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 Post subject: Buck Rogers 1939-The Roots of Star Trek and Star Wars
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 7:55 pm 
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This is truly a classic. It was a Serial, meaning it was filmed in segments that followed a story and were not disjointed as in a typical TV show of today. It was more akin to a soap opera in that sense.

What also made this unusual to us nowadays is that when this was made, there was no TV!! One would have to go to the movie theater every week to see the next episode!

There were 12 installments. When Star Trek and Star Wars fans watch this, you will be shocked by a couple of things you will see. One of them (Star Trek) is in the first episode. The second (Star Wars) will be immediately apparent in the beginning of Chap 2.

Here is a synopsis of it. http://buckrogersinfo.tripod.com/Serial1939.htm

P.S. I edited this post to correct an error I made about the Star Wars reference that I mentioned in the post after this.


Last edited by Windy on Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Buck Rogers 1939-The Roots of Star Trek and Star Wars
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:55 pm 
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Torrent link, please? :D

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 Post subject: Re: Buck Rogers 1939-The Roots of Star Trek and Star Wars
PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 1:53 pm 
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try thisfor the 1939 serial. even though it says 0 seeds you don't really know till you try.

http://kickassunblock.info/movie-serial ... 87575.html

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 Post subject: Re: Buck Rogers 1939-The Roots of Star Trek and Star Wars
PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 3:57 pm 
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Sorry I took so long to reply. Had a busy day and wasn't able to go online. Well I guess Chucky found one because I haven't the foggiest idea where one for it is.

It's worth having the DVD to me though. I just checked. It's on YouTube. Go to their site and enter Buck Rogers 1939 in the search. Click on that result and the whole thing should be there, two chapters at a time. So for all of you Star Trek and Star Wars fans, get to watching! Please let me know what you guys think of it. I hope you all watch the whole thing.

Many many moons ago when I had it on VHS, I let one of my relatives watch it and I was told they would watch 1 or 2 chapters then go to sleep because they had to work in the morning. Well, you'll never guess what happened...the person ended up watching the whole thing straight through because they got so caught up in in it! :lol:

P.S. I just realized that the Star Wars reference I alluded to in my original post is not immediately apparent at the beginning, but at the very beginning of Chapter 2. It's been a while since I've watched it. :D

P.P.S. Just corrected the error in my first post.


Last edited by Windy on Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Buck Rogers 1939-The Roots of Star Trek and Star Wars
PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 5:49 pm 
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when i was in my early teens we had a channel on uhf(for those that remember uhf) that played a sci fi short from 1950 or earlier and then played one of the old horror movies from the 50's and 60's. because of that channel i don't think there is a pre 1950 sci fi short series i haven't seen.

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 Post subject: Re: Buck Rogers 1939-The Roots of Star Trek and Star Wars
PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 2:51 am 
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I remember UHF. :lol: You had to use a circular antenna to get reception. Chucky, so are you saying that you saw the Buck Rogers serial on that station?


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 Post subject: Re: Buck Rogers 1939-The Roots of Star Trek and Star Wars
PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 12:15 pm 
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windy yep. and it was great. i never missed watching channel 44 every saturday morning.

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 Post subject: Re: Buck Rogers 1939-The Roots of Star Trek and Star Wars
PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:21 pm 
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Pretty cool. I don't even remember how I found out about the 1939 version of Buck Rogers.

It could have been that I stumbled onto it while in the Sci-Fi section in a video store. I don't remember ever seeing it on TV.


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 Post subject: Re: Buck Rogers 1939-The Roots of Star Trek and Star Wars
PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2014 2:33 pm 
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Okay, it's been quite a while now and no one has finished watching it yet? I expect to hear numerous replies immediately about what your thoughts are about the 1939 Buck Rogers serial or else you will have to suffer the wrath of Windy!

One person I will call out is Skagon since actually he is the one who sparked me into remembering about it because I know he is a Star Trek fan. So Skagon, you better have watched the whole thing and have your opinion ready or else!


