Flash Gordon (1936, Frederick Stephani), Chapter 3: Captured by Shark Men

There’s some good action in Captured by Shark Men, with Buster Crabbe rescuing Jean Rogers from Charles Middleton and then an undersea sequence with a giant octopus. The cliffhanger resolution is relatively decent, with Crabbe up against a giant lizard monster.

Most of the chapter is either action or leading up to action, but when Crabbe and James Pierce break into the temple to rescue Rogers, there’s also some good crowd panic. Crabbe and Pierce ravage the idol–which is Egyptian–before fighting more of Ming’s henchmen–dressed in Roman garb. It’s a fun mix of contrary set decorations and costumes, with the biggest commonality being all the guys wearing shorts. Lots of men in shorts; including the Shark Men. They’re more men than shark–in swim trunks and swimming caps. They don’t even breathe underwater.

Once Rogers and Crabbe escape–and get into the Shark Men battle–it’s nice for Rogers have something to do, but it turns out not to be much. She, Crabbe, Priscilla Lawson, they’re all still appealing. Ditto Pierce, but a little character development would be nice. Flash Gordon is continuous action; director Stephani uses it to get all the thrills and suspense. But giving the appealing cast more to do wouldn’t hurt anything.

Especially in a chapter like Shark Men, which gets a little tiring after the fourth action sequence.

CREDITS

Directed by Frederick Stephani; screenplay by Ella O’Neill, George H. Plympton, Basil Dickey, and Stephani, based on the comic strip by Alex Raymond; directors of photography, Jerome Ash and Richard Fryer; edited by Saul A. Goodkind, Louis Sackin, Alvin Todd, and Edward Todd; produced by Henry MacRae; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Buster Crabbe (Flash Gordon), Charles Middleton (Ming the Merciless), Jean Rogers (Dale Arden), Priscilla Lawson (Princess Aura), James Pierce (Prince Thun), Duke York (King Kala), and Frank Shannon (Dr. Alexis Zarkov).


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