OUR STORY SO FAR: Britt Reid (Gordon Jones) learns that the men killed in the tunnel disaster were insured in the construction company’s favor…through a broker named Mortinson (Douglas Evans). Masked as The Green Hornet, Reid locates Mortinson…but before he can force him to confess, Axford (Wade Boteler) and the police arrive and the Hornet has to flee. Monroe (Cy Kendall), acting boss of the rackets, orders Mortinson to destroy all papers and leave the country. The Hornet and Kato (Keye Luke) pursue Mortinson, who boards a train. The Hornet leaps aboard after him and…
Well, you’ll remember last week that in the ensuing fistfight aboard the train, Mortinson tried to render the engineer unconscious…which is not particularly bright from a “leaving the country” standpoint. But what escaped my attention (and I didn’t notice it until I watched today’s chapter) is that the Hornet also makes short work of Andy the Thug (Ralph Dunn), knocking him off the moving train. Will this leave Curtis Monroe without a lackey? (We’ll see in a minute.)
The Hornet and Mortinson manage to jump off of the train before it collides with the other locomotive coming from the opposite end (and there really is no big crash, since the other train was on a completely different set of tracks—darn you, perspective!) and they land in a grassy area not far from the train. Kato drives up in the supercharged Black Beauty, and rushes over to where the Hornet is kneeling over the unconscious Mortinson. He asks his employer, “Are you hurt badly, sir?” and since I’m just beating a dead horse by pointing out that Kato is doing the “r” for “l” crap again (“badry”) I’ll ignore it from now on (irritating though it is).
Stuffing Mortinson’s papers into his pocket, the Hornet responds: “No…just shaken up a little.” (“Considering I just jumped from a moving train…”)
KATO (seeing Mortinson’s unconscious form): Is he…?
HORNET: Still alive…but unconscious…here, help me get him to the car—we must get him to the police hospital at once!
Well, I hope that trip goes a bit better than the previous one in Chapter 2. And apparently it does, because we then see the exterior of the
, which houses the
headquarters of criminal mastermind Curtis Monroe, in conference with hale-and-hearty
Andy the henchman: Bradley
ANDY (reading the newspaper): The grand jury’s indicted Mortinson…
ANDY (continuing): “The indictment is based on evidence mailed to the District Attorney by the now-famous Green Hornet…the District Attorney expects to uncover the higher-ups for whom the insurance broker acted…”
Okay—that had me on the floor, laughing like a hyena. I got a mental picture of Andy saying “Hey, yeah—I forgot about that! I think I’ll sue for damages from falling off that train!”
Or better still: a series of commercials promoting his practice. You’ll have someone looking into a camera and saying: “I couldn’t get my disability…but that was all taken care of, thanks to the law firm of Andrew T. Thug.”
ANDY: That’ll be easy…Mortinson thinks quite a lot of his wife and that boy of his…
“Yes, that settlement check is as good as spent with attorney Andrew Thug. Call 1-800-THUG-LAW today…”
then tells Andy that when the Mortinson affair is cleaned up, to head out to
the and “check with Bartlett Flying
on those aviation policies.” A
henchman’s work is never done.
The scene shifts to that very flying school, where owner Phil Bartlett (Ben Taggart) is watching stock footage of a stunt pilot doing barrel rolls and loop-de-loops. Also watching is The Daily Sentinel’s ace reporter Jasper Jenks (Phillip Trent), who is chatting it up with an instructor named Peebles (Bill Hunter). “I’ve seen student flyers do worse, Mr. Jenks,” the instructor comments, “but I can’t remember when.” Both men then observe stock footage of a plane crash and rush to the site where the plane went down. A young pilot named Gilpin miraculously walks away from the wreckage…
…and it’s probably because he’s played by an unbilled Alan Ladd, who’ll be needed in a few years for such noir classics as This Gun for Hire, The Glass Key and The Blue Dahlia. But before we see if Alan’s okay—check out
He just walks off, disinterested, as if to say: “Hey…I may run the school, but if anyone plummets to Earth in a ball of fire that’s hardly my concern…”
JENKS: You okay, buddy?
GILPIN (grinning): Sure!
