quite a ways from Huntington, WV…but one of their local radio stations (WGNT, now WRVC) ran OTR shows nightly five times a week: Hornet, The Shadow, The Lone Ranger, Fibber McGee & Molly and Gangbusters.  (I saw these programs advertised heavily on WOWK, the Huntington TV station we could pick up.)

I can still remember the first Green Hornet broadcast I listened to: “Figure on the Photograph” (04/13/46), which I caught via Marietta, OH’s WBRJ (the AM station would often play old-time radio programs on New Year’s Day).  I thought it was amazing, and it’s nice to know there’s still a kid inside me that gets a big kick out of putting on an episode of the Hornet every now and then.  I’ve actually watched the 1940 Universal serial before, but this re-watch will be a special treat because for their 2009 DVD release, VCI Entertainment was able to obtain 35mm prints from Universal for their restored presentation.  The serial looks amazing, and it should make for fairly decent screen caps.


So we’re underway…and after the opening credits, we find ourselves in an experimental laboratory secretly housed in the apartment building where wealthy playboy and newspaper publisher Britt Reid (Gordon Jones) resides.  Reid and his valet Kato (Keye Luke) are in the process of blowing something up real good.

REID: That chemical has a powerful kick…you think the motor will stand it?
KATO: It’s the strongest motor ever built…and the fastest!
REID: Yeah…thanks to your scientific knowledge…
KATO: I am satisfactory as a valet, too?

“Been meaning to talk to you about that, Kato old sock…as a valet, you leave a lot to be desired.”  No, I’m just kidding about that—but now’s as good a time as any to introduce our dramatis personae.  Britt Reid is played by Gordon Jones, in what is no doubt his most famous onscreen role…and while Jones is very good in the part, I always have a little trouble with him at first because I’m more familiar with his turns as either a Western heavy (and sidekick; he was “Splinters” in several Roy Rogers oaters) or as “Mike the Cop” on The Abbott & Costello Show.  Keye Luke, who plays faithful valet Kato, was by this time in his career a seasoned screen veteran due to his casting as Number One Son Lee Chan in the Charlie Chan films.  Luke has a metric ton of both movie and TV credits (his best-known being “Master Po” on Kung Fu), but what’s always impressed me is that the actor appeared in so many Universal serials.  In addition to this and the same year’s follow-up, The Green Hornet Strikes Again! (in which he reprises his Kato role) he’s also in The Adventures of Smilin’ Jack (1943), Secret Agent X-9 (1945) and Lost City of the Jungle (1946).

REID: Perfectly…it was a lucky day for me when I rescued you from that native in Singapore
KATO: He tried to kill me…because I am a Korean!

When The Green Hornet first premiered over WXYZ Radio (Detroit) on January 31, 1936 (as The Adventures of the Hornet), Kato was of Japanese ancestry.  World events in 1937 (Japan’s invasion of Shanghai, China) soon made being Japanese in the U.S. as popular as smallpox, and by July 1939 the program’s creative team started to switch Kato’s nationality from Japanese to Filipino, with the change becoming complete by June of 1941.  Since the serial didn’t have the luxury of examining Kato’s national origin for several years they decided to state up front in the first chapter that he was Korean.

KATO: You shall never be sorry you saved my life…
REID: You’ve repaid me many times by your faithful service, Kato…
KATO: Thank you, Mr. Britt…

Oh…rent a room, you two…

REID: Have you tried the new horn?
KATO: Listen!  (He and Reid walk over to an automobile, and getting into the front seat, he activates the car’s horn…which sounds like a buzzing bee)
REID: Sounds like the giant green hornet we encountered in Africa!

All I have to do is hear the words “giant” and “hornet” and I know that’s one safari I’m relieved I missed.

KATO: Everything about this car is most unusual…
REID: Yeah, you’re right!  It was all built here in secret!  When I spring it on the world…
KATO: Everybody will be most surprised!
REID: Yeah, and it’ll prove to that skeptical old dad of mine that I’m not just a playboy

If it sounds as if our hero has some daddy issues…it’s due to the later development of the historical record that Britt Reid’s father was Dan Reid, who started The Daily Sentinel newspaper after inheriting the silver mine co-owned by his uncle John…who let the fight for law and order in the early western United States as The Lone Ranger.  (Don’t think that subject didn’t come up during every freaking family holiday dinner, either.)  Looking at his watch, Britt surmises that it’s about time for him to get a visit from Michael Axford (Wade Boteler), his “bodyguard.”  So he and Kato slip into a secret passageway and head back toward Reid’s living quarters.

