Subtract one star if you like your serials straight.
Scott MacGillivray | Massachusetts, USA | 12/21/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Based on an Edgar Wallace story, this 1940 serial was intended not just for kids but for a more adult audience. However, the film is about as sophisticated as a Three Stooges movie (with some of the same Columbia contract players!). Tongue-in-cheek direction (by James Horne, a comedy director) has heroes and villains alike indulging in over-the-top theatrics. The earnest Victor Jory is fine as the hero, and the refined James Craven is magnificent as the villain. Craven is the Wile E. Coyote of serial villains: he EXPECTS his henchmen to fail! Many of the thrill scenes are well staged (sample: Jory and friends are trapped on a high ledge as the building collapses beneath them). But the main thing about "The Green Archer" is the Dumb-with-a-capital-D comic touches (sample: the villains play tiddly-winks in their hideout!). If you can take your serials less than 100% seriously, you'll enjoy this fascinatingly bizarre 15-chapter cliffhanger. The source print is a fine 16mm print, and picture and sound quality are good."
Perhaps the best of the James Horne serials
George N. Fabian | Mountainside, USA | 01/21/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Watching this serial can almost give almost the same pleasure as watching a good Laurel and Hardy short. One of Horne's techniques was to use the villains as butts for some humorous jabs. James Craven (head villain) is a hoot as he rants and raves against his blundering underlings; when he isn't doing this he is correcting their English or juicily dreaming up some more deviltry. Sarcastic end of chapter narrations also add to the fun--"Is Bellamy giving his gang a pep talk?", etc. Hilarious last shot in chapter 15: Victor Jory while going upstairs suddenly clutches a shield and covers his derriere to protect himself against the arrows of a future green archer."
Not great, but quite a bit of fun
Neal C. Reynolds | Indianapolis, Indiana | 08/09/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is based on an Edgar Wallace novel...well, it sure isn't very true to the novel, but it's a light hearted look at the main concept with its share of thrills, hairbreadth escapes, mixed with some satirical humor, double takes, & so forth. James Craven who portraye Ivan Shark in CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT is the tongue-in-cheek villian here. You see, he's framed his brother and had the train taking the brother to jail derailed in order to finish him off, imprisoned his fiance in a secret room, uses some vicious dogs to guard her and the entire castle. He also has a gang of rather dim-witted crooks, one in particular. He's capitalizing on the green archer legend surrounding the castle by having a gang member dress up in the requisite outfit. Only trouble, a second green archer who obviously is out to foil the villian suddenly shows up. Victor Jory shows up as an insurance investigator (I think he was a reporter and not even the main hero in the novel), falls in love with the imprisoned girl's sister, and we take it from there for 12 chapters until we finally find out (surprise, surprise, as if any intelligent kindergartner couldn't figure it out) who the real green archer is.Good fun if you don't take your serials serially, I mean seriously."