Flash Gordon and Other Serials

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Dave Scarpa, Jan 27, 2005.

  1. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    Watching Sky Captain the other night reminded me how few movie serials are in my collection. I own the Captain Marvel disk released last year but that's it. I know alot of serials wind up in the public Domain pile including Flash Gordon. I'd like to know if there's any good official releases of Flash and other serials. And if not what are some of the Better PD Releases. I already have Next months Batman and Robin 1949 serial on order.
     
  2. TheBat

    TheBat Producer

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    the 3 flash gordon serials are on DVD from image entertainment. the third movie is also on dvd from VCI and it contains some extras including interviews with buster crabbe.

    JACOB
     
  3. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    The Image Entertainment DVD's have the best image quality, while the VCI DVD's have extras.
     
  4. Robert Floto

    Robert Floto Supporting Actor

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    Dave, how is that Captain Marvel disc?
     
  5. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    For the price you can get it for around $8 its good.
     
  6. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

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  7. Bill Williams

    Bill Williams Screenwriter

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    I for one wouldn't mind seeing DVD releases of both of the "Superman" serials with Kirk Alyn in them.
     
  8. LaurenceGarvey

    LaurenceGarvey Second Unit

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    Since I get asked this question a lot, here’s a list of ten (count ‘em, 10) DVD releases of serials that I heartily recommend. For action, excitement, laughs, and derring-do, you can’t go wrong with any of these. (All serials are 12 chapters, unless noted.)

    BEATRICE FAIRFAX (1916) A “lost” serial that has been found and restored by the Serial Squadron, and every frame of it is a delight. Beatrice was the Ann Landers of her day, and actual letters have been adapted into fanciful 3-reel adventures. No cliffhangers, but non-stop laughs and excitement. Sample plot: A wife writes to Beatrice that her husband has been secretly taking money from the family’s nest egg; can he possibly have another woman? Beatrice and her sidekick, a Jimmy Olsen type, follow the man and discover he’s being blackmailed by the Black Hand. Perils abound. Can be ordered at serialsquadron.com. Print quality and transfer are excellent.

    BURN-’EM-UP BARNES (1934) One of the most enthusiastic and likeable of all the early sound heroes, Jack Mulhall is Barnes, trying to save his girl’s schoolbus company from the corporate raiders who want the oil in her land. Yes, that’s the plot, really. Some of the best chase scenes you’ll see in any vintage movie. With Frankie Darro and Jason Robards, Sr. Available from Alpha, and it’s a terrific print and transfer.

    CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT (1942, 15 chapters) Folks, you have never seen anything like a serial directed by James W. Horne, who is best remembered for his Laurel & Hardy films. People dash about everywhere as if their asses were on fire. Fight scenes are free-for-alls that seem to be choreographed by Jack Kirby. In their off-hours, the villain’s henchmen are apt to relax with a little game of jacks or hopscotch. It’s a loony world all its own. This is the best of the Horne serials that’s currently available. Stars Dave O’Brien (a great stuntman, but also well-remembered for THE DEVIL BAT and REEFER MADNESS). Available from VCI Entertainment.

    FLASH GORDON (SPACE SOLDIERS) (1936, 13 chapters) The best of all motion pictures serials. Don’t be put off by the primitive special effects; this chapterplay has everything, including the best hero in the serial business: Buster Crabbe, taut as a wound spring, not too smart, but great with his fists and ready to wade into action. With Jean Rogers, Frank Shannon, and Charles Middleton. (You’ll probably want the sequels, FG’S TRIP TO MARS and FG CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE, too.) Available from Image Entertainment, and note that they also sell a truncated, “featurized” version that you’ll want to avoid.

    JUNGLE JIM (1937) Lost for more than six decades, JUNGLE JIM seizes its place atop the list of great jungle serials. With Grant Withers, Raymond Hatton, Evelyn Brent as Shanghai Lil, and Henry Brandon as the Cobra. Available from VCI Entertainment.

    RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON (1952) Commando Cody is back, soaring high into the air in his cool bomber jacket and flight pack. You’ll marvel at his adventures, thrill to his courage, and guffaw at the cheesy plot and nonsensical science (spacemen walking around the moon’s surface in their business suits). Non-stop fun and laughs. Available from several sources, but I recommend the Roan Group (Troma) or Image Entertainment versions (although the cheaper Alpha 2-disc set is nearly as good).

