Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars (1938)
Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon
Jean Rogers as Dale Arden
Charles Middleton as Ming the Merciless
Frank Shannon as Doctor Alexis Zarkov
Beatrice Roberts as Queen Azura
Donald Kerr as Happy Hapgood
C. Montague Shaw as Clay King
Based on the comic strip by Alex Raymond
Screenplay by Ray Trampe, Norman S. Hall,
Wyndham Gittens & Herbert Dalmas
Directed by Ford Beebe
Chapter 1: New Worlds to Conquer
Chapter 2: The Living Dead
Chapter 3: Queen of Magic
Plot: As a mysterious beam of light threatens Earth, our returning heroes believe it’s coming from Mongo. However, once Flash, Dale and Dr. Zarkov discover it’s coming from Mars, the real adventure begins as they discover Ming the Merciless is alive and now aligned with Azura, the Witch Queen of Mars!
Richard’s Review: Picking up right where Flash Gordon left off gets us started right into the action. However, the celebration is short-lived and we’re right back in the thick of it with the return of Ming. I agree with Karla, it would have been nice to explain how Ming survived but once you go with it, the story keeps flowing. These three chapters set up a slightly different adventure. However, the inclusion of Happy Hapgood as the comedic relief was a little annoying. This was only the second time viewing this serial and things are off to a good start.
Karla’s Thoughts: I liked how this picked up right where the last Flash Gordon series left off. The new cartoon strip recaps at the beginning of each episode is fun and I really appreciate how Dale isn’t screaming as much. Shooting the guy through the ship really took me out of the moment. And I wanted to know how Ming survived and got to Mars. A promising start so far.
- Ford Beebe was a prolific writer and director with a combined 231 credits, including The Phantom Creeps (1939) and Night Monster (1942) with Bela Lugosi, as well as Tarzan the Tiger (1929) and several entries in the Bomba Jungle Boy series.
- Ray Trampe also wrote Buck Rogers (1939), which also starred Buster Crabbe in the lead role.
- Norman Hall also wrote the Buck Rogers, Drums of Fu Manchu (1940) and Dick Tracy vs. Crime, Inc. (1941) chapter serials.
Availability: Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars is available through a variety of sources, including the Image Entertainment DVD or you can watch it for free on YouTube!
Next week…chapters 4-6!