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 Post subject: Re: Buck Rogers 1939-The Roots of Star Trek and Star Wars
PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2014 7:49 pm 
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Hehehehe...

Sorry mate, I completely forgot to write. I *did* watch it, yes.
The 'thing' that I noticed about Star Trek was that teleportation cubicle (or should I say, cylindricle? :P); Star Wars was just the letters at the synopsis of each episode.

However, I always find these things interesting, especially as a physicist, since you get to see the things that today are considered "common knowledge" that back then were probably unknown -- or the producers never bothered with a science consultant. For instance, the fact that they just travel to Saturn and back just like that. They hit the atmosphere and land without a problem. They land on Saturn and... land (note: Saturn is a gas giant), open the hatch and just stroll around, no spacesuit, not even a mask! They even have a 'thing' with rockets, everything's rockets! I guess "rockets" were the buzzword of that time, along with "atomic" power. Note: this was even before the atom bombs, so that "atomic" power was just speculative.
All in all, I do see things that were known even then. For example, any physicist would have told the producers to go for a different planet, as the size and an approximation of Saturn's mass was known even back then. Even if we accept a possible "explanation" that, at that time, they could claim that Saturn had a solid 'core' around the size and mass of those of the Earth, the atmospheric pressure would still not be 'explainable'. Or the fact that inertia has absolutely no effect on anyone. Crash-land? No problem. Mid-air collision? No problem! Slam the ship on a huge boulder? You guessed it! No problem! ^^
It's even funny to note the sound effects: notice that, back then, a high-frequency, electric-motor-esque sound was probably all the rage (even for rockets); weapons were more 'crackly' (electric discharges?). Then in the 50s and 60s it was all about radiophonic humms (probably courtesy of the Sputnik and Soyuz transmissions), the 70s had those laser-ific whizzes and whooshes which peaked in the 80s, and the 90s and the 2ks had deep bass rumbles.

Anyway, I guess I'm delving in too deep... I have to admit that I got somewhat bored after a few episodes, as I started seeing the repeating patterns: episode ends with huge crash or explosion or accident (dramatic horns bellowing in the background), then next episode begins, everyone brushes some dust off and they're all ok. And it all begins anew.
But I suppose, the thing I found most unbelievable is... they discover a pair of guys from 500 years ago? Yeah, sure, be an admiral, why don't you? Oh yeah, get a ship as well! We only have a dozen or so, but sure, help yourself to one! Obviously, he knows how to fly one, just like that! Nah, it's only 500 years into the future, how many things *could* have changed? They'll still have levers and knobs, right?
Which is, actually, another very interesting sociological observation: back then, people had not experienced but the very beginning of technological advancement. They were living in a world where, sure, there were a *few* new things, like electricity, radio and internal combustion engines, but the majority remained the same. Doors still had handles, machines still had buttons and knobs and, apart from a few 'conveniences', people's houses were essentially unchanged, compared to those of... 100 years before. So they applied that principle to "Buck Rogers". Sure, you have atomic power and rockets, but everything else is working on the same or similar principles. Knobs, levers, buttons and... pressure cookers for mind-control helmets. :D
Which also reminds me... "mind control helmets" were an invention of the baddie (Kane), but hey... a 500-year-old fly-boy sure knows how to tweak and disable them; no problemo!
The real 'electronic' revolution was still a long way away... and so, that series was entirely oblivious to it.
They also had a big chance to show some sociopolitical changes, perhaps expand a bit on the difference between that tyrant's society and the society of the hidden city; they even missed their biggest chance with the awakening and revolution of the Saturnian "zuggs", but nah... rockets and string-suspended ships are too important; can't waste precious film time on minutiae like that!

All in all it was very interesting, I don't regret watching it at all. It just wasn't *truly* enjoyable, like, say, the "Forbidden Planet"... but that was 17 years later. Or even "Metropolis"... which was released, in fact, 9 years earlier!

Edit: holy crap I wrote a lot!

