Flash Gordon (serial)

Flash Gordon is a 1936 science fiction film serial. Shown in 13 chapters, it was the first screen adventure for the comic-strip character Flash Gordon that was invented by Alex Raymond only two years earlier in 1934. It tells the story of Flash Gordon's first visit to the planet Mongo and his encounter with the evil Emperor Ming the Merciless. Buster Crabbe, Jean Rogers, Charles Middleton, Priscilla Lawson and Frank Shannon played the central roles. In 1996, Flash Gordon was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Flash Gordon
Flash Gordon (serial)
Rare poster for 1936 feature version of the serial (note tagline), reissued as "Rocketship" in 1949.
Directed byFrederick Stephani
Produced byHenry MacRae
Screenplay byFrederick Stephani
Ella O'Neill
George H. Plympton
(as George Plympton)
Basil Dickey
Based onFlash Gordon
by Alex Raymond
StarringBuster Crabbe
Jean Rogers
Charles B. Middleton
Priscilla Lawson
Frank Shannon
CinematographyJerome Ash
Richard Fryer
Edited bySaul A. Goodkind
Louis Sackin
Alvin Todd
Edward Todd
Production
company
Universal Pictures
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • April 6, 1936
Running time
245 minutes
(13 episodes)
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$350,000[1]

Synopsis

  1. The Planet of Peril
    The planet Mongo is on a collision course with Earth. Dr. Alexis Zarkov takes off in a rocket ship to Mongo, with Flash Gordon and Dale Arden as his assistants. They find that the planet is ruled by the cruel Emperor Ming, who lusts after Dale and sends Flash to fight in the arena. Ming's daughter, Princess Aura, tries to spare Flash's life.
  2. The Tunnel of Terror
    Aura helps Flash to escape as Zarkov is put to work in Ming's laboratory and Dale is prepared for her wedding to Ming. Flash meets Prince Thun, leader of the Lion Men, and the pair return to the palace to rescue Dale.
  3. Captured by Shark Men
    Flash stops the wedding ceremony, but he and Dale are captured by King Kala, ruler of the Shark Men and a loyal follower of Ming. At Ming's order, Kala forces Flash to fight with a giant octosak in a chamber filling with water.
  4. Battling the Sea Beast
    Aura and Thun rescue Flash from the octosak. Trying to keep Flash away from Dale, Aura destroys the mechanisms that regulate the underwater city.
  5. The Destroying Ray
    Flash, Dale, Aura and Thun escape from the underwater city, but are captured by King Vultan and the Hawkmen. Dr. Zarkov befriends Prince Barin, and they race to the rescue.
  6. Flaming Torture
    Dale pretends to fall in love with King Vultan in order to save Flash, Barin and Thun, who are put to work in the Hawkmen's Atom Furnaces.
  7. Shattering Doom
    Flash, Barin, Thun and Zarkov create an explosion in the atomic furnaces.
  8. Tournament of Death
    Dr. Zarkov saves the Hawkmen's city from falling, earning Flash and his friends King Vultan's gratitude. Ming insists that Flash fight a Tournament of Death against a masked opponent, revealed to be Barin, and then a vicious orangopoid.
  9. Fighting the Fire Dragon
    Flash survives the tournament with Aura's help, after she discovers the weak point of the orangopoid. Still determined to win Flash, Aura has him drugged to make him lose his memory.
  10. The Unseen Peril
    Flash recovers his memory. Ming is determined to have Flash executed.
  11. In the Claws of the Tigron
    Zarkov invents a machine that makes Flash invisible. Flash torments Ming and his guards. Barin hides Dale in the catacombs, but Aura has her tracked by a tigron.
  12. Trapped in the Turret
    Aura realizes the error of her ways, and falls in love with Barin. She tries to help Flash and his friends to return to Earth — but Ming plots to kill them.
  13. Rocketing to Earth
    Ming orders that the Earth people be caught and killed, but Flash and his friends escape from the Emperor's clutches, and Ming is apparently killed in the flames of the "sacred temple of the Great God Tao". Flash, Dale and Zarkov make a triumphant return to Earth.[2]

Cast

Errata

Early film fan historians have claimed that actor Lon Poff, playing the first of Ming's two high priests, died shortly after production began and so was replaced by Theodore Lorch. In fact, however, only Poff's character died, or rather was killed off by Ming in an act of fury and replaced by Lorch's High Priest; but the scene was cut from the final print. Poff did not die until 1952.

