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Flash Gordon (1936, 1938, 1940)
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 4:42 pm    Post subject: Flash Gordon (1936, 1938, 1940) Reply with quote



I wonder what it was like to be a sci-fi lovin' kid in 1936 and to rush down to the local theater every Saturday to watch the next chapter of Flash Gordon! Very Happy

Buster Crabbe and Jean Rogers are absolutely perfect as the heroes of this wild yarn on the planet Mongo, and after being primed and ready for the serial by Alex Raymond's comic strip, this was a dream come true.

(Click on images to enlarge.)










Although the three serials range in quality, they are still extremely enjoyable. The first one tops the other two in several ways, not the least of which was the delightful presences of Jean Rogers, looking mighty close to the gals that Frank Frazetta gave us on the covers of many ERB novels.


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The action was better in the first and the third serial, (Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe), but the production quality was noticeably better in the third one.









The second one (Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars) just didn't have the energy of the original, and the producers were too chicken to show Dale Arden in revealing outfits, so she ran around through the entire serial wearing the same damn ankle length gown! Rolling Eyes

They even gave her brown hair! Whose dumb idea was THAT! Rolling Eyes



____________


After the way poor Jean was treated in Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars, Carol Hughes was actually an improvement, even though they dressed her up like Mrs. Robin Hood — which was actually appropriate, because Flash and company were all decked out like the Merry Men of Mars! Shocked





Enjoy the two-hour feature version.


_ Flash Gordon 1936 serial, fan edit - 2 hour movie


__________

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alltare
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2018 4:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Flash Gordon (1936, 1938, 1940) Reply with quote

COMET TV has been running the Flash Gordon movies for the past few weeks.

What is "EGB"?


Bud Brewster wrote:
The first one tops the other two in several ways, not the least of which was the delightful presences of Jean Rogers, looking mighty close to the gals that Frank Frazetta gave in on the covers of many EGB novels.
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orzel-w
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2018 5:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Flash Gordon (1936, 1938, 1940) Reply with quote

alltare wrote:
What is "EGB"?

My guess is EdGar rice Burroughs.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Right. Thanks, Wayne. Rolling Eyes

Alltare, I apologize for the typo. But wasn't the reference to Frazetta a strong clue as to who I was referring to? Very Happy








By the way, back in 1974 when I was taking art classes in college, this was the girl I dated.





I showed her the cover of this ERB book one day —


____________


— and she said she'd love to be able to wear a costume like that in public. Shocked

I did a portrait of her (one of my earliest paintings) and frankly it really doesn't do her justice —



________________


— but she liked it, so I gave it to her. Lord, I had such a crush on this girl! Sad
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2018 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

IMDB has 29 trivia items total for the three serials, although some of them were repeated for all three. Here’s a few of the ones I found the most interesting, in the blue text. Very Happy
________________________________

King Features Syndicate released the three Flash Gordon serials to US TV in 1951.

Note from me: I was only three years old when these first started airing in Atlanta, but when I was about six years old (in 1954) they were showing various serials for several hours on Saturday mornings (three chapters per hour), and I was right there on the living room floor from breakfast 'till lunch, watching them all with big wide eyes and a young mind ablaze with dreams of sci-fi adventures! Cool






According to film historian Roy Kinnard, the serial played at evening performances, not just matinées, the usual time period to run "chapter plays".

Note from me: Well, that's surprising! All these years I've imagined thousands of kids on Saturday afternoons in theaters across the nation, gobbling popcorn and watching their hero save the universe. Now I find that my fantasy had a big fat flaw! It ain't fair, I tell ya, it just ain't fair! Shocked

The opening music for the episodes — as well as some of the music for the action scenes — are excerpts from the classical work "Symphonic Poem, Les Preludes", by Franz Liszt. In Chapter One, Richard Wagner's "Good Friday Prelude" and "Parsifal" is used.

Note from me: I'm not sure if this is entirely accurate. I listened to a few excerpts from YouTube versions of those pieces, and they didn't sound like what I remember from the serials (even when I sampled the Youtube video of the movie version). I do seem to remember that music from The Bride of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man was used.

The noises of the rocket ships propulsion sound suspiciously like propeller aircraft of the day. It stands to reason, as rockets and jets didn't yet exist and probably met 1936 audience expectations of propulsion sounds.

Note from me: I wouldn't describe the rocket sounds as propeller engine noises. They're more like a weed eater being run in locker room! But I couldn't find anything online about how the sound effects were done.

Much of the background music was originally used in Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Also, the music which played in the background during the sequence recapping the previous chapter's events was the theme for The Invisible Man (1933).

