Serial Adventures in Depression   Leave a comment


There’s always been the element of fantasy in movies.  That’s no surprise.  It seems to me, though that the whole genre of Science Fiction/Fantasy has really taken Hollywood by the horns and blown out its gates.

Take, for example, the Great Depression.  Back then, one went to the movies to moon over Fred and Ginger dressed in ballroom basics in exotic overseas destinations to flaunt their talent on a polished dance floor.  The more extravagant the number, the better the attendance.  That also coincided with the time of true Hollywood glamour, beautiful men and women showing us they weren’t you, but another league entirely.  Though the average American knew they’d probably never be as glamorous as those stars, it offered a measure of comfort to pretend you might be, for a few hours, at least.

Occasionally, there’s be the science fiction film or series taking us to places with strange sounding names and odd looking creatures, all angry and ready to eat us alive.  Buck Rogers, starring Buster Crabbe.  This 12-part, 1939 series grips one to the edge of one’s seat as the Earth fights Saturn (or is it the other way around?) for all sorts of military and adventure glory. Watch it!

I adored Flash Gordon too.  Also starring Buster Crabbe, this adventure series had our hero flying around in what appeared to be giant electric razors.  Dale Arsdon, the kind-of girlfriend of Flash’s, was one hot babe, while Ming the Merciless somehow never got around to killing Flash, but it wasn’t from lack of trying.  He’d come up with some cruel and bizarre ways to bump him off, yet through a clever yet inventive way, Flash’d pull it off, managing to save himself, Dale, and any other perceived innocent deserving to live.  It’s totally worth watching Flash Gordon!

It’s also important to remember that these serials were watched by the very same people that developed some of the finest projects filmed today.  Hokey as they might be, they are pretty fun.



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