Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Green Hornet – Chapter 7: Bridge of Disaster



OUR STORY SO FARBritt Reid (Gordon Jones), investigating sabotage of Whippet Line buses, suspects that Rockford (George Lloyd), head of The Blue Streak, a rival bus line, belongs to the crime ring responsible.  Axford (Wade Boteler), conducting an investigation of his own, visits The Blue Streak headquarters and is trapped and made prisoner by the racketeers.  Reid learns of Axford’s predicament and disguised as The Green Hornet, succeeds in freeing Axford and forcing a confession from Rockford.  But Rockford’s henchmen return, a fight ensues, and The Hornet, outnumbered…

…conveniently falls out of a window and lands safely below.  (Well, he lands on some sort of sidewalk—I would think there would at least be one or two broken bones involved.  Also, when he takes that header out the window—it looks like a mighty long drop from a place that’s only supposed to be two stories.)  Hey—henchman Pete (John Kelly) has been using this “run-for-the-hills” method of self preservation throughout the serial…why should the hero be any different?  Faithful valet Kato (Keye Luke) comes to the Hornet’s aid, informing his boss that the two of them had better am-scray uster-bay, because the cops will be there soon.


I just remembered that the title of this week’s installment is “Bridge of Disaster”…and that last week’s chapter was “Highways of Peril.”  Sounds like WV-DOT gave the writers an assist on these.  (Ba-zinga!)

“This has been a good night’s work, Kato,” the Hornet tells his valet as the two of them speed away in the Black Beauty.  “When the District Attorney receives this evidence in his morning mail—it will be the end of Mr. Rockford’s bus racket!”


Son of a gun!  He sure called that one right.  (Well, it helps if your day job is publisher of that same paper, I guess.)  And so, having put the crooked Rockford out of commission, Reid is seated as his desk in his office when secretary Lenore “Casey” Case (Anne Nagel) buzzes him to let him know he’s got a call on the other line from his friend Charles Roberts (Kenneth Harlan):

ROBERTS: Listen, Britt…I have to see you right away…
REID: Sounds like you really got something…

“All I know is that it really hurts to pee.”

ROBERTS: I have…and it’s big…so big that I’m going to the District Attorney right after I…

Charles stops short, leaving Britt bewildered—he tells the operator his call was cut off, and she informs him that there is no longer anyone on the line.  On a hunch, Reid tells Casey that he’s going over to pay Charles a visit…and arriving at Acme Transportation, Britt finds Charles’ younger brother, Johnny, in the outer office.  (The actor playing young Roberts is unfortunately not identified.)

JOHNNY: Hello, Mr. Reid!  I just got out of school…Charlie’s teaching me the trucking business…it won’t be long before its Roberts Brothers, Incorporated…
REID: Oh, that’s swell, John…is Charles in?
JOHNNY: Sure!  I’ll give him a buzz…

Johnny grabs the phone receiver, trying to contact his older brother…but there’s no response.

JOHNNY (putting the phone down): I guess it’s out of order…
REID: Is there anybody with him?
JOHNNY: No—I’ll take you right in…

Walking over to the office door, Johnny discovers that it’s locked.  He knocks on the door a few times, calling out Charlie’s name…and then produces a key when Reid asks him if he has one.  Opening the door to the office, Reid and Johnny find Charles sitting at his desk motionless…and when Johnny goes over to the desk to investigate…


…his brother slumps to the floor.

JOHNNY: Charlie!  He’s dead, Britt!
(Johnny starts towards the floor where his brother lies dead)
REID: Don’t!  Don’t…
JOHNNY: But Britt…he’s dead!
REID: No, you mustn’t touch anything!  He’s been shot…gotta call the police…

The authorities are brought in on the case, though I’m not entirely certain what purpose they’ll serve—if any of those guys are like the man who’s currently in Reid’s employ as a bodyguard this murder will never get solved.  And the uniformed cop (Jim Farley) handling the affair is apparently going to prove me right:

CAPTAIN: It’s just a plain case of suicide, Reid…
REID: I can’t believe it…Roberts had just been talking to me on the telephone…he didn’t sound like a man who was going to commit suicide… (To Johnny) John…did anybody come to see Charles between the time he called me at 9:30 and the time I arrived here?
(A grief-stricken Johnny shakes his head “no.”)
CAPTAIN: There you are, Reid…
REID: But I tell ya, there was someone in here!  That cigarette was burning when we first discovered the body…



