Flash Gordon (1936, Frederick Stephani), Chapter 5: The Destroying Ray

Despite a lackluster resolution to the cliffhanger–there’s a questionably timed emergency response–and some dawdling, The Destroying Ray eventually comes through. Director Stephani, along with the editors, works up a pace throughout and stops at just the right moment for maximum effect.

Most of the chapter is a bridge between Buster Crabbe and company in the undersea palace to getting them to the Hawkmen’s flying palace. They’re out to rescue poor Jean Rogers, who again gets zilch, even when new bad guy Jack Lipson looses a bear on her for declining his advances. There’s a definite disconnect in the editing this chapter–some of its good, some of its bad. Rogers gets worse editing in her story line.

There’s a fight scene with some Hawkmen, who also fly in for the attack. The flying in sequences go on a while, but the special effects are effective. The giant lizards also reappear but without anything to do (Destroying Ray does drag quite often).

While Lipson’s new villain terrible, it’s too soon to tell how new ally Richard Alexander’s acting is going to shake out. He might be an asset… depends on Alexander (and the script).


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), Richard Alexander (Prince Barin), Jack ‘Tiny’ Lipson (King Vultan), Duke York (King Kala), and Frank Shannon (Dr. Alexis Zarkov).


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