KATO (with a slight bow to Axford): Breakfast is ready…
AXFORD: Breakfast, is it?  Sufferin’ snakes…here it is, after ten o’clock and Britt Reid—boss of a metropolitan newspaper—is not out of bed yet!  (Exasperated, he strolls over to Reid’s bedroom door and begins to rap furiously until Britt emerges)
REID: Morning, Michael…breakfast ready?  Why didn’t you call me?
AXFORD: Call you?  Sure, I’ve been knockin’ at your door for hours!
REID: Michael, my father originally hired you as a reporter?
AXFORD: Yes, sir…
REID: Somehow you became my bodyguard?
AXFORD: Yes, sir…
REID: Then under the circumstances…do you think it’s right to wreck my father’s building by breaking down the doors?  (He then grins)
AXFORD (laughing): Ah ha…go on with ya…that’s no way to treat an old cop like me…

The Axford of the radio series was indeed an ex-policeman—though my memory seems to recall that he was first hired as muscle to protect Britt and then became a reporter afterward.  Whichever and whatever, Axford’s line about “an old cop like me” is very amusing in that character actor Boteler, with close to 500 film appearances to his credit, was a cop in about 90% of them.  Wade goes on to reprise his role as “Mike Axford” in The Green Hornet Strikes Again!, and also appears in the Universal serials Red Barry (1938) and Don Winslow of the Navy (1942).


A screen wipe establishes that the next scenes take place at Reid’s newspaper, The Daily Sentinel (though the screen cap above leaves out the “Daily”), and arriving at his office he greets his secretary Lenore “Casey” Case (Anne Nagel).  On radio, Casey was the only member of the cast who suspected that Reid and the Green Hornet may have been one and the same…though she never found out for certain.  As played by Nagel in this serial and Strikes Again!, she’s the most vocal champion of His Hornetness; the actress had a lengthy if undistinguished movie career, with appearances in several Universal serials including Winners of the West (1940) and the previously mentioned Don Winslow.  (Nagel and Botelier also worked together in one of my favorite Columbia serials, 1942’s The Secret Code.)

REID: Morning, Miss Case…
CASEY: Good morning, Mr. Reid… (Glancing at her watch) If it is still morning…
REID: Well, it’s never afternoon ‘til you’ve had lunch… (He playfully wipes at her nose) Ah, wasting carbon…most inefficient…
CASEY: You seem to forget that this paper is being run despite the lack of a top executive…
REID: And to think you were my father’s secretary for five long years
CASEY: Which reminds me…you have an appointment with two of your father’s old friends at 11:30…Judge Stanton and the police commissioner…
REID: I wonder what they want to see me about?
CASEY: To compliment you, no doubt, on those scathing editorials attacking the racketeers of our great city…which you haven’t written…

Miss Case also informs Reid that Jasper Jenks is waiting to see him in his office—Jenks being a character introduced in the early days of the radio run (he’s The Sentinel’s ace reporter) and played by Philip Trent…also billed as “Clifford Jones” early in his career.  Playing the “M-G-M Crime Reporter” in some of that studio’s Crime Does Not Pay shorts is apparently sufficient experience for him to tackle this role.

JENKS: We’ve got the drop on a great scoop, boss…
REID: What is it?
JENKS: The Billings Dam project…
REID (sitting down at his desk): Old stuff
JENKS: No, it isn’t!  I got it straight—the whole project is being constructed with cheap, undergrade material and condemned machinery!
REID: Where’d you get your information?
JENKS: From one of the foremen!
REID: Disgruntled employee, huh?
JENKS: Oh no, boss…this is straight stuff…ah, let me take Clicker Binnie and go out there and…
REID (interrupting him): …and get your feet wet…forget it, Jenks…
JENKS: Okay…but we’re missing a bet, I tell ya…

