Number Eighteen

– Britt Reid, 1936-2011 R.I.P. –

Greetings from the Heretic Ranch!  I am the Cowboy Heretic and I will be your docent as we trek through the corridors of mirth and mayhem, the objective and the subjective, the profound and the pointless.

This cowboy always finds it sad when a person of eminence and great character passes away.  Such is the case with the recent death of Britt Reid, age 75.  Perhaps you recognize the name, for Mr. Reid was also known by some to possess an alter ego, that of The Green Hornet.  While Reid was a well-respected newspaper publisher and dashing man-about-town, The Green Hornet was a misunderstood soul, one viewed by the uninformed as a villain and master criminal.  In fact, The Hornet and his loyal aide Kato chose willingly to masquerade as malefactors in order to fight crime, not commit it.  But now, Britt Reid is dead.  The Green Hornet is dead.

Seth Rogen murdered The Green Hornet.

Though The Green Hornet first appeared in the 1930s as a radio serial, the character is best remembered (and beloved) from the short-lived television series broadcast in the late 1960s.  The TV series was produced by the group that gave life to the über-campy Batman show during the same era.  Considering the source of its genome and the prevalence of other exceedingly silly shows during the time (think The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Gilligan’s Island), The Green Hornet was presented as a more or less straight ahead action-adventure show and was, on the whole, surprisingly free of much of the silliness that well could have colored the effort.  The actor cast in the dual role of Britt Reid/The Green Hornet was Van Williams.  His portrayal of both characters was understated and he physically looked the part.  But there could have been no Green Hornet without Kato.  Kato was played by none other than the (arguably) greatest martial arts master of all time, Bruce Lee.  Both character and actor served to support the lead character specifically and the show in general.  But then, this obituary is not for Kato, it’s for Britt Reid.

Seth Rogen murdered The Green Hornet.

The trailer for the recently released feature film The Green Hornet debuted on iTunes in July of 2010.  Watching it for the first time I found myself feeling . . . ambivalence.  What I saw excited me, but I also found myself concerned by much of what I saw.  Seth Rogen and Jay Chou, the actors cast as Reid and Kato respectively, were no Van Williams and Bruce Lee.  I found myself thinking back to the 1980s when I first heard that actor Michael Keaton had been hired to play Bruce Wayne in the first of the big-budget Batman films.  At the time I felt that, based on Mr. Keaton’s previous comedic roles, this was bad casting for what would likely be an equally bad movie.  As it turned out, I was wrong on both counts.  That being the case, I decided to give Mr. Rogen and crew the benefit of the doubt and pass judgment after watching the entire film.

(Note to self: don’t be so quick to doubt your intuition that something may well suck.)

Seth Rogen murdered The Green Hornet.

Why am I so liberal in my assertion that Mr. Rogen is a murderer?  The blood on his hands is twofold in origin.  First is the fact that, for some reason, Rogen (with his longtime associate Evan Goldberg) was given the responsibility of writing the script for this travesty.  Rather than taking the opportunity to make an engaging update, these two cobbled together what might as well be a 119 minute tutorial in how to vandalize a durable (if not classic) piece of television Americana.  Secondly, Mr. Rogen in his role as the lead actor takes the Britt Reid of old and turns him into something, save for the green mask and fedora, almost unrecognizable.  Rogen effortlessly transforms the previously refined Britt Reid into a boorish, arrogant, cowardly, lecherous, self-serving, bullying, egomaniacal asshole.  I found myself sitting there expecting, even hoping, for the character to experience some sort of awakening that might lead to redemption by the time the final credits rolled, a hope that was never to be realized.  *Sigh*  When the most endearing character in the film turns out to be the Green Hornet’s car (the totally badass Black Beauty- cool in the TV series AND cool in the movie), you know things have gone horribly, horribly wrong.

The only positive thing I have to say about the feature film is that it is esthetically nice to look at.  There was some interesting camera work and the fight scenes featuring Kato, though not of Bruce Lee quality, were nicely choreographed and executed and featured some tasty digital effects.  The film is being exhibited in traditional 2-D as well as 3-D formats, but the 3-D seems to have been little more than a jumping-on-the-Avatar-bandwagon and even then as only an afterthought.  The lone noteworthy 3-D effect in the entire movie is a pair of flying beer bottle caps.  What a waste.

Lest this necrology appear to be just the pining for days gone by of a man in his middle age relying on the faulty memories of his long-ago childhood, I had the opportunity to watch most of the Green Hornet marathon that was broadcast on the Syfy Network a few days before the wide-release of the film.  The Britt Reid of old, the REAL Green Hornet, truly was COOL.

Dear Goddess, please save us from the inevitable Green Hornet II.

Seth Rogen murdered The Green Hornet.  May The Hornet rest in peace.

Billy Flying Red Horse

Published in: on February 6, 2011 at 1:51 am  Leave a Comment  

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