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Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940)

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Flash and his friends return to planet Mongo for an antidote to the Purple Death. But Ming the Merciless has other plans for them...

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Flash Gordon (as Larry 'Buster' Crabbe)
Carol Hughes ...
...
Anne Gwynne ...
Sonja [Chs. 2, 6-12]
Frank Shannon ...
John Hamilton ...
Prof. Gordon [Chs. 1, 4]
Herbert Rawlinson ...
Dr. Frohmann [Chs. 1, 4]
Tom Chatterton ...
Prof. Arden [Chs. 1, 4]
Shirley Deane ...
Lee Powell ...
Roland Drew ...
Don Rowan ...
Victor Zimmerman ...
Edgar Edwards ...
Ben Taggart ...
Gen. Lupi [Chs. 1-2]
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Storyline

A mysterious plague, the Purple Death, ravages the earth. Dr. Zarkov, investigating in his spaceship, finds a ship from planet Mongo seeding the atmosphere with dust. Sure enough, Ming the Merciless is up to his old tricks. So it's back to Mongo for Flash, Dale, and Zarkov, this time with ready-made allies waiting: Prince Barin of Arboria and Queen Fria of the frozen northern land of Frigia; where, it so happens, is found polarite, antidote to the plague. But Ming will use all his forces to keep our heroes from thwarting his plans of conquest... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

New Thrills...New Marvels, New Wonders New Thrills!...New Marvels, New Wonders See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

9 April 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers Conquer the Universe  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This serial was based on Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon comic strip continuity involving Prince Barin and his kingdom of Arboria. Much of the serial's action also takes place in the comic strip kingdom of Frigia. The movie serial characters of Queen Fria, Count Korro, Gen. Lupi and Capt. Sudin all originated in the strip. See more »

Connections

Follows Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938) See more »

Soundtracks

Some of the music cues came from the following films:
The Sun Never Sets (1939) music composed by Frank Skinner
Bombay Mail (1934) by Heinz Roemheld
White Hell of Pitz Palu (1929) by Heinz Roemheld
The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) by Franz Waxman
The Invisible Man (1933) by Heinz Roemheld
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

You gotta give it to him...Ming knew how to move on following defeats.

Universal's 46th sound-era film was the third and last of their serials...From the ALEX RAYMOND newspaper feature owned and copyrighted by King Features Syndicate...starring Buster Crabbe as "Flash Gordon." All featured loose adaptations of their Sunday comic page continuities but this one stayed pretty close to the long-running segment devoted to Prince Barin's Kingdom of Arboria and the Ice Kingdom of Frigia ruled by The Ice Queen, both on the planet Mongo.

This one takes off when the Earth is visited by a deadly epidemic known as the Plague of the Purple Death, easily diagnosed as it leaves a purple spot on the foreheads of its victims. Flash Gordon (Buster Crabbe), Dale Arden (Carol Hughes) and Dr. Zarkov (Frank Shannon) zoom out in Zarkov's rocket ship and make a straight-space bee-line for Mongo, where the ruthless ruler, Ming the Merciless (Charles Middleton) is spreading death dust in Earth's atmosphere as part of his plan to CONQUER THE UNIVERSE. Actually, he had two kingdoms on his own planet he didn't rule, but Ming had a severe case of the hots for Dale Arden from Day One, and he probably figured he could take care of the rebel kingdoms after he made the lured-back Dale his bride and, thusly inspired, take care of Arboria and Frigia in one fell swoop along with the remainder of the Universe. The man knew how to set priorities.

Upon arriving on Mongo, Flash, Dale and Zarkov visit their old friends Prince Barin (played by Roland Drew, and two Roland Drews weren't equal to Dick Alexander's Prince Barin) and his wife Aura (Shirley Dean, formerly of The Jones Family at TC-F), who was also Ming's daughter, who has been reformed by Barin's love and the realization that her father is one stark-mad, raving lunatic...and horny to boot.

The family touches and relationships between the primary characters---Flash may have had a little thing going on with Aura back in the early days of the strip when she was the total spoiled-rotten daughter and supporter of her father, and they were still exchanging Sunday glances for years even after she married Barin--- and the creation of a Queen Glenda of Frigia (Clarice Sherry) ruling over an Ice Kingdom (that one strike any chords with a 2005 film) show that Alex Raymond's plot-writing skills were on par with his top-flight illustration abilities. All of his comic strips, including "Jungle Jim" were aimed at adults, and the kids could figure it out later on their own. Some of us never did.

Glenda The Ice Queen, on Sundays for certain, also had an eye on General Lupi (William Royle), the commander-in-chief of her army, or he was until he ended up in one of Ming's dungeons, and wasn't doing much in the way of commanding when Flash & Company showed up. In fact, Ming's scientists have perfected the Purple Death Dust to the point where it only kills those with intelligence enough to pose a threat to Ming, while only making slaves out of the less intelligent. This, clearly, posed a threat for all the citizens of Earth with all the population doomed to become slaves, but Ming wasn't a man who liked to take chances, except where Dale Arden was concerned. Well, his stooge scientists tell him that this is what they have done, but Ming wants proof and they are about to experiment on General Lupi. Flash, of course, rescues him and this makes the thawed-out Ice Queen happy, and she grants Flash and Zarkov the right to mine Polarite, the antidote to the Purple Death Dust, in her kingdom. After a few incidents with avalanches and "annihilants" Flash mines enough Polarite to save the Earth, and he makes a quick day-trip back there and deposits the life-saving Polarite on top of Mt. McKinley. (Hey, settle down...it's stock footage McKinley and not a location site.) But, back on Mongo, things aren't going all that smooth and there are still many chapters to go. Somewhere toward the end, Zarkov defies Ming by informing him that his and Flash's mission is to not only save the world (Earth) but the Universe as well. Ming, always the one to indulge in tirades, even when things are going his way, scoffs: "The universe? I AM THE UNIVERSE!" Charles Middleton's eyes probably lit up when he saw that line in the script.

(Those of you who don't know how this one ends might want to move on to something else, now)....as they fly back to the safety of Arboria and then back to Earth, Prince Barin tells Flash: "By destroying Ming, you have saved the universe." and Flash replies..."In his mad ambition, Ming declared that HE WAS the universe." And Zarkov says, "Then, since you are the conquerer of Ming, I shall radio your father: Flash Gordon conquers the universe!"

And Dale, not knowing an exit line when she hears one adds..."And saves the Earth."

We thought he saved the Earth several chapters back when he deposited the Polarite atop of Mt. McKinley. Oh, that's correct...Ming later came up with Solarite.

Hey, the dialogue and character's alone overcome any "so-called" 1940's cheesy special effects. Nine out of ten...only because of the covered-up belly buttons in this one.


8 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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