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Flash Gordon
Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers

USA 1936
produced by
Henry MacRae for Universal
directed by Frederick Stephani
starring Buster Crabbe (= Larry Crabbe), Jean Rogers, Charles Middleton, Priscilla Lawson, Frank Shannon, Richard Alexander, Jack 'Tiny' Lipson, Theodore Lorch, Richard Tucker, George Cleveland, James Pierce, Duke York, Muriel Goodspeed, Earl Askam, John Bagni, Carroll Borland, Lynton Brent, Don Brodie, Lance Chandler, William Desmond, Al Ferguson, Fred Scott, Glenn Strange, Fred Kohler jr, and as an ape-beast Ray Corrigan (= Ray 'Crash' Corrigan)
screenplay by Ella O'Neill, George H. Plympton, Basil Dickey, Frederick Stephani, based on the comic strip by Alex Raymond, created by Alex Raymond, published by King Features

serial
Flash Gordon, Flash Gordon (Buster Crabbe)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Earth is on the brink of destruction as the planet Mongo rapidly approaches it, threatening to crash it any day now - and nobody seems to know wht to do except professor Zarkoff (Frank Shannon), who wants to fly to Mongo in a rocjketship of his own design - but the science community has deemed Zarkoff crazy ...

As it happens, all-American hero Flash Gordon (Buster Crabbe) and all-American sweetheart Dale Arden (Jean Rogers) exit a crashing plane by parachute and come down right next to Zarkoff's rocketship ... and in the couple, Zarkoff finds his ideal travelling partners to Mongo, so before long he takes them with him on his trip to the planet.

On Mongo, Zarkoff, Flash and Dale are welcomed by evil emperor Ming the Merciless (Charles Middleton), who takes them prisoner and almost immediately makes Zarkoff his head-scientist and Dale his bride-to-be. Only for Flash he has no real use, so he throws him into the arena in hopes of having him killed by one of his subhumans ... but Ming's daughter Princess Aura (Priscilla Lawson) interferes and saves Flash's life (and will do so repeatedly during the serial). But Aura is not to be trusted since she wants Flash for herself and will do anything to get Dale out of the way ... without any success though.

Soon, Flash and his friends can escape Ming's palace, first to the underwater city of the Sharkmen, then the floating city of the Hawkmen, where they find allies in Prince Thun (James Pierce) of the Lionmen, Prince Vultan of the Hawkmen (Jack 'Tiny' Lipson), and Prince Barin (Richard Alexander), the rightful ruler of Mongo who is deeply in love with Princess Aura. But their adventures also have our heroes fight Ming's minions, dragons and an Orangopoid (Crash Corrigan), before their trail sends them back to Ming's palace.

There,  Aura makes one final attempt to win over Flash with a drug that induces amnesia, but Zarkoff can counteract the drug and give Flash invisibility instead, and soon enough Flash and company storn Ming's throne room and take him hostage - but Ming wasn't unprepared and soon our friends' cause seems a lost one ... when Prince Thun and his Lionmen attack the palace and end Ming's evil rule for good, with Ming escaping into the Sacred Palace of the Great God Tao "from where there is no return" - Ming did however return for two sequels.

The very end shows Flash, Dale and Zarkoff returning to earth with a timebomb placed in their rocket ship by the evil high priest (Theodore Lorch) ... but they happen to toss it out just before it goes off ...

 

Flash Gordon is one of the two serials that would determine what science fiction would look like at least the next one to two decades - the other serial was the earlier, lesser known and maybe even more influential Phantom Empire -, and is beautiful evidence for what an overboarding imagination can do even with a limited bdget (despite the fact that the serial cost thrice as much as Universal's usual serials it was still cheap). It offers a beautiful mix of wild sci-fi-ideas and hands-on adventure, some for its time quite nice and effective special effects, and a great mix of sets, props and costumes from many different eras (thanks to Universal's vast stock of used sets, props and costumes), where it would be no contradiction to fight with futuristic rayguns and old-fashioned swords side by side and several characters dress like soldiers from ancient Rome. It offers weird rocketships (which circle around endlessly before they land), dinosaurs (actually dressed up lizards), fire-breathing dragons, an orangopoid (Crash Corrigan in an apesuit with a horn), and loads and loads of action.

Quite simply put, one of the best serials ever.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD