47 FILMS: 18. FLASH GORDON

In our continuing series of ‘47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams’, we look at the Dino De Laurentiis produced space opera Flash Gordon.

Flash Gordon was the Saturday morning serial of choice. Buster Crabbe would forever be getting into scrapes and with the help with some dubious editing would manage to escape the next day. Everything was hokey but at the same time the special effects weren’t half bad. Certainly stand comparison with CGI circa 1994. 1995. 1996. You get the idea. The movie version has a long history of near misses with some of the most illustrious directors being attached at one time or another to an adaptation of the Alex Raymond comic strip. George Lucas was going to do it before basically doing it as Star Wars. Federico Fellini had bought an option to make it but never got round to it: he appears in the film as the name of Ornella Muti’s pet alien. Nicolas Roeg was hired and then fired and Sergio Leone was even asked to come in, but turned it down.

In the end Mike Hodges – most famous for the grim English noir Get Carter – was hired to film a script by Lorenzo Semple who had cut his teeth on the original Batman TV show. It aims for the same tone of camp comedy with Chaim Topol’s mad scientist Dr. Zarkof kidnapping amiable knucklehead Flash Gordon (Sam Jones) and Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) and flying them to Mars in a rocket ship. Here they encounter Ming the Merciless (Max Von Sydow’s best role ever) who sentences Flash to death and decides to marry Dale. Flash is saved because agreeable nymphomaniac Princess Aura (Ornella Muti) takes a shine to him. Uniting the birdmen and the woodland folk, led by Timothy Dalton and Brian Blessed respectively, Flash is set to turn the tables on Ming, all to the sound of Britain’s best pub rock band Queen, thumping and camping away in the background.

The film is a glorious mess with no one taking it seriously. There was a porn parody Flesh Gordon (soon to be remade by Matthew Vaughn), but the risque humor on display here and the unbelievably sexy Ornella Muti really means it was surplus to requirement. Following Aura’s capture and whipping, Peter Wyngarde as Klytus purrs ‘She seemed to enjoy it!’

The special effects are cheesy and the dialogue so tongue in cheek that Sam Jones’ performance was almost entirely dubbed by another actor. There is an affection and nostalgia built into the film as well that makes it a pleasure to return to even if the film never quite makes up its mind to be an out and out comedy or an exciting action adventure.

For more of our 47 Films to See Before You’re Murdered in Your Dreams,Click HERE.

FIRST POSTER FOR BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA REMAKE

HOLLYWOOD – The first poster for Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson’s remake of Big Trouble in Little China hit the internet today along with an official statement from the star.

The remake of John Carpenter’s 1986 cult classic Big Trouble in Little China is set to star Dwayne Johnson as hard boiled truck driver Jack Burton, who gets caught up with supernatural goings on in the eponymous Chinatown. The original starred Kurt Russell and Kim Cattrall and was a bit of a flop for Carpenter, who was seeking to cash in on the Romancing the Stone and Indiana Jones action fare of the day. The new version will be written by X-Men: First Class scribes Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz and the approach according to Dwayne Johnson’s statement looks to be reverential:

All too often a remake of this kind of property is too keen to reinvent what doesn’t need reinventing and in the process we lose what was genuinely good about the original. So in this version, I am going to be digitally inserted into the original on top of Kurt Russell’s image and will simply take his place. We’ve hired Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz to update some of the dialogue but as much as we can we’ll leave alone. We want to see Gracie and fight Lo Pan (James Wong). The only casting change is perhaps to get Emma Stone to play Miao Yin.

How fans will react to this is yet to be seen, but Swiss cinema expert Xavier Poulis believes that Dwayne Johnson might have gone one remake too far.

Johnson is a likable personality and he obviously attracts audiences, as the success of San Andreas has proven. But he is finding himself attached to too many sequels and remakes. We’ve already seen him in the Furious films, the Voyage films, and there’s a Baywatch film coming up. And yet there is still no word as to when we will see Southland Tales 2, the film everyone is waiting for.

Dwayne Johnson’s Big Trouble in Little China will be released in 2017.

Image courtesy of @ThePixelFactor.