Production

According to Harmon and Glut, Flash Gordon had a budget of over a million dollars.[3] Stedman, however, writes that it was "reportedly" $350,000.[5]

A lot of props and other elements were recycled from earlier Universal productions. The watchtower sets from Frankenstein (1931) appeared as several interiors within Ming's palace. The Egyptian statue from The Mummy (1932) became the idol of the Great God Tao. The laboratory set and a shot of the Moon rushing past Zarkov's returning rocket ship from space came from The Invisible Ray (1936). Zarkov's rocket ship and scenes of dancers swarming over a gigantic idol were reused from Just Imagine (1930). Ming's attack on Earth used footage from old silent newsreels. An entire dance segment from The Midnight Sun (1927) was used.[3] and much laboratory equipment came from Bride of Frankenstein (1935). The music was recycled from several other films, notably Bride of Frankenstein,[5] Bombay Mail, The Black Cat (both 1934), and The Invisible Man (1933).

Exterior shots, such as the Earth crew's first steps on Mongo, were filmed at Bronson Canyon.[3]

Crash Corrigan, who would later be the lead in other serials, wore a modified gorilla suit as the "Orangapoid".[3]

Flash Gordon was intended to regain an adult audience for serials.[5] It was shown in 'A' Theaters in large cities across the United States. Many newspapers, including some not carrying the Flash Gordon comic strip, contained half and three-quarter page feature stories in their entertainment pages with Alex Raymond drawings and stills from the serial.[6]

Flash Gordon was the first outright science fiction serial, although earlier serials had contained science fiction elements such as gadgets. Six of the fourteen serials released within five years of Flash Gordon were science fiction.[7]

The serial film was subsequently released in a 72-minute feature version in 1936, which was reissued in 1949 as Rocket Ship. A different feature version of the serial, at 90 minutes, was sold directly to television in 1966 under the title Spaceship to the Unknown. For syndication to TV in the 1950s, the serial was renamed Space Soldiers.[8] so as not to be confused with the newly-made, also syndicated TV series, Flash Gordon.

Stunts

Reception

Flash Gordon was Universal's second-highest-grossing film of the year, after Three Smart Girls, a musical starring Deanna Durbin.[9] However, the Hays Office objected to the revealing costumes worn by Dale, Aura and the other female characters.[10] In the two sequels, most of the female characters were thus dressed more modestly.

Reviewing the film for the Radio Times Guide to Films, Alan Jones described Flash Gordon as "non-stop thrill-a-minute stuff as Flash battles one adversary after another" and stated that it was "the best of the Crabbe trilogy of Flash Gordon films".[11]

