Tag Archives: Star Wars

Flash Gordon

Last week I watched Flash Gordon on Youtube. It’s a gorgeous black and white print of all 13 episodes of the 1936 space opera set in the twenty-second century starring Buster Crabbe. The sets and costumes are ridiculous, and so is the plot, but it was great fun. I liked the snapping, crackling electrical gadgets in the laboratory of Ming (The Merciless), emperor of the planet Mongo.

Ming and the boys watch his big-screen Spaceograph
Ming and the boys watch his wide-screen Spaceograph

This movie is part of a tradition harking back to Wagner’s Siegfried, Sir Gawain, and Beowulf. Scenes from the radium furnace room are low-rent versions of Fritz Lang’s 1926 Metropolis, and the adventures of a hero and a princess from another planet were told again in 1977’s Star Wars. George Lucas borrowed the same imaginative wipes between scenes.

Even the comments are entertaining:

  • Funny how Ming dresses all his men in hotpants and tights!
  • Considering Mongo is such a technically advanced planet it’s surprising nobody thought to invent trousers.
  • Dale Arden must have some heavy pheromones . . . first Ming wants her as his bride, and now King Vulcan . . . it must be the blonde hair.
  • The controls on my car’s a/c are more complicated than those on Dr. Z’s lab equipment

As I said, it’s great fun. I give it two thumbs up.

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