PEEBLES: Say, what’s the matter with you, Gilpin? You got plenty of training under a good instructor…
GILPIN: I guess I lost my head, Mr. Peebles…
“How much is that gorilla in the window?”
GILPIN: Huh…sure was a bum landing…
JENKS: Listen—any landing you can walk away from is a good landing…
Yeah, but now his plane is all tied up in knots—which I guess would make it a Knots Landing. (Thank you, I’m here all week—try the veal!)
Jenks heads back to the offices of The Sentinel to report to Reid his scoop on the mysterious goings-on at Bartlett’s…Britt’s secretary, Lenore “Casey” Case (Anne Nagel), is a little ticked off with Jenksie:
CASEY: Every time you bring in a story I can feel the circulation going down…
JENKS: Yours or the paper’s?
CASEY: I can already see the
camping on our doorstep to cancel their advertising
contracts… Bartlett Flying School
(Britt Reid enters the office, hanging up his hat)
REID (chuckling): Is Jenks jeopardizing our advertising again, Miss Case? (Casey smiles and nods)
JENKS: Say, Mr. Reid—I was out at the Bartlett Field this morning…and believe me, that place ought to be investigated!
JENKS: Why, they’ve had four fatal crack-ups! They don’t give their students enough training before sending them out for solo flying!
REID (engrossed in paperwork): What’s the idea?
JENKS: Well, the students pay for a training course which ends with their first solo…and believe me, they rush ‘em through…
REID: Government regulations require a student to have eight hours in a dual-control machine before being allowed to solo…
JENKS: Sure they do! But with the school keeping the records, who’s to know if they have eight hours…or five or six?
REID: The students should know…
JENKS: Oh, all they care about is soloing as soon as possible and getting a certificate! I tell ya, Mr. Reid—that’s a racket of some kind!
Reid ponders this quickly, and then tells Jenks he’ll go out and take a look around the school himself. Bodyguard Michael Axford is going along for the ride:
AXFORD: You ain’t figurin’ to do any flyin’ out at this
place…are you, Reid? Bartlett
REID: No, I just thought I’d go out and see how a flying school is run…maybe you’d like to go up, Michael…?
AXFORD: Hah hah…not me! You couldn’t get me up in one of them things if all the snakes in
was after me… Ireland
REID: Well, airplanes are safer than autos…
Reid might want to walk that statement back, because looking up at the sky, Axford can clearly see more stock footage of a plane perilously plummeting downward. Reid’s car stops just a few yards away from the crash, and a “
plane is ablaze with the pilot lying unconscious on the ground. The publisher rushes over to save the pilot,
but Axford yells at him: “Quick, Reid!
The tanks will explode any second!” Bartlett
AXFORD: Maybe he inhaled the flames…
REID: No, I don’t think so… (Looking over at the plane) There’s something funny about that fire…those flames didn’t come from gas…
AXFORD: But if there was no gasoline there—what caused the fire?
REID: I wish I knew…let’s get a blanket from the car…
I’m assuming the blanket is going to be used to cover up the poor unfortunate soul…because it’s not like it’s going to help him ward off the cold any. There is an optical wipe to a scene back in Reid’s office, where he is in conference with a young woman named Josephine Weaver…played by Universal contractee and WW2 pin-up gal Anne Gwynne. Gwynne never really reached the top ranks of film stardom but she was quite the B-movie favorite, starting out in westerns with Johnny Mack Brown and later working alongside Boris Karloff (House of Frankenstein), Bela Lugosi (The Black Cat) and Lon Chaney, Jr. (Weird Woman). Gwynne also played the female lead in Abbott & Costello’s Ride ‘em Cowboy (which also featured Johnny Mack) and emoted as Tess Trueheart in Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (with Boris).
REID: Have you any proof of that?
WEAVER: She wasn’t Dick Barber’s fiancée…I was!
The “Dick Barber” in question is the young man who drew his rations in the plane crash…and his intended, Ms. Weaver, is understandably a little miffed about a big splashy Sentinel headline that not only trumpets his demise but includes a sidebar photo with the headline “Broken-Hearted Fiancée of Dead Flyer.” That’s a photo of longtime TDOY fave Ann Doran, who many remember as James Dean’s domineering ma in Rebel Without a Cause…but around Planet Yesteryear, she’s revered for having worked alongside such comedians as Andy Clyde, Charley Chase, Harry Langdon and The Three Stooges as a Columbia Studios stalwart.
