Thursday, June 21, 2012
THE GREEN HORNET STRIKES AGAIN
This sequel to the first Green Hornet cliffhanger uses the same directors, most of the original cast, but has a new Hornet: Britt Reid and his masked alter ego the Hornet are now played by Warren Hull of Mandrake the Magician. Gordon Jones of the first serial might have had the slight edge, but Hull isn't bad. He also tries to affect a different voice when he tries to speak as the Hornet, but is less effective at it than Jones. The Green Hornet Strikes Again is as episodic as its predecessor, but it's also a more entertaining serial. Anne Nagel is back as "Casey," Reid's secretary, as are Wade Boteler as reporter Michael Axford [who always calls our hero the "Hahnet"] and Keye Luke as Kato. Eddie Acuff plays a new character, a reporter named Lowery. Although the Hornet doesn't know his identity until the very end, the audience is clued in to the fact that the head of the syndicate that has its fingers in many illegal pies -- the building business, oil wells, steel mills, heiresses subject to extortion -- is Boss Crogan (Pierre Watkin, who is effective if comparatively colorless). Roy Barcroft, Nestor Paiva, and possibly Grant Williams are also in the cast in small roles. There are exciting cliffhangers involving a moving bridge, the Hornet's plane being shot down, and a great bit with the Hornet and a hood plunging through the top floor when a building collapses. There's a very effective warehouse fire, as well as a lively fight when some hoodlums attack trucks distributing Reid's paper, the Sentinel. One chapter deals with a steel mill that is secretly making bombs for a foreign government. Jay Michael offers a notable turn as a sneering construction racketeer in chapter 14. The classical music on the soundtrack is sometimes disconcerting. This is definitely one of the better Universal serials.
Verdict: This one has a little more sting. ***.