    SECRET AGENT X-9 (1937) and (1945, 13 chapters) Universal made two serials from the popular Alex Raymond comic strip, and they’re both excellent. In the first version, Scott Kolk is trying regain the stolen crown jewels of a mythical European kingdom, and Henry Brandon is trying to keep the jewels he’s swiped. Jean Rogers and Lon Chaney, Jr., are around, too. In the second version, Lloyd Bridges (in one of his first roles) thwarts an Axis plot to develop a powerful synthetic fuel. With Keye Luke and – in one of the great supporting roles in any chapterplay – Samuel S. Hinds (Jimmy Stewart’s dad in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE) as the Tiddly Winks Man. Both available from VCI Entertainment.

    UNDERSEA KINGDOM (1936) Republic’s version of Flash Gordon, only Crash Corrigan goes to inner earth to battle the sinister Unga Khan, who is trying to do the nasty with the surface dwelling populace far above his own kingdom. With Lois Wilde and Lon Chaney, Jr.

    ZORRO’S CLIFFHANGER COLLECTION – Okay, this is a cheat, but a good cheat, because you’re actually getting three excellent serials for the price of one. ZORRO RIDES AGAIN (1937) is my favorite Zorro serial; John Carroll is a very, very sissified John Vega, descendent of the original Z-guy. This one is set in modern times, only it’s the Roy Rogers modern times, you know: if a horse ain’t fast enough, take a car. ZORRO'S FIGHTING LEGION (1939) puts Zorro back in his old era, with Reed Hadley very dashing with a whip and a sword. Finally, ZORRO'S BLACK WHIP (1944) gives us the most unusual Zorro of all: The Black Whip, a beautiful woman (Linda Stirling at her best) who isn’t Zorro, but knows all his tricks. ZORRO’S CLIFFHANGER COLLECTION is available from VCI Entertainment.

    Here's my annual list of all serials available on DVD. I include only the best available copy; you'll find DICK TRACY and FLASH GORDON CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE available from just about everybody, but you may as well save your money on Marengo and Madacy titles. A key follows.

