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Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940)

Approved | | Action, Sci-Fi, Adventure | 9 April 1940 (USA)
Flash Gordon, Dale Arden and Dr. Zarkov return to the planet Mongo for an antidote to the Purple Death, which wreaking destruction on Earth. However, Ming the Merciless has other plans for them.




(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Flash Gordon (as Larry 'Buster' Crabbe)
Professor Gordon [Chs. 1, 4]
Dr. Frohmann [Chs. 1, 4]
Professor Arden [Chs. 1, 4]
Don Rowan ...
Victor Zimmerman ...
Captain Turan
General Lupi [Chs. 1-2]


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


ZOOMING OFF THE EARTH! - Sky-Rocketing Through Space...Braving New Perils Of The Stratosphere! See more »


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Release Date:

9 April 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers Conquer the Universe  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Every episode after the first begins with an opening crawl to catch up the audience on the story so far. This inspired the iconic opening crawl of the Star Wars films. See more »


Referenced in Watching the Detectives (2007) See more »


Les Preludes
Written by Franz Liszt
Used behind main title and throughout the serial
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

8 October 2004 | by See all my reviews

Flash Gordon (Buster Crabbe), Dale Arden (Carol Hughes) and Dr. Zarkov go to the planet Mongo and fight the evil emperor Ming (Charles Middleton) who is shooting "death rays" at the Earth.

I haven't seen the previous two serials so I have nothing to compare it to--but this was pretty good. It moves quickly and there's lots of action: Flash is thrown into a fiery pit; he's trapped in an avalanche; fights silly-looking robots that explode when hit; is zapped by the "Destroying Ray"; has aerial battles with Ming's warships; is caught in a fierce explosion (twice); falls down a huge mountain AND is almost drowned! WHEW!

But he (logically) escapes being killed each time. Also he's joined by Prince Barin, the Forest Men and even some Rock Men.

I also found this pretty progressive (for its time). Dale isn't just a timid female waiting for Flash to save her--she holds her own in fights and takes over the spaceship a few times when he's wounded. The acting is just OK--but it IS just a serial--they weren't trying to win Academy Awards. Hughes is actually the best out of all of them--Middleton is (easily) the worst. Crabbe looks tired a lot--but he was probably sick of playing Flash again and again. The special effects are primitive but I've always liked those silly little spaceships--they're a guilty favorite! Some of the sets are VERY elaborate (probably used from another movie) and the score is wonderful--until you realize you're hearing the same thing over and over.

The best way to see this is one a day or (like I did) three a day. No way can you watch the whole 4 hours in one sitting!

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