See also

References

  1. ^ Tracey, Grant. "Images Journal Flash Gordon article". ImagesJournal.com. Images Journal (4). Retrieved 2010-08-02.
  2. ^ Copied from Wikia – Flash Gordon, 17th July 2007
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Harmon, Jim; Donald F. Glut (1973). "2. "We Come from 'Earth', Don't You Understand?"". The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. Routledge. pp. 29–35, 38. ISBN 978-0-7130-0097-9.
  4. ^ Essoe, Gabe (1972). Tarzan of the Movies. Citadel Press. pp. 56–7, 77. ISBN 978-0-8065-0295-3.
  5. ^ a b c Stedman, Raymond William (1971). "4. Perilous Saturdays". Serials: Suspense and Drama By Installment. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 97–100, 102. ISBN 978-0-8061-0927-5.
  6. ^ Cline, William C. (1984). "2. In Search of Ammunition". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 17. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
  7. ^ Cline, William C. (1984). "3. The Six Faces of Adventure". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 32. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
  8. ^ Reid, John Howard (2007). Science-fiction & Fantasy Cinema: Classic Films of Horror, Sci-fi & the Supernatural. Lulu.com. pp. 71–72. ISBN 1-4303-0113-9.
  9. ^ Daniel Eagan,America's film legacy : the authoritative guide to the landmark movies in the National Film Registry. New York : Continuum, 2010 (p. 242). ISBN 9781441116475
  10. ^ Al Williamson and Peter Poplaski, "Introduction" to Alex Raymond, Flash Gordon: Mongo, the Planet of Doom. Princeton, Wis. : Kitchen Sink Press. 1990. ISBN 0878161147 (p. 5).
  11. ^ Radio Times Guide to Films 2015. London, BBC Worldwide, 2014. ISBN 9780992936402 (p.442)

External links

Bronson Canyon

Bronson Canyon, or Bronson Caves, is a section of Griffith Park in Los Angeles that has become known as a filming location for many movies and TV shows, especially westerns and science fiction, from the early days of motion pictures to the present. Its craggy and remote-looking setting, but easily accessible location, has made it a prime choice for filmmakers, particularly of low-budget films, who want to place scenes in a lonely wilderness.

Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars

Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars is a 1938 Universal Pictures 15–chapter movie serial, based on the syndicated newspaper comic strip Flash Gordon. It is the second of the three Flash Gordon serials made by Universal between 1936 and 1940. The main cast from the first serial reprise their roles: Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon, Jean Rogers as Dale Arden, Frank Shannon as Dr. Alexis Zarkov, Charles B. Middleton as Ming the Merciless, and Richard Alexander as Prince Barin. Also in the principal cast are Beatrice Roberts as Queen Azura, Donald Kerr as Happy Hapgood, Montague Shaw as the Clay King, and Wheeler Oakman as Ming's chief henchman.

The serial was followed by Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940).

Flash Gordon (disambiguation)

Flash Gordon is a science fiction hero.

Flash Gordon may also refer to:

Flash Gordon (serial), a 1936 serial film

Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of All, a 1982 animated television film

Flash Gordon (film), a 1980 science fiction film

Flash Gordon (soundtrack), an album by Queen, the soundtrack album of the 1980 film

Flash Gordon (1954 TV series), a science fiction television series based on the characters of the Alex Raymond-created comic strip of the same name

Flash Gordon (1996 TV series), a 1996 animated television series

Flash Gordon (2007 TV series), a 2007 live action television series from the Sci Fi Channel

Flash Gordon (video game), a 1986 computer game

Flash Gordon (pinball), a pinball machine produced by Bally

Flash Gordon Classic

Flash Gordon Classic is a 2015 animated fan film made by Robb Pratt. It is a remake of "The Tunnel of Terror", the second episode of the 1936 Flash Gordon serial.

Franz Waxman

Franz Waxman (né Wachsmann; 24 December 1906 – 24 February 1967) was a German and American composer of Jewish descent, known primarily for his work in the film music genre. His film scores include Bride of Frankenstein, Rebecca, Sunset Boulevard, A Place in the Sun, Stalag 17, Rear Window, Peyton Place, The Nun's Story, and Taras Bulba. He received twelve Academy Award nominations, and won two Oscars in consecutive years (for Sunset Boulevard and A Place in the Sun). He also received a Golden Globe Award for the former film. Bernard Herrmann said that the score for Taras Bulba was "the score of a lifetime."

