Strap on your hawk wings and your emerald green leggings, because Flash Gordon is the Greatest Movie EVER!
Click on the poster or the movie title above to download our review of the film, featuring Ken Nabbe, aka The Internet’s Joey Snackpants.
Review in a Nutshell: A film that wallows a little too much in its own sense of campiness, Flash Gordon nevertheless has great costumes, colorful sets, and solid model design. The supporting characters, especially the villains, really steal the show.
Flash was always an athlete in many of his incarnations. In the original newspaper strip, Flash was Polo player at Yale. In the Filmation made for TV animated film Flash Gordon: The Greatest Story Ever Told, Flash was working for the State Department in 1939. When he meets Dale, she remembers him from the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. DC Comics did a Flash Gordon mini-series in the 80s and made Flash a former professional basketball Player.
I saw the film in the theater too. It was odd for me. Filmation did a Saturday morning Flash Gordon series. The fact the the film and the series did not jibe bothered me.
When I saw the film I did wonder about these “planets” floating in colorful gases. As a kid that part did not make sense.
I thought it was called a rocket cycle because you put legs in the same place you would put them in a bicycle and motorcycle.
It is one of those films you enjoy unquestioningly (more or less). When you see it as adult one realizes how goofy it is, but it is still fun for the reasons you mentioned.
I was just looking at the poster. Now the campiness make sense.
The screenwriter was Lorenzo Semple Jr. Semple was one of the writers and story editors on the 1966 Batman series and even wrote the movie based on the Television show.
Like Ken, I grew up with Flash Gordon. Being both a comic book fan and a music fan, the marriage of the film and the Queen soundtrack was a pop culture explosion to my young mind. It’s definitely a nostalgia film for people.
This film is the my “Grinch” movie. I used to hate all the campyness when I was younger but I’ve since come around to actually enjoying it. Ming’s Daughter probably helps alot.
What really cements my enjoyment of this is SciFi Channel’s attempt at a Flash Gordon. It was so bad and so joyless that cemented for me how much fun this movie is.
Of course, now I’m going to have Brian Blessed in my head yelling “Gordon’s alive!?” and “DIIIIVVVVVEEEEE!!!” for the foreseeable future
This flick used to come on every year on channel 11 in Brooklyn and I never missed it!I used ti think Sci-Fi films had the most outrageous soundtracks since Queen did this one and Toto did Dune(Can’t wait for that podcast:)
Is it me or do Lizardmen constantly get the short end of the stick in this universe?
The Dune soundtrack!! I actually like that one. Espcially the opening theme and the ending theme (Take My Hand)
My review of this movie is simply “Ornella Muti.”
Sam Jones plays an excellent cackling, murderous rapist in the service of Billy Drago in Lady Dragon 2.
My single biggest regret in life is that Sam Jones never made a movie with Reb Brown.
First time poster new listener working his way through the back catalogue.
I love this film for all the reasons described in the podcast, the soundtrack, the look, the camp and the massive plot holes.
My favourite is when Flash and Dale wake up the doctor by crashing his home and he has no explanation for the weather, he says something like lets check the news and on the news they are referring to a statement from him relating to the weather.
Great podcasts and I love this movie almost as much as streets of fire.
Some things about Flash Gordon:
Federico Fellini was originally to have directed Flash Gordon, but he and Dino (who produced his early films) had a falling out. That’s why the princess’ weird pet red dwarf thing is called…you guessed it, Fellini. Still, the film is overripe with freaky Euro trash vibes, like La Dolce Vita or 8 1/2 set on Mongo.
By this time, Star Wars had turned the stuff of trashy pulp SF into something grand and mythic, but also decidedly pure-hearted and chaste. You have to remember that Dino and company had previously pushed the envelope with Barberella, and Flash Gordon (coming on the heels of the low budget hit Flesh Gordon, 1974) was an attempt to bring sex appeal and adult strength innuendo back to SF.
As a kid, I had the official comics adaptation of the film drawn by veteran Flash Gordon artist Al Williamson (he also did The Empire Strikes Back for Marvel around the same time). It’s remarkable how much the story plays out like an old comic strip without all those over the top performances and hot guitar licks. Exhibit A: http://tinyurl.com/6zn6hv3
It’s my understanding that Dino wanted whoever sold the most records the year before to do the soundtracks to his SF movies… which explains Queen for Flash and Toto for Dune.
In later interviews, Dino said that everything was great about Flash Gordon…except Sam Jones (who Dino discovered as a contestant on The Dating Game). He seemed to really regret the casting and blamed the lack of bigger success for the film on it.
