Tag Archives: Richard Alexander

Flash Gordon (1936, Frederick Stephani), Chapter 6: Flaming Torture

Flaming Torture is about flaming torture. Buster Crabbe and his allies get captured when they’re trying to rescue Jean Rogers. While Rogers has an arc with Priscilla Lawson–Rogers has to seduce moron king of the hawkmen Jack Lipson (in an atrociously annoying performance)–all Crabbe gets to do is get tortured. With flames.

Crabbe has little to do this chapter save flex when shirtless and greased up, which is most of the chapter. He’s got to be shirtless to be tortured. With flames.

Because the only way Lipson can tell if Rogers loves Crabbe is to make her watch him get tortured. So there’s a big finish with Crabbe getting tortured again. However, not with flames. Electricity.

While the chapter’s constantly downbeat, Rogers at least gets to do some stuff. Lawson gets to scheme. Crabbe gets to set up his team of shirtless male fighters.

Lipson’s real bad though; real bad.

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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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).

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), Duke York (King Kala), and Frank Shannon (Dr. Alexis Zarkov).


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All Quiet on the Western Front (1930, Lewis Milestone)

For the first act or so of All Quiet on the Western Front, director Milestone very gently puts the viewer amid the naïveté of the film’s protagonists, a group of students who drop out to enlist (in the first World War). He opens with this gorgeously complicated shot–brilliantly edited by Edgar Adams and shot by Arthur Edeson–coming into the classroom from a parade of soldiers on the street. There’s a fantastical grand element to Milestone’s composition in that first act, just like the new recruits think they are beginning a grand adventure.

All Quiet on the Western Front moves very quickly. It runs around 130 minutes, but Milestone fades between vignettes. Lew Ayres is the protagonist, but he’s the protagonist because the war removes other potential protagonists. It only really becomes his film in the last quarter of the picture. But it’s not Ayres’s character’s story. Milestone and the screenwriters–Maxwell Anderson, George Abbott, Del Andrews–do a brilliant job of positioning all the characters in relation to one another. They understand the story better than the viewer does. The viewer is simply watching.

This approach–and excellent direction from Milestone and fantastic acting all around (Louis Wolheim, William Bakewell and John Wray stand out)–leads to Quiet being able to be utterly devastating but never exhausting; never exciting but always riveting. Milestone matches his attention to the battle scenes, often singularly good, with his attention to the character scenes.

All Quiet is a particularly amazing motion picture.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Lewis Milestone; screenplay by Maxwell Anderson, George Abbott and Del Andrews, based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque; director of photography, Arthur Edeson; edited by Edgar Adams; produced by Carl Laemmle Jr.; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Louis Wolheim (Kat), Lew Ayres (Paul), John Wray (Himmelstoss), Arnold Lucy (Kantorek), Ben Alexander (Kemmerich), Scott Kolk (Leer), Owen Davis Jr. (Peter), Walter Rogers (Behn), William Bakewell (Albert), Russell Gleason (Mueller), Richard Alexander (Westhus), Harold Goodwin (Detering), Slim Summerville (Tjaden), G. Pat Collins (Bertinck), Beryl Mercer (Paul’s Mother) and Edmund Breese (Herr Meyer).


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