“Flash Gordon” (1980)

You have almost certainly seen this Mike Hodges directed classic before, and if not – what is wrong with you? It tends to be remembered as a camp update of the 1930s serials with a pulsing Queen soundtrack, and it is all that, but there are a few things that people tend to forget. First of all, it looks amazing. The art direction and costume design are both awesome, more than making up for the ropiness of the effects. It also has a considerable erotic charge, particularly centred on Ming’s daughter, Princess Aura (played by the sultry Ornella Muti), with the scene in which she is flogged by the evil Klytus surely launching a great many young people’s interest in unnatural vice.

The one guy who doesn’t receive enough kudos in all this is Sam Jones as Flash (even if they overdubbed his voice). He plays the character as a loveable lunk who, in contrast to so many other action heroes, resolves all the problems by building alliances and making friends instead of using pure brute force. It is said that Arnold Schwarzenegger was in the running for the lead role, but the film would have been terrible with that inexpressive lump of muscle playing Flash. So top marks to Sam Jones, and to everyone else who appears in this great film. See it and be unashamed… although perhaps you might need to give thought to whether the film features problematic depiction of people from non-white racial groups.
images:

Flash Gordon poster (Wikipedia)

Flash (Sam J. Jones) and Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydow) (Guardian: The problem with Flash Gordon is racism – and animation won’t fix it)

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