Ben Bradlee he ain’t.  Seriously, I don’t know how Reid’s paper would ever stay in business if he’s that reluctant to have someone go out there and at least check it out.  On his way out of the office, Jenks meets up with Casey…who announces that the two men (Stanton and the commissioner) have arrived for their appointment.  The actor playing Judge Stanton is our old pal Joseph Crehan, who beginning in 1942. appeared in a Universal serial every year: Gang Busters (1942), Adventures of the Flying Cadets (1943), The Great Alaskan Mystery (1944), The Royal Mounted Ride Again (1945) and the studio’s final chapter play, The Mysterious Mr. M (1946).  The police commissioner (who, sadly, is not afforded the luxury of an actual name though it sounds as if Reid is addressing him as “Greenott”) is played by Stanley Andrews, a veteran character thesp immortalized on TV as “The Old Ranger” on Death Valley Days.  Most of Andrews’ chapter play work went on over at Republic, where he had roles in the likes of The Lone Ranger (1938) and Canadian Mounties vs. Atomic Invaders (1953).

COMMISSIONER: Well, Britt…it’s a cold-blooded business…
(After shaking hands with the two men, Reid grabs a chair from one side of the room and moves it over toward his desk so that they will have a place to sit down)
STANTON: Yes, Reid—since you’ve taken over The Sentinel, we miss the editorials your father used to write…
COMMISSIONER (sitting down): Yes…editorials that struck hard at rackets and crime…
STANTON (also seated): That slammed at the crooks in politics…and kept the police on the run…
REID: Gentlemen, it was my father’s privilege to run this paper as he saw fit…I think the same applies to me…it is my idea that a paper should reflect public opinion…not mold it…I also believe that law enforcement should be left to the properly constituted authorities…
STANTON: People must be made aware of conditions
REID: If things are so bad, why don’t you do something about it?
COMMISSIONER: We’re doing all we can…law enforcement is difficult if public opinion isn’t behind it…
REID: The Sentinel will back you…but it won’t take the lead…that’s for you to do…what are you waiting for, a modern Robin Hood to lead you out of the woods?
STANTON: Yes, Reid…that’s just what this city needs…a Robin Hood

Reid’s intercom buzzes at this point, and for a minute there I thought it might be Casey on the other end telling him, “Errol Flynn on line two.”  But as it turns out, it was Reid who buzzed Casey, and as she enters the office with a pad and pencil he jokes: “Miss Case, check the want ads and see if there’s a modern Robin Hood looking for a job.”

STANTON (rising from his chair, along with the Commissioner): I can see we’re wasting our time…it’s evident we can’t raise your fighting spirit as we could your father’s…
REID (showing them to the door): My father wore himself out fighting and conditions are even worse today…I’m sorry, gentlemen…good day…

Lenore is a little pissed at her boss.  “Aren’t you ever serious?” she asks.

“Why, Miss Case—I was never more so,” Reid replies.  “This interview threatens to change the course of my entire career.”  He sits down, laughing to himself…but then he begins to thoughtfully reflect on the previous conversation…and the notion of a “modern Robin Hood.”


In the next scene, we learn that Jenks’ reportorial instincts were on the money, with a montage of people running through mud-covered streets and rising, rushing water chasing after them.  We also get this headline:


Oh, verrrrry nice…now you decide to cover the story.  To his credit, Jenks refrains from saying “I told you so” in an office meeting with Reid, Casey, Axford and editor Gunnigan (Joe Whitehead) in attendance.  Oh, half a tick…I’m wrong.  He does rub it in:

JENKS: Why, I tried to give you the inside story on that the other day!
REID: Gunnigan…get some interviews with survivors…(To Axford) Check the permits and specifications with the building department… (To Casey) Call the families of the dead and injured and offer every possible aid!
CASEY: Yes, sir!
JENKS: Hey, I’ve got an angle on that tunnel they’re building under the river…
REID: Yeah…what is it?
JENKS: Well, some main foreman who works there claims it’s being built with bad material and phony equipment…same as the Billings Dam was!
REID: Why should contractors deliberately build things that collapse?

This kid needs to move out from above the candy store.