REID: Miss Weaver…our reporter was informed by an official at the flying school…that Miss Josephine Weaver Allen was his fiancée…
WEAVER: They lied…Dick and I were secretly engaged for months…
REID: Where’s this “Josephine Weaver Allen” come in?
WEAVER: I was told at the school that they had named her as Dick’s beneficiary…
REID: And your name is simply…Josephine Weaver…
Reid speculates that he may be able to help Josephine…but he asks her to stay out of the picture until he conducts his investigation. As she leaves his office, he asks Casey to tell Axford to “set up an undercover operation” at the
school while he himself takes a ride out there to pump Bartlett
for information. I love how during the
conversation with Reid, Bartlett has this amazingly insincere smile on his
face—you wouldn’t have to be The Green Hornet to know this guy is as genuine as
REID: Well, Mr. Bartlett…reliable instructors, government-inspected equipment, adequate training periods…how do you account for those five fatal accidents?
“Gravity, Mr. Reid. Good day to you, sir!”
REID: Well, it’s impossible to tell whether a student has that judgment in an emergency…until he’s gone up in the plane alone…
REID: Well, that puts a different light on those crashes…you see, I was interested in one of the boys that crashed…
REID: Dick Barber…I was also surprised to learn that his fiancée was this “Miss Allen”…I understood he was engaged to Josephine Weaver…
“Dude’s a playa…what can I tell you?”
REID: I wonder if I could see Barber’s original application for insurance…you have it in your office, haven’t you?
“And I heard only seconds before your arrival that the company was washed away in a flash flood. While the building was on fire. From the earthquake.” Reid thanks
Bartlett for the info, but we know
he’s hasn’t been snowed by the guy because he comments “You’ve been much more
help to me than you realize.” Word of
Reid and Bartlett’s powwow quickly gets back to the , home of Monroe
ANDY: No…but Reid seemed to know that Josephine Weaver was
’s fiancée and not
Josephine Weaver Allen… Bartlett
ANDY: Right…I’ll put Dean and Corey on the job…
It’s becoming painfully obvious as to how Britt Reid (as The Green Hornet) is slowly making mincemeat out of these racketeers…probably because Monroe’s fall-back plan seems to be “get so-and-so out of town,” as if The Hornet’s jurisdiction suddenly stops at the city limits. But the surest sign that this is not going to end at all well is that Dean (Walter McGrail) and Corey (Gene Rizzi) have drawn this duty…and while they are amazingly adept at sitting around in an automobile on their humps for hours on end spying on individuals, their goon expertise is sorely lacking.
In the secret garage conveniently located next to Britt Reid’s apartment house, the Hornet and Kato emerge from the secret passageway and make their evening plans:
KATO: What’s our destination tonight, Mr. Britt?
HORNET: We’re going to call on a young lady…
“She gave me a bogus phone number in that bar the other night…and nobody does that to the Green Hornet!” Flight of the Bumblebee strikes up, and the Black Beauty roars off in the direction of Josephine Weaver Allen’s apartment. There’s a slight technical glitch in the next scene as actress Doran (as Allen) is shown moving about the apartment packing her things in a suitcase: the words “Phil Bartlett” are heard on the soundtrack, and though it is Ann’s voice you don’t see her lips moving…so maybe she’s learning to be a ventriloquist. Parking in a nearby alley, the Hornet gets out of the Beauty and, spotting a fire escape, leaps up to grab one of the rungs in a very impressive athletic display that might be actor Gordon Jones…then again, it might be his stuntman. When the Hornet enters Allen’s apartment, there’s another amusing moment because Bumblebee just completely comes to a dead stop on the soundtrack.
HORNET: Stay right where you are and keep quiet, Miss Allen…
ALLEN: What do you want? Who are you?
Yeah, baby! It’s Hornet time!
ALLEN: What do you want here?
HORNET: I want to know why you’re posing as Dick Barber’s fiancée…
ALLEN: Because I was engaged to him…
HORNET: You didn’t even know him…
ALLEN (after a pause): You’re going to have a hard time proving that…
HORNET: I’m not going to try…you’re going to prove it to the District Attorney!
