Let it be said here and now: I have a deep and abiding love for the Republic Serials.
Republic serials (and those of other companies too, but Republic is the best-known name) were shown in 20-minute instalments at the cinema. A serial would last perhaps twelve or fifteen weeks, sandwiched somewhere between the A-movie, B-movie, newsreel and cartoons. Each episode finished with a cliff-hanger ending, to ensure the kids came back next week.
Then they invented television. Without a steady supply of regulars at the cinema, the economics stopped holding up. Cinema serials died in the mid-fifties.
During school holidays in the UK, they’d often run these serials during the daytime. An episode a day in the late morning, sometimes two.
Tales of daring, brave heroes, with ray-guns. And spaceships. Fighting evil, against the odds, each and every week, because it was the right thing to do.
It’s no wonder I turned out the way I did, really.
The best of them all was Flash Gordon.
I loved those Flash Gordon serials. So in the 1980s, when I heard there was a Flash Gordon film, I was desperate to see it.
And what happened? It was as camp as bottled coffee-and-chicory essence. I walked out of that theatre bitterly disappointed. Where was the hero of my younger days?
(In the late 70s, George Lucas attempted to get the rights to Flash Gordon. He couldn’t, and was forced to make up his own SF action-adventure serial films instead. Didn’t work out too badly for him.)
So I’ve been waiting for decades, waiting for someone to do Flash Gordon right.
Last week, there was a huge ad on the cover of Variety. In big type across the front – “Flash Gordon – A hero then, A hero now.”
No more information. A URL to RHI Films. As of this writing, there’s no information at that URL. There’s no news in Variety or the Hollywood reporter. Nothing.
And yet, somewhere out there, Flash Gordon is waiting.