Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Green Hornet: Cliffhanger Serials

The title role in the first Green Hornet serial, released in 1940, went to a guy named Gordon Jones. Jones had appeared in about 30 films in the previous nine years of his career, but this was probably his biggest break. Unfortunately, it wasn't much of a career changer. He was replaced in the second serial, and went on to small roles in various films and TV episodes for the next 23 years. His main recurring film role was as Splinters McGonagle in a half dozen Roy Rogers flicks, and he later had guest shots on Maverick, Wyatt Earp, the Rifleman and most other westerns (and non-western dramas) of the day.

More interesting was the casting of Keye Luke as Kato. Luke had already appeared as Charlie Chan's No. 1 son in several films with Warner Oland, and later filled the same role with Sidney Toler. In 1972 he provided the voice of Charlie himself for an animated TV series, and began a recurring role as Master Po in TV's Kung Fu.

For The Green Hornet Strikes Again, made later that same year, the lead went to Warren Hull, who had appeared in previous serials as The Spider and Mandrake the Magician. He later made one more Spider serial and appeared in a handful of other films and series, but these heroic leads would appear to be the high point of his career.

Wade Boteler, who played Mike Axford in both films, is unknown today, but enjoyed a long career, appearing in over 400 films.


Deka Black said...

This thing about cliffhanger serials... In a way returned with the last season of Torchwood. It was only six episodes, telling a single story titled "Children of the Earth". Very succesful.

And the next season will do the same, but will be 10 episodes and filmed inthe USA.

Charles Gramlich said...

His mask is interesting. Reminds me of the ads for SIlence of the lambs, with the 'moth' covering the girl's mouth. I think even the original book cover was like that. Wonder if there's any connection.

David Cranmer said...

That was a lot of fun, Evan. Very cool seeing Keye Luke long before Master Po.

Evan Lewis said...

I saw "Children of the Earth" as a complete movie on DVD. Didn't know it had been a serial.

Hadn't noticed that Lambs connection, but you're right!

I can't watch Key Luke at this age without expecting Charlie Chan to appear.

Randy Johnson said...

I have the first on VHS, but never seen the second. Been contemplating getting both on DVD. This might push me into it.

Evan Lewis said...

I know I have the first serial on VHS, and I'm sure I've seen it, but can't remember a dang thing about it.