Sunday, February 01, 2015

Outré Intro: The Green Hornet (1966 - 1967)

Another challenge for the Green Hornet, his aide Kato, and their rolling arsenal, the Black Beauty. On police records a wanted criminal, the Green Hornet is really Britt Reid, owner-publisher of The Daily Sentinel; his dual identity known only to his secretary, and to the district attorney. And now, to protect the rights and lives of decent citizens, rides the Green Hornet!

- William Dozier's opening narration to The Green Hornet (1966 - 1967)

In 1966, after Batman (1966 - 1968) took ABC-TV by storm, producer William B. Dozier created a second superhero TV series based on a comic-book character: The Green Hornet.  

But where Batman was a camp series, The Green Hornet played its universe straight, with real life gangster villains, and a much less outrageous sense of visualization (and production design too). 

Although the series was strongly-vetted, and featured a young Bruce Lee as Kato, The Green Hornet did not meet with the same widespread success as its predecessor had, and was canceled after one season.  

For fans of the series, this was heart-breaking, and there has never been an official DVD or blu-ray release of the series in its entirety. A 2011 movie version of the comic-book character starring Seth Rogan and Jay Chou did not meet with favor from fans, either.

The series' famous introductory montage is accompanied by the theme song from the hero's radio days: "Flight of the Bumblebee."  

In this case, the Rimsky-Korsakov piece was arranged by Billy May, the orchestra conducted by Lionel Newman, and Al Hirt played the jazz trumpet solo to remarkable effect.  This Green Hornet "theme" proved so popular and memorable that Quentin Tarantino resurrected it for a scene in in Kill Bill (Part I) (2002).

Every week on The Green Hornet, the introductory montage commences with Dozier's voice-over narration, wherein he introduces hero Britt Reid (Van Williams), the man who is publisher of the Daily Sentinel by day, and the hero, the Green Hornet by night.  

We also meet Kato (Lee), the Green Hornet's sidekick, Reid's secretary Lenore Case (Wende Wagner), and city D.A. Scanlon (Walter Brooke).

Most importantly to fans of the series, however, we see the Green Hornet's vehicle -- the Black Beauty -- emerge from its street-bound hiding place.  

This 1966 Black Chrysler Imperial is equipped with green head-lights, rocket launchers, retractable brooms (to sweep away evidence the car was ever there) and even gas guns. The Black Beauty could run in silent mode or self-destruct mode, and was constructed by Dean Jeffries.

In short, the pre-title narration portion of the montage introduces to the personalities and tools of the Green Hornet's world.

Next in the montage, we see a depiction of an actual green hornet (with flame red eyes) flying towards the camera, a strange, psychedelic background behind it.  

This hornet icon flips sides, and then nears, in close-up, as we get the title card for the series.

Next, we meet our cast members (and executive producer), as the hornet goes from left to right, and right to left, on the screen.

Below, you can watch the memorable montage in all its live-action splendor:

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