Search the Cinema Head Cheese Archives!

August 2, 2020

Static Age #11: The Green Hornet (1966 – 1967)

Van Williams and Bruce Lee in The Green Hornet (1966 - 1967)
This Static Age is focusing on The Green Hornet (1966 – 1967). Created by George W. Trendle and based upon the same-titled D.C. comic books and superhero, this series lasted a mere one season (consisting of 26 episodes, originally aired on ABC) eclipsed by the much better and more campy Batman counterpart. Van Williams plays newspaper publisher Britt Reid whose crime-fighting alter ego is The Green Hornet and his sidekick is Kato, played by Bruce Lee. The problem of many of these series is that they are very much of their time, essentially 1960s television producers’ idea of a comic book adaptation rather what could ideally be achieved (in movie theaters for example) and as such they may be difficult to resonate with millennial audiences; although the very same reason (those era and aesthetics specifics) are pretty much why people like us do find this stuff so charming.

‘The Silent Gun’ is about an exquisite silent gun and an overall James Bond-like plot. In ‘Give ‘Em Enough Rope’, Britt Reid has to get rid of an obsessive female reporter and at the same time expose a fraud injury insurance gang. ‘Programmed for Death’ is about a conspiracy that involves death by a tiger and a fake diamonds smuggling operation. In ‘Crime Wave’ Abel Marcus (Peter Haskell) is a sophisticated (at least for the 1960s) ‘computer operator’ (as per the words of Green Hornet) that commits a series of heists (presumably based on some ancient form of engineering and programming) that he is trying to pin on the show’s superhero. The past comes to haunt the Green Hornet in ‘The Frog is a Deadly Weapon’ when the gangster that might have framed and killed the superhero’s father seems to have returned from the grave. An alcohol bootlegging gang is terrorizing liquor store owners by bombing and other means of crime, in ‘Eat, Drink, and Be Dead’. ‘Beautiful Dreamer: Part 1’ and ‘Beautiful Dreamer: Part 2’ are about a series of crimes committed by citizens above suspicion that have no memory of performing them, because in reality they were programmed to do so by an evil mastermind. Helmed by William Beaudine (one of my favorite directors of 1940s cheapies) ‘The Ray Is for Killing’ is about a gang of thieves that employ a laser beam weapon in order to steal expensive paintings from the protagonist’s home. In ‘The Preying Mantis’ a Tong war has just begun in Chinatown, and naturally Kato wants to take the gangsters out by himself. In William Beaudine’s ‘The Hunters and the Hunted’ some gangsters are getting murdered by an unknown assailant that employs bizarre weapons. A series of robberies in ‘Deadline for Death’ seem to be somehow connected with Reid’s employee Mike Axford (Lloyd Gough) but there may be more to it than what meets the eye. ‘The Secret of the Sally Bell’ finds the heroic duo battling the – quite adult for the show – war against drugs. ‘Freeway to Death’ is another daring episode (the opening scene is very violent, considering the television standards of the time) about a construction company insurance racket.May the Best Man Lose’ is set during the election time, and one of the few people that know The Green Hornet’s true identity, District Attorney Frank Scanlon (Walter Brooke), is set up for assassination. My favorite episode in the series is the very dark ‘The Hornet and the Firefly’, in which our superhero has to stop an serial arsonist that sets fires (insert stock footage of real fires here) to several locations with unpredictable methods, unfortunately the same cannot be said of his identity as well, which becomes apparent very early on. On the other hand, ‘Seek, Stalk and Destroy’ is much too ridiculous as The Green Hornet and Kato have to fight a tank, operated by a small army of veterans; it’s as if the filmmakers had a tank at their disposal and wanted to make the most of it and fit it in the series somehow. ‘Corpse of the Year: Part 1’ is a fascinating episode about a Green Hornet impostor that unleashes a series of terror attacks against the Daily Sentinel newspaper, but it is mostly curious for having our superhero checking ever so blatantly an exotic waitress’ ass, as well as including the unbelievable Scanner gadget which is basically a proto-drone; it was concluded by ‘Corpse of the Year: Part 2’. In ‘Ace in the Hole’ our superhero tries to prevent two gangster families from connecting in order to become one giant mob. ‘Bad Bet on a 459-Silent’ is about corrupt beat cops that when they investigate robberies, they keep some of the loot for themselves.

