Flash Gordon is a 1980 film, directed by Mike Hodges, inspired by the eponymous science fiction comic book character created in 1934 by Alex Raymond. In the cast also two homegrown actresses: Ornella Muti and Mariangela Melato. The plot is the classic one of the many comics-inspired films, with the predictable clash between good and evil. The cruel emperor Ming the Terrible locates the planet Earth and decides to annihilate it to fight boredom. Ming unleashes several natural disasters, including a meteor storm that crashes a private plane on which “Flash” Gordon is traveling, and journalist Dale Arden. Miraculously surviving the crash, Flash and Dale find themselves in the presence of the doctor Hans Zarkov, ex-NASA, who built a rocket to discover the cause of the phenomena that are ravaging the Earth. Zarkov is tricked into leaving for space in the company of Flash and Dale. The journey brings the three into the system Mongo, where they are captured by Ming’s soldiers and taken to his fortress for questioning. When General Klytus, head of Ming’s cruel secret police, asks the blond prisoner to reveal his name, the answer is film history (and football, of course): “Flash Gordon, quarterback, New York Jets”. (spoiler alert!) Obviously Gordon, aided by Arden, will manage to free the peoples of Mongo from