REID: …and Charles Roberts never smoked cigarettes…
CAPTAIN: Look, Reid…the man was found shot…the gun was in his hand…the wound could be self-inflicted…the outer door is bolted from the inside…add it all up, it equals suicide…unless you can get some further evidence…the case will have to go as reported…
REID: I’ll get that evidence…

Having completed his splendid police work, Captain Solve ‘Em Quick is probably headed to Duffy’s to toss back a few with the boys, so Reid decides to go back over the events to see if something might have been missed…

REID: John…are you sure you can think of nothing that would’ve made Charles do this thing?
JOHNNY: No…no, I can’t, Mr. Reid…
REID: Then you didn’t leave your office at any time?
JOHNNY: No, I didn’t!
REID (thinking): Well, then why didn’t you hear the shot?
JOHNNY: Oh, I was probably in the stockroom…
REID: Then you did leave your office!

Jeez, Johnny…too bad about your brother and all that, but—what part of “Then you didn’t leave your office at any time?” did you not understand?

JOHNNY: But I was only gone for a few minutes…
REID: That’ve been long enough…tell me…do you know what Charles was going to talk to me about over the phone?
JOHNNY: No, I don’t…he was looking at some insurance reports, which seemed to upset him…and then he told me to take a bill of laden out to the stockroom…
REID: Do you know what was in those reports?
JOHNNY: About…truck breakdowns…delaying shipments…causing insurance rates to be increased…costing a lot of customers…
REID: Sabotage?
JOHNNY: The insurance investigators thought so…

Reid asks Johnny if he can see the reports—but the statements that were on the desk seem to have disappeared.  A quick check of the desk drawers reveals no sign of the documentation.

JOHNNY: That’s funny…they’re gone!
REID: That’s enough for me…Charles was murdered…and the man who did it took those papers…

Heading back to his car, Reid stops to watch a group of Acme workers in the process of loading up their trucks and other menial duties…with two of the drivers (Lane Chandler, Wallace Gregory) being approached by noted attorney Andrew T. Thug (Ralph Dunn)…



ANDY: Hey, Bud…
BILL: Whaddya want?
ANDY: C’mere…how would you like a good job?

“Can’t…I got a pre-existing condition and the premiums would kill me…”

BILL: I’ve got a good job…listen—why don’t you Tri State guys stay out of here?  We don’t want any part of that outfit…
ANDY: You guys are haywire…Tri State pays better!
BILL: Well, Acme pays us okay…we’re not interested…
SECOND DRIVER: Speak for yourself, Bill…I think I would be interested…

“Yeah, who appointed you my shop steward?  Where do I sign, Mr. Thug?”

BILL: Say…you’re gonna run out on the company, huh?  Why, you…

Bill knocks the driver to the ground with a solid punch, and the other drivers soon join in the donnybrook.  Andy the Thug is careful not to get involved, and neither is Mr. Reid…so the scene fades out on the men still throwing punches at one another, brother against brother.  Arriving back in his office, Reid soon finds himself in the company of Michael Axford and ace reporter Jasper Jenks (Phillip Trent):

REID: Mike…I want you to get me all the information you can concerning the recent accidents at the Acme Transportation Company…
AXFORD: Hah…you mean the Jinx Transportation Company, don’tcha?
REID: Why do you say that?
AXFORD: On account of all the accidents that’s been happenin’ to all their trucks—don’t you read your own paper?

“That rag?  I wouldn’t touch it unless I had a tetanus shot…”

REID: Check with all the Acme competitors…I wanna know who’s getting their canceled contracts…
AXFORD: Yes, sir! (He leaves)
REID: And Jenks…I want you to go down to our morgue and get all the dope you can on accidents to Acme trucks…
JENKS: Right!  Oh, boy—I smell a story!

“No, that’s just Axford…he had corned beef and cabbage for lunch again.”  The muckraking carried out by Reid, Axford and Jenks soon makes headlines in The Sentinel…and as such, attracts the attention of criminal kingpin Curtis Monroe (Cy Kendall)—who assembles a few members of his Injustice League, including Tri State Trucking president D.H. Sligby (Eddie Dunn), to address the situation.