JENKS: Well, if I knew that I’d have a swell story!
REID: You have nothing definite to go on?
JENKS: No, but…uh…I’m hoping to get something from Gorman tonight…
REID: Well, I doubt if you will…

Jenks is off on his merry way, leaving our hero once again in quiet contemplation.  “I wonder if there is anything to that tunnel job?”  As stock footage of manly men working on tunnel construction unspools, two evil-looking characters, Lou Markheim (Don Rowan) and an unidentified henchman, are observing the fruits of the men’s labors…all the while knowing that something shady is going on and they’re an important part of it.  Markheim confronts the workman (Karl Hackett) named “Gorman,” and gives him his walking papers…

MARKHEIM: You’re fired, Gorman!  For talkin’ to a Sentinel reporter against orders…
GORMAN: You bet your life I talked to a reporter!  And I’m meetin’ him tonight to give him the rest of the story!  I’ll tell him this tunnel project is as big a death trap as that Billings Dam job of yours!
MARKHEIM: That won’t do either you or the job any good, Gorman…
GORMAN: You look out for the job, Markheim…I’ll take care of myself…

Well, actually…the goon standing next to Markheim earlier is going to do that.  As Gorman gets ready to leave in his car, he’s told he’ll “have to take the low road…this one’s closed for a blast.”


And so the construction guys impart upon the late Mr. Gorman an important lesson in not being seen.  “Too bad,” Markheim notes sadly, “Gorman drove right into that blast.”

“Yeah…looks like it couldn’t be helped,” smirks his helper.


Well, there is a silver lining in this dark cloud—Gorman’s famous!  His mysterious death made the newspapers, with the headline: “Was It Murder?”  (Well, you heard Goon Boy—“it couldn’t be helped.”)  While an eager newspaper vendor hawks the latest edition of the Sentinel outside a downtown building, inside one of the offices there is deviltry afoot!

ANDY: There’s only one way to handle Reid and his paper…and the law doesn’t enter into it…
MONROE: That’d make a martyr out of him…arouse a force against us and wreck this business that we worked so hard to build up…of course, the final decision rests with our chief, as usual… (Glancing at his watch) He promised to communicate with us at eleven…it’s just that now…

The Monroe above is Curtis Monroe, who at first appearance seems to be the one calling the shots as the villainous Big Cheese in this serial…but as you will soon see, he takes orders from a mysterious individual known as “The Chief” who communicates via an intercom on Monroe’s desk.  This is common practice in chapter plays; the identity of the disembodied voice of the bad guy isn’t usually revealed until the last chapter, when the audience is not at all surprised that it’s some public official like a judge or a police commissioner.

Serial fans know the actor playing Monroe as Cy Kendall, who turned up in three chapters of Jungle Queen as the sebaceous and sweaty tavern owner Tambosa Tim.  Andy (Ralph Dunn) is Curtis’ second lieutenant…and as he has no last name, so I will henceforth refer to him as Andy the Thug.  The third gentleman listening in is attorney Felix Grant (Edward Earle), whose practice I’m guessing has hit a bad patch or else he wouldn’t be consorting with the likes of these scumbags.

MONROE (flipping a switch): We’re ready for your decision on the Britt Reid matter, sir…
CHIEF (via intercom): Handle it as we did the other two papers who tried to expose us…buy The Sentinel!  Reid’s threatened investigation must be stopped!
MONROE: Right! (He switches off the intercom)
GRANT: The Sentinel is a powerful paper…Reid is a wealthy man…the price would be prohibitive!
MONROE: Nothing’s prohibitive when it stands in our way…
GRANT: How long are we to take orders from this unknown leader?
MONROE: Until he decides otherwise

Democracy in action.

GRANT: Well, I don’t like it!
MONROE: That’s enough, Grant!  You’ll be late for your appointment with Britt Reid…
GRANT: Appointment?  Then you knew what The Chief’s decision would be!
MONROE: I strongly suspected it…

“I’m just that freaking clever.”  Grant angrily storms out of Monroe’s office to keep his date with Reid, and both Andy and Monroe follow him to the door.

MONROE: Did you detail two men to trail him?
ANDY: Two of the best…with special orders to be sure that he wasn’t followed from Reid’s…

The scene then shifts to Reid’s office.

REID: The offer’s very flattering…but just who are the men who comprise this syndicate you represent?
GRANT: Well…we’re not quite ready to announce our personnel as of yet…
REID: Well, then we can’t go ahead with any deal…
(Reid rises from his desk chair, with Grant following suit)
GRANT: But I can report to my clients that there is a chance to buy?
REID: Yes…when I find out who they are…


Once Grant leaves the Sentinel building and gets into a waiting car, his driver speeds off…and Mike Axford trails along behind him.  The two men hired by Andy the Thug, Dean (Walter McGrail) and Corey (Gene Rizzi), recognize Axford and take off after him in their car…and manage to cut Axford off as he’s making a turn onto a side street after Grant’s vehicle.  Mike exchanges a few heated words with the two hoods until a policeman arrives on the scene and breaks up the verbal fracas…but unfortunately for Axford, he’s lost Grant.

