* PATHETIC EARTHLINGS! *
WELCOME to Gordon’s ALIVE! Version 2.0!
After a long hiatus, the website is back for good just in time for the 40th anniversary of Mike Hodges’ sci-fi spectacular. Four decades later the cult classic has lost none of its lustre (and even gained some more thanks to its latest release in eye-popping 4K!) and the celebrations will continue here while the world catches up after the unprecedented events of last year. Hopefully the 40th Anniversary World Tour will resume in the coming months, but in the meantime The Savior Of The Universe himself is still making personal appearances in the US so try to catch Sam J. Jones at a venue near you.
This year has also seen the release of a new influx of merchandise, from Boss Fight Studio’s awesome new action figures to no less than the definitive history of the movie courtesy of John Walsh’ incredible new book Flash Gordon: The Official Story Of The Film. This extraordinary 192-page volume is everything Flash fans used to dream of but never thought they would see. Gordon’s ALIVE! was happy to contribute some images from the archives (even getting a special mention in the acknowledgements!) along with other longtime fans & friends of the site such as Bob Lindenmeyer and Jason Lenzi.
A sell-out on its first printing, the book has now been nominated for Book Of The Year by the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards and we’re counting on it to win so cast your vote here!
But for now, enjoy the new site’s bold new look, upgraded navigation and in-depth posts on all-things Flash with the promise of lots more material (including a review of John Walsh Book and more vintage magazine articles from all over the globe) starting with this exclusive piece on the provenance of the first production-made prop from the Gordon’s ALIVE! archive as told by the assistant costume designer herself..!
LONG LIVE FLASH…!
“Before the film went into production I worked with another girl in a small studio with the design team making prototype costumes. This t-shirt is actually a man’s vest bought from Marks and Spencer and one of several graphics that were under consideration. We made all the t-shirts for the film, with red at the neck and round the arms. They may well have been painted by hand. Almost everything that could be was made by hand. All the beads on the headdresses, Ming’s collar, millions of tiny bugle beads all stuck on individually by hand. Tons of work that you never, ever get to see in close up, all done by hand. Eventually we both worked on the film production as production supervisors but sadly because of politics which I can’t remember now she got a credit and I didn’t.
They eventually went with just the name Flash and red trimmings, much nicer. I took this reject home. It has been worn and washed but is in good condition. Perhaps not quite as white as when it was new, but no holes or terrible stains. Good vintage condition I think is the best description. The tees are cotton with a high Lycra content. We had to make quite a few of them as I don’t think they were ever washed. And they often got dirty I imagine. I don’t really know about all that kind of thing as I worked in the workroom. I didn’t get to go on set much when they were actually filming. Though I did explore all the sets when they were being built or not being used. We took over most of Shepperton, it was such a huge production.
I felt so lucky to work on the film. It was my first big film production that I had an important part in. Though the hours nearly killed me, we slept on the floor of the workroom many times.
In our little studio before production started was a team from Italy who had all worked with Danilo Donato, a lady pattern cutter and a man who was cutter for the men’s costumes. It was really fun. There were a few designs for the Flash t shirt. I don’t remember what they were or what happened to them, all printed on St. Michael vests. I think in the end they decided he would have known his own name, so dropped the Gordon. The designer did every bit of design himself, or if somebody else started the work he would always fiddle and alter it himself. Almost a tyrant, if he didn’t get his way fast enough he literally would stamp his feet.
They had a team of tailors and just occasionally used us. It had to be altered many times. First Sam put on weight as he worked out so much. Then you get to the point where you lose again, so more alterations. I worked on quite a lot of things but mostly my job was working with the Italian cutters and then getting the sewing girls to make them. Working out timings, materials, fittings etc. I didn’t do very much sewing. I had to distribute the work to the girls, knowing which ones were skilled in which kind of work. Making sure the more clever ones didn’t only do the good jobs. And that the less skilful didn’t just to the more tedious jobs all the time. Keeping a happy workroom, a skill in itself. I worked on Flash’ red leather jacket, decorating it and also making some of the stiffening inside. I also made his brown leather shorts myself. Supervisors perks!
There was a workshop that made everything to chrome in any colour. So a plastic shop would make a gun, or a badge or whatever. Then it went to the chrome shop and came back all shiny. There was another workshop that extruded things. All the vines for the forest scenes and the giant leaves out of a sort of foam rubber. It was quite a production I can tell you. Huge. For the Lizard Men, every scale was cut from leather by hand. We had at times 34 girls sewing and cutting those things out made everyone’s fingers bleed.
One of the seamstresses we had is the girl in the BBC colour chart holding the dolly. The thing they put up when there isn’t a programme. Don’t know what that is actually called. She was Carol something. Bit of nonsense for you. You can tell it was a big deal job for me. the biggest of my twenty-five or so years in the costume business. Immediately after filming ended I went to work for Queen as PA to their manager. I was too ill after the film to do my normal job. And amazingly enough the band was doing the music for the film! So I got to go to the first night with the band…”
– Carole Phillips