“Flash, Flash, I love you, but we only have fourteen hours to save the Earth!”
Cult movie fans know that Sam Jones WAS “Flash Gordon!’ But did you know this: those are the words that led to “Star Wars!”
There, do I have your “fanboy” attention now? Time to tell a fascinating story about a classic sci-fi movie – and a classic “cult” film that was an inspiration…
How “Flash Gordon” Created “Star Wars!”
It’s a great story, almost as great as both movies are! First, a comedic sidebar, courtesy of this guy:
I was one of many who LOVED Seth MacFarlane’s comedy “Ted” – one of the funniest and most profane movies of all time…as “Ted” himself was eager to admit…
And of course, the film had one of the greatest cameos of all time as well!
Sam J. Jones: “We are gonna party like the 80s.”
Ted: “Show us how, Flash!”
Sam J. Jones: “Easy. We just gonna nail a lot of girls named Stephanie.”
In addition to being hilarious, “Ted” also shared an affection for “Flash Gordon” by including a small but hilarious part for Sam J. Jones, the star of “Flash Gordon”, who showed his willingness to go “over the top” and embrace Ted’s wild side!
Now only did Sam act perfectly alongside his stuffed buddy, but he was willing to become “Flash Gordon” again – as we first see him in “Ted” arriving at a party dressed as Flash!
So what does this have to do with “Star Wars?” Well, here is a fascinating piece of trivia, courtesy of the terrific website IMDB.
George Lucas Loves Flash Gordon!
George Lucas had hoped to remake the original Flash Gordon film from 1936 – in fact, “Flash Gordon” serials were very popular at that time…
How “Flash” Became “Luke!”
George Lucas had already directed “THX-1138” and “American Graffiti” – and was eager to take on “Flash” – but when he learned that Dino De Laurentiis had already bought the rights, he wrote “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” instead!
Can you imagine how “Flash Gordon” would have turned out under Lucas’s direction? And that is no disrespect to the team behind “Flash”, but clearly his love of science fiction would have made “Flash” a great success…
Still, there is now a huge group of people who love what WAS the film version of George’s passion:
How can you NOT love a movie with this plot: A football player and his friends travel to the planet Mongo and find themselves fighting the tyranny of Ming the Merciless to save Earth.
And of course, the film has become a cult classic – everything from the music to “Ming The Merciless”, to great dialogue like this!
Flash Gordon: This Ming is a psycho!
Ming’s Floating Servant: This Ming is a psycho.
Klytus: Who said that?
Ming’s Floating Servant: The fair-haired prisoner.
Klytus: Who are you?
Flash Gordon: Flash Gordon. Quarterback. New York Jets.
Dale Arden: Dale Arden, Your Highness. Live and let live, that’s my motto.
Introducing Sam Jones!
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!
According to IMDB, you might love the way Sam looks, but that doesn’t mean you know how he sounds! Most of Sam J. Jones’s dialog was dubbed. This was down to the fact that Jones had had a falling out with producer Dino De Laurentiis over lack of payment and refused to go into the recording studio to loop his lines!
Director Mike Hodges, referring to the numerous production problems that plagued the film, once called it “the only improvised $27-million movie ever made”.
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”.
Another great bit of trivia: Max von Sydow’s Ming costume weighed over 70 pounds and he could only stand in it for a few minutes at a time.
Ming’s Floating Servant: Long live Flash! You’ve saved your Earth. Have a nice day.
Flash Gordon: [leaps into the air] Yeah!
Cue The Killer Queen!
One other classic aspect of “Flash Gordon” is the musical soundtrack, written and performed by Queen!
It is one of Queen’s great songs, even if it is very short…it has the perfect Queen sound, and it fits the style and tone of the movie perfectly! Here is the music video that captures the band recording the song:
Unfortunately, “Flash” Was No Luke Skywalker…
Obviously, “Flash Gordon” was not a huge box office success…but fans have found it over the years, which is one reason “Ted” was so affectionate towards Sam…
And of course, “Star Wars” did OK for itself…and now fans wait breathlessly for “Episode VII” from JJ Abrams:
And fans will keep “Star Wars” alive forver, whether it’s thru bacon:
Or dressing up like Princess Leia – as Olivia Munn did for G4:
To read all about THAT adventure in a galaxy far, far away – well, you can click on here:
Thanks as always to Olivia for stepping up for the good of the galaxy!
And thanks once again to Sam Jones for his terrific work alongside Mark Wahlberg and “Ted!”
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