MONROE (glancing at his watch): The Chief wanted you here at ten o’clock…says your department is falling down on the job…let’s see what he has to say… (Switching on the intercom) We’re ready, sir…



CHIEF: Sligby, I want contracts…let this small fry alone—get after the big ones…Tim Bryan is the biggest shipper in the valley; I want him signed…get him!  I don’t care how you do it!


So Timothy Bryan (Paul Scardon) receives a visit from a representative of Tri State Trucking…none other than the felonious henchman Dean (Walter McGrail) himself.

DEAN: Mr. Bryan…Tri State would like to handle your transportation…we can save you a lot of money…
BRYAN: Acme has been handling our stuff for a good many years, Mr. Dean…
DEAN: Yes, I know…but we not only can beat their prices…but guarantee delivery and on time!
BRYAN: Acme does that…and I’m willing to pay their charges…if I left them now, they’d close down completely…
DEAN: And if you don’t….you might close down…
BRYAN: That sounds like a threat, Mr. Dean…

“Oh, no no no no no no no no no…yes.  Yes, it is.”

DEAN: No, not at all…only Acme has been having lot of mishaps lately…

“Falling anvils…mistimed explosives…”

DEAN: Delays are costly…and in the case of perishables, ruinous
BRYAN: You have my decision…
DEAN: Very well, Mr. Bryan…see you again…good day…

He’s very polite for a goon—isn’t he?  Back at Reid’s office, our hero has been going over the information that Axford has dug up for him.

REID: Acme’s biggest shipper, according to your report, is Bryan…he’s got a load of perishables going to Kentville today…where can we go to contact it?
AXFORD (chuckling): Why, Britt…at the Acme Yards, of course…
REID: Well…if what I suspect is true, the Yards are being watched—and I don’t want to be seen
AXFORD: Oh…well…uh…there’s the Market Coffee Shop…all the trucks goin’ in and out of town stop there…
REID: All right…the Market Coffee Shop it is… (Axford rises from his chair, but is stopped by Reid) And we better take one of our delivery trucks…I want to attract as little attention as possible…
AXFORD: I gotcha…

The scene then shifts to the world famous Market Coffee Shop, which is where people went to get a quick cuppa Joe before Starbucks started dotting the landscape everywhere.  As Reid and Axford sit outside with their backs to the entrance, a car pulls up and out spill the Three Stooges: Pete, Dean and Corey (Gene Rizzi).  “Give me anything that’s cold, sister,” Dean tells a waitress, who proceeds to show him her shoulder.  (No…not really…I make leetle joke.)


Corey spots an Acme delivery truck pulling up near the coffee shop, and motions to Dean with his thumb as to the arrival of the vehicle.  Then he signals for Pete to make his way to the truck just as the driver, Charlie (Reed Howes), settles in where Dean and Corey are standing…while Reid and Axford look on.



CHARLIE (to the waitress): Cup of java…hiya fellas…
DEAN: Hi…
COREY: How’s Jinx outfit?
CHARLIE: That ain’t funny, wise guy…
DEAN: How’d you get this far without breakin’ down?  It’s twelve blocks from the depot…
CHARLIE: That truck’s as good as any Tri State has, and it ain’t gonna break down…I checked it all myself…every inch…

As we learned in Chapters 3, 4 and 5, Pete the Thug is a man of many talents: construction worker, plane mechanic, car mechanic, etc.  The one thing these occupations have in common is that they allow him to sabotage machinery, which he is proceeding to do with poor Charlie’s truck.  Charlie pays for his coffee and starts off down the road, running into Pete in his departure.

CHARLIE: Why don’t you watch where you goin’?!!!
PETE: What’s your hurry, buddy—you’re not goin’ anyplace in that Acme truck…

Charlie has no time to stop and make a witty retort, so instead he climbs into his cab and continues on his journey.  As Reid and Axford continue to monitor the situation, Pete inelegantly remarks: “Bet he doesn’t make it to the bottom of the hill…”  This earns him a rebuke from his fellow henchie Dean, who as the three of them leave tells Pete: “Put a muffler around that big mouth of yours.”  (Get it?  Muffler?  Truck?  Bueller?)


