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Art Directors Guild Film Society Screening: Designing for Science Fiction


Sunday, May 24 – 7:30 PM

Art Directors Guild Film Society Screening: Designing for Science Fiction

We’ll be looking at two versions of the same film created in different decades, FLASH GORDON (1936 & 1980) and honoring art directors Ralph Berger and Danilo Donati, respectively. Based on the 1930s comic strip, the plot follows the adventures of Flash Gordon, Dale Arden and Professor Zarkov, who travel to the planet Mongo and find themselves fighting the tyrant, Ming the Merciless, to save Earth.

FLASH GORDON: ROCKETSHIP, 1936, Holland Releasing, 72 min. Dir. Frederick Stephani. Condensed from the original four hours plus serial, ROCKETSHIP hurtles along like, well, a rocketship! Flash (Buster Crabbe), faithful female sidekick Dale Arden (Jean Rogers) and Dr. Zarkov (Frank Shannon) do battle with interplanetary tyrant Ming the Merciless (Charles Middleton) while Flash tries not to succumb to the wiles of smitten, seductive Princess Aura (Priscilla Lawson), Ming’s daughter.

FLASH GORDON, 1980, Universal, 111 min. Dir. Mike Hodges (the original GET CARTER). Like the early 1930s serial, director Hodges’ FLASH is surprisingly faithful to Alex Raymond’s original comic strip, with just the right balance of action, tongue-in-cheek humor and mindblowing production design (here courtesy of wizard Danilo Donati), with a score by none other than Queen! Relative unknowns Sam Jones and Melody Anderson play Flash and Dale, but the supporting cast is full of heavyweights, including Max Von Sydow (as Ming), Topol (as Dr. Zarkov), Ornella Muti (as Aura), as well Lina Wertmuller favorite Mariangela Melato (SWEPT AWAY) and future James Bond, Timothy Dalton. Art director Steve Berger, son of the original FLASH GORDON art director Ralph Berger, will be present to participate in a discussion between the screenings, along with a panel of distinguished film artists, to be moderated by John Muto.