ALLEN: That’s what you think…
HORNET: All right…listen to this…
“Please! Please please please tell the D.A. what you know…oh, come on…I’ll be your friend…pleeeeease?”
HORNET: I’ve talked to
ALLEN: You saw Phil Bartlett?
HORNET: Yes…Dick Barber named Josephine Weaver as his beneficiary…your name was substituted on the application, and you collected $10,000 from the insurance company!
ALLEN: Did Phil Bartlett tell you that?
HORNET: I want that money…
ALLEN: Double crossing rat…did he tell you I had to kick back $9500 of it?
HORNET: To whom did you give the $9500? For whom are you working?
ALLEN: All right…I’ll really give you the lowdown…but first we gotta get out of here!
HORNET: You’re telling me here and now!
Josie explains to our eager hero that two men are coming to collect her any minute now because they’re the ones who’ll be spiriting her out of town. “Are you telling me the truth?” he asks menacingly.
“Well, what do you think I’m packing for,” is her retort. (Schmuck.) “You’ve got to get me away from here so they can’t find me!”
The orchestra strikes up Flight of the Bumblebee again, and the Hornet goes to the front door of her apartment, opens it…and finds Kato waiting outside in the hall. “Take her to the car,” he orders his valet.
Outside the apartment building, Dean and Corry pull up in their ride…and they see Kato escorting Ms. Allen to the Black Beauty, prompting Dean to remark: “He’s making a getaway.” The two goons then exit the vehicle, and manage to grab Josie in the most stupefyingly simple kidnapping attempt I think I’ve ever witnessed in a movie. What’s baffling to me is, Josephine cries out “Oh…look out!” just as Corry puts Kato’s lights out…why would she want to warn him if she’s not wild about having to go with the Hornet in the first place? Also…my understanding (and this will be demonstrated later) is that Kato is a martial arts fiend, so I can’t believe he went down as easy as he did. (To add insult to injury, he was carrying the Hornet’s gas gun.)
Josephine also walks away with the two henchies without so much as a “Help, I’m being kidnapped” and the three of them drive off in the car. Meanwhile, the Hornet is upstairs mucking about (searching drawers for evidence, I’m assuming); he then comes down the fire escape and around the corner to where the Beauty is parked…and finds Kato doing that funny noise Bugs Bunny used to do when he tried to clear his head. (Well, not really…but it would have been hysterical if he did.) Helping Kato to his feet, the Hornet asks “Are you able to drive?” (“No, Mr. Britt…you’d better take my car keys—I’ll get a cab.”)
Realizing they’ve got to catch up to Josie and the goons (but not sweating it too much because, hey, they’re behind the wheel of a car that can do 200 mph), the Hornet and Kato start tearing down city streets in the Black Beauty. Dean and Corry soon realize (hey—the car sounds like a freaking bee, ferchrissake) that the Hornet is after them, so they speed up…with Dean telling his partner, “Our only chance is to keep turning corners…step on it!” The high-speed chase ensues, and gets interesting when a couple of uniformed cops also hear the familiar buzzing and decide it’s not the Mosquito Control truck that would drive around our old neighborhood in
Savannah. (I’m not making that up, by the way.) The fuzz give chase as well.
If we learned anything in Driver’s Education class, it’s that if you continue to take hairpin curves at high speeds on mountain highways…someone is going to get hurt. Corry swerves to avoid a car coming from the opposite direction, and the car goes through the guardrail, plunging down an embankment. But here’s what I want you to see:
This is the moment before the car smashes through the rail. Both of them look more annoyed that shit-pantingly scared that this is the end of the line. (They look like they’re impatient for someone to pull out of a parking spot.) Well, there’s a terrible crash…but one that Dean and Corry manage to walk away from. Josephine Weaver Allen is not so lucky.
The two men hear the Black Beauty buzzing as its gets closer, and so they start to run up a hill and presumably…well, seriously—where are they going to run? It’s not like the Hornet won’t catch up to them. (To quote Tracy Chapman, he’s got a fast car.) Well, I guess he’s got to stretch this thing out to thirteen chapters, so… Arriving at the crash, the Hornet and Kato leap out of the Beauty and head down to survey the situation.
HORNET (after looking into the car): Dead…
KATO (hearing sirens in the distance): The police! We must get the lady into our car…quickly!
