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Buck Rogers

32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Preserved in a state of suspended animation for 500 years by the Nirvano gas in the gondola of their dirigible wrecked in the arctic ice wastes, Buck Rogers (Buster Crabbe) and Buddy (Jackie Moran) are rescued by scientists in the year 2500 to find the world under the despotic rule of Killer Kane (Anthony Warde) and his super gangsters. Using an arsenal of fantastic weapons created in Dr. Huer's (C. Montague Shaw) clandestine laboratory, the group attempts to seek aid from the planet Saturn to oust the tyrannical ruler only to find that his henchmen have already taken over control of the Prince of Saturn. After several harrowing adventures with the Zugg men, Buck and Buddy return to Earth only to be shot down, imprisoned and finally rescued to participate in a spectacular air battle to wrest control of the Universe from the sinister intergalactic despot.Approximately Released by Universal Pictures. Bonus Features: Animated Menu| Scene Selection| Photo Gallery| Bonus Serial Trailers. Specs: DVD9; Dolby Digital Mono; 241 minutes; B&W; 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio; MPAA - NR; Year - 1939; SRP - $19.99.

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While it lacks the baroque, fantastical quality of the previous Flash Gordon serials (which also starred Buster Crabbe), the Buck Rogers serial still exemplifies the freewheeling spirit of pulp-magazine space opera of the 1930s. Crash-landing in the Arctic in the 20th century, Buck Rogers and his sidekick Buddy Wade (Jackie Moran) use a special gas to induce suspended animation, only to be awakened 500 years later when the world is ruled by the evil Killer Kane. We are told that Kane's ascendancy is a direct result of the 20th century's failure to solve the problem of crime. But luckily, Buck Rogers is here to fight Kane's evil domination of mankind, which involves making obedient robots out of folks by strapping an "amnesia helmet" on their heads. (The helmet looks like the sawed-off end of a cheesy rocket ship, complete with fins.) Most of the episodes deal with invasion forces from the planet Saturn and whose side they're going to take, Killer Kane's or Buck's, affording plenty of opportunity for spaceships to zip back and forth, propelled by sparks and rising smoke. All the trappings and tropes of space opera abound: ray guns, space travel, villainous political figures, alien civilizations. In a way, the flaws seem quaint--the wooden acting, the cheesy costumes and sets, the flimsy space crafts, the similarity between the surface of Saturn and certain California deserts, and the way Buck needs no learning curve after traveling 500 years into the future. It's great adolescent fun. --Jim Gay


