Flash Gordon is a 1980 science fiction film, based on the eponymous comic strip character Flash Gordon. The film was directed by Mike Hodges and produced by Dino De Laurentiis. It stars Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Chaim Topol, Max von Sydow, Timothy Dalton, Brian Blessed and Ornella Muti. The screenplay was written by Michael Allin and Lorenzo Semple, Jr. It intentionally uses a camp style similar to the 1960s TV series Batman (for which Semple had written many episodes) in an attempt to appeal to fans of the original comics and serial films. The film is notable for its soundtrack composed by rock band Queen.


Melody Anderson


  • There is a rumor that the monitor behind Hans Zarkov (Topol) as he is having his memory dumped shows scenes from Topol’s previous movies.
  • Dino De Laurentiis originally hoped that Federico Fellini would direct this film. The director had actually contributed to the original Flash strip cartoon during WWII.
  • Kurt Russell auditioned to play Flash Gordon.
  • Sam J. Jones was cast in the role after being spotted by the mother-in-law of Dino De Laurentiis on an episode of “The Dating Game” (1965)
  • At one point Ming the Merciless says when he destroys a planet, he calls upon “the great god Daizan”. Daizan is Japanese for “great cruelty”.
  • Max von Sydow’s Ming costume weighed over 70 pounds and he could only stand in it for a few minutes at a time.
  • The psychedelic color effects throughout the Ming universe were accomplished by swirling multicolored dyes through creatively-lit tanks of water.
  • One of the feast items in the Hawkmen’s Kingdom was Twinkies colored with food dye.
  • Nicolas Roeg was originally going to direct, but didn’t due to creative difference. One of his proposals was to excise the trademark cliffhangers and melodrama, seeing Flash as more of “a metaphysical messiah.”
  • Dennis Hopper was considered for the role of Dr Zarkov.
  • Leon Greene was re-voiced by David de Keyser.
  • John Osborne only has two lines.
  • Mike Hodges was the eighth director chosen.
  • Director Mike Hodges, referring to the numerous production problems that plagued the film, once called it “the only improvised $27-million movie ever made”.
  • The insignia on Klytus’s uniform is based on Masonic symbols.
  • Princess Aura’s “pet” is named Fellini. Production Designer Danilo Donati worked on a number of Federico Fellini films.
  • George Lucas had hoped to remake the original Flash Gordon (1936/I), but when he learned that Dino De Laurentiis had already bought the rights, he wrote Star Wars (1977) instead.
  • Mike Hodges considered commissioning Pink Floyd to compose the music.
  • First film of Jim Carter.
  • The backstory of Flash’s T-shirt was that it was a gift from an anonymous female fan. Flash wore it a lot in the hopes that he would eventually meet the woman.
  • In the original script, when Flash is sentenced to death by Ming, Dale bursts out that Ming is “absolutely merciless”. Ming is enthralled with the description, and immediately starts calling himself “Ming the Merciless”.
  • According to the original storyline, when Dale is entranced by Ming’s hypnotic ring, she is having a vision of being on an erotic picnic with Ming in a 1920’s setting.
  • Klytus and Kala, Ming’s two chief henchmen, were competitors for their ruler’s favor. Ming played them off against each other to keep them from teaming up against him. This was downplayed in the film to keep the storyline fluid.
  • In the original script, Flash and Dale first meet at a Canadian resort called Dark Harbor. Although they flirt with each other, they don’t become acquainted until they’re sharing the ill-fated plane ride to New York City. Dale later talks briefly about Dark Harbor during her tear-filled meeting with Flash before his execution.
  • Dr. Zarkov’s backstory was that he was a NASA scientist who was fired for his paranoid fantasies that Earth was going to be attacked from outer space. Sixty Minutes derided him as “A Poor Man’s Billy Mitchell”.
  • Ming’s attack on Earth was accomplished by bombarding the moon with force beams, knocking it out of orbit. The meteors which disrupt Flash’s airplane flight were burning chunks of lunar debris.
  • Sam J. Jones’ dark hair was bleached blonde for this role, and Melody Anderson’s blonde hair was dyed brown. Flash was also supposed to have blue eyes, but Sam could not wear the contact lenses.
  • Ming’s symbol (which Klytus also wears on his gauntlets) is borrowed from the Freemason’s square and compass. Ming also makes a Masonic gesture during the course of the movie.
  • The wristwatch Flash is wearing in the early scenes of the film is a Seiko automatic chronograph, model 6139-6002. The watch disappears when Flash gets to Mongo.
  • All the main actors were signed for multiple films but the sequels were never made since the first movie didn’t do as well as expected.

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