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Buck Rogers (1939)

7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 535 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 6 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 »

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Title: Buck Rogers (1939)

Buck Rogers (1939) on IMDb 7.3/10

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Buck Rogers (as Larry 'Buster' Crabbe)
Constance Moore ...
Jackie Moran ...
Jack Mulhall ...
Capt. Rankin
...
C. Montague Shaw ...
Prof. Huer
Guy Usher ...
William Gould ...
Philson Ahn ...
Prince Tallen
...
Capt. Laska
Wheeler Oakman ...
Lt. Patten
Kenne Duncan ...
Lt. Lacy (as Kenneth Duncan)
Carleton Young ...
Scott
Reed Howes ...
Capt. Roberts
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

BUCK ROGERS BATTLES INVASION FROM FOREIGN PLANETS!...Space ships exploded by giant ray machines! Mountains crumbled by disintegrating machines! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

11 April 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Buck Rogers Conquers the Universe  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(12 episodes)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first person to actually play the part of Buck Rogers in any medium was John Larkin, who played Buck on the radio show that started in 1934. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Professor Huer: By means of a gas discovered by Professor Morgan, these two people have remained in suspended animation for five hundred years.
Buck Rogers: Five hundred years?
George 'Buddy' Wade: That makes me old enough to be my own great grandfather.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Right Stuff (1983) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Entertaining but weaker than the "Flash Gordon" franchise
23 August 2007 | by (Oklahoma) – See all my reviews

I can't help comparing this 1939 serial to "Flash Gordon" (1936) and "Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe" (1940). Although some of the special effects (the ray guns and fleets of spaceships) are superior, "Buck Rogers" is less fun. It's not the fault of Buster Crabbe, who invests Rogers with the same heroic energy he gave to Gordon. And Jackie Moran shines as sidekick Buddy Wade (in the newspaper strip he was Buddy Deering, Wilma's younger brother). But the other actors fall short. So does the story and pacing.

Anthony Wade's Killer Kane is a colorless villain, lacking the panache of Charles Middleton's gleefully evil Ming the Merciless. He badly needs a slinky, sinister Ardala Valmar to spice things up. Constance Moore is a competent Wilma Deering but there's no chemistry between her and Crabbe. Moore lacks the passion Jean Rogers exhibited as Dale Arden in the "Flash" series or the breezy camaraderie Erin Gray displayed as Wilma Deering in the 1980s "Buck Rogers" television show. C. Montague Shaw is OK as Doctor Huer but doesn't have nearly as much to do as Frank Shannon's Doctor Zarkov (again, from the "Flash" serials).

After an exciting start, the serial falls down in the latter six episodes. It is typical of the genre to have a late episode replay scenes from earlier in the series to pad things out. But "Buck Rogers" does this twice. Serial plots also tend to have a lot of captures, escapes, and re-captures. "Flash Gordon" broke the monotony by having these occur in a variety of ways in a variety of locations. "Buck Rogers" has only two destinations: Earth and Saturn. Both planets apparently share the same rocky desert terrain. Doctor Huer has only one technological gimmick to help Buck. The heroes get stranded by crashed spaceships seemingly every other episode. And Kane's goons never tumble to the fact that it's Rogers driving that rocket cruiser reported missing from their hangar.

Given it's charismatic hero and quality special effects, "Buck Rogers" could have equaled or surpassed "Flash Gordon" if it had had stronger writing or more energetic secondary characters. Unfortunately, it has neither.


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