Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars (1938, Ford Beebe and Robert F. Hill), Chapter 6: Tree-Men of Mars

Oh sure, the title is Tree-Men of Mars, but they’re actually called the “forest-people (of Mars)” or even the “fire-men (of Mars). They live in a forest (in the trees) and shoot fire at their enemies. Who, by the end of the chapter, are after Crabbe and company. Crabbe and Shannon have just convinced Clay King C. Montague Shaw they’re allies (though Crabbe and Shannon hold up the place to do so and give Shaw no further proof) and he sends them to meet his pals the forest-people. Unfortunately, evil queen Beatrice Roberts can see them on her view screen and sabotages their attempts at peaceful meeting.

All that action takes place in the last five minutes (or less) of Tree-Men. The rest of the chapter involves Crabbe and Shannon once again outwitting Roberts’s troops, heading back to her palace (again), getting into it with Charles Middleton (again), then taking the underground tram back to the Clay Kingdom. Once they get there–pursued by a couple soldiers Roberts willy-nilly turns into Clay Men–they bond with Shaw over flashbacks to the previous Flash Gordon serial. It’s only the sixth chapter, which seems early for a clip chapter, but I suppose since it’s to the original serial, it’s different.

There’s a little creativity in Crabbe and Shannon trying to glide (on their capes) to the palace, but there are only a couple effects shots. Then it’s more of the same once they’re back. Roberts talks about the history of the conflict with the Clay People, so it makes no sense she’s the only way to make people into clay. Unless she’s immortal or something. Trip to Mars avoids giving enough detail.

But at least Jean Rogers and Donald Kerr have rejoined the main action. Hopefully they manage not to become hostages again in the very next chapter.

CREDITS

Directed by Ford Beebe and Robert F. Hill; screenplay by Ray Trampe, Norman S. Hall, Wyndham Gittens, and Herbert Dalmas, based the comic strip by Alex Raymond; director of photography, Jerome Ash; edited by Joseph Gluck, Saul A. Goodkind, Louis Sackin, and Alvin Todd; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Buster Crabbe (Flash Gordon), Jean Rogers (Dale Arden), Frank Shannon (Dr. Alexis Zarkov), Charles Middleton (Emperor Ming), Beatrice Roberts (Queen Azura), Donald Kerr (Happy Hapgood), Richard Alexander (Prince Barin), and C. Montague Shaw (Clay King).


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