Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Green Hornet Chronicles (2010) edited Joe Gentile and Win Scott Eckert published by Moonstone

Previously, I had reviewed Win's story in this volume and raved about it and when the complete anthology arrived I raced through the contents. All of the stories are set in the world of the 1960s TV series and I would say that all the stories would make excellent episodes of the series. indeed the book serves as a much belated second season to the TV show. (One can presume that the forthcoming The Green Hornet Casefiles will be season 3)

I enjoyed all the stories in this volume with several stories alluding to The Hornet’s relationship to The Lone Ranger with Matthew Baugh’s The Inside Man offering a clever riff on the connection. All of the stories were excellent with The Night Car By Will Murray, I had the Green Hornet’s Love Child By Greg Cox, Fang and Sting by Win Eckert and The Inside Man by Matthew Baugh as stand outs for me.

The volume includes three essays Reflections on The Green Hornet by Van Williams, Life at 90MPH by Dean Jeffries and The Soul of Solomon by Harlan Ellison.

I think Van Williams introduction shows the love that the actor has for the character and the role that will likely be part of his legacy.

The Jeffries essay is an interview with Jeffries who built the Black Beauty and many other custom cars for the screen and offers a insight into the process he used to design and build the car.

Harlan Ellison’s contribution is the one controversial entry in the book. Ellison starts telling us that he had an idea for The Green Hornet to meet The Phantom. He managed to sell the idea to the rights holders writes the start of the story and then decides that the story shouldn’t be written and turns the whole thing into an essay about why the story should be written. All I have to say is Ellison must have some good lawyers as this appeared here and in The Phantom Chronicles Vol2.

Overall The Green Hornet Chronicles is an excellent anthology with excellent stories and of you are a fan of the character grab a copy and then preorder the follow up volume.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"Fang & Sting" by Win Eckert (2010) in THE GREEN HORNET CHRONICLES

All Pulp are very crafty. They give you a free sample and get you hooked. In a recent Moonstone Monday post we are given the complete text of Win Eckert's contribution to The Green Hornet Chronicles which can be read here

Go and read it I'll wait. Back? Okay.

Like all stories in this anthology, Fang and Sting is set in the 1960s Green Hornet TV series (the one starring Van Williams and Bruce Lee) Eckert gives us an exciting tale that would have been a brilliant episode of that show. Not only that but Eckert manages to explain how and why Lenore Case was able to discover that Britt Reid and The Green Hornet are the same person. Win manages to include several other pieces of Hornet Trivia into his tale such as the fact that Mike Axford first appeared in the radio shows Warner Lester Manhunter and Dr Fang and making a reference to The Evil in Pemberley House.

The Green Hornet and Kato roll to investigate the reappearance of the Mysterious Dr Fang who terrorised Detroit in the 1930s. The diabolic Doctor Fang is killing local politicians and implicating The Green Hornet as an accomplice. The fact that Kato is Asian makes the connection quite plausible in some people's eyes. Once again we see The Green Hornet as the master strategist and Kato as his swift right hand.

Eckert is true to the characters as presented in the TV show and makes a exciting tale offering a connection between Dr Fang and another villian. Eckert has indicated that the next Green Hornet Anthology will have a direct sequel to this story.

If the rest of the stories in the anthology are half as good as this story then the anthology is well worth twice the price. I've ordered my copy and as soon as I get it from Pulp Fiction. I'll review it here.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Green Hornet (1939) Serial - starring Gordon Jones and Keye Luke

After watching the second serial, I found that the library had the first serial.

Overall, I liked The Green Hornet Strikes better.  Gordon Jones is okay in the role of Britt Reid and The Green Hornet but his voice as the Hornet is dubbed and the face mask doesn't cover his jaw line so it is obvious that he is just moving his jaw randomly reminding me of a talking animal like Lancelot Link.  I wonder if he wasn't the first choice because Hull fits the mask better in the second serial.

On the plus side Kato gets more to do and it is stated that Kato invented the gas gun, the Black Beauty as well as the secret garage and ways in and out of the garage. Compared to Bruce Lee, Keye Luke does very little but here he gets to karate chop a few people. 

 I didn't mention in the last review but I love the outfits that The Green Hornet and Kato wear in these serials,  they are effective disguises that are easy to take off which is used at least once in this serial to allow The Green Hornet to escape.

Each instalment is pretty much self contained as The Hornet tackles the rackets.  The head racketeer communicates through a speaker, during one of the meetings I jokingly referred to it as Charlie's Devils as it serves as a twisted precursor to Charlie's Angels.

After this I'll be hunting down more serials as I enjoyed  both these. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Green Hornet (2011) starring Seth Rogen, Jay Chou and Cameron Diaz

Originally posted Tuesday, January 25, 2011 1:06:32 PM

Recently I won free tickets to this new movie and off I went see it yesterday. If you were expecting another episode of the Bruce Lee TV series, expect to be disappointed. Having said that, there was a lot I did like and some I didn't.

Firstly, the movie was shown in 3D and really didn't need to be. The only part of the movie where I felt the 3D process added anything to the whole movie was the closing credits.

I really liked the idea that we get to see Britt Reid as wastrel playboy in the mode of Paris Hilton and we get some justification for that in the opening scene where young Britt is chastised by his father James Reid for fighting at school. Britt tries to explain that he was trying to stop some bullies but his father tells him that there is no point trying if he is only going to fail. (We can presume that Britt is fully aware of his family history hence his fascination with being a hero here and throughout the film as well a Lone Ranger image in Britt's room)

The elder Ried then takes Britt's superhero doll and breaks off the doll's head. For the next 20 years Britt doesn't bother trying. It is the death of Britt's father that causes Britt to start trying again.