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 Post subject: Re: Buck Rogers 1939-The Roots of Star Trek and Star Wars
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 7:39 am 
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:lol: I never came close to delving into it that far! I guess from my point of view I'm much more forgiving because I'm going by the limitations of technology at the time, the need to woe audiences with special effects, and the limitations of their knowledge, including lay people. For some movies, one has to leave their brain at the door. Since I'm not a physicist, I didn't have to leave my brain at the door and just chalked up any inaccuracies to the era in which it was made.

I actually get a kick out of the awesome special effects :wink: :lol: The sparklers on the end of the spaceships is classic! I also love the sound effect of the spaceships firing! I get a kick out the projectile that comes out of the spaceships. Speaking of weaponry, I was amazed at the special effects for the laser gun. I think it was pretty good. I also think it was an interesting idea when they used it to power the vehicle (forgot what it's called) that was used underground when Killer Kane's men shut the power off.

I think the coolest item is the De-Gravity belt. It's awesome how it allows the user to float down and land wherever is feasible. Oh, I just remembered. I think that Killer Kane's city is awesome! The terraces are cool and I like seeing when someone would land on a terrace via the De-Gravity belt.

As far social issues, I was amazed at the role Philson Ahn had. BTW, he was the younger brother of Phillip Ahn of Kung Fu (TV series) fame. Even in the 60's and early 70's, Asian actors were rarely if ever given starring roles and in most cases were relegated to playing stereotypical or subservient roles. Look what happened to Bruce Lee. White actors routinely played Asians particularly if it were a starring role.

Philson Ahn's role was not stereotypical at all. In fact, he played the role of Prince Talon and did not speak with broken English.

For me, I really like the plot/storyline. I didn't get bored and surely didn't mind seeing Col. Deering! Too bad her outfit wasn't form-fitting. :D

Oh BTW Skagon, the reason that Buck Rogers can do all that stuff is because he's Buck Rogers! He ain't the average bear! :lol:

One last thing, the quality is much better on the DVD which makes it more enjoyable.


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 Post subject: Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 11:07 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Buck Rogers 1939-The Roots of Star Trek and Star Wars
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 3:27 pm 
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Weeeell... Windy, that's the "curse" of being... me! :P
I'm also known for being *very* observant. So I notice things that most people don't.
But that doesn't mean that I can't "shut down" and enjoy something, even though it's ridiculous by any scientific standards. However, I can't stop noticing. That's why I don't consider myself to be a "trekkie", but a "trekker". Huge difference.

I too liked the idea of a "gravity belt", or should I say, antigravity belt...

Kane's city, again, was the product of that time's idea for a really "futuristic" civic design. Check Howard's "garden city", the Bauhaus movement, Le Corbusier's designs for the "radiant city", Geddes' urban plans for Palestine, Lucio Costa's and Frantisek Gahura's designs for "modern cities" around the '20s and '30s. The ideas of that time were of monstrous buildings, the 'verticalisation' of urban development and, essentially, what you get to see in the "Kane" city. Unfortunately, the nature itself of the "hidden city" (i.e. being hidden) did not give any leeway in exploring alternative design ideas to contrast Kane's city of ultimate modernity.

I have to say, though, that the effects they used (well, some of them) surprised me for being so good -- all things considered. The "transporter" tube was very convincing and also the antigravity belt scenes were well-made. Of course, the "in-flight" sequences could be a lot better, since even the smoke from the "rockets" went all over. I guess it never occurred to them to use a fan to simulate air-speed, but then again, in the mid- to late-30s I don't suppose a lot of people had actually *seen* a real rocket.
It also kind-of bothered me how, essentially, all landings were crash-landings, but then take-offs just... happened! No vertical positions, not even runways, nor speeding of any sort. Even though the only rockets we ever saw were at the rear-end of the spaceships (which would mean they'd have to be vertical to launch or at least have a runway to pick up speed), they just... went!

Concerning the asian actor you pointed out, bear in mind that, before the 2nd World War, Japan was *not* considered an enemy in the US, nor was there any other asian nation; China itself was not yet a Communist country and wouldn't be for another 10 years! So I suppose there was no need nor cultural bias to portray an asian character as subservient or even 'retarded'. Note, however, how there isn't one single black actor -- at least, I don't recall noticing one -- anywhere. I suppose the time for racial equality was not yet there, at least not when it concerned black people.
[Here I have to say, I'm not sure as to what you guys in the US consider offensive and what not, when it comes to racial adjectives. Is "black" ok to use? If it offends anyone, I offer my apologies. For instance, in Greece the word "negro" is considered polite, while "black" not so much. I learned that it is not so in the UK. No offence intended.]
The same went for Deering. She, being a woman, was just... there! In most scenes, she just nodded or talked a bit, showing -- I believe -- an extreme, for the time, image of the "dynamic woman" -- hey, after all, she was wearing trousers! But did not do a lot more than that. Sure, she could pilot a ship and she was 'allowed' to rescue Buck once... but that was the end of it, and there were no other females anywhere!
I also suppose, showing her in anything less, for the time would have been scandalous for the US.

The plot, all in all, was ok but it had ample possibilities to become so much better. They missed a LOT of opportunities to expand, rather than making a naive "heroic" flick. As I have already indicated... most debates were settled by the "because Buck said so" argument. Like in the beginning of the first episode. Some dude is brought to the "hidden city" commander... verified he's from 500 years past... and then proposes some "plan" to break through the blockade! Here's where silliness peaks out! The "big" plan is to launch one ship as a decoy and, while the baddies follow it, the good guys slip through in another ship.
a. so they were unable to think of such a plan themselves?
Then, the commander says "we can't afford to try that, we've lost too many ships as it is". The argument? "You can't afford NOT to try". Result: "very well sir"!
b. is *that* all it takes? No wonder Kane took over!
So, immediately afterwards, the chief continues: "you're in charge"!
c. and they put a guy that, only 30 minutes ago, was in stasis for 500 years, in uniform and in charge of a "do or die" critical mission, on a ship that's "at least 100 years ahead of anything I ever saw"?
Right.
And shortly after, he actually *pilots* that ship to Saturn, even though a few hours before, didn't even know there were ships even *capable* of travelling from planet to planet.
Right.
Well, the whole movie goes on like that, which, like I said, is too naive.

This is the huge difference with Star Trek, I suppose. Everyone there is a trained expert with years in "starfleet" academy and service, going through the ranks from cadet to lieutenant to... wherever they end up being. You don't get, for example, silly stuff like kids flying spaceships or cutesy furry "aliens" or people from... 500 years into the past, saving the planet!
If you think about it, even Trek's wünderkind, Wesley Crusher, went through years of classes, training on the Enterprise, before he was even allowed to set foot on the bridge, let alone man the helm. And he got told to "shut up Wesley" a few times. ;)

Now, I'm not comparing anything here. It's just that "Buck Rogers" is a bit implausible, by any logical standards, unless you are willing to accept that the average IQ of humanity had actually *decreased* in those 500 years, which would make Buck Rogers a prodigy and in that case, sure, go ahead, make him President of the whole damn planet! :D
That would also explain how they couldn't think of a "decoy" strategy in the first place. But doesn't explain how they created all those advanced machines, like the rocket ships or the transparent teleportation shower-booth...

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 Post subject: Re: Buck Rogers 1939-The Roots of Star Trek and Star Wars
PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2014 6:19 am 
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:lol: Skagon, you are something else!! As far as letting Buck Rogers take over, what I saw that was being subtlety put forward was that they were ultra-passive which basically made them military wimps. They needed an old school kick-ass person to light a fire under them because they lost the aggressive mentality that it takes to be a strong successful military power, and with his presence realized it. In fact, a movie that illustrates my point is Demolition Man starring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes and Sandra Bullock.

As far as the U.S.A., black is the preferred name. I guess whomever was responsible for the name change figured that if Caucasians are called white, then Negroes will be called black.

Oh, almost forgot. About the crash landings, that kind of puzzled me too, but figured that either they had never seen a rocket/jet (manned or otherwise) land and thought it would be too ridiculous, or the special-effect for that might have been too difficult and costly.

Remember, dirigibles were still being used (the Hindenburg crash was in 1937) and manned rockets were still in the experimental stage. Later on when they got them to work, at least one of Germany's had to crash land because it didn't have wheels. They made the bottom of the plane bullet-proof to withstand the landing. To take off, it had a carriage underneath with wheels that was used for takeoff and once it got up to speed, the plane would separate from the wheeled carriage.

I also wonder if they didn't want to give Germany any ideas since it was made not long before Britain was at war with Germany. I'm sure they knew it was inevitable because of Hitler's provocative actions.


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 Post subject: Re: Buck Rogers 1939-The Roots of Star Trek and Star Wars
PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2014 12:49 pm 
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Weeeeell... if you *really* want to know my opinion, and I hope you don't take it the wrong way, but my take is somewhat different. It has to do with the fact that the US, as a country, is very young and as such has no history of its own -- obviously apart from those 200-250 years. Again, obviously, the way to unify a young nation, with a population comprised of a multitude of ethnicities, is to (try to) create a 'local' mythology. It is, in my opinion, that process of mythoplasia that drove the creation of (imaginary or not) heroes in the US, which led to the creation of Buck Rogers, but also a multitude of fictional characters and 'universes' that are now well known everywhere, due to the leading position of the US, on a planetary scale. Examples: Star Trek, Star Wars, Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Buffalo Bill, the "Wild West", cowboys (obviously not the real cowboys but the idealised 'gunfighter' persona), Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, General Lee, President Lincoln and so many others.
Granted, I have absolutely no idea how 'unifying' those things are to US citizens, or how 'unified' or even 'united' you guys feel for yourselves, but I find it impressive that most people in the 'western' world know what these things are. The leaders of the early US needed to make a nation out of immigrants from all over the world, and create a common base of mythology and even monuments to base it on.

Anyway, I'm babbling again.
About Buck Rogers... well, I guess I've said it all. I don't think they were afraid that Germany would "steal their ideas", though. I think it was more of the fact that nobody knew what rockets were, back then, apart from a vague image, usually from comic books or photographs of very early experiments.
The Germans, on the other hand, had extremely sophisticated models, even back then, but I doubt anybody had seen what good old Dr. Werner Von Brown or the other Nazi scientists had created in their labs. Germany was supposedly under 'blockade' after World War I and they were still perceived as 'suffering' from the effects of the Weimar Democracy and a lot of countries actually thought that the German military and scientific 'prowess' displayed was just a smokescreen by Hitler, trying to intimidate Europe into abolishing the (remaining) terms of the Versailles Treaty and also reinforcing his own position as the absolute ruler within Germany.

...aaand I'm babbling again. Damn!

So, back to the movie... I just think it was mostly ignorance that introduced all these errors in the movie. The German aircraft you're referring to is the Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, but that only flew its first prototype test flight in 1941, so it's a safe bet that in 1938 (when the movie would have been made) nobody even knew of such things, how powerful but also how uncontrollable they really were, and maybe even that you can't land a rocket-powered vehicle by slamming it onto the ground. Well, at least not if you're expecting to find the passengers in any state other than pulp. :P

Your theory about them -- and by 'them' I assume you mean the "hidden city" people, since Kane looked quite militarised -- having been stratiotic wimps... well... it *might* be true, but then, how do you justify them keeping up a resistance to Kane? Had they been 'wimps', I doubt they would have fled into a hidden retreat and kept on the opposition.

On the other hand, it just dawned to me that, maybe, Kane was an exaggerated construct of what they feared Hitler could one day become. If they thought that Hitler and the Germans could overrun Europe and from there, the rest of the world, it does fit the -- rather isolationistic -- self-image that the pre-WW2 US had. Perhaps they projected the US as the "hidden city", as being away from conflicts and wars that, invariably, began in Europe and exaggerated that view in order to create the "hidden city". Who knows. Maybe it was even Saturn that they identified themselves with, whereby the "hidden city" could be England -- again, rather isolated and asking for help to overthrow the local dictator.
Hm... that last scenario does fit the bill a bit better.
Don't you think? ;)

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