Flash Gordon (I) (1936)

Approved  |   |  Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi  |  6 April 1936 (USA)
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Reviews: 34 user | 15 critic

Three earthlings visit the planet Mongo to thwart the evil schemes of Emperor Ming the Merciless.


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(based on the comic strip by), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Jean Rogers ...
Priscilla Lawson ...
Frank Shannon ...
Richard Alexander ...
Jack 'Tiny' Lipson ...
Theodore Lorch ...
High Priest #2 [Chs. 8-11, 13]
Richard Tucker ...
George Cleveland ...
Professor Hensley
James Pierce ...
Duke York ...
King Kala [Chs. 2-5] (as Duke York Jr.)
Muriel Goodspeed ...
Zona [Ch. 4]
Earl Askam ...
Officer Torch
House Peters Jr. ...
Shark Man [Chs. 3-4]


A rogue planet is 'rushing madly toward the earth.' Impending doom creates worldwide pandemonium. But maverick scientist Dr. Zarkov hopes to stay disaster by travelling to the new planet in his experimental rocket. Two chance-met strangers, athletic Flash Gordon and damsel in distress Dale Arden, go with him. Arrived, the trio find Mongo to be a planet of wonders, warring factions, and deadly perils, its orbit controlled by Emperor Ming who has his own sinister plans for earth. Can our heroes, armed only with science and sex appeal, stop him? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


THRILLING STRANGE WORLD ADVENTURES!!! (original Chapter 1 one-sheet poster) See more »






Release Date:

6 April 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers  »

Box Office


$360,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(13 episodes)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor High Fidelity Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Jon Hall was considered for Flash Gordon. See more »


When Ming tells his soldiers to get Aura out of the arena, his lips move but his voice is out of synch. Also, when Aura shoots the guard at the control panel, you hear him scream, but you don't see his lips move. See more »


Ming the Merciless: I will destroy your earth in my owm way!
Dr. Alexis Zarkov: Why destroy the Earth? Why not conquer it?
Ming the Merciless: [envisioning the suggestion] Why not?
Ming the Merciless: How did you enter my kingdom?
Dr. Alexis Zarkov: On a rocket ship of my own design.
Ming the Merciless: You are a remarkable man! I can use you.
Ming the Merciless: [directing his guards] Take him to a laboratory. Give him everything he requires... except his freedom!
See more »


Referenced in Sliders: To Catch a Slider (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

Not-so-guilty pleasure
9 December 2002 | by (Lansing, Michigan) – See all my reviews

Universal put out three Flash Gordon chapter plays, in 1936, 1938

and 1940; but despite the larger budgets of the latter two, the first

is the by far the most fun; its successors are pale in comparison,

although the Clay People of Series II are certainly worth while. I

loved the 1936 serial dearly when I was five years old, seeing it on

TV; and I still retain a good deal of affection for it, even now when I

am old enough to be aware of the cardboard sets, ridiculous

dialogue and frequent lapses of taste. Who cares? Flash's

adventures have nothing to do with outer space and are largely

medieval, as this 1930s art deco Siegfried battles shark men,

hawk men, and cheesy rubber dragons. Buster Crabbe is ideal,

and Charles Middleton positively believes he IS Ming the

Merciless. Then there is Princess Aura. I don't know about the rest

of you male types out there, but if I were Flash I would have

dumped Dale for Priscilla Lawson's voluptuous princess by

Episode Two. Besides the perfectly obvious fact that she would be

vastly more fun in bed, consider: When Flash is in horrible danger,

what does Dale do? She faints, or gets hypnotised. Aura,

meanwhile, has swiped a rocket ship, bribed the guards, found a

cache of weapons, and is actively doing her best to rescue the

guy. She saves Flash's butt from certain horrible death about every

other episode, but does the big lunk appreciate it? Oh well. Even

when I was five I was dimly aware that there was some reason I

wanted her to take me home with her... and above all, there's

Frank Shannon's Zarkov. "You are a remarkable man. I can use

you" says Emperor Ming; and what Zarkov doesn't say, but is

clearly thinking, is: "and I can use a blithering mad emperor with

unlimited power and a fantastic laboratory"! My favorite dialogue in

the whole serial comes in Episode One. Zarkov and Flash have

just met, and Zarkov explains that the Earth's only hope of survival

is his home built rocket ship. "Sure this thing will work?" asks

Flash, after they've come aboard. "I've experimented with models"

Zarkov replies. "Ah," responds Flash; "They ever come back?" With

perfect equanimity Zarkov says "They weren't supposed to." Now,

there's a REAL Mad Scientist after my own heart! Zarkov routinely

invents the impossible on five minutes notice, from invisibility rays

to anti-gravitons. The whole thing is so absurd it's magnificent, so

hokey it's colossal. It's for the precocious five-year-old in us all.

43 of 47 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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