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Chapter 101: The Planet of Peril

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Flash Gordon (serial)


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(first) Chapter 102: The Tunnel of Terror



Synopsis

"We are doomed, Professor Gordon!" A planet is on a collision course with Earth, causing fire to rain from the skies. The world is in a panic as two scientists, Lawrence Gordon and Professor Hensley, contemplate the planet's imminent destruction.

Professor Gordon's son, Flash Gordon, flies home from college to be with his father at the end. The plane is battered by atmospheric disturbance, and the passengers bail out in parachutes. Noticing that a pretty girl, Dale Arden, is frightened, Flash impulsively grabs her as he jumps out of the plane, and the pair parachute down together.

Flash and Dale land near a mysterious rocket ship. Dr. Hans Zarkov appears from the shadows with a gun, fearing that the newcomers will try to interrupt his plans. Zarkov believes that the planet rushing toward the Earth is inhabited—and if he can travel there in his rocket, he can divert the planet's course and save the Earth. Flash and Dale agree to act as Zarkov's assistants.

After a bumpy ride, the ship lands on the planet Mongo, where two dragons emerge from the caves to investigate. Flash, Dale and Zarkov flee as the dragons fight each oher. Another rocket flies overhead, and shoots a ray at the lizards, killing them. The ship lands, and Officer Torch emerges, with two armored guards. Torch arrests the Earth people and brings them to Ming's palace.

The prisoners are brought before the sinister Ming the Merciless. Zarkov warns Ming that the collision between Earth and Mongo will destroy both planets, but Ming isn't worried—he controls the movement of his planet, and he plans to destroy the Earth. Impressed with Zarkov's scientific credentials, Ming orders the guards to put Zarkov to work in his laboratory.

Ming is taken with Dale's beauty, while his daughter, Princess Aura, is clearly interested in Flash. When Ming makes a pass at Dale, Flash pushes him away, leading to a tussle with Ming's guards. Ming orders Flash to be thrown into the arena. Aura proposes a deal with her father—if Flash survives, then she can have him.

Restrained by Ming's servants, Dale watches helplessly as Flash is forced to battle with three vicious Ape Men. Flash acquits himself well in the arena, but Ming purrs, "He shall not escape the pit." Desperate to save her new crush, Aura runs into the arena. Ming's guards follow, and Aura grabs one of their ray guns. She shoots the guard operating the trap door to the pit—but he falls on the lever, opening the door beneath Aura and Flash's feet, and they hurtle downwards into the darkness.

Recap card

A mysterious world that came/ hurtling from the skies,/ threatening to destroy the earth,/ forced Flash Gordon and Dale/ Arden into a rocket plane with/ Doctor Zarkov, in a mad attempt/ to reach the planet and divert/ it from its course.//

Hurled through boundless space,/ they land on the onrushing/ planet and fall into the clutches/ of the merciless Emperor Ming,/ who promptly imprisons Zarkov/ in his laboratory and then,/ determined to win the beautiful/ Dale for his bride, condemns/ Flash to fight huge ape-like man/ killers in the arena.

First Words

  • Dale Arden: "Why is it so terribly rough?"
  • Flash Gordon: "Proximity of the wild planet, disturbing the atmosphere."
  • Dr. Zarkov: "Stop! Stay where you are."
  • Emperor Ming: "Was there any resistance?"
  • Princess Aura: "A bargain, father -- if he survives, he's mine!"
  • Professor Gordon: "You're right, Hensley. It's only a question of time. Soon, the Earth will be smashed to atoms!"

Notes

  • Dale faints in Zarkov's rocket ship as the oxygen runs out. The two men in the rocket don't seem to notice the lack of oxygen until Dale faints. She also notices the lack of oxygen in "Chapter 104: Battling the Sea Beast". This is the first time in the serial that Dale faints.
  • The costumes for Dale Arden and Princess Aura were daring for the time, sometimes attracting the attention of censors. Some scenes filmed for the first chapter needed to be reshot when the censors felt that Priscilla Lawson's top was too revealing.[1]
  • This opening chapter follows the story of Alex Raymond's original comic strip very closely, in some cases faithfully reproducing individual panels. In the comic, the story of this chapter played out over the first four Sunday strips, published from January 7–28, 1934.
  • One major difference in the serial adaptation is that Dr. Zarkov accompanies Flash and Dale to Emperor Ming's palace, and is put to work in Ming's laboratory. In the comic strip, the rocket ship crashes on Mongo on January 14, and Zarkov is forgotten—Flash caries Dale out of the wreck, and Zarkov isn't even mentioned. Zarkov makes a surprise return to the strip more than three months later, on April 24.
  • The miniature used for Zarkov's rocket ship was recycled from an earlier production, the 1930 film Just Imagine. Flash Gordon also used some footage borrowed from Just Imagine, including the shot of Zarkov's rocket ship blasting off, and the scene of dancing girls worshipping a huge idol, used in the opening of each chapter.[2]
  • Ming's soldiers carry rayguns, but they seem reluctant to use them. When Flash kicks up a fuss, the soldiers all attack him with swords, instead of shooting him. At the end of the chapter, three soldiers enter the arena to bring Aura out, and only one of them seems to be carrying a gun—the others attack with their fists. As it turns out, Aura is the only person in the chapter to actually fire a gun.

Cast

References

  1. Roy Kinnard, Science Fiction Serials. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 1998.
  2. Roy Kinnard, Science Fiction Serials. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 1998.

Gallery

101title
101pic
101daleflash

Dale and Flash find Zarkov's rocket ship.

MongoRocketship

A Mongo Rocketship in Flight.

101auraflash

Princess Aura claims her prize.

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