In the Claws of the Tigron

Not a set of claws we want to be in. No indeed.

So, as Chapter Eleven begins, Flash is disintegrated, or perhaps made invisible (the previous episode being called The Unseen Peril might be a clue/spoiler).

Plato argues that we would all be unjust if we could turn invisible, and there may be something in this but Flash doesn’t show any signs of personality change: he goes about shoving and strangling, same as he’s always done. After terrorizing Ming, he visits Vultan in the dungeon, where he assaults the flunky bringing dinner, hitting him in the face with a fish on wires and so on.

I don’t remember any of this from my childhood viewing. It’s possible that the FLASH GORDON serial, like Borges’ Book of Sand, is somehow infinite and everchanging, and whole new chapters will reveal themselves on each screening. It’s also possible that it isn’t.

Flash now rescues Vultan, having at some point decided that the guy who enslaved, tortured and re-enslaved him is an OK guy. Just not safe in taxis.

News of the escape is brought to Ming. Ming’s having a really bad episode. He’s been partially strangled already. He ought to be on the verge of winning — this is the penultimate-but-one instalment — so that he can be thwarted at the last moment. Instead he’s being thwarted at EVERY moment. He exists in a perminent state of thwartage.

“Make ME invisible, doctor!” demands Vultan, after seeing Flash safely rematerialised. “And I will give Ming such a five minutes as he never had before!” He then laughs in a wicked manner, and I find myself wondering in an uncomfortable way what he has in mind. And why it takes five minutes.

It seems like Zarkov’s big plan is just to take off and fly back to earth. No desire to overthrow the despot. But there’s good news — after eleven episodes, Zarkov finally makes contact with Griffith Observatory. But Aura is listening, from a strange liminal space. Pretty unobtrusive spycraft.

Invisible Flash is now to help Zarkov install some power units on the rocket. Not clear why everyone else can’t become invisible to help. Including me. Listening in, Aura realizes Prince Barin and Dale can now be captured. Frankly, this was always the case: this laboratory is in Ming’s own palace. Surprising how domestic this serial is.

Barin notices the microphone (!) and leads Dale to hide in the catacombs. Aura enlists somebody in a three-quarter back view to help her track them, using “the sacred tigron.” Such a lot of things on Mongo are sacred. Things you wouldn’t think of that way. The orangapoid still bothers me. I would never have looked at him and pronounced him blessed.

Scuffle between Vultan and Ming’s guards, in which he displays his signature move, butting them with his armoured belly. I remember enjoying this as a kid, and I falsely remember it happening in every single episode. He’s helped by invisible Flash, which allows the guards to display whatever mime training they have, as they fall over repeatedly and feign strangulation.

Then Flash spontaneously revisibilizes, Barin wanders in, and they all rush off to find Dale, who is sitting on a lonely bench in the catacombs, a neat encapsulation of Jean Rogers’ entire role.

The sacred tigron really doesn’t like wearing a leash! I rather fear for actors Priscilla Lawson (Aura/Miss Miami Beach 1935) and Sana Rayva (three-quarters backview woman), or their stand-ins. The sacred tigron is played, you see, by an actual tiger. At least the crew didn’t have to paint stripes on this one, as they did with Vultan’s pet bear. Breaking away from his handler, he seeks out Dale, or her stand-in.

As he pounces on the hefty lookalike, a fanged wipe replaces the image with an invitation to SEE the next instalment. I sure will! We’ve come this far.

One Response to “In the Claws of the Tigron”

  1. bensondonald Says:

    The cartoon show “Beany and Cecil” pitted the goofy sea serpent Cecil against an Invisible Man who sounded like Jerry Colonna. The climax consisted of the Invisible Man’s gloves and Cecil’s intermittently visible mouth, complemented by sound effects. At one point Cecil address the camera: “This is the greatest fight scene ever filmed, kids! Too bad you can’t see it.”

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