REVIEW: FLASH GORDON: CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE

CAST
Buster Crabbe (Buck Rogers 1939)
Carol Hughes (The Golden Arrow)
Charles Middleton (Dick Tracy Returns)
Frank Shannon (Batman 1943)
Shirley Deane (Kill Me Tomorrow)
John Hamilton (Adventures of Superman)
  A deadly plague is ravaging the Earth, known as the Purple Death because of the spot left on victims’ foreheads. Ming the Merciless is suspected to be behind the plague and it is discovered that his spaceships have been dropping “Death Dust” in the Earth’s atmosphere. Flash Gordon, along with Dr. Alexis Zarkov and Dale Arden, is sent to the planet Mongo to find a possible cure for the plague. They eventually find an antidote, called polarite in the Kingdom of Frigia. Flash and Zarkov distribute the antidote the same way the original Death Dust was spread. Ming sends an army of robot bombs after the three and he succeeds in capturing Zarkov for a short time before Flash frees him.
The trio continue to battle Ming and his allies. Ming’s Captain Torch is the “head villain” of this serial. He is in charge of stopping the Earthlings.
Before Flash and his team leaves, they kill Ming by locking him in a tower and crashing a rocket ship loaded with Solarite into it. Prince Barin takes his rightful place as ruler of Mongo. Ming’s last words are “I am the universe!”. Zarkov announces that Flash Gordon has conquered the universe
Buster Crabbe was made to play the heroic Flash Gordon and Charles Middleton is the perfect Ming. However, it is the action sequences that carry this film. The special effects for this time period are also pretty good, even for the 1940’s. The only flaw I find with this, though, is that Jean Rogers is not playing Dale or that Richard Alexander is not playing Barin. The two actors that replace them are okay, but the originals defined the roles.

 

 

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REVIEW: FLASH GORDON’S TRIP TO MARS

CAST
Buster Crabbe (Buck Rogers 1939)
Jean Rogers (Brigham Young)
Charles Middleton (Dick Tracy Returns)
Priscilla Lawson (The Girl of the Golden West)
Frank Shannon (Batman 1943)
Beatrice Roberts (Pioneers of the West)
When a mysterious beam of light starts disrupting and destroying the Earth’s atmosphere, Flash Gordon (Larry “Buster” Crabbe), Dr. Zarkov (Frank Shannon), and Dale Arden (Jean Rogers) – accidentally accompanied by wisecracking reporter Happy Hapgood (Donald Kerr) – swing into action in Zarkov’s rocketship, believing that it could be coming from the planet Mongo. Once in space, however, they discover that the ray is originating from Mars.
Journeying to the fourth planet, they discover that their old enemy from Mongo, Ming the Merciless (Charles B. Middleton), whom they had believed dead, is still alive, and has formed an alliance with Azura (Beatrice Roberts), the Witch Queen of Mars. From Azura’s planet, and under her protection, he is operating a gigantic Nitron ray that is destroying Earth’s atmosphere. Azura’s powers include the ability to transmute people into figures of living clay, condemned to live in darkened caves, and she is hated and feared by most of the population. Conversely, the Clay People, led by their King (C. Montague Shaw), know the secret of how to eliminate Azura’s power, but lack the means of escaping the caves to which their ruined bodies restrict them, in order to battle her.
Gordon and his party would seem to hold the answer to their problem, except that the Clay People don’t trust them at first, and end up holding Dale Arden hostage. Ultimately the Earth visitors and the Clay People become allies in the tandem quest to defeat Azura and stop Ming from destroying the Earth. Flash, Dale, Zarkov, and Hapgood do battle against Azura’s magic and her Martian space-force, Ming’s super-scientific weaponry, the treacherous Forest People, and other dangers on the Red Planet. Finally, they win by the classic strategy of divide-and-conquer, showing Azura that Ming has been plotting behind her back to take power from her.
Azura’s alliance with Ming is broken, at the cost of the Queen’s own life, but the Clay People are freed from their curse. And the evil emperor of Mongo, his Nitron ray destroyed and his escape cut off on all sides by the now hostile Martian forces, is finally destroyed by the accidental result of his own machinations and treachery.
This is perhaps the best of the three Flash Gordon serials due to the fact that it not only was action packed, but that it also included some humorous moments provided by the character of “Happy” Hapgood. The first one was exciting, but really wasn’t as action packed as this one. This is the first one in which Dale takes part in the action, especially in the scene where she bombs the Forest People’s temple. If you want thrills, just look at this serial.

REVIEW: FLASH GORDON (1936)

CAST
Buster Crabbe (Buck Rogers 1939)
Jean Rogers (Brigham Young)
Charles Middleton (Dick Tracy Returns)
Priscilla Lawson (The Girl of the Golden West)
Frank Shannon (Batman 1943)

Chapters

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
This serial might not interest children today with its hokey effects – oh, that spaceship! – but it’s a fun bit of nostalgia for those who liked it the first time around or those that have an interest in comic books and film . The actors play it straight and don’t play down to kids.