Note from me: Ah-ah. I found this one after commenting about the music above. Very Happy

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Custer
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2018 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do have two of the serials as dvd box sets - "Conquers the Universe" in 12 dynamic chapters, and "Space Soldiers" in 13, which I gather is an alternative title for the first serial, so I'll know which order to watch them in.

Concerning the first serial, Wikipedia mentions, under "Reception," that "Flash Gordon was Universal's second-highest-grossing film of the year, after Three Smart Girls, a musical starring Deanna Durbin. However, the Hays Office objected to the revealing costumes worn by Dale, Aura and the other female characters. In the two sequels, most of the female characters were thus dressed more modestly." So we now know who to blame!
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2018 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Custer wrote:
However, the Hays Office objected to the revealing costumes worn by Dale, Aura and the other female characters. In the two sequels, most of the female characters were thus dressed more modestly." So we now know who to blame!

"More modestly" is an understatement! If they'd covered Jean Rogers up any more, she would have been dressed like a nun! Shocked

Come to think of it, Nuns must have comprised most of the folks in the Hayes office.
____________________________________

_____Flash Gordon and Sister Dale's Trip to Mars!

_________
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Custer
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2018 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That might not have worked too well. Very Happy



On a different note, I can report that Three Smart Girls did have a follow-up too, but they didn't have a trip to Mars or Conquer the Universe - it was Three Smart Girls Grow Up.
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Krel
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2018 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bud Brewster wrote:
The noises of the rocket ships propulsion sound suspiciously like propeller aircraft of the day. It stands to reason as rockets and jets didn't yet exist and probably met 1936 audience expectations of propulsion sounds.

Note from me: I wouldn't describe the rocket sounds as propeller engine noises. They're more like a weed eater being run in locker room! But I couldn't find anything online about how the sound effects were done.

The rocket engine sounds always sounded like an electric generator, or transformer. It is probably a combination of sounds but there is definitely an electric hum/drone in there

The costumes in the serial are pretty faithful to the comic strip.

David.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Well, that's certainly true of the male characters, and the costumes worn by Dale and Ming's daughter in the first serial seem perfect. But did the gals run around in long gowns in some of the comic strips?

You know much more about the strips than I do, David. Very Happy




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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2021 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Notice Dale in the image above (and below).

Other than the brown hair, her appearance is very similar to the one in the first serial. The studio was forced to remove an important element of what made Flash Gordon so appealing to romantic (and lustful) young boys!
Rolling Eyes

\\




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Pow
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2021 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Happy Birthday Buster Crabbe.
February 7, 1908 ~ April 23, 1983.

"Some say my acting rose to the level of incompetence and then leveled off.

I was a lot better actor than people gave me credit for.

I didn't have any training, but I feel if I had been given the chance, I could have become a really good, top-rate actor.

I didn't make it like a Clark Gable or Charles Boyer. But i wonder what would have happened if things been different?" ~ Buster Crabb

Buster was a fan of the Flash Gordon comic strip by Alex Raymond.

However, he did not plan on auditioning for the role of Flash for the serials. He felt the concepts would be too far out for audiences to accept, and that the movies would flop.

Buster was curious to see who would audition for the role of Flash. He went to observe the actors who were trying out for the SF hero.

Producer Henry MacRae saw Buster at the auditions and wanted to give him the role, as he'd be perfect.

Flash Gordon was being produced by Universal Pictures while buster was under contract to Paramount Pictures.

A deal was arranged between the two famous film studios so that Buster could appear in Flash Gordon.

Buster had to dye his hair blonde in order to match Flash's hair color from the Alex Raymond comic strip.

Buster disliked doing so and was quite self conscious. He would often be wearing a hat in order to cover his now blonde hair.

Flash Gordon was an attempt to attract adults to see a movie serial, because the serials were mostly produced for children.

To that end, the film was budgeted at $350,000, which was quite a sum for a serial.

To compare, the serial "Undersea Kingdom", that was released on May 30, 1936, was budgeted at $81,924.

The "Adventures of Captain Marvel" from 1941 cost $135,553.

Flash Gordon was shown in the "A" theaters across the USA. So, it was shown in the evenings as well as matinees, which is when serials were usually shown.

Flash Gordon became the second highest grossing film of the year.

Despite its large budget, the Flash Gordon production utilized sets from other motion pictures.

A laboratory & crypt were from "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935). A castle interior was from "Dracula's Daughter" (1936). An idol was from "The Mummy" (1932). Outer walls of Ming's castle were originally the Cathedral walls of Notre Dame from "The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and the opera house interior from "The Phantom of the Opera" (1925).

Newsreel footage of the crowds turning out for Charles Lindbergh's historic landing in Paris on May 21, 1927 after his solo crossing of the Atlantic was used when Flash & company returned to Earth.