AXFORD: …and when I looked around, Grant’s car was gone entirely…
REID: Well, did you get the license number?
AXFORD (snapping his fingers): I knew there was something I wanted to do…

You’ve probably doped it out by now that Axford won’t be bringing any potato salad to the MENSA picnic any time soon.  (Lord knows how he managed to get on the force, though it was a bit easier back then.)  “Never mind,” Reid assures him, “this just confirms my suspicions about Grant…and Jenks has got a line on him.”  Back in Monroe’s office:

GRANT: Reid tried to question me but I was too clever for him…
MONROE: You’re not as clever as you think, Grant…
GRANT: Why…what do you mean?
MONROE: You were trailedfrom Reid’s!  If it hadn’t been for my foresight, you’d been followed to this office!

“Gad, I’m such a genius…”

MONROE: That proves Reid’s suspicions have been aroused…The Chief phoned orders for you to get out of town and lay low…
GRANT: I’ll go about it at once…
MONROE: Don’t leave any dangerous papers in your office!
GRANT: Right!

Grant once again leaves the office…and the filmmakers used the precise same footage of him doing so as his previous exit.  “Grant may break,” warns Monroe to Andy.  “Cover him every minute until he’s left town.”

“Like a blanket.” Andy assures Monroe.  The scene then shifts to Britt Reid’s apartment, where he stands before a full length mirror, putting on the accoutrements that will allow him to become the titular hero…with a little help from Kato, of course.

KATO: Is this the way you want the mask, Mr. Britt?
REID (examining Kato’s handiwork): It’s a marvelous job, Kato!

Does Kato ever have a day when his work isn’t up to Reid’s exacting standards?  He always seems a little too effusive with his praise.

KATO: Here’s the gas gun I made…
REID: Are you sure the bullets won’t kill?
KATO: They just put people to sleep…for a short time…
REID: You’re a wizard!

If ever a whiz there was!

REID: And don’t forget…when I give you this signal… (He whistles loudly) Cut the electric light wires…

Putting on his mask, Reid—now the Hornet—tells Kato: “All right, let’s go to the garage.”  The voice we hear is not that of actor Jones, but the honest-to-goodness radio Hornet himself, Al Hodge, who was brought in to dub the voice of the Hornet at the insistence of one of George W. Trendle’s employees, Raymond Meurer, who felt the audience would better associate Hodge’s voice with the character.

The Hornet and Kato make their way to the garage via passageway, and pause outside the Hornet’s badass ride, “The Black Beauty”:

HORNET: Funny, isn’t it, Kato…
KATO: What, Mr. Britt?
HORNET: When we built this secret garage to construct our super speedster we never thought it’d become the lair for a modern Robin Hood…are you sure our photoelectric cells will close the doors after we’ve driven through?
KATO: Yes…they did when I tested the car…
HORNET: How fast will she go?
KATO: Faster than 200!
HORNET (whistling): All right, Kato—we’re going to introduce Mr. Grant and the world to The Green Hornet!

“And then…we’re going to pick up some beer and some babes!”  The Black Beauty roars out the garage and makes its way down side streets, humming in traditional bee fashion while the Green Hornet theme (“Flight of the Bumblebee”) plays on the soundtrack.  Earlier, we learned that the car horn makes the buzzing sound, so it would seem to me the only way you’d hear the buzzing if Kato was leaning on the horn the entire time.  (Actually, I never fully understood why the Hornet needed the buzzing on the car in the first place…but I have to admit, it does sound hella cool.)

Mr. Grant (ohhhh, Mr. Graaaant…) is in the living room of his country estate, tossing those “dangerous papers” into the fireplace when he gets a surprise visit from the Hornet (who I hope nixed the car horn when he got in the vicinity of the house):

GRANT: How did you get in here?  Who are you?


Put that in your Vistaprint and smoke it!

