Tuesday, July 30, 2013
YEAR 1938: QUEEN AZURA
I must admit that it's been a while since I rescreened the serial in which Queen Azura made her first live-action appearance. Thus I don't remember many specifics about her backstory in the film, except that she makes common cause with Ming in his plot to conquer the Earth with a vital new element.
Although the still above shows the two villains looking quite Satanic, FLASH GORDON'S TRIP TO MARS generally has a much brighter look to it than the original 1936 FLASH GORDON serial, which is also the case with the third and final serial, FLASH GORDON CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE. The first serial followed the comic strip closely in terms of emphasizing violence and sexuality, but the next two avoided those visceral elements for the most part. The 1936 film shows sultry Princess Aura constantly trying to lure noble Flash to her bed, even as Ming and other rulers put the squeeze on Dale Arden. In the strip Azura ensorcels Flash and perhaps manages to bed him as well, but the Azura of TRIP TO MARS is usually far too breezy to put across much sex appeal. I've sometimes thought that if the George Lucas of 1976 had secured the rights to remake "Flash Gordon." it would've looked more like the second two serials than like the first, much less the comic strip.
As in the strip this version of Azura is called a "witch queen," but it was unclear to me as to whether her magic was explicable through science, as in the Alex Raymond continuity. In the one scene that sticks in my memory, Flash and his friends corner Azura, and she simply disappears in a puff of smoke.