Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars (1938)


I think I’d take a dozen of these for one Star Wars sequels.

When you get down to it, Star Wars was four things: Kurosawa, Williams and Campbell folded into science fiction, but it was quite thin scifi. It posited a Manichean world — at least originally, where good and evil had some sort of tides in the cosmic ether. Then it devolved into a self-parody of 50’s era family damage, with deliberate hooks for frustrated kids.

These old Flash Gordon things have none of the cinematic values that even the poorest modern flick does. They are watched today for laughs, I suppose. But I will recommend this because the story elements are so well founded. It follows from the profoundly creative “Phantom Empire,” which I think is uniquely influential, more so than say “Metropolis.”

The universe here has an evil overlord doing his worst. And it has magic, but this is real magic of the magical sort, not something diluted by “the force” explanations. And the magic is embodied in the female, without gunlike apparatus, as it probably should be. And rooted in the womb instead of a muppet.

The effects seem clunky but you have earth forces (clay men who form out of and return to the earth) and science. Sex and evil. All four of these in various combinations form the plot structures for this and other Flash Gordons.

There’s even a clever folding mechanism: the players us a TeeVee like device to communicate. At the beginning of each episode, the viewers are given a review of what happened before. In this communication, the same TeeVee communicator is used. A hand tuning to us.

Posted in 2009

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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