Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saturday Matinee: Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, Chapter Four

The ray effects in this week's installment go from the sublime to the ridiculous. The sublime is the moiré-ish Destroying Ray near the end. The ridiculous, near the beginning and end, are what are obviously print scratches.

Ming lusts after Dale Arden in a couple of fun scenes that remind of a bit from Jim Harmon and Donald F. Glut's The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury:
The most evil mastermind of them all was an actor who was not famous from horror films, crime pictures, or Westerns. In fact, he never really seemed to get a good role outside of serials. Because he was largely ignored for major parts in features, his most famous portrayal will always be that of Ming the Merciless in Universal's three Flash Gordon serials. Ming's real name was Charles Middleton.
Middleton came from a wealthy family and did not really have to act for a living, but he enjoyed it....
Charles Middleton hugely enjoyed the role of Ming, overacting with just enough gusto to make his menace believable within the context of that very special serial world. You could almost read his inner feelings when, beholding the golden beauty of Dale Arden for the first time, he advances with clutching, rigid finigers that must have been both clammy and slimy, and slowly speaks in a commanding voice, "Ah, you are beautiful!" At times, the Emperor of Mongo thought of conquering more than just the Earth.

If you read my entries about editing Undersea Kingdom, you'll know just how anal retentive I am about these videos. In the case of Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, I'm not doing any editing, but I am assembling them from three different sources.

Source 1 is an MPEG-2 of the feature version. Source 2 is a set of AVI files of the episodic version with new titles calling it Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers Conquer the Universe. Source 3 is this same version from DVCam tapes.

Unfortunately, the DVCam version is missing Chapters One through Three. I bought them from a public domain video dealer a couple years ago, but didn't get a chance to view them (and find out it wasn't complete) until this last fall.

As a result, Chapters One through Three came mostly from Source 1, with the chapter intros, cliffhanger recaps, cliffhanger endings, and a few other shots from Source 2.

This week, all the video is from Source 3 (which is the sharpest) except for the opening credits, which are from Source 1. However, Source 1 sounds the best, so as much of the audio as possible comes from there. Since the text recap isn't in Source 1, both video and sound come from Source 3.

However, Source 3 has some annoying digital errors in the sound, so I twice had to patch in a word in the recap from the markedly inferior Source 2. See if you can tell which they are.

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