Friends, I think we can all agree that as we near the end of 2020 that it has been less than enjoyable – in particular with the loss of many of our favorite entertainers – just a few days ago Hugh Keays-Byrne (Mad Max, The Blood of Heroes, Mad Max: Fury Road) joining that unfortunately growing list. However this year has also seen the anniversaries of a slew of classic and cult classic films – such as the 40th anniversary for the likes of Motel Hell, Alligator, Airplane!, and The Blues Brothers to name a few. Today though marks 40 years of the 1980 film adaptation of Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon – starring Sam J. Jones, Max von Sydow, Timothy Dalton, Topol, Melody Anderson, Mariangela Melato, Peter Wyngarde, Ornella Muti, and of course the legendary Brian Blessed. My Father and I caught this film at the local movie theater 40 years ago and it became one of our all-time favorite films – thanks in no small part to that iconic soundtrack courtesy of Queen!
I have shared numerous times in the past that listening to music in my household just wasn’t a thing – the soundtrack for Flash Gordon was an exception – picking it up at the local Walmart the day after we caught the film. In particular I would listen to both “Vultan’s Theme (Attack of the Hawkmen)” and the “Battle Theme” over and over again when my Father was out working in the yard. Flash Gordon also made me a card-carrying member of the Brian Blessed fan club at the age of eight!
At the time that we caught Flash Gordon at that fabled Razorback theater of my youth – I actually wasn’t aware of the long history of the popular comic strip character. My Father was adamant about seeing the film thanks to his love of the reissue of the serials in the ’40s – starring the fantastic Buster Crabbe – who secured the Olympic gold medal in ’32 for the 400-meter freestyle swimming event. A feat that helped him to become an actor – eventually leading him to portray not just the character of Flash Gordon but Tarzan and Buck Rogers too!
While most of the cast were signed to a multi-picture deal – Flash Gordon didn’t perform well enough at the box office to warrant sequels. Just as with a few of my other favorite films like The Thing, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, Electric Dreams, and Krull – it took time for the movie to find it’s audience. Thanks to cable television, VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, and Blu-ray releases over the years – Flash Gordon has become a very popular cult film.
So here is to 40 years of 1980’s Flash Gordon… we gratefully thank you for saving and entertaining every one of us!