Still, Sam deserves his spot at the table of Greatest Movie Ever history for this one shot alone: http://tinyurl.com/4tgvtcf
You guys sound signed off trying to do Ming’s laugh from the end of the movie.
Coming back to this movie as an adult, I’m afraid I find much of the campiness hard to take. But on the other hand it’s hard to dislike any movie that turns Brian Blessed up to eleven as this one does.
Thanks Firest. i had just gotten Brain blessed’s voice out of my head and you put it back in.
The horrible thing is I was talking to a special lady friend and she was talking about Jem. Now I have a weird combo of Blessed’s lines from Flash Gordon + the Jem theme running through my head.
I just want to say that if it were not for this podcast, I never would have seen Flash Gordon in the first place. I was -4 when the movie came out, and never knew about it. It happened to be on cable one day a couple months back, and I decided ‘Why not?’. I fell in love with this movie immediately.
Patrick, I could see the Euro-trash influence of Fellini’s 8 1/2 (with all the crazy dream sequences and transitions). But I always thought La Dolce Vita was pretty straight forward with the crazy sexy parties being the only trashy quality.
What’s all the bashing of the NY Jets? I have three words: Broadway Joe Namath.
Thanks for covering this, Paul. I agree that Sam Jones really does feel like someone less like Flash Gordon and more like a Flash Gordon stand-in. Only in the last five minutes of the battle does he actually start acting like Flash Gordon.
One thing, when Flash witnesses Ming “dying”, Baron turns up and exclaims “The Reactors are destroyed!” I know that Baron was destroying the reactors to drop the Lightning Shield, maybe the reactors were tied to the Moon beam? I know I’m skating on thin ice here but this is a film powered by skating on thin ice.
Some of the lines you mentioned are priceless but what about stuff like Baron tied up in the dungeon with Zarkov and he saying “Tell me more of this man Houdini.” or Baron saying goodbye to Aura with an awesome parting exchange: Aura: “Fly back to your people. You may see me sooner than you think.”
Barin: “Lying bitch!” Listening to Joey talk about sleeping with the bosses’ daughter had me cracking up. God, I love Flash Gordon and all that’s in it.
I think I was about 5 or 6 when I first saw Flash on the TV. I thought the scene where Zarkov is tortured was scary, especially the scream he lets out at the end. For years, I was convinced that Voltan’s lieutenant was Brian May but alas, I discovered the internet and destroyed that childish opinion. Also the internet told me a few years ago that Zarkov’s assistant was the late William Hootkin who gave us Lt. Eckhardt from Batman and of course, Red Six from Star Wars.
Brian Blessed is THE reason you watch this as he practically holds whole scenes together. That laugh of his is so dirty plus he does it the most when surrounded by the female citizens of Hawkcity. Hmm, there could be a link between the two 😉
One thing, I’d like to correct, if I may. I sent Flash Gordon to Daryl via the post along with some DVD’s that I managed to ruin, I believe. I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting Daryl. Yet.
The UK blu ray again doesn’t have any of the extras of the UK DVD but does come in an awesome steelcase with NO Alex Ross artwork plus the complete soundtrack from Queen.
BaronI would remind you of
Article 17 of Ming’s Law: ”No prince of Mongo shall be offered for ransom without trial by combat.”
Vultanls there such an article?
Vultan’s LieutenantI’m afraid there is.
VultanWhat a damned nuisance.
A couple of moments do really stand out in this film for me, both in the final battle.
First off, during Barin’s one-man assault he actually stops, holsters his pistol, uses the machine gun he’s just overrun to kill an enemy squad, and then to top it off actually picks it up and takes it with him!
In the second, General Kala, upon being informed that a battleship is approaching the city without making radio contact not only immediately orders it destroyed, but actually takes full responsibility for her (correct) actions.
Now, I like the Hawkman assault on the battleship, but when I watch it I can’t help but wince at the G.I. Joe-ness of it. So to see it followed up by two examples of actual military competence was a pleasant surprise.
I would totally listen to a podcast on why Mr Snackpants hates Alex Ross.
That guy sucks.
There’s a Flash Gordon commentary from Sam Jones and Melody Anderson out there. Mostly chitchat with some back room details. So so on the reviews, but I enjoyed it.
This was the epitome of camp! This camp fest can only be ranked next to the Adam West Batman classic film. It was a film I enjoyed very much though. Sam Jones was the only person I knew of that could pull of the football hero adaptation of Flash Gordon. Plus how can you possibly go wrong when the musical genius of Freddie Mercury and Queen are dominant in the movie and it’s soundtrack. Kudos. Awesome review Paul and Ken!