HORNET: The Green Hornet!
GRANT: The Green Hornet?
HORNET: Yes, Grant…not very well known as yet but I have hopes for him…
GRANT: What do you want?
HORNET: The papers you were ordered to destroy!
GRANT: I’ve just burned them…
HORNET: All of them?  What about these?  (He picks up a small bundle of papers from a desk and rifles through them quickly) Oh. I see you burned the important ones…
GRANT: What right have you to see them?

“Didn’t you see the calling card earlier?  I’m the Green Freaking Hornet!”

HORNET: They contained important evidence that I mean to have!
GRANT: Well?
HORNET: You’re going to tell me who ordered you to burn them!
GRANT: I’ll tell you nothing!
HORNET: You’ll tell me everything now!
GRANT: Why should I deal with a masked bandit?

Well…he’s got a point, Hornet.  The conversation is interrupted by the ringing of a phone, and the Hornet rushes over to answer it.  Imitating Grant’s voice, he has a brief chat with Markheim, who’s on the other end:

MARKHEIM (on the phone): This is Lou Markheim at the tunnel job…
HORNET: Yes, Markheim…what do you want?
MARKHEIM: How am I gonna handle these reporters who are after the Gorman story?
HORNET (on the phone): Why ask me?
MARKHEIM: Who else will I ask?  You’re still attorney for this outfit, aren’t ya?
HORNET: Why not ask The Chief?
MARKHEIM (on the phone): I stand as much chance as getting to him as you do…

Grant finally springs into action and slams his hand down on the receiver, ending Markheim’s call.  Reaching into his pocket for his gas gun, the Hornet starts to back Grant up against the wall…

HORNET: All right, Grant…you’ll do the talking now…who are you working for?
GRANT: No!  Put that gun away!

While the Hornet interrogates Grant, henchmen Dean and Corey arrive on the scene…and just as Grant is telling the Hornet that he’s an attorney who takes orders from a syndicate, the henchies empty hot lead into Grant, killing him.  There is then a brief shootout between the goons and the Hornet, but he manages to give Kato the whistling signal and when the lights go out, both men receive generous doses from the gas gun.  Seeing that Grant has drawn his rations, the Hornet leaves his calling card and gets the hell out of the house…but by the next day, the damage has been done:


JENKS: Sure the Hornet killed Grant…but why?  And who is he?
CASEY: Well, I’m betting he didn’t kill Grant…I think the Hornet is the modern Robin Hood this city needs
REID: Well. I hope so…

One of the reasons why I like Jones in this role is that he’s wonderfully sly with the “secret identity” innuendo, never making it too obvious (he’s no George Reeves, but he gets by).  Axford tells his boss, “If you wanna talk to that fellow Markheim at the tunnel job, we’d better get goin’…” so the two of them drive out to the construction site.  After giving one of his goons an order, we see him standing in front of the tunnel entrance, with a large “No Visitors” sign overhead.

REID: Hello, Markheim…can we go inside?
MARKHEIM: You see the sign…no visitors!
REID: We’re not visitors…we’re the press!
MARKHEIM: Even the press is barred from this job…
REID: Why?  Is there something going on in there you don’t want the public to know about?  We’ve been on dangerous jobs before…
MARKHEIM: Not as dangerous as this one…
REID: Then you admit it’s not safe…
MARKHEIM: I admit nothin’!  Get out or I’ll have you thrown out!
AXFORD: You think you will…
REID: Sorry you won’t cooperate, Markheim…

As Axford and he head back to the car, Reid muses: “Judging from Markheim’s manner, I’d say there’s something wrong here.”

“So what will we be doin’ about it?” grumbles Axford.  “That, my pugnacious Michael, remains to be seen,” answers Reid cryptically.

The scene then shifts to more footage of the Black Beauty tearing up roadways, and there’s a shot of two uniformed cops inside a patrol car, with one of them intoning (after hearing the buzzing): “Listen! That’s the car we’re looking for…the car of the Green Hornet!”  The patrol car gives chase, but inside the Black Beauty the Hornet instructs Kato to “turn on the Energizer”—and he’s not talking about a stupid pink rabbit beating a drum, either.  The car soon leaves the cops far behind in the dust, and the flatfoot who spoke the above dialogue remarks: “It’s gone…like a spook.  I never saw a car move so fast.”  The Hornet and Kato resist the urge to high-five one another...though they would certainly be entitled to do so.  Arriving at the tunnel site, the Hornet sneaks up as Markheim is on the phone, giving an underling instructions.  Startled to see the Hornet, Markheim asks who he is and gets the all-too-familiar calling card.