Special Features

  • Photo Gallery
  • Bonus Serial Trailers

Product Details

  • Actors: Buster Crabbe, Constance Moore, Jackie Moran, Jack Mulhall, Anthony Warde
  • Directors: Ford Beebe, Saul A. Goodkind
  • Writers: Dick Calkins, Norman S. Hall, Philip Francis Nowlan, Ray Trampe
  • Producers: Barney A. Sarecky
  • Format: Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Vci Video
  • DVD Release Date: September 19, 2000
  • Run Time: 241 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305989397
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,317 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Buck Rogers" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Matthew L. Mutchmore on September 22, 2002
Format: DVD
The 12 chapter BUCK ROGERS serial, was shot between the Flash Gordon serials "Flash Gordon's Trip To Mars" and "Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe." Audiences seemed indifferent to it, so the plans for a sequel were scrapped in favor of continuing the Flash Gordon series. While the Flash Gordon serials are probably better, I really enjoy the Buck Rogers serial too.
Buck Rogers has STYLE. Not to say that Flash didn't, but the Buck Rogers serial has:
The Art Deco Headquarters of Killer Kane, with it's convenient topiary shrubs for hiding behind.
The swirling mirror pool monitor screens.
The equally Art Deco space ships, with sparklers as exhaust and that sound, something like a microwave oven and a car missing a muffler. These ships were so advanced, all they needed was a simple door with handle.
A future full of wimps. Flash and Buddy easily push away or tackle anyone who they clash with.
The groovy De-Gravity belts and the transporter.
The Saturnian tram system.
The exotic terrain of the planet Saturn, which in no way looked like a California desert.
The Saturnian MUGGS, who should have all been nominated for academy awards.
Okay, I'm being a little sarcastic. But I really do have a great love for this serial, even with all its many flaws. Terrible performances by some of the supporting characters, a few cases of severely bad stunt doubling, and the effects, well......they did their best with what they had to work with. I love the little dolls in the Saturnian tunnel trams.
And Buck himself--Larry "Buster" Crabbe was so handsome. That wavy hair and that killer smile were all he needed. I wonder if the producers ever realized what kind of confusion they would cause in the years that followed, by casting the same actor for both Flash and Buck.
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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Liberal Artist on June 3, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As I've been trying to collect some classic serials, I've been frustrated by the lack of specific information on the various editions. So let me first say that while the print is far from pristine, for the price this VCI edition is hard to beat.
Second, let me say that I am astonished--to the point of feeling like my 10-year old self was had--how much of "Star Wars" Lucas lifted almost whole-cloth from this serial. Even the prologue as a steeply pitched crawl comes from Buck Rogers, not to mention countless scenes in the Millennium Falcon as the ship is chased by an evil-empire-like force of villains.
So here's the advice I would have been happiest to have had a few days ago when I was trying to decide whether to buy this disc: if you love science fiction on film, or are interested in the popular culture of the late 30's and early 40's, BUY THIS DISC.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By B. D. Martin on July 26, 2001
Format: DVD
This takes me back to Saturday mornings as a ten year old, in the early 80's, when I first remember seeing Larry'Buster'Crabbe as Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers on the BBC.
So the wooden actors made local amateur dramatics look professional and the space ships looked like something made on Blue Peter, but it didn't matter because 'Buster' Crabbe WAS a Superhero.
Who cares about comparisons of productions and making analysis between Buck & Flash, they weren't meant for that, they're just pure fun and were made to be watched and enjoyed.
So anyone who saw these and enjoyed them, buy the DVDs, you'll be ten all over again.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By cinephile on May 23, 2006
Format: DVD
Chances are, if you're here, you've already made up your mind. People don't just stumble across a 1930s serial. So you're probably a fan of this kind of stuff.

Which means we aren't going to judge this like we would a new, slick, Hollywood release with top-notch actors. This is budget sci-fi made for kids of the 1930s. It's not sophisticated, the acting is a little stilted, and the science laughable. But if you wanted that stuff, you'd buy something else, right?

Comparing this to other serials, I think it's one of the best. Like all serials, it tends to bog down a bit after the first half. That's because most of the really new ideas get presented in the first chapters.

However, the inventive approach to effects and matte painting are really enjoyable. The story is just silly fun. The presence of a fairly non-stereotyped Asian actor is interesting (even though his acting's as bad as everyone else's).

If you're adding to your archive, don't miss this one. Cool ray guns, gravity belts, transporters...
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By carl vanderheyden on July 13, 2000
Format: DVD
Although not as good as Flash Gordon series which also starred Buster Crabbe this is still an enjoyable SCI-Fi classic. Long before Star Trek and Starwars were Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. I used to enjoy each episode back in the 50's when I was alot younger. There was only one Buck Rogers serial made and it followed the success of the first two Flash Gordon serials. Buck Rogers never had the popularity Flash Gordon, probably because it was an imitation. The charectors were never developed as well. Killer Kane was no where near as intimidating as Charles Middleton's great performance as Ming the Mercilous. Wilma Deering is just there and doesn't stand out as much as Jean Rogers does as Dale Arden in the Flash Gordon series.Charectors aside there is still plenty of adventure,space battles and unique effects to make this a worth while video for any one interested in early sci-fi. A classic and until recently very hard to find.
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Chapter Main TItles? Are they original?
The titles are not the original Universal titles. They say "Filmcraft presents..."
Dec 16, 2009 by Avid reader |  See all 2 posts
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