The Flash Gordon serial was the most expensive of them all, the only serial advertised in some theaters above the name of the feature presentations, and probably the serial with the greatest attendance. It was the only sound serial with sexual tension, and it has become the best-remembered serial of them all.
Years later, in a television appearance in his native Oakland, Crabbe told an inteviewer that he was unhappy when Universal insisted on coloring his hair blonde to match the comic strip character.
Flash Gordon (See Below for Link) was followed by two more serials, Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938) (See Below for Link) and Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940) (See Below for Link). During the 1950s, the three serials were shown on American television. To avoid confusion with a made-for-TV Flash Gordon series airing around the same time, they were retitled, becoming respectively Space Soldiers, Space Soldiers' Trip to Mars, and Space Soldiers Conquer the Universe. In the mid-1970s, all three serials were shown by PBS stations across the US, bringing Flash Gordon to a new generation, a full two years before Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind re-ignited interest in the science fiction genre. All three serials were later heavily edited and released on home video.
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1. First Flash Gordon Serial - 13 Chapters - (1936) Buster Crabbe (later re-titled "Space Soldiers")
This is the first Flash Gordon Serial. Flash Gordon's Space Soldiers, the title of the original serial's home video release (the title was changed in the early 1950s to avoid confusion with a short-lived Flash Gordon TV series), features all 13 installments in their entirety.
The world is in a state of panic when it is discovered that a planet has fallen out of its normal orbit and is destined to collide with Earth in a matter of days. Brawny adventurer Flash Gordon (Buster Crabbe), his girlfriend Dale Arden (Jean Rogers), and renowned scientist Dr. Zarkoff (Frank Shannon) blast off into space in hopes of setting the runaway planet back on course. However, they discover that it was all a ruse cooked up by the wicked Ming the Merciless (Charles Middleton), despot of the Planet Mongo, as part of his latest plot for galactic domination. Flash soon finds himself battling Ming both for the fate of the Earth and the hand of the lovely Miss Arden, though Ming's daughter, Princess Aura (Priscilla Lawson) appears to have amorous ideas of her own for Flash. The producers of the serial stretched its budget by utilizing sets, costumes, and music from several of Universal's better-known horror films of the period, including The Bride of Frankenstein; the serial was also later edited into a feature film, entitled Flash Gordon: Rocketship.
2. Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars - Movie Serial - 15 Chapters (1938) - Buster Crabbe
Start at:--> Chapter 1 of 15 part 1 of 2
2nd Serial: Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars is a 1938 serial film of 15 episodes, based on the newspaper comic strip Flash Gordon. It is the second of three Flash Gordon serials made between 1936 and 1940.
The main cast from first serial reprise their roles: Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon, Jean Rogers as Dale Arden, Frank Shannon as Dr. Alexis Zarkov and Charles B. Middleton as Ming the Merciless.
Also in the principal cast are Beatrice Roberts as Queen Azura, Donald Kerr as Happy Hapgood, C. Montague Shaw as the Clay King, and Wheeler Oakman as Ming's chief henchman.
Another crisis is striking the Earth: a fictional chemical element called nitron is vanishing from the atmosphere, causing hurricanes and other meteorological disasters. Flash and Zarkov use an airplane to take measurements only to discover that a ray-beam from Mars is the source of the nitron depletion. A comical newspaper journalist, Happy Hapgood, arrives on the scene to get the scoop, and stows away when they, together with Dale Arden, leave to investigate in Zarkov's rocket ship. They discover that Azura, Queen of Mars, is working with Ming the Merciless, their old nemesis from Mongo, not dead as they had believed, to conquer Earth. All Martians who oppose her have been turned into clay humanoids, consigned to live in a world of clay-walled caverns beneath the Martian soil. Flash, Zarkov, Dale and Happy take refuge from the Martians in one of these caverns and are captured by the Clay People, and taken to their Clay King. From him, they learn what is transpiring between Queen Azura and Ming, and anxiously agree to help.
NOTE: Each Chapter is in 2 parts!
3. Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe: Chapter 1 (1940) – Buster Crabbe:
This is the third Flash Gordon Serial. Buster Crabbe starred in all three.
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