HORNET: It’s too late, Kato…the girl is dead…
The two men race quickly back to the car and drive off only seconds before the cop car pulls in. A patrolman runs over to where he can see the smashed car below…and then for reasons unexplained, Kato (I assume it’s him, since he’s behind the wheel) turns that damn buzzing motor on. “The Green Hornet!” exclaims the cop. “You after him!” he yells to his partner. “I’ll stay here!” Yeah…brilliant idea to install that motor, Hornet.
The scene shifts to the next morning, just as Britt Reid and secretary Casey are entering his office.
CASEY: Josephine Weaver Allen, Dick Barber’s fiancée, was killed last night…
CASEY: The car she was riding in was run down by the car of the Green Hornet!
REID (after a beat): Who’s the authority for that statement?
CASEY: The police…they came up just as the Hornet car was making its getaway…
As if somebody ordered a bumbling Irishman, Axford also enters the office, bursting with news:
AXFORD: Sure, and I have found out all about it!
REID: You found out all about what?
…I sent young Tanner out there to take up a course as a
student flyer… Bartlett Flying School
REID: What did he find out?
AXFORD: He heard a couple of mechanics talkin’…one of them says to the other: “Gilpin’s goin’ up for his first night solo flight tonight, and the boss said to have #2824 on the line near Hangar 2 at ten o’clock…service special!”
You know…it’s possible Axford may have sent this kid to a greasy spoon by mistake…
REID: Is that all he found out?
AXFORD: It was not…
Something about the way Boteler delivered that line made me snort out loud.
AXFORD: …the other mechanic says, “Boy, they’re sure crowdin’ it…it was only the other day that Dick Barber’s plane was service special—and laddie…it was Dick Barber’s plane we saw crash!
REID: So it was…go to the cashier and get a check for Tanner, Michael…
AXFORD: B-B-But, Reid! This “service special” thing means murder!
REID (clapping him on the back): Go on, go on…you’ve been reading detective stories, Michael!
“Yes, sir—but…oh…for the love of…I…the boy’s losin’ his mind,” Michael sputters as he stumbles out of the office. Relax, Axie—it’s not that Reid hasn’t taken into account what you’ve told him…it’s that he knows he can get the work done more effectively as you-know-who (or as Axford used to sputter on radio, “That no-good spalpeen, the Har-nut!”). In the Black Beauty, the Hornet and Kato race to the
with G.H. instructing his valet: “When you get to the field, Kato…silence the
motor and pull in behind Hangar #2…I want to take a look at plane #2824…” Bartlett
At the field, junior airman Gilpin is rarin’ to go as he converses with a mechanic (John Kelly) who answers to “Pete”…and who could be the twin of the goon who helped blow up the unfortunate workman Gorman (Karl Hackett) in Chapter 1. (Okay, it’s actually the same guy—still, you have to admire his initiative in his ability to change from job to job.)
GILPIN: She all set, Pete?
PETE: Yep…all set to go…I gave her special service job, Gilpin…
GILPIN: Aw, gee…thanks, Pete…you know, this flight means a lot to me…
PETE: It means a lot to the school, too…you know…turnin’ out good flyers…
GILPIN (chuckling): If I make this flight…I’ll be through training…I can get a job…gee, I’ll need a job, too…I spent every dime I had on this course…but once I’m working, everything will be jake…say, I can even get married, Pete!
PETE: I suppose I’m wastin’ my time givin’ you advice…a flyer ain’t got no business foolin’ with women!
What about Smilin’ Jack? That guy was a chick magnet! (His co-pilot definitely was.) The disapproving Pete tells Gilpin to “warm up your motor about five minutes before you take off”…but it sounds like Gilpin’s motor is already warmed up, if you know what I mean…and I think you do.
As Gilpin climbs into the cockpit, Pete goes back into the office of the flying school and gets
on the horn. He tells his boss that
Gilpin is getting ready to go up yonder in the wild blue, and that there’s not
a thing to worry about because #2824 has been “specially serviced.” He stops suddenly, since he’s become the
recipient of a judo chop from Kato (he’s very polite about it, telling him
“Excuse, please”), and as he begins to slump to the floor the Hornet carries
the unconscious Pete over behind some desks.