MARKHEIM: It was you who killed Grant!
HORNET: You know better than that
MARKHEIM: What do you want with me?
HORNET: I want you to take me to the compression lock at the end of Tunnel #4!
MARKHEIM: I can’t…my job’s here

“I still have time sheets to fill out, you know…”

HORNET: You’re taking me into Tunnel #4!

The Hornet, holding Markheim at gunpoint, forces the bad guy to acquiesce to his demands as stock footage of workers entering a compression chamber is shown.  The goon who was responsible for sending Gorman to an early grave watches as his boss and the masked individual enter the tunnel, so picking up a large heavy piece of toolery he follows, intending to wear out the business end of it on the Hornet’s cranium.  He is quickly dispatched with a karate chop from faithful Kato, who was following him.

Entering the compression lock, the Hornet witnesses a few workers busting rocks, and Markheim assures him everything is hunky-dunky.  The Hornet might have been born at night, but it wasn’t last night:

HORNET: That air compressor is skipping…what’s the matter with it?
MARKHEIM: Nothin’…
HORNET: Yes there is…you know what would happen if it quit entirely, don’t you?  Come on, speak up!
MARKHEIM: The air pressure’d go down…
HORNET: These walls would cave in!  You know that compressor’s faulty, Markheim…you’re doing the same thing you did at the Billings Dam…sacrificing human lives by using cheap equipment
MARKHEIM: I had nothin’ to do with the Billings job
HORNET: Yes, you did—I know all about it…
MARKHEIM: You’re not bluffin’ me, Hornet…you’re as big a racketeer as any of us!
HORNET: You admit you’re one?
MARKHEIM: I admit nothin’!

“I admit nothin’!” would appear to be Mr. Markheim’s personal mantra…but I have a feeling that it’s about to change to “Get me the @#%$! out of here!”  Because the air compressor pressure gauge is starting to drop at a furious pace, and as Markheim makes a run for the lock’s opening he’s pushed back by the Hornet, who insists the workers evacuate first:

MARKHEIM: It’ll cave in!  We’ll be killed!
HORNET: We’re staying until you tell me what I want to know!
MARKHEIM: What is it?
HORNET: Who are your partners in this racket?
MARKHEIM: There’s twelve of us…the rest are…
HORNET: Come on, come on!

Markheim pleads with the Hornet to take him out of the tunnel, promising to reveal all he knows…but the Hornet, being a stubborn kind of fellow, insists they won’t budge until Markheim spills the beans.  The walls then start to cave in: there are explosions, and rivets start to pop out of beams; Markheim rushes out of the lock, followed by the Hornet…but when Markheim trips and falls, the Hornet goes to his aid…only to see a raging current of flood waters headed right for them!


4 comments:

BrittReid said...

Nice job.
(and if anyone would know, it would be "Britt Reid", right?)
A couple of points
The phrase is "out of the ether". not out of the either".
"Ether" was almost like "sub-space" to sf/fantasy writers of the early 1900s, a place where energy or matter could be transported to other locales.

Lenore Case did, in fact find out that Britt was the Hornet at the same time that his dad, Dan Reid, did, late in the radio series.
The tv show continued that aspect.

I always liked the fact that both the radio show, serials,and comics (which re-used radio show scripts) played up Kato as the scientific genius and muscle with Britt as the tactical whiz and "front man" persona that everyone focused on.

Again, well done.
I'm looking forward to your next entry.

Britt

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

The phrase is "out of the ether". not "out of the either".

I do know this, by the way. It's just that I've long gotten into the habit of typing all the blog content in Word before I transfer it, and I'll bet it did a sneaky autocorrect when I wasn't looking. But I should have proofread it better, so I plead guilty (I have made the correction).

Lenore Case did, in fact find out that Britt was the Hornet at the same time that his dad, Dan Reid, did, late in the radio series.

This I did not know, so it's always nice to learn something new. Most of the shows I've listened to that touched on this never really came right out and said "He's the Hornet, ferchrissake!" So thanks for keeping me honest.

Elisson said...

My word! I'm fairly buzzing with excitement after reading this most excellent post!

Anonymous said...

This is wonderful! I'm fairly new to Green Hornet and just finished watching the serials for the first time. So your posts are great because now I get to find all the little things I missed.