If It's Monday, It Must Be Shameless Filler: Great Lost Babes of the 40s

on February 01, 2010 by Steve Simels


300px-Flashgordonconquerstheuniverse.jpgOkay, as Diane Keaton famously says in Love and Death -- can we not talk about sex so much?

Right. Now that I've got your attention, I would like to go on record as saying that it is, I think, no secret that the Buster Crabbe Flash Gordon serials of the 30s and 40s, among their other virtues, had hands down and without any question the sexiest female stars in cliffhanger history.

In particular, the eponyous first one, from 1936, featured the incomparable Betty and Veronica Good Girl/Bad Girl Tag Team of the gorgeous blonde Jean Rogers (as Dale Arden, center) and the exotic and even more suggestively clad raven-haired Priscilla Lawson (as the evil Princess Aura, left)...


...a duo that I suspect did more to, er, interest several generations of teenage boys in the joys of science fiction and fantasy than any of the cool space ships, robots and ray guns that were, theoretically, the serial's primary raison d'etre.


That said, I've always had the proverbial thing for the lesser known but erotically interesting nonetheless Anne Gwynne, who plays Sonja, the sophisticated and scheming femme fatale in the third and final series entry, Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940).


Anne Gwynne.jpgFGCTU is generally conceded to be the weakest of the trilogy, largely because it is, in fact, rather uninspired on most levels, but also because the rather vacuously pretty Carol Hughes came in as Flash's girlfriend when Rogers was unavailable and the pubescent fantasy fodder quotient dropped precipitously as a result. Gwynne, on the other hand, was not only easy on the eye but could actually act, and she has at least one sly, vaguely innuendo-laden scene with Crabbe that almost feels like it's from another better movie, one made for adults.


Have I mentioned she was easy on the eye?




Anyway, I bring the whole thing up, apart from just wanting to run that picture, because while Googling Gwynne the other day, I discovered something that's just too perfect.

Turns out she's the grandmother of a more recent sci-fi icon.

None other than Captain James T. Kirk himself...




...a/k/a actor Chris Pine.

The ironies, as they say, abound. Or something.

In any case, if you'd like to see more of Gwynne, you can order FGCTU over here. That's the Image Entertainment DVD version, BTW, which is authorized by King Features (owner of the Flash Gordon copyright). The point is that the print is terrific -- and vastly superior to any of the budget public domain sets currently out there.


Tags: Diane Keaton, Love and Death, Buster Crabbe, Flash Gordon, Anne Gwynne, Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, Jean Rogers, Carol Hughes, Chris Pine

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