G.H. is a little concerned that his valet has given the guy some sort of
serious body injury, but all he administered was the equivalent of a Vulcan
nerve pinch—“The blow I gave him will leave him paralyzed for precisely thirty
minutes.” The Hornet then takes the
phone from Kato.
HORNET (pretending to be Pete): Mr. Bartlett, sir? This is Pete again…you gotta get out here quick…I can’t tell you over the phone, but you gotta get out here…hangar #2, and hurry… (He hangs up the phone, then continues with Kato) He said he’d be here in about ten minutes…we’ve got to… (Sudden realization) Gilpin must be in his plane now! I’ve got to stop him from taking off! You hide behind that desk…if
comes, you know what to do! Bartlett
The Hornet reaches Gilpin’s plane, just as he’s finishing final preparations for his flight. “Hey, Gilpin…you’re not going up in that ship,” warns the Hornet.
“Who says I’m not?” Gilpin responds…as if he really had to ask…
GILPIN: Green Hornet, huh? What do you want?
HORNET: I want you to stay out of that plane…
GILPIN: Like fun I will! I’ve got a night solo to do and I’m gonna make it! What business is it of yours, anyway?
The Hornet doesn’t have time to explain, but in a reversal of
got someone who’s not getting on that
plane. Gilpin throws a roundhouse at the
Hornet, knocking him to the ground…and His Hornetness responds by firing his
gas gun at Gilpin, returning the favor.
He carries the unconscious body of the would-be pilot to an area outside
the hangar, and then enters the school’s office with a parachute to give Kato a
status report: Casablanca
HORNET: That guy Gilpin has nerve…first one who hasn’t been afraid of The Green Hornet!
KATO: Only those with a guilty conscience fear the Green Hornet, sir…
And besides…he’s Alan Freakin’ Ladd, so…but never fear—“he’ll be good as new in an hour,” Kato reminds his boss. In the meantime,
pulls up outside in his car and strolls into the office, calling out for
Pete. He sees the unconscious mechanic
on the floor, and…
HORNET: Hold it,
(Kato, who’s been hiding behind one of the desk, grabs
’s arm to prevent him from going for his gun) Bartlett
HORNET: I want to have a little talk with you…that’s why I phoned you…
HORNET: What’s wrong with plane 2824? Answer me! What’s wrong with plane 2824?
HORNET: You’re lying,
…you know there’s
something wrong with it—what is it? Bartlett
HORNET (walking over to a desk and grabbing a piece of rope, then throwing it to Kato): Tie him up!
): Excuse, please… Bartlett
Little son-of-a-gun is awfully polite, isn’t he? Having been securely trussed up by Kato,
is led out to plane #2824 by the Hornet, who is carrying the parachute from
earlier. He offers Bartlett
one more opportunity to come clean on the “service special” of #2824, but Bartlett
continues to deny there’s anything wrong.
The Hornet chucks the parachute inside the cockpit, and Bartlett
is hustled inside.
HORNET: Take you for a little flight…
HORNET: Oh, yes I am!
“Oh…this plane? I just remember what was wrong with it! Heh heh…the beverage service is lousy…and there’s no leg room. I don’t think the restroom is working in this plane either…” No, I like how the screenwriters already make the assumption that millionaire playboy Britt Reid is an accomplished pilot, because the two men are soon up in the air, winging their way through the clouds.
HORNET: Now we’ll see how 2824 flies with its special service…
HORNET: Why? It’s in perfect flying order…
HORNET: You’ll tell me before I set it down! We’re staying up here until I find out!
HORNET: So that’s the special service…insufficient gas!
Yeah, a full tank falls under the header of super service…not special. (Plus you get a clean windshield and they’ll check the oil.)
HORNET: That’s your racket, huh? So you can collect insurance on both the plane and pilot…
HORNET: Who’s the head of it?
BARTLETT: Listen…you think…you’re going to get some information and bail out…but it won’t work…if you untie me, and let me bail out with you…I’ll tell you what you want to know!
Never make a deal with a desperate man, Mr. Hornet. G.H. unties
and then asks who the head of the racket is.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Bartlett
barks as he attacks the Hornet at the controls of the plane. The ship goes into a spin as the two men
wrestle for control…and then…