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The Green Hornet (1940)

Approved | | Adventure, Crime, Drama | 9 January 1940 (USA)
A newspaper publisher and his Korean servant fight crime as vigilantes who pose as a notorious masked gangster and his aide.


Ford Beebe, Ray Taylor


George H. Plympton (screenplay) (as Geo. H. Plympton), Basil Dickey (screenplay) | 3 more credits »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gordon Jones ... Britt Reid / The Green Hornet
Wade Boteler ... Michael Axford
Keye Luke ... Kato
Anne Nagel ... Leonore Case
Phillip Trent ... Jasper Jenks
Cy Kendall ... Curtis Monroe
Stanley Andrews ... Police Commissioner [Chs. 1, 5, 8, 9, 13]
Selmer Jackson ... District Attorney [Chs. 4, 10]
Joseph Crehan ... Judge Stanton [Chs. 1, 9, 10, 13]
Walter McGrail ... Dean
Gene Rizzi ... Corey
John Kelly ... Pete Hawks
Eddie Dunn Eddie Dunn ... D.H. Sligby [Ch. 7]
Edward Earle ... Felix Grant [Ch. 1]
Ben Taggart ... Phil Bartlett [Chs. 3-4]


Faced with rising crime and increased racketeering activity, intrepid newspaper editor Britt Reid becomes the crime fighter the Green Hornet. Donning a disguise, the Hornet and his brilliant Korean inventor/sidekick Kato fight an infamous racket that's menacing their city. Written by Jeremy Lunt <durlinlunt@acadia.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Radio Drama More Vivid On Screen! (original poster)


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

9 January 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El avispón verde See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(13 episodes) | (movie)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


When the Black Beauty is moving on screen, the soundtrack contains the sound of a buzzing hornet. See more »


Chapter four: Bartlett, unconscious, wraps his arms around The Green Hornet's shoulders. See more »


Britt Reid: Yes, Kato. The Green Hornet rides tonight!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening Credits include ropes, daggers, automatic pistol, blackjacks and airplanes. See more »


Edited into Matinee Movie Serials: The Hornet Trapped (2019) See more »

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User Reviews

The Lone Ranger's great-nephew replaced Silver with a Black Beauty.
10 December 2005 | by horn-5See all my reviews

The character of The Green Hornet first appeared on WXYZ radio, Detroit, Michigan on January 31, 1936, and was created by station program manager/co-owner George W. Trendle (who also created The Lone Ranger) and, was like that station's Lone Ranger, primarily written by Fran Striker, at least in the early years of both programs. And Trendle's creation from the word go, but Striker was the one who came up with the gas gun and "Black Beauty."

Trendle created Britt Reid/The Green Hornet as the son of Dan Reid, the boy who called The Lone Ranger uncle. (Actually, Dan Reid was a Junior as his father was Dan Reid the first, a Texas Ranger Captain who was killed in the ambush at Bryant's Gap, by the Butch Cavendish gang, along with the rest of his Texas Ranger troop, with the sole exception of his younger brother John Reid, who became The Lone Ranger. Dang right, The Lone Ranger had a name.)

The Green Hornet, like his predecessor kinsman, fought crime wearing a mask; he carried a gas gun while Uncle Lone had a six-shooter and silver bullets; he drove the fastest car on radio, "Black Beauty", while his great-uncle rode Silver, the fastest (and whitest) horse on radio. The latter had Tonto, a native-American (and Indian on the radio) who had saved his life when his band of Texas Rangers were ambushed...while the Hornet's sidekick was Kato, a Filipino who doubled as his valet, and was a college graduate who knew all the secrets of Oriental in-fighting, a master chemist and he could drive "Black Beauty" anywhere, anytime at any speed. (One of the great non-true urban myths has it that Kato was introduced on the program as being Japanese, and had to change his country-of-origin in 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Not so. Kato was Filipino from day one in 1936 on the radio program. But it has been told so much---it started as an WWII joke with comedians---that only those who were there in 1936 or take the time to research the radio program and its scripts know it isn't true. Surprised somebody hasn't posted that myth on the IMDb site, somewhere.)

And, while The Lone Ranger had the "William Tell Overture" as the opening-and-closing theme music, the Green Hornet opened (and roared through his crime-fighting duties)with "Flight of the Bumble Bee" as the main piece of music. And over the Lone Ranger theme music, a voice intoned: "A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty Hi-Yo Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again!" And over "The Flight of the Bumble Bee" a voice said: "With his faithful valet Kato, Britt Reid, daring young publisher, matches wits with the underworld, risking his life that criminals and racketeers within the law may feel its weight by the sting of The Green Hornet." Granted, a bit wordy but it served the purpose. And, the follow-up intro to The Lone Ranger was more than a bit wordy as Fred Foy would add: "With his faithful Indian companion Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains.......37 more words....followed by.. From out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again.!

For their 1940-41 serial schedule, Universal Pictures Corporation announced to their exhibitors that their four serials would include..."The Lone Ranger -The greatest serial property in show business history!" (They sure did---in trade ads and on the inside front cover of the press book of "The Phantom Creeps" You can look it up. We don't have to...it's on our desk) Well, the description blurb was true---Republic had already cleaned up on The Lone Ranger in 1938 and 1939---but WXYZ, Trendle and Universal couldn't agree on the terms. meaning Trendle wanted more money than Universal wanted to pay. Pity. A Universal Lone Ranger serial would have made an interesting companion to Republic's two offerings. And don't knock Universal for promising something they couldn't deliver; in the same 1940-41 schedule Republic announced a Superman serial. That fell through, also, but Republic made up for that, in spades, with "The Adventures of Captain Marvel" in 1941. (Republic used the intended Superman script, anyway...as "The Mysterious Dr. Satan" with "The Copperhead" character filling in for old Supe.)

But Universal did acquire the rights to make two serials based on Trendle's "Green Hornet" character and, relative to serials---which should only be judged by other serials and not every genre and budget that comes down the pike---both are easily in our top-third.

This one was Universal's 45th sound-era serial and they slipped it in between "The Phantom Creeps" and "Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe."

Edit: Despite what the cowardly "reviewer", who will not respond to e-mails, says in his snarly, mad-dog attack review, in which he put my name in the subject line I stand by every comment I made. But his attack is typical of the snit-fits he tosses out on the Contributor's Help Board. Edit: It appears the attacker has just corrected his incorrect assertion, with a slithering and cheap "for what it's worth" squirm. Now, take my name out of your slanderous subject line.

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