1950s German TV series based on Flash Gordon comic strip series.
Release Date: 1 October 1954 (USA)
Cast: Steve Holland, Irene Champlin, Joseph Nash
Country: West Germany
There are two majorly famous incarnations of space hero Flash Gordon. The first was the legendary Buster Crabbe who starred In the three serialized films made in the 1930s (before going on to play almost exactly the same role as Buck Rogers and later the improbably named Crash Corrigan). The second is the early 1980s movie starring some blonde bloke and Brian Blessed with an enormous beard and even bigger pair of wings. This is neither of them.
In fact this is a surprising little SF gem made in Germany in the 1950s. With such a bizarre lineage one goes into it not knowing quite what to expect. The main thing is that the filmmakers have happily taken whatever they wanted from the Flash Gordon comic strip series and have discarded the rest, turning this incarnation of the hero into a bizarre cross between Flash Gordon , Star Trek and Plan 9 from Outer space. For some more horrible words could not be put into one sentence though for fans of the genre, this could be a minor paradise.
The leads were all American, presumably to aid sales to that territory and the supporting cast is largely German which makes for an interesting clash of accents. Originally 39 episodes of this serial were made, covering several different adventures. As flash, Steve Holland demonstrators that he is entirely made of wood, while the intriguingly named Irene Champlin manages to be suitably histrionic as Dale Arden and only Joe Nash as Zarkoff, always the most interesting part out of the classic trio, is the only actor who looks like he’s actually having any fun.
This is a fun slice of Sci Fi Schlock…and absolutely nothing more. The effects, sets and costumes are absolutely of their time and therefore look as dated as the opening titles, though all do manage to have a charm of their own, despite, or perhaps because of that. This was the age when everything in space was made out of silver cardboard and man was the undisputed ruler of the world, always right and never troubled by those pesky second thoughts. If you’re a fan of the genre it’s a must see, though you might have difficulty sitting through it all in one go. If you’re not a fan give it a go anyway you’re sure to get a, laugh out of it and you never know….it might just inspire your own career in space!