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Buck Rogers (1939)

Approved | | Adventure, Family, Fantasy | 11 April 1939 (USA)
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)
Philson Ahn ...
Prince Tallen
Guy Usher ...
Captain Laska
Lieutenant Patten
Lieutenant Lacy (as Kenneth Duncan)
Captain 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
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Did You Know?


In the original comic strip, Buck Rogers is actually a former World War One pilot who was working as a mine surveyor at the time he came to fall into his long (500 years long) sleep. For some reason, the regulations would not allow the screenwriters to use the comic strip's continuity, so the serial is actually a completely original story with the comic strip characters added. See more »


Chapter seven: The space radio, which Buck has difficulty moving, is picked up by Buck as it was so much balsa wood. See more »


[first lines]
Control Officer: Westmore Observatory calling dirigible Chandril. Westmore Observatory calling dirigible Chandril.
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Crazy Credits

Opening credits are displayed on a kaleidoscope background. See more »


Referenced in The Right Stuff (1983) See more »


Some of the music cues originally were composed for the following films:
The 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

A Dream Come True!
30 August 2000 | by (Kansas City, MO, USA) – See all my reviews

It strikes me that "Buck Rogers" is almost like a male fantasy come to life. Think about it: Buck gets to take a nice, long five-hundred-year nap! I'm ecstatic if I can get a fifteen-minute nap on a weekend! When he wakes up, Buck is the smartest, most dynamic guy around. Never mind that in real life you would treat someone five centuries behind the times like something that escaped from the zoo. Everyone needs Buck to go on exciting missions, fight the bad guys, test exotic equipment and fly rocketships (and crash them -- I think out of five or six flights Buck makes in the serial, he only lands successfully once).

Now that that's out of the way...

"Buck Rogers," the serial, is merely average: better than some serials, not as good as others. It's inevitable to compare it to the "Flash Gordon" serials, and in that contest, "Buck Rogers" comes in second. Buster Crabbe essentially plays the same character as Buck and Flash, but he had more style and dash (okay, more "flash") in "Flash Gordon." Constance Moore's Wilma tries to be a more proactive character than Jean Rogers' Dale, but Rogers just seems to inhabit her character more (and those belly-baring costumes from the first "Flash" serial weren't hard on the eyes, either). You can't even begin to compare Anthony Warde's Killer Kane to Charles Middleton's Ming: Warde could have been any gangster from any generic crime movie, but Ming was an archetype of evil right up there with Fu Manchu.

"Buck Rogers" does provide the requisite thrills and generates its share of excitement, although the rocketship crashes get repetitive after a while (as I said before, almost every time Buck goes near a rocket, he crashes it). It's a decent enough story on its own merits, I suppose, but it does pale in comparison to the "Flash Gordon" trilogy.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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