“They didn’t sound like kidding to me,” Reid tells Axford.  “We’d better get out and take a look at that truck.”  The two of them climb into a truck that looks a lot like the Waltons used to have and take off in the direction of Charlie.  And Pete has been a clever little vandal—the Acme vehicle is taking corners so sharply you can hear the identical squeal of tires on both it and Reid’s truck, which is following.  Charlie’s brakes no longer work.


Careening down a steep mountain pass, Reid maneuvers his truck in front of Charlie and slowly brings both of their vehicles to a safe stop.  Charlie gets out of the cab to express his thanks.



CHARLIE: Say, that was a swell job of driving, Buddy…

“Oh, you should see me when I’m behind the wheel of the Black Beauty…I can…I mean…uh…I did okay.”

REID: What happened?
CHARLIE: Felt like I lost my brake fluid…
REID: It couldn’t have been done deliberately—could it?
CHARLIE: Sure, in two minutes…say—that Tri State crook told me I wouldn’t get very far!  Well…this is goodbye, Acme Transportation Company…
REID: What do you mean?
CHARLIE: I don’t get this load in on time; we lose the Bryan contract…

It doesn’t look good—but Reid has a sudden flash of inspiration.  “You won’t lose the Bryan contract…get a tow rope and we’ll pull you in!”  Give you hope…and be your only boyfriend…yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah)…  Having saved the day with his quick wits, Reid returns home to his modest apartment and is greeted by Kato.

KATO: Good evening, Mr. Britt…
REID: Hello, Kato…get the gun, mask and car ready…we’re going out tonight…
KATO: Where to?

“That’s really none of your concern, my faithful lackey…”  No, Reid lets his man know they’ll be paying Tri State Trucking a visit, and faster than you can say “Fran Striker,” the two of them are whizzing down country roads and city streets to the accompaniment of Flight of the Bumblebee.  Outside Tri State’s depot, the Green Hornet exits the car and tells Kato: “Wait for me.”  Inside the building, the Hornet positions himself outside the office of D.H. Sligby as he issues instructions to the Goon Squad.

SLIGBY (to Dean): See this old bridge? 
DEAN: Mm-hmm…
SLIGBY: Well, Acme’s crossing it tonight with a truckload of Bryan’s perishables…
DEAN: Using the old route to fool us, eh?
SLIGBY: Yeah…Corey!  Get the boys and put that bridge out of commission…Dean…take Andy and fix that carload of fruit that Bryan has at the railroad yard…
DEAN: Yeah…that will show him that dealing with Acme is expensive!  (He gets up from the table)
SLIGBY: See you at the bridge, Corey…
COREY: How come?  I thought you were laying low since you bumped Roberts...


Oooh…kind of a sore subject there, Core…particularly since Sligby jumps up from the table with blood in his eye…

SLIGBY: Lay off that Roberts business!  (sitting back down) No evidence against me…
COREY (chuckling): Not if you destroyed those insurance papers you took off Roberts’ desk…
SLIGBY: Don’t worry about that…I’ve got those locked in the safe…get started, you fellas…

That’s the Hornet’s cue to move away from the door as Andy, Dean and Corey file out of the office to do their respective naughty deeds.  Back in the office, D.H. has moved over to the safe and when he sees that the hoods have driven off, the Hornet brandishes his gas gun and enters the office, giving Sligby a little surprise.

HORNET: Don’t move, Sligby!
SLIGBY: The Green Hornet!

It ain’t the Blue Beetle, kiddies.

SLIGBY: What do you want?
HORNET: The insurance report you took from Charles Roberts the night you murdered him!
SLIGBY: I-I-I didn’t kill Roberts!

“He died of…um…old age!  Yeah, that’s the ticket…”

HORNET: I know you did, and I want those reports! (He clicks the gas gun to indicate he means business)
SLIGBY: I’ll get ‘em…

Turning back towards the safe, he then whips back toward the Green Hornet with a pistol and fires…but the Hornet is too quick, and gives him a dose of the gas gun.  Hearing the gunshot, Kato rushes in to see that the Hornet is okay.  “Tie him up, Kato,” the Hornet orders his valet while he grabs a nearby phone:

HORNET: Police headquarters?  Captain Rich?  Send a squad car to the Tri State Trucking office…you’ll find Roberts’ murderer there!


