In this adaptation of the Alex Raymond comic strips, the incidents are familiar but rearranged in a new sequence, with a Hitler subplot added by writer Samual A. Peeples. It opens in Poland, with Nazi bombs falling. Flash Gordon is given a message for Dr. Hans Zarkov. Reporter Dale Arden is also looking for Zarkov, to interview him for her newspaper. Next, as in the comic strip and movie serial, their plane crashes and they join Zarkov on his rocketship to Mongo, where dinosaurs threaten them. Then, in a sequence that does not occur until much later in other versions, they are captured by the Beastmen. This is followed by the familiar first confrontation with Ming, and their first meeting with Thun the Lionman and Ming's daughter Aura. Next, in a sequence not from the strip, with Flash and Thun are made slaves in the mines of Mongo. They escape, and, as in the strip, meet Prince Barin of the Forest Kingdom and Vultan, King of the Hawkmen, (skipping over the Shark Men of the comic ... Written by
This fantastic movie is the greatest kept secret of all!!
I never saw this movie in its original network broadcast (NBC late night Sunday after the local news) and assumed that it was merely a compilation of the first 4 episodes of the TV series, "The New Adventures of Flash Gordon." In fact, "Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of All" was an original movie separate from the TV series. This movie is the pilot episode made by Filmation to sell the TV series to the networks.
Although some of the footage from this pilot movie was recycled and reused in the TV series, the movie tells an original story that parallels some of the story elements from the TV series, but also has many scenes that never appeared in the series at all. As just one example, the TV series begins with the arrival on Mongo by Flash, Dale, and Zarkov. The movie begins earlier, with Flash still on Earth in Poland in 1939, as the Germans are bombing Warsaw. Flash later meets Dale Arden on a commercial airplane flight, and they both meet Zarkov after they bail out of their plane before its crash. Eventually, the three blast off in Zarkov's rocket immediately before a flaming comet destroys Zarkov's lab. (The first scene in the credits for the TV series included several seconds of this footage of their departure from Earth.) All of this is straight out of the original Alex Raymond comic strips, and the entire movie is faithful to the spirit and sense of wonder in the original 1930s and 1940s comic strips.
This movie is much more adult in tone than the Saturday morning TV series it inspired,which may explain why NBC effectively buried this movie by airing it late at night on Sunday. Although broadcast standards have changed since 1979, this movie would have been considered too violent to be aired on Saturday morning in the 1980s. This is unfortunate because this movie is so entertaining and well animated. The story is superb, and the animation is superior to most of the animation in the TV series. (The best animation in the TV series is the animation reused from this movie.) This is one of those rare cartoons (like Jonny Quest) that can be enjoyed equally by adults and children. It is a crime that this movie has never been released on home video (yet), since it seems never to be aired on TV. You may be able to find a bootleg copy on eBay if you are fortunate.
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