    ACE DRUMMOND (1936/Universal/13) Alpha / Serial: **** disc: ***
    THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL (1941/Republic/12) Artisan / Serial: **** disc: **
    THE ADVENTURES OF THE FLYING CADETS (1943/Universal/13) VCI / Serial: ** disc: ***
    THE ADVENTURES OF RED RYDER (1940/Republic/12) VCI / Serial: ** disc: ***
    THE ADVENTURES OF SMILIN’ JACK (1943/Universal/13) Alpha / Serial: **** disc: **
    THE ADVENTURES OF TARZAN (1921/Numa/10) Serial Squadron / Serial: ** disc: ***
    BUCK ROGERS (1939/Universal/12) VCI / Serial: *** disc: ***
    BURN ‘EM UP BARNES (1934/Mascot/12) Alpha / Serial: **** disc: ****
    CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT (1942/Columbia/15) VCI / Serial: *** disc: ***
    THE CLUTCHING HAND (1936/Stage & Screen/15) Alpha / Serial: ? disc: **
    DICK TRACY (1937/Republic/15) VCI / Serial: ** disc: ***
    DON WINSLOW OF THE NAVY (1942/Universal/12) Alpha / Serial: ? disc: **
    THE DRUMS OF FU MANCHU (1940/Republic/15) VCI / Serial: **** disc: **
    FLAMING FRONTIERS (1938/Universal/15) Serial Squadron / Serial: ? disc: ?
    FLASH GORDON (a/k/a “SPACE SOLDIERS”) (1936/Universal/13) Image / Serial: **** disc: ****
    FLASH GORDON CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE (1940/Universal/12) Image/VCI / Serial: ** disc ****
    FLASH GORDON’S TRIP TO MARS (1938/Universal/15) Image / Serial: *** disc: ****
    GANG BUSTERS (1942/Universal/13) Serial Squadron / Serial: ? disc: ****
    THE GREAT ALASKAN MYSTERY (1944/Universal/13) Alpha / Serial: * disc: **
    THE GREEN ARCHER (1940/Columbia/15) VCI / Serial: ** disc: ***
    HOLT OF THE SECRET SERVICE (1941/Columbia/15) VCI / Serial: *** disc: ****
    JACK ARMSTRONG (1947/Columbia/15) VCI / Serial: * disc: ***
    JUNGLE GIRL (1941/Republic/15) VCI / Serial: * disc: ***
    JUNGLE JIM (1937/Universal/12) VCI / Serial: **** disc: ****
    JUNIOR G-MEN (1940/Universal/12) Alpha / Serial: *** disc: ***
    JUNIOR G-MEN OF THE AIR (1942/Universal/12) Alpha / Serial: ** disc: **
    KING OF THE ROYAL MOUNTED (1940/Republic/12) VCI / Serial: ? disc: ****
    THE LOST JUNGLE (1934/Mascot/12) Alpha / Serial: ** disc: **
    MANDRAKE THE MAGICIAN (1939/Columbia/12) VCI / Serial: * disc: ***
    THE MIRACLE RIDER (1935/Mascot/15) VCI / Serial: **** disc: ****
    THE NEW ADVENTURES OF TARZAN (1935/Burroughs/12) Roan / Serial: ? disc: ***
    THE PAINTED STALLION (1937/Republic/12) VCI / Serial: ? disc: ***
    THE PHANTOM (1943/Columbia/15) VCI / Serial: **** disc: ***
    THE PHANTOM CREEPS (1939/Universal/12) Video Home Entertainment / Serial: * disc: **
    THE PHANTOM EMPIRE (1935/Mascot/12) Serial Squadron / Serial: *** disc: ***
    RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON (1952/Republic/12) Roan Group / Serial: ** disc: ****
    THE RETURN OF CHANDU (1934/Principal/12) VCI / Serial: * disc: ***
    ROBINSON CRUSOE OF CLIPPER ISLAND (1936/Republic/14) Image / Serial: * disc: ***
    SEA RAIDERS (1941/Universal/12) Alpha / Serial: ** disc: **
    SECRET AGENT X-9 (1937/Universal/12) VCI / Serial: ? disc: ****
    SECRET AGENT X-9 (1945/Universal/13) VCI / Serial: *** disc: ****
    SHADOW OF CHINATOWN (1936/Victory/15) Alpha / Serial: *** disc: **
    SKY RAIDERS (1941/Universal/12) Alpha / Serial: ? disc: **
    S.O.S. COAST GUARD (1937/Republic/12) Roan / Serial: *** disc: ****
    TERRY AND THE PIRATES (1940/Columbia/15) VCI / Serial: *** disc: ***
    THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1933/Mascot/12) Roan Group / Serial: * disc: ***
    THE TIGER WOMAN (1944/Republic/12) Roan Group / Serial: *** disc: ***
    UNDERSEA KINGDOM (1936/Republic/12) Roan Group / Serial: **** disc: ****
    THE WHISPERING SHADOW (1933/Mascot/12) Alpha / Serial: ** disc: **
    WINNERS OF THE WEST (1940/Universal/13) VCI / Serial: * disc: ***
    ZORRO RIDES AGAIN (1937/Republic/12) VCI/Image / Serial: *** disc: ***
    ZORRO’S BLACK WHIP (1944/Republic/12) VCI/Image / Serial: *** disc: ***
    ZORRO’S FIGHTING LEGION (1939/Republic/12) VCI/Image / Serial: **** disc: ***

    Key:

    Serials:
    * is a bore, don’t bother
    ** is so-so
    *** is good
    **** is excellent; don’t miss

    Disc:
    * is a mess
    ** is pretty good; usually watchable
    *** is good, no major flaws
    **** terrific

    Notes: Some of the discs (mainly VCI and the Serial Squadron) have extras such as trailers, which are always nice, but I don't think they bumped up my * rating. I based it completely on the serial itself.

    The Serial Squadron's serials listed above are DVD-Rs, but they have very attractive menus and extras, and were they commercial releases, they'd rank near the best. They can be ordered from serialsquadron.com. One caveat: Dr. Grood, Emperor of the Squadron, has a tendency to fiddle with things. His restoration of THE PHANTOM EMPIRE is marvelous, but instead of stopping there, he added music and color effects that mar an otherwise award-worthy effort. Shop carefully.
     
  9. Doug Bull

    Doug Bull Advanced Member

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    I believe that Columbia's "BATMAN AND ROBIN" serial has just been anounced as coming.

    The 15 Episode serial should look great because it will be the proper Studio release and not a public domain effort.

    I will certainly get it, if only to see the legendry SAM KATZMAN's name on the credits.[​IMG]
     
  10. LaurenceGarvey

    LaurenceGarvey Second Unit

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    Yes, BATMAN AND ROBIN (1949) has been announced for March 22 release.

    Back in the day, the advertising for this chapterplay referred to it as THE NEW ADVENTURES OF BATMAN AND ROBIN to differentiate it from the 1943 BATMAN serial.