The Hornet then takes the time to leave the gendarmes a calling card, and after a quick rifle through the papers in the safe finds the insurance reports he needs.  “Where will we go now?” asks Kato.  “Down to the freight yard to get Sligby’s partners!” is the Hornet’s reply, and the two men rush off against a montage of their amazing car zipping along country roads.  At the freight yard, Dean tells Andy: “Open that car door while I get this fruit destroyer ready…”

Okay, I kind of chuckled at that because I got a mental picture of this honkin’ big ray gun designed to, I don’t know, accelerate the ripening process so that the food goes bad twice as fast.  Then, of course, you have the Hornet and Kato making their way to the freight yard when G.H. tells his driver: “This is far enough, Kato…throw off your lights and silence the motor.”  How exactly does he measure when the need for that buzzing sound ceases?  Why turn it on to begin with?


Arriving at the freight yard, Kato once again has to stay in the car while the Hornet attempts to round up the bad guys.  Climbing onto a freight car, G.H. sneaks up on Andy and probably provides him with the need for a change of underwear:

HORNET: Get away from that lock!
ANDY: The Green Hornet!
HORNET: And keep your hands away from that gun!  I want to ask you a few questions!

Seeing that his fellow henchie is in trouble, Dean has a little more gumption than someone like, say, Pete…who would probably have sprinted into the next county by now.  So when the Hornet asks Andy “Where’s your partner?” Dean is able to retort “Right behind you!”—allowing Andy to sock G.H. in the jaw.  Dean starts to fire at the Hornet, who manages to slip under the area of the freight car…and the gunshots attract the attention of a few workers in the yard, who are also brandishing weaponry of their own.  Dean climbs into the back of the truck as Andy speeds off, and the Hornet runs after the truck in pursuit, climbing into the back as well.


Fighting in the back with the Hornet, Dean asks Andy for the loan of his gun and then tells his buddy to head for that bridge Corey had been asked to sabotage earlier.  Trying to dodge Dean’s firing at him (he even hangs off the back of the truck at one point), the Hornet finally ends up wrestling with the hood for control of his pistol…and yes, you do him hear say “It’s no use—you haven’t a chance!”


At the bridge, Pete has been helping Corey by sawing at the suspension cables…and when the two of them see the truck headed their way, they quickly scamper off and hide.  The truck approaches the bridge…Andy bails out of the cab…and the weight of the truck capsizes what’s left of the cables…



3 comments:

Stacia said...

Ugh, Kenneth Harlan, he is just the worst kind of person. That desk blotter was probably out-acting him, too.

P.S. BRB laughing forever at "fruit destroyer."

Brent McKee said...

I started watching the serial on TCM on Saturday and I came to a somewhat startling realization. Our hero (played by Gordon Jones) bears a fairly strong resemblance to Jack Carson! And while I've always regarded Doris Day's occasional boy toy as a friendly buddy type, but not a great intellectual powerhouse, his appearance is vaguely wrong. But better than casting Seth Rogen as Britt Reid; far far far far far better.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Our hero (played by Gordon Jones) bears a fairly strong resemblance to Jack Carson! And while I've always regarded Doris Day's occasional boy toy as a friendly buddy type, but not a great intellectual powerhouse, his appearance is vaguely wrong.

Once I get over the remembrance that Jones played "Mike the Cop" on the old Abbott & Costello TV series, I'm fine with him as G.H. My theory is that the actor playing these kinds of roles has his work cut out for him in convincing you he's Britt Reid, and I think Jones does a pretty good job -- I don't ever think about him being convincing as the Hornet because Al Hodge (the Har-nut on radio) is doing all the heavy lifting on that score.

It's the same with Batman -- anybody can be the Caped Crusader, all you do is were a cowl and whisper "I'm Batman." Your job is to convince people you're Bruce Wayne, something Michael Keaton, for example, was never really able to do. I've always considered Val Kilmer to have been the best Batman simply because he was the best Bruce Wayne -- his natural "flakiness" works to his advantage. (Kilmer's Batman film is a terrible film, but that's a post for another day.)