The scene with the slaves toiling at the atom furnaces was inspired by "Metropolis" (1927).

The rocket used was built for the 1930 comedy-sci~fi movie "Just Imagine."

Buster Crabbe would be the only actor to play the three legendary heroes Flash Gordon, Tarzan, and Buck Rogers.
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scotpens
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2021 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pow wrote:

Flash Gordon was an attempt to attract adults to see a movie serial, because the serials were mostly produced for children.

Indeed, the first Flash Gordon serial was surprisingly mature in content -- that is, if you define "mature" as "sexy."

Emperor Ming lusts after Dale Arden. Dale and Princess Aura both want Flash. King Vultan of the Hawkmen has the hots for Dale. The story has enough erotic desire for a bodice-ripping romance novel!
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

scotpens wrote:
Emperor Ming lusts after Dale Arden. Dale and Princess Aura both want Flash. King Vultan of the Hawkmen has the hots for Dale. The story has enough erotic desire for a bodice-ripping romance novel!

That is a very good point, scotpens! Very Happy

I read something yesterday at a Flash Gordon fan site which pertains to this matter. It stated that the Hayes Code was responsible for the toned-down sexy and the covered-up Dale. Sad

No surprise, I guess. Rolling Eyes

I saw a 1938 movie recently on TCM called Broadway Musketeers (which sounds like a comedy, but it definitely was not), in which a nightclub singer play by Ann Sheridan sings a song in a slinky silver dress . . . and then just dances in place slowly as begins doing a subtle "tease" by turning slowly to the music while she focuses smoldering looks back over her shoulder at the men in the audience.

It all happens in under a minute, and at first I wondered when she was going resume her song. But when she slips out of her short sequined jacket to expose her shoulders and the low neckline, then holds it up for few seconds to cover her lower face while she peeks over the top, I realized she was doing a striptease — even though she still had on the gown!

Here's a shot of Ann in the gown before the camera goes in for the long closeups. Trust me, the closeups are when things get hot.



__________


The camera's close-ups are never below her shoulders, so it's all done with just her lovely face and her seductive smile as she raises her arms, elbows high, to smooth back her hair, and then fingers the straps of her gown as if she might pull them down!

The camera shows groups of men packed together and gazing at Ann like they're mesmerized. Shocked

At that point, two men in the audience get up and signal a group of uniformed cops to rush in a arrest Ann!

A judge gives her ninety days in jail of her performance!

Remember, this was NOT a comedic situation. Apparently Ann's sultry dance was intended to symbolize an actual striptease in a high class nightclub, but even though her performance included no real nudity (at least in the movie), it was an offense punishable by three months in jail!

My point is that this movie was made the same year as Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars, so it's no surprise that WB studios portrayed a strip tease exclusively by showing Ann Sheridan's sexy glances, teasing movements, and bare shoulders! Shocked

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Krel
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2021 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pow wrote:
Buster disliked doing so and was quite self conscious. He would often be wearing a hat in order to cover his now blonde hair.

Back then hats were required when men went out and about. My Grandmother told me that when she was dating my Grandfather, that a man wouldn't think of leaving home without his hat.

Pow wrote:
The "Adventures of Captain Marvel" from 1941 cost $135,553.

A surprisingly violent serial with great SPFX. Captain Marvel was RUTHLESS!

Pow wrote:
Despite its large budget, the Flash Gordon production utilized sets from other motion pictures.

A laboratory & crypt were from "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935). A castle interior was from "Dracula's Daughter" (1936). An idol was from "The Mummy" (1932). Outer walls of Ming's castle were originally the Cathedral walls of Notre Dame from "The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and the opera house interior from "The Phantom of the Opera" (1925).

Newsreel footage of the crowds turning out for Charles Lindbergh's historic landing in Paris on May 21, 1927 after his solo crossing of the Atlantic was used when Flash & company returned to Earth.

Standard operating procedure for Hollywood studios. Movie studios have always been big recyclers, reusing EVERYTHING that they had, could borrow, rent, or in some cases, steal. Laughing

Pow wrote:
The scene with the slaves toiling at the atom furnaces was inspired by "Metropolis" (1927).

This is a scene straight from the comic strip. I can't say if Alex Raymond was inspired by "Metropolis", or not.

Most of the designs in the serial were copied and adapted from the comic strip.


Pow wrote:
The rocket used was built for the 1930 comedy-sci~fi movie "Just Imagine."

I wonder if Universal bought or just rented the rocket ship from Fox. I also wounder what eventually happened to the rocket.

In the comic strip Zarkov's rocket was a tail sitter.

In the comic strip EVERY male lusted after Dale, and all the Women lusted after Flash.

David.
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