The problem is that we don't see enough of the Britt as played by Rogen is essenitally an idiot and stays that way for almost all of the movie. This causes the bigget problem of the film - The Green Hornet is useless.

Kato invents all of the gadgets and cars that they use in fighting crime and does nearly all of the fighting.

Lenore Case is the mastermind of the operation, offering information and advice to the crime fighting duo unwittingly at first then with a purpose after discovering the identities of the The Green Hornet and Kato.

Britt is totally clueless - his one plan consists of Kato fighting the two henchmen and The Hornet kicking the leader in the balls.

In the earlier versions of the Hornet (Radio/Serial/TV) Britt Reid is the master strategist - at one point in the movie there is homage to one of the TV series episodes when The Green Hornet is shot in the shoulder and is unable to see a doctor as this would give away his identity. The solution is the same in both cases but in the TV series it's Britt who comes up with the plan, in the film it is Lenore Case who gives them the plan.

Another thing that I did like was that whilst both Britt and Kato try flirting with Lenore Case but she rebuffs both of them keeping both men on a professional level.

There is potential if there is a sequel for a really good Green Hornet movie.

I did also like the villian Chudnofsky, an old time crook who is constantly trying to remain relevant. His move from old School gangster to a more modern flashy crook to comstumed criminal Bloodnofsky which echoes the similar move from traditional gangster to the costumed supervillian as seen in the recent Batman films.

Overall I liked the film had they made Britt Reid a slightly more mature and intelligent character I would have like this far better

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Green Hornet Strikes Again (1940) Warren Hull, Keye Luke

I went to the library the other day and I see that they had a copy of the second  Green Hornet Serial.  I grabbed it and I watched my first serial. 

This was so good.  My previous exposure to The Green Hornet had come from the 1960's TV series starring Van Williams and Bruce Lee and the 2011 movie with Seth Rogan and Jay Chou.  In both versions, Kato was a very important part of the team, providing the fighting skills.  In this version, Kato does little more than drive the Black Beauty but there is the suggestion that he does invent many of the gadgets The Green Hornet uses.  So that was surprising, but I liked Keye Luke and I'd seen him before as Number 1 Son in some of the Charlie Chan movies I'd watched a few years back.  (Funnily enough I'd read that Bruce Lee had been involved in a series "Number 1 Son" as Lee Chan that never got made - so there's that connection as well)

Warren Hull makes a good Britt Reid/ Green Hornet.  According to IMDB he took over from Gordon Jones who played the role in the first serial.  Hull had also played Richard Wentworth/The Spider in two serials and Mandrake The Magician in a serial.  I'm curious why Jones didn't come back but Hull does fine in the roles.

Lenore Casey also has a smaller role than I expected.  There was a lot of fun banter between Michael Axford and Ed Lowery as rival reporters.  Axford in particular made me laugh several times with his exaggerations.  Lowery plays a trick on Axford knocking off his hat several times through the serial, that gets a nice payoff in the final chapter where Axford gets his revenge.

Axford is a reporter but he also serves as Britt's bodyguard and lives in Britt's apartment which causes several problems for The Green Hornet.

It was interesting to watch this as each chapter was mostly  a standalone story with the Hornet tackling a different racket from the syndicate each one bringing him closer to the mastermind.  In many ways I can see the influence on shows like Teen Wolf that has a season long arc (although the latter works in the opposite way teasing what comes in the next episode).

I loved this serial and was surprised to see that there were two episodes of the radio show on the second disk.  I'll be looking out for the first serial and the other serials that Warren Hull made.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Phantom 1996 starring Billy Zane, Kristy Swanson, Treat Williams & Catherine Zeta-Jones

There are certain movies that pulp fans will mention in any discussion as being underrated and should have done better, The Rocketeer, Sky Captain, John Carter, and The Phantom.
The 1996 movie was filmed in Thailand and in Australia (some of it was filmed in Brisbane City Hall) and there is a lot to like, the 1930s setting is pretty good, I really like the Phantom outfit that Billy Zane wore with what looked like tribal markings that looked like a skull on his chest.  Kristy Swanson makes a feisty Diana Palmer and Catherine Zeta-Jones is great as Sala, the leader of the Sky Pirates in her first movie role.  Treat Williams' Xander Drax is wonderfully over the top.
The action moves from the Bengalla jungle to New York to a rousing finale in The Devil's Triangle base of the Singh brotherhood. 
As a fan of the comics, I thought the supernatural aspects - Kit being visited by the ghost of his father and the three mystical powerful skulls - were a mistake.  Also there were some interesting story choices, during the New York section The Phantom discovers that the jade skull is in the New York Museum and has been there since Jimmy Wells 12th birthday, Jimmy looks about 30 so it's been there for at least 18 years.  The Phantom and Diana rush there and are met by Drax and his men who have decided to acquire the skull at the same time.  Drax therefore obviously knew that it was there and would have been smarter to acquire it quietly through the Museum board.
But aside from those things I love this movie, nearly everyone is perfectly cast Hero and Devil look incredible.   There is a scene where one of Drax's henchmen tells the Singh Brotherhood he has killed The Phantom, the response is laughter and  that everyone there had killed The Phantom.
Well worth watching.