And now, let’s switch our focus towards some recent series…

Doctor Who - Season 4 poster art
The 4th season of Doctor Who (2005 – present) is featuring once again the excellent David Tennant as The Doctor, while Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) becomes his (quite unlikely) sidekick. ‘Partners in Crime’ may well be the series’ best episode so far and it is about Adipose Industries that mass produced a weight-loss pill that really does work miracles (customers are spared of their extra weight in record time), but unfortunately it is connected to an evil alien scheme involving little fat monsters jumping off the consumers’ bodies. ‘The Fires of Pompeii’ is such a boring episode (due to a bad script) that it is a pity that loads of money were seemingly wasted on CGI. ‘Planet of the Ood’ might well be the most emotional episode of the season, as it tells the story of the titular scary-looking but good-hearted aliens that have been taken advantage and led to slavery. ‘The Sontaran Stratagem’ sees the return of Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman), this time assisting the Doctor in the investigation of the ATMOS System, employed by every car on Earth, and created by Luke Rattigan (Ryan Sampson). ‘The Poison Sky’ continues from where the previous episode left, providing further boredom. The appropriately titled ‘The Doctor’s Daughter’ is about – you guessed it – the Doctor’s daughter, played by the gorgeous Georgia Moffett, who turns out to be so militant that she has to learn a thing or two about life (and death). ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’ takes place in 1926 when a dinner party turns into a whodunit, in the presence of none other than acclaimed author Agatha Christie. ‘Silence in the Library’ and ‘Forest of the Dead’ are two eerie episodes set in a futuristic library. In ‘Midnight’ the Doctor takes a vacation to the titular planet, but he is entrapped in the airplane with a group of people and a mysterious alien entity whose intentions are not good; the episode being a love letter to classic sci-fi films from the 1950s. ‘Turn Left’, an episode that is taking a look to alternate realities and possibilities within and outside the already established plots, is also asking us to think of the scenario in which The Doctor is dead; it marks the return of Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), but Donna Noble is stealing the show with the beetle that is crawling on her back and is representing the things in life that we either postpone or don’t do. ‘The Stolen Earth’ is a masterpiece in which the Daleks manage to vanish planet Earth and Richard Dawkins provides the show with a cameo.

And finally, please allow me to speak a word or two about some recent mainstream films…

This time around I enriched my bookshelf with the following additions…

Troy Howarth’s So Deadly, So Perverse: Giallo-Style Films from Around the World, Volume Three (2019, Midnight Marquee Press) which is the final chapter in Howarth’s massive research on the giallo film, this tome dedicated to non-Italian efforts from the world over. Following introductions, the main core of the book is dedicated to length reviews of these films, many of them ultra-obscure. A worthy volume that needs to be part of all genre film fans.

I bought the limited edition hardback version of Dario Argento’s Fear: The Autobiography (2019, FAB Press), the design of which is simply stunning. Argento’s book is small (amounting to only 280 pages, it could have easily been double that and never become boring) but his storytelling skills shine throughout as he takes us on a long journey of his adventures in his Italian world of gialli and other escapades. My favorite story is the one in which Luigi Cozzi and Michele Soavi slapped an Argento impostor when he had become threatening.

Now a classic, Louis Paul’s excellent guide Italian Horror Film Directors (2005, McFarland) is divided in two main chapters; the first is tackling in detail the careers of the ten Italian directors more associated with the horror genre, and the second takes a brief look at the careers of various other directors that contributed to the genre. Filled with detail and passion, and rounded up by forewords by Jess Franco and Antonella Fulci, this is a must have for all connoisseurs of European exploitation cinema.

Josh Alan Friedman’s Tales of Times Square: Expanded Edition! (1986, 2018, Feral House) is exactly what it promises to be; namely an odyssey of adventures as lived and/or witnessed by the author during his days in New York’s sleazy 42nd Street and its surroundings when pimps and prostitutes as well as grindhouses that screened pornos or kung fu epics were the order of the day, before Disney managed to buy-out even the organized criminals that ran these seedy places. It is a postcard or a love letter to another time and another place, and considering how much we all here at CHC love this era of depravity, we can only cherish this classic.

Written by William Fowler and Vic Pratt, the people that curate the BFI Flipside screenings and DVD & Blu-ray releases of underground and unknown U.K. genre films that have rescued and showcased the unknown story of British celluloid, The Bodies Beneath: The Flipside of British Film & Television (2019, Strange Attractor Press) is a book like no other, and one that we most definitely needed as it takes us on an enjoyable journey full of information about the missing links of both the big and small screens.

All I ever wanted to know about celluloid filone, I learned from the McFarland’s wonderful trilogy Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1957 – 1969 (2015), Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1970 – 1979 (2017), and Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1980 – 1989 (2019), penned by Roberto Curti, the world’s authority on Italian genre cinema and possibly the best writer our wonderful community ever had.

Finally, I very much enjoyed two small books from the Cinema Classics Collection; Mark Schilling’s No Borders, No Limits: Nikkatsu Action Cinema (2007, FAB Press) and Kier-La Janisse’s A Violent Professional: The Films of Luciano Rossi (2007, FAB Press). Short and sweet, stunningly designed, and brilliantly researched, they both work as excellent introductory pieces to their respective subject matters.

Get books, comics, graphic novels and more at Use the code CHC at checkout for 15% off your purchase!

Follow Cinema Head Cheese:
Facebook: /cinemaheadcheese
Twitter: @CinHeadCheese
Instagram: abnormalpodcast 
Pinterest: /abnormalpodcast/cinema-head-cheese/
RSS Feed:

You can support Cinema Head Cheese and Abnormal Entertainment on our Support Us page.