Tag Archives: Priscilla Lawson

Flash Gordon (1936, Frederick Stephani), Chapter 11: In the Claws of the Tigron

Once again, the title refers to a finale item. In the Claws of the Tigron doesn’t have much tigron (a Mongonian tiger), but it does have a lot of invisible Buster Crabbe causing mischief around Charles Middleton’s palace.

The chapter’s a tad nonsensical–Crabbe, invisible, terrorizes Middleton’s guards while all his friends hang out in the laboratory. Only Priscilla Lawson comes up with a plan. Without her, Middleton would just be sitting around sputtering (between getting choked out by the invisible Crabbe).

Tigron is a fairly light chapter for the most part. Crabbe’s disembodied voice performance isn’t mixed well with the other actors’ dialogue, but he’s always going for fun with it. Crabbe doesn’t have a worry in the world since he’s invisible. And Jack Lipson is back, guffawing as he body slams guards. Poor Jean Rogers is reduced to worrying nonstop about Crabbe’s invisibility dependence.

Until the end, anyway, when the cliffhanger has her, you know, In the Claws of the Tigron.

It’s a good chapter, even with the logic holes.

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 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 4: Battling the Sea Beast

Battling the Sea Beast opens with Buster Crabbe fighting an octopus. Mostly it’s Crabbe–quite enthusiastically–feigning a struggle against one or two legs of the octopus, which shows no life once they’re battling. Before it was stock footage; with the fight, it’s a passive prop Crabbe has to get going.

And it’s the only fight scene in Sea Beast, with the exception of an off screen one between Crabbe and a guard while Priscilla Lawson stands by and plots her next move.

It’s a suspenseful chapter; Lawson’s duplicity leads to a catastrophic event, one Crabbe can’t fix. But he still tries to save the day, much to Lawson’s chagrin (and confusion).

There’s some plot development involving Frank Shannon trying to get in touch with Earth. Charles Middleton comes in and cuts it short. Middleton’s not really any better than usual, but for whatever reason he’s more tolerable. Maybe he just wears you down.

Jean Rogers gets nothing to do. She stands by while James Pierce and Duke York argue. They’re fine at it.

It’s a good Flash Gordon. Director Stephani does quite well with the tension.

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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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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