Tag Archives: Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon (1936, Frederick Stephani), Chapter 10: The Unseen Peril

Once again, the chapter title doesn’t come into play until the very end–The Unseen Peril, or at least what seems like it, shows up in the last scene. The chapter skips a more dramatic cliffhanger, going on just a few seconds longer to do a puzzling one.

Most of the chapter involves Priscilla Lawson’s schemes to ensnare Buster Crabbe finally coming to fruition. She manages to brainwash him, which sends his friends in a delayed uproar. Only Jack Lipson freaks out at the time; Lipson’s now one of Crabbe’s allies. He doesn’t have any function in the chapter other than that initial uproar. It’s a narrative delay, nothing more.

There’s some more filler later on with Frank Shannon and Jean Rogers communicating with Earth. Despite Shannon’s ability to revive (though not de-brainwash) Crabbe, he can’t figure out how to make the interplanetary radio work. Once he gives up, it’s time to go back to the A plot. The writers shift focus entirely between the plot lines here; Flash is starting to feel heavy.

It’s a good bridging episode, though Crabbe’s expressions during the sword fights are beyond goofy.

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), Richard Alexander (Prince Barin), Jack ‘Tiny’ Lipson (King Vultan), Theodore Lorch (High Priest), and Frank Shannon (Dr. Alexis Zarkov).


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Flash Gordon (1936, Frederick Stephani), Chapter 9: Fighting the Fire Dragon

This chapter’s title, Fighting the Fire Dragon, makes a big promise. There’s going to be a fire dragon and there’s doing to be a fight against said fire dragon. Only the former proves true. Any fight is, presumably, coming in a subsequent chapter.

Thanks, as usual, to Priscilla Lawson’s scheming, Buster Crabbe, Jean Rogers, and Frank Shannon are all back in Charles Middleton’s palace. All Crabbe and Rogers want to do is make puppy eyes, all Shannon wants to do is get back to Earth, all Lawson wants to do is get Crabbe away from Rogers.

Enter new character high priest Theodore Lorch. After getting a big part in the cliffhanger resolution, Lorch decides to throw in with Lawson against her father, Middleton.

It’s a bridging chapter. Flash Gordon’s getting geared up for whatever’s next–besides the opening, there’s not even a fight scene. The lull gives Rogers and Crabbe a nice scene together, complete with character development. And Lawson and Lorch are great together.

The hint of the fire dragon is pretty cool too.

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), Richard Alexander (Prince Barin), Jack ‘Tiny’ Lipson (King Vultan), Theodore Lorch (High Priest), and Frank Shannon (Dr. Alexis Zarkov).


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Flash Gordon (1936, Frederick Stephani), Chapter 8: Tournament of Death

Tournament of Death is an unexpectedly strong chapter. There’s a lot going on. There’s the cliffhanger resolution, there’s Buster Crabbe facing off with Charles Middleton for the first time since Chapter One, there’s Frank Shannon saving the day, there’s Jack Lipson having character development, there’s Richard Alexander having hilarious character development, and there’s Jean Rogers screaming every once in a while. It’s actually a better part than Priscilla Lawson has this chapter; she just stands and looks reservedly terrified.

Why’s she terrified? Because of the titular Tournament of Death. First, Crabbe has to fight a masked swordsman. The masked swordsman’s identity is pretty obvious, which leads to an amusing scene for Crabbe. Because Tournament is where Crabbe gets to round out the character a little. He’s a bit of a primpy preppy. During the sword fight, Crabbe’s always keeping form. It’s silly. But it proves endearing.

And then the second match of the tournament is Crabbe versus a giant horned ape. The tournament “arena” is a big empty space, ostensibly part of Lipson’s throne room, but it’s just a big empty space. And Crabbe versus giant horned ape in this big empty space–even with the film sped up and the editors overwhelmed–it’s a bitching fight scene. Director Stephani kind of drags this one with the pacing, but it pays off.

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), Richard Alexander (Prince Barin), Jack ‘Tiny’ Lipson (King Vultan), Theodore Lorch (High Priest), and Frank Shannon (Dr. Alexis Zarkov).


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Flash Gordon (1936, Frederick Stephani), Chapter 7: Shattering Doom

It’s another heavy chapter. Despite a valiant escape effort, Buster Crabbe ends up back in chains. He and his fellow, shirtless men in shorts shovel radium into king hawkman Jack Lipson’s furnance.

Lipson’s still testing Jean Rogers’s affections. She’s got a couple rather good moments as she tries to misdirect Lipson. Lipson’s a little better in this chapter than the previous ones. He’s less obnoxious and also less sinister. He’s just a doofus now.

Priscilla Lawson gets her emotional showdown with Crabbe, which is another solid scene. Shattering Doom is a character chapter. There’s a hard cliffhanger involving another escape attempt but also a softer one with Charles Middleton arriving to reclaim Crabbe, Rogers, and all their pals.

It’s good. Even if Crabbe sometimes looks like he’s running into action scenes to avoid doing dialogue.

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


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