Saturday, May 9, 2015

1940 - FLASH GORDON CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE, third in the trilogy.

Watched the 90 minute edited version of this over 3 hour serial and I doubt I could have lasted much past 92 minutes if this was any longer.  It seems that the evil Emperor Ming is spraying earth with a purple mist that causes people to drop dead in the middle of the street.  To the rescue are Flash Gordon, Dale Arden and Professor Zarkov flying off to the planet Mongo in their phallic spaceship. At the planet Mongo the ruler,  Emperor Ming, an oriental looking villain with a very western accent is behind this evil scheme.  I think it goes without saying that this Ming character is one of the most offensively racist characters in 1940's films.

For an action serial primarily aimed at the 1940's Saturday kiddie crowd these Flash Gordon stories have always had a very strange lack of action.  The spaceships fly around in circles held up by wires while the backdrop whizzes by.  The fights are more like two guys duking it out in a poor man's professional wrestling contest.  Finally the acting to put it mildly is poor.  I get that this is a low budget production and that the intended audience of kids probably aren't interested in subtle acting but come on.

I suppose in some way you can argue that Flash Gordon is the very poor relation to the Star Wars films.  Certainly all of the troupes of the genre are present, the evil empire, the evil emperor and the colorful worlds just ripe for the marketing of a line of toys for the kiddies.

Still, even for a serial this is mighty weak storytelling.

87 minutes.

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