Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Serial - Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe Chapter Two

So in the intro to our new serial last week, we noted some changes had taken place between the first two serials and this one. Probably the most striking and startling of these changes is the replacement of Jean Rogers in the role of Dale Arden with newcomer Carol Hughes. Not much is known about the reason for the change, except that according to Richard Lamparski's 1982 edition of Whatever Became of...?, Rogers had tired of the role during the making of the first serial (Perhaps she desired more interesting lines than either repeatedly shouting or crying the name "Flash!"?), and had only reluctantly agreed to appear in the second one. When it came time for ...Conquers the Universe she asked to be removed, and Hughes was quickly found to take her place.

Having appeared mostly in minor roles and bit parts up until this point, it's possible that Hughes saw the extended exposure of playing the heroine in this serial as a true stepping stone for her career, but it doesn't appear to have been so. By this point, Roger's portrayal had pretty well defined the role in the public's eye, and Hughes, though adequate, and still the obvious object of Ming's lust, was never really able to displace the image of her predecessor. After this serial, Hughes returned to the smaller roles with which she had made her living before, and finally retired from film-making entirely in the early 1950's.

Of course, Dale wasn't the only one who changed from the previous serial to this one, and next week we'll take a look at one of the more subtle character changes, but if I remember correctly, when we last saw Flash he was falling to his doom down a seemingly bottomless pit, so I guess we'd better get back to him, or else there may not be a "next week" to worry about!


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