He also composed concert works, including the oratorio Joshua (1959), and The Song of Terezin (1965), a work for orchestra, chorus, and children's chorus based upon poetry written by children in the Theresienstadt concentration camp during World War II. Waxman also founded the Los Angeles Music Festival in 1947 with which he conducted a number of West Coast premieres by fellow film composers, and concert composers alike.

Heinz Roemheld

Heinz Roemheld (May 1, 1901 – February 11, 1985) was an American composer.

Jean Rogers

Jean Rogers (born Eleanor Dorothy Lovegren, March 25, 1916 – February 24, 1991) was an American actress who starred in serial films in the 1930s and low–budget feature films in the 1940s as a leading lady. She is best remembered for playing Dale Arden in the science fiction serials Flash Gordon (1936) and Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938).

Just Imagine

Just Imagine is a 1930 American pre-Code science fiction musical-comedy film, directed by David Butler. The film is known for its art direction and special effects in its portrayal of New York City in an imagined 1980. Just Imagine stars El Brendel, Maureen O'Sullivan, John Garrick and Marjorie White. The "man from 1930" was played by El Brendel, an ethnic vaudeville comedian of a forgotten type: the Swedish immigrant.

The film starts with a preamble showing life in 1880, where the people believed themselves the "last word in speed". It switches to 1930, with the streets crowded with automobiles and lined with electric lights and telephone wires. It then switches to 1980, where the tenement houses have morphed into 250-story buildings, connected by suspension bridges and multi-lane elevated roads.

Miniature effect

A miniature effect is a special effect created for motion pictures and television programs using scale models. Scale models are often combined with high speed photography or matte shots to make gravitational and other effects appear convincing to the viewer. The use of miniatures has largely been superseded by computer-generated imagery in the contemporary cinema.

Where a miniature appears in the foreground of a shot, this is often very close to the camera lens — for example when matte painted backgrounds are used. Since the exposure is set to the object being filmed so the actors appear well lit, the miniature must be over-lit in order to balance the exposure and eliminate any depth of field differences that would otherwise be visible. This foreground miniature usage is referred to as forced perspective. Another form of miniature effect uses stop motion animation.

Use of scale models in the creation of visual effects by the entertainment industry dates back to the earliest days of cinema. Models and miniatures are copies of people, animals, buildings, settings and objects. Miniatures or models are used to represent things that do not really exist, or that are too expensive or difficult to film in reality, such as explosions, floods or fires.

Monster

A monster is often a hideously grotesque animal or human, or a hybrid of both, whose appearance frightens and whose powers of destruction threaten the human world's social or moral order.

Animal monsters are outside the moral order, but sometimes have their origin in some human violation of the moral law (e.g. in the Greek myth, Minos does not sacrifice the white bull Poseidon sent him to the god, so as punishment Poseidon makes Minos' wife, Pasiphaë, fall in love with the bull, and she copulates with the beast, and gives birth to the man with a bull's head, the Minotaur). Human monsters are those who by birth were never fully human (Medusa and her sisters) or who through some supernatural or unnatural act lost their humanity (werewolves, Frankenstein's monster), and so who can no longer, or who never could, follow the moral law of human society.

Monsters pre-date written history, and the academic study of the particular cultural notions expressed in a society's ideas of monsters is known as monstrophy.Monsters have appeared in literature and in feature-length films. Well-known monsters in fiction include Count Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, werewolves, mummies, and zombies.

National Film Registry

The National Film Registry (NFR) is the United States National Film Preservation Board's (NFPB) selection of films deserving of preservation. The NFPB, established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, was reauthorized by acts of Congress in 1992, 1996, 2005, and again in October 2008. The NFPB's mission, to which the NFR contributes, is to ensure the survival, conservation, and increased public availability of America's film heritage. The 1996 law also created the non-profit National Film Preservation Foundation which, although affiliated with the NFPB, raises money from the private sector.

Princess Aura

Princess Aura is a fictional character in the Flash Gordon comic strips and serials.

