Flash Gordon - Conquers the Universe 1940

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.

The Cast

Buster Crabbe-Flash Gordon
Carol Hughes-Dale Arden
Charles Middleton-Emperor Ming
Anne Gwynne-Sonja [Chs. 2, 6-12]
Frank Shannon-Dr. Alexis Zarkov
John Hamilton-Professor Gordon [Chs. 1, 4]
Herbert Rawlinson-Dr. Frohmann [Chs. 1, 4]
Tom Chatterton-Professor Arden [Chs. 1, 4]

The Director: Ford Beebe
The Writers: George H. Plympton, Basil Dickey, Barry Shipman, Alex Raymond

Certificate : U

Film Trivia

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.
Chapter Titles:
  • 1. The Purple Death
  • 2. Freezing Torture
  • 3. Walking Bombs
  • 4. The Destroying Ray
  • 5. The Palace of Peril
  • 6. Flaming Death
  • 7. Land of the Dead
  • 8. The Fiery Abyss
  • 9. The Pool of Peril
  • 10. The Death Mist
  • 11. Stark Treachery
  • 12. Doom of the Dictator
The dialog of the Rock People is normal speech played backwards.
Buster Crabbe (Flash Gordon), Charles Middleton (Ming the Merciless) and Frank Shannon (Dr. Alexis Zarkov) are the only actors to appear in all three "Flash Gordon" serials.
Buster Crabbe (Flash Gordon) and Shirley Deane (Princess Aura) died only three days apart: Crabbe on April 23, 1983 and Deane on April 26, 1983.
In the final chapter before his demise, Ming is looking to escape. In the endings of most serial episodes the hero is is the one trying to escape (then thought to be killed - until the next week). This might suggest another sequel or fourth Flash Gordon serial. However, after 7 December 1941 and the attack on Pearl Harbor, just 3 years after Orson Welles' infamous 'War of the Worlds' radio broadcast simulating an attack from from outer space, the production of "space travel" films were put on hold.
This serial was based on Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon comic strip continuity involving Prince Barin and his kingdom of Arboria. Much of the serial's action also takes place in the comic strip kingdom of Frigia. The movie serial characters of Queen Fria, Count Korro, Gen. Lupi and Capt. Sudin all originated in the strip.
In the 1960's this serial was edited into the length of a conventional feature to be sold to TV . The feature version was renamed Flash Gordon's Perils from the Planet Mongo.
King Features Syndicate released the 3 Flash Gordon serials as well as "Buck Rogers," "Red Barry", "Ace Drummond" and other comic strip cliffhangers to US TV in 1951. Because the television show Flash Gordon (1954), starring Steve Holland as Flash, was in syndication in late 1953, the three Universal Pictures' Flash Gordon theatrical serials were retitled for TV broadcast. Flash Gordon (1936) became "Space Soldiers", Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938) became "Space Soldiers' Trip to Mars", and Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940) became "Space Soldiers Conquer the Universe". To this day both the 3 original "Flash Gordon" serial titles and the 3 "Space Soldiers" titles are used.