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Buck Rogers (1939)

Approved  |   |  Adventure, Family, Fantasy  |  11 April 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 575 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 7 critic

A pilot and his young passenger crash-land on a mountaintop and are put into suspended animation by a strange gas. They awake 500 years later to discover that the Earth is now ruled by a ... See full summary »


(screenplay) (as Norman Hall) , (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Cast overview:
Buck Rogers (as Larry 'Buster' Crabbe)
Constance Moore ...
C. Montague Shaw ...
Guy Usher ...
William Gould ...
Philson Ahn ...
Prince Tallen
Capt. Laska
Wheeler Oakman ...
Lt. Patten
Lt. Lacy (as Kenneth Duncan)
Reed Howes ...
Capt. Roberts


A pilot and his young passenger crash-land on a mountaintop and are put into suspended animation by a strange gas. They awake 500 years later to discover that the Earth is now ruled by a tyrannical despot called Killer Kane, and they lead a fight to overthrow him. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


You followed Buck Rogers adventures in the newspapers! You heard him on the radio! Now SEE HIM for the time in the most fantastic adventures ever filmed! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

11 April 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Buck Rogers Conquers the Universe  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(12 episodes)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


After the serial came out, a second origin appeared in the comic strip in which Buck fell into a crater while looking for a meteor made from impervium, an indestructible metal used in the making of spaceships. Due to having hit the meteor when he fell in, Buck released the gas from inside and it put him to sleep for 500 years, only to be found by scientists and awakened. Again, this origin took place on Earth and not in space. There was a character in the strip who was in stasis in a satellite for 500 years, but his name was Dr. Laika; the story was inspired by the launch of Sputnik II. This is the origin given to Buck for the TV series. See more »


When Buck and Buddy infiltrate the council on Saturn, the second soldier reacts to being shot by Buck's laser gun before he is shot. See more »


Capt. Laska: Wait! We'll take them alive and force the secret of the Hidden City from them!
See more »


Spoofed in Sleeper (1973) See more »


Some of the music cues originally were composed for the following films:
Bride of Frankenstein (1935) music composed by Franz Waxman
Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935) composed by Edward Ward
Werewolf of London (1935) composed by Karl Hajos
Dracula's Daughter (1936) composed by Heinz Roemheld
Great Expectations (1934) composed by Edward Ward
The Invisible Man (1933) composed by Heinz Roemheld
Bombay Mail (1934) composed by Heinz Roemheld
See more »

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User Reviews

The Future of Here and Now
3 April 2006 | by (Ronn Ives/FUTURES Antiques, Norfolk, VA.) – See all my reviews

"Buck Rogers" (Episodes 1-12, 1939): This stuff is interesting to me for more than its comic book/kitsch style, weak acting, poor production, low grade special effects, lame story, and bad costumes. In 1938 & 1939, audiences were treated to Serials before the main movie at their local theater. Each section of these ongoing stories was about a half an hour in length, and a new one was shown each week. To see all 12 episodes (the entire story) you had to attend the movies 12 weeks in a row. Did you know the good guys would win? Of course. Did you know that at the end of each week's installment, there would be a "cliffhanger" moment leaving you wanting more next week? Of course. The Great Depression was still on, and television was invented but not yet available except to a few rich people in New York City. Once a week, especially on the weekend date nights and Saturday matinees for the kiddies, the Movie was IT...A SPECIAL experience to be savored for a nickel or dime. You got the NEWS, a CARTOON, a SERIAL installment, and THE MOVIE, plus some "private" time with your date...IN THE DARK, IN AIR CONDITIONING!! What a deal!! When I look beneath the surface of this serial (I go back and forth whether I like the characters in Flash Gordon OR Buck Rogers better, both having the same Space/Future theme, but I definitely prefer the décor and the hidden symbology of Buck) I see, as always, a "future" depicted by what we ARE at the moment, in our own time - considered the most "modern" of styles available to us. The cities, room sets, machines, costuming, transportation, and tools expected to be available to us in the future, are all shown in the Middle Art Deco style of America – Zig Zag, Geometric, Jazz, Skyscraper – applied (slathered) to everything from a pair of shoes to a rocket ship and an entire city. And, since the most modern symbols of the 1930's were our very own skyscrapers - with their skeletons of riveted steel - everything in the future is made of…riveted steel, even if it should float. Wonderful and silly. The city designs are direct ripoffs from various buildings of the 1933 Chicago and 1939 New York World's Fairs. The costumes are a mix of para-military horse riding jodfer outfits, and objects that can serve as both helmets OR trash cans for example...trash cans with lightning bolt wings, anyhow. Radio microphones FLOAT (on a fishing line) for some reason, but their speakers still look like turn of the century wind-up record player speaker horns; doors are toothy, biting jaws that open and close with intimidating chews; every object of any importance has a few vacuum tubes or power line insulators on it, along with the rivets; the powerful rocket ships snap, crackle, pop, fizz, and smoke like a used Desoto pouring sparks out its tail pipe, but somehow they get from planet to planet in minutes. Fight scenes: Buster Crabbe's (Buck's) stand-ins do all the work – and you KNOW they're stand-ins because you can SEE them fighting, and they look NOTHING like Buster/Buck. "Hey look, some OTHER guy's fighting now! Oh wait, he's Buck's stand-in!" Then we have the Zoggs – a dark skinned race of dolts, with large spirals of forehead flesh that hang in their eyes, serving as the gophers and laborer/minions of governments. Bad guys wear tight black uniforms. And here is where we get glimpses into the world of 1938/39, when Hitler, like the "Killer Kane" maniac leader in our story (a name that would have been recognized as the powerful "Citizen Kane" character who represented publisher William Randolph Hearst), who was attempting to take over the world, the solar system, the universe...controlling the minds of everyone. The good guys are working on alliances, some are ready to roll over for Killer Kane, others want to fight, and politics & leadership councils are being put to use as everyone decides who is on which side. In Buck Rogers, the American/English Caucasians/Earthlings are joined by the Chinese/Asians Saturnians and the Russian/Caucasians (of some other planet) to fight the power-mad German/Aryan race. The parallels were simple enough for all of that movie audience to "get". (The Japanese/Asians Aliens were not in the mix directly, but the audience would've known that the alliance with the Americans meant China, who was being attacked by Japan.) On and on the serial goes... battles, spying, espionage, meetings, weapon races, disguises, and science dedicated to winning wars not curing diseases. It was low-grade info-tainment – mild propaganda on a weekly basis – expressions of contemporary concerns and fears, which reached so many millions of Americans every week. Those hidden in the top back rows of the balcony didn't notice.

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