    It's as goofy as hell and tons of fun. Batman and Robin battle a mysterious crimelord called the Wizard, who can turn his ol' bad self invisible. Robert Lowery (THE MUMMY'S GHOST, MONSTER AND THE APE) and Johnny Duncan are the Caped Crusaders, Lyle Talbot is Commissioner Gordon, and Jane Adams (HOUSE OF DRACULA) is Vicki Vale. Highly recommended.
     
  11. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    Laurence , started my collection ordered from Oldies.com

    Holt of the Secret Service
    The Phantom Empire
    Radar Men From the Moon

    $25 for Five disks not bad.

    Next I'm gong to try those Ace Drummond and the Gangbusters serials
     
  12. LaurenceGarvey

    LaurenceGarvey Second Unit

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    VCI continues to release top-notch serial fun and entertainment with HOLT OF THE SECRET SERVICE, a 15-episode Columbia chapterplay from 1941.

    Jack Holt and Evelyn Brent comprise one of the most unusual tandems of heroes in serial history, long in the tooth but also plenty long on toughness. Masquerading as "Nick Farrel", escaped tough guy, and his wife, Holt and Brent infiltrate a gang of counterfeiters. The setting is surprisingly widespread for a chapterplay, as the action moves from the gang's hideout in a lost canyon to a gambling ship on the high seas to a small island country where the gang hopes to escape U.S. extradition. The main villain is a fellow named Arnold, but he hides behind the facade of one of his men, Quist, to shield himself from the Secret Service, and lets another one of his men, Valden (frequent serial henchman Tris Coffin), do most of his dirty work. The island nation has its own pocket dictator, who is also trying to rub out our boy Jack.

    Jack Holt is, simply put, the toughest leading man in serial history, the type of guy who could swallow nails and crap thumbtacks. When he gets in a fistfight with four of Arnold's boys and beats the hell out of the entire quartet, you can believe it.

    As this is a James Horne serial, some of you might wonder about the "comedy" content. There is little of the funny stuff that you’ll find in such Horne classics as TERRY AND THE PIRATES or THE SPIDER RETURNS, unless you count the occasional "undercranking" that makes everybody look like they are rushing out of a burning house, or the fact that, unlike the Republic serials in which bands were used to keep the Fedoras on during fights, Columbia apparently just instructed their actors and stuntmen to crush their hats down tightly on their heads, making everybody resemble two-fisted Buster Keatons.

    I give HOLT OF THE SECRET SERVICE a solid *** and recommend it highly. (And no, I’m not just saying that because I wrote the bios of Holt and Horne that are served up as extras on the disc; you’ll find a bunch of serial trailers, too.) As a companion feature, why not watch MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE WORLD (1958), starring Jack's son Tim?
     
  13. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    I bought Holt from Oldies.com and it's definately an Alpha release. I wonder if the VCI release is better. The Alpha release of Radar Men I thought was pretty Decent. I really Enjoyed Watching that.
     
  14. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    Great post Laurence, and I appreciate all the information. Thank you very much!

    Bob
     
  15. LaurenceGarvey

    LaurenceGarvey Second Unit

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    In reverse order: (1)You're welcome! (2) The Alpha release of RADAR MEN looks so good because they, um, paid... uhhh... close attention to the Roan Group release when making their own DVD. If you get my drift. The VCI HOLT is superior.
     
  16. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    Re: Alpha "paying attention" to a Roan disc - that's nothing new. Roan did the same with my 35mm transfers of Devil Bat, Scared to Death, Jack and the Beanstalk and Africa Screams. They even stated in the DVD text that they were responsible for locating the 35mm materials.

    At least they could have given credit to the person that tracked down the 35mm source elements!
     
  17. Jim R Bee

    Jim R Bee Auditioning

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    FYI: The 35mm print used for transfer of "Flash Gordon's Trip To Mars" to DVD was the very same print played over New York City's WPIX-TV Channel 11 in the late fifties and early sixties. It also had the missing footage in exactly the same spot in Chapter 3. Wonder if a complete print is available for remastering ?
     
  18. Roger_S

    Roger_S Stunt Coordinator

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    I used to buy serials now and then but have really been concentrating on enlarging my collection of them the last couple of years and have probably 65-75 of them right now...about 50 of them on DVD from various places plus a dozen or so on laserdisc and a handful on VHS which I hope to see come out eventually on DVD. Every time I think I won't find another good serial on DVD, another is announced. In fact, I just ordered another handful including Ace Drummond, Terry and the Pirates and a couple of westerns. Strangely enough, I only have one of the three Flash Gordons so far. As to Superman, they'll probably be out on DVD next year once the time comes foro the new Superman film to hit theatres.
     

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