Priscilla Lawson

Priscilla Lawson (March 8, 1914 – August 27, 1958), born Priscilla Shortridge, was an American actress best known for her role as Princess Aura in the original Flash Gordon serial (1936).

Ralph McQuarrie

Ralph Angus McQuarrie (June 13, 1929 – March 3, 2012) was an American conceptual designer and illustrator. His career included work on the original Star Wars trilogy, the original Battlestar Galactica television series, the film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and the film Cocoon, for which he won an Academy Award.

Ray "Crash" Corrigan

Ray "Crash" Corrigan (February 14, 1902 – August 10, 1976), born Raymond Benard (or Raymond Benitz, according to some sources), was an American actor most famous for appearing in many B-Western films (among these the Three Mesquiteers and Range Busters film series). He also was a stuntman and frequently acted as silver screen gorillas using his own gorilla costumes.

In 1937, Corrigan purchased land in the Santa Susana Mountains foothills in Simi Valley and developed it into a movie ranch called "Corriganville". The movie ranch was used for location filming in film serials, feature films, and television shows, as well as for the performance of live western shows for tourists. Bob Hope later bought the ranch in 1966 and renamed it "Hopetown". It is now a Regional Park and nature preserve.

Rocketship (disambiguation)

Rocketship, Rocket Ship, or Rocket ship may refer to:

A space vehicle

Rocket Ship, the original title of a 1936 feature film derived from the Flash Gordon serial

Landing Craft Tank (Rocket), military ships armed with rockets

Missile cruiser, military ships armed with missiles

Space Dandy

Space Dandy, stylized as Space☆Dandy (Japanese: スペース☆ダンディ, Hepburn: Supēsu Dandi), is a 2014 Japanese comic science fiction anime television series produced by Bones. The series follows the misadventures of Dandy, an alien hunter who is "a dandy guy in space", in search for undiscovered and rare aliens with his robot assistant QT and his feline-like friend named Meow.The anime has been licensed by Funimation in North America, Madman Entertainment in Australia and by Anime Limited in the United Kingdom. The series premiered in the United States before Japan on January 4, 2014 at 11:30 pm on Adult Swim's Toonami block. The series began airing in Japan on Tokyo MX at 11:00 pm on January 5, 2014, followed by TV Osaka, TV Aichi, BS Fuji and AT-X. The series is simulcasted in South East Asia at the same time as Japan on Animax Asia. The series has also been broadcast in Australia on SBS 2 since 3 October 2015.

A manga adaptation ran in Square Enix's Young Gangan magazine from December 20, 2013 to October 3, 2014. The manga is licensed in English by Yen Press. The 13 episodes of the first season aired from January to March 2014, and the second season (also with 13 episodes) premiered on July 5, 2014.

Star Wars Trilogy

The Star Wars Trilogy, often colloquially referred to as the original trilogy or the classic trilogy, is the first set of three films produced in the Star Wars franchise, an American space opera created by George Lucas. It was produced by Lucasfilm Ltd. and distributed by 20th Century Fox, and consisted of the original Star Wars film (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983).

The original trilogy would be followed by a prequel trilogy between 1999 and 2005, and a sequel trilogy between 2015 and 2019. Collectively, they have been referred to as the "Skywalker saga" to distinguish them from spin-off films set within the same universe.

The Son of Monte Cristo

The Son of Monte Cristo is a 1940 American black-and-white swashbuckling adventure film from United Artists, produced by Edward Small, directed by Rowland V. Lee, that stars Louis Hayward, Joan Bennett, and George Sanders. The Small production uses the same sets and many of the same cast and production crew as his previous year's production of The Man in the Iron Mask.The film takes the same name as the unofficial sequel to The Count of Monte Cristo, namely The Son of Monte Cristo, written by Jules Lermina in 1881.

Using elements from several romantic swashbucklers of the time such as The Prisoner of Zenda and The Mark of Zorro the production also mirrors the situation of Continental Europe in 1939–1940.

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