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Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938)

Approved | | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi | 21 March 1938 (USA)
When a deadly Nitron ray strikes Earth, Flash Gordon and his friends travel to Mars to battle Ming the Merciless and his new ally Queen Azura.


Ford Beebe, Robert F. Hill (as Robert Hill) | 1 more credit »


Ray Trampe (original story and screenplay), Norman S. Hall (original story and screenplay) | 3 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Buster Crabbe ... Flash Gordon
Jean Rogers ... Dale Arden
Charles Middleton ... Emperor Ming
Frank Shannon ... Dr. Alexis Zarkov
Beatrice Roberts ... Queen Azura
Donald Kerr Donald Kerr ... Happy Hapgood
Richard Alexander ... Prince Barin [Chs. 6-15]
C. Montague Shaw ... Clay King (as Montague Shaw)
Wheeler Oakman ... Tarnak
Kenne Duncan ... Airdrome Captain (as Kenneth Duncan)
Warner Richmond ... Zandar
Jack Mulhall ... Bomber Captain [Chs. 4-5, 13]
Lane Chandler ... Flight Commander [Chs. 2-3]
Anthony Warde ... King Turan of the Forest People [Chs. 7, 11, 13]
Ben Lewis Ben Lewis ... Professor [Ch. 1]


Flash, Dale, and Dr. Zarkov return from their former space adventures only to find that their enemy, Ming the Merciless of planet Mongo, has a new weapon: a deadly ray that crosses space to wreak havoc on earth. Earth's only hope is for our heroes to take off again and stop the ray at its source on Mars, where they (and a stowaway) must battle Ming's ally, Queen Azura, who turns her enemies into lumpish clay people. Can they survive 15 chapters of deadly perils? Find out next week... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Your Favorite Newspaper Adventures Here On The Screen Again! See more »








Release Date:

21 March 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Space Soldiers' Trip to Mars See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (theatrical)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The serial debuted in March of 1938, just seven months before the infamous Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" Halloween broadcast. To cash in on the controversy caused by the radio show, the studio edited the serial into a feature film, Mars Attacks the World (1938), and released it to theaters in November of that year. See more »


It's such common knowledge that it hardly bears mentioning, but of course Mars's comparatively thin atmosphere lacks the oxygen necessary to support complex life as we know it, so the entire scenario of humans and Mongonians roaming around on the surface without space suits is purely fantastical, and indicative of the hypothetical nature of the planet's on screen counterpart. See more »


Emperor Ming: Take him to the Disintegrating Room.
See more »


Edited into Matinee Movie Serials: Human Bait (2018) See more »


Romeo and Juliet Overture
(Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky)
Heard in episodes 1 to 3 to introduce various characters
See more »

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User Reviews

Great escapism; not quite as good as the 1st "Flash" serial
15 April 2002 | by daveoshSee all my reviews

Some of my reactions to Flash Gordon serials (such as this one) are similar to my feelings about the original Star Trek series. I revel in the swashbuckling fun and the intensity of the experience. I marvel at the ingenious and original sci-fi elements, while chuckling at some of the increasingly dated technology and special effects. I roll my eyes at some of the overacting while secretly cherishing it. I question the plausibility of some of the plot elements, and wince at some of the social commentary that hasn't aged particularly well.

In Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars, many of the actors from the first serial return in their memorable roles. In particular, Buster Crabbe (Flash) and Charles Middleton (Ming) portray their characters with a great deal of flair. Jean Rogers (Dale Arden) seems more subdued and less memorable than in her previous outing. (This may reflect my disapproval of her transformation from a blonde to a short-haired brunette and her censor-demanded, conservative garb!) The new comic-relief journalist character (not present in the original comic strip), "Happy" Hapgood, seems to be a bit of a miscalculation, but his role falls far short of "Jar-Jar" level distraction.

The storyline is interesting, although things do drag a bit during the second half of the serial. The plot is primarily action-driven; the romantic story angles that percolated through the first series are virtually absent here. Although the world of Mars is not as diverse as Mongo's (Lionmen, Sharkmen, Hawkmen), the Clay People are a sad and interesting race. The acting and special effects both seem somewhat more polished than in the first serial. Although in one sense this is an improvement, it also removes some of the quirky fun. Overall, this is an enjoyable and memorable serial that fans of old sci-fi will want to seek out.

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