Sunday, March 14, 2010

Buck Rogers in the Notional 25th Centuries of the Thirties and the Seventies.

Actor Gil Gerard, Jumpsuit, Raygun. As ever, the future leaves little to the anatomical imagination.

Buck Rogers was born in a 1928 novella published by Amazing Stories, and starred in many comic strip and radio serial adventures throughout the 30s and 40s. His first celluloid outing came in 1933, in the prodigious oddity An Interplanetary Battle with the Tiger Men of Mars. Premiered at the Chicago World Fair of 33/34, this short adventure's stilted performances and lo-fi space battle evoke more of the ambiance of Eraserhead than Stars Wars. Dr. Huer, billed as the "greatest scientist and inventor of the 25th Century", displays an extraordinary naivety in his admission "I never expected those fierce Tiger Men of Mars to attack Earth", as though any other course of action were realistically available to fierce Tiger Men emanating from Mars. The logic of the War Arrow remains a mystery for the ages.

Meanwhile, in 1979, a peculiar clash of 50's jukebox bravado, 80's space disco, and notional 25th Century aesthetics informs this indescribably wonderful scene from the pilot of the television series most of us remember. I can't embed this one, but youtube has it here, and it's well worth a look.

Buck Rogers seems to have been far more subversive than I remember; check out this almost Burning Man-like guest appearance by space disco pioneers Andromeda:

Finally, in one last subversive clip, Buck, like a latter day Lenny Bruce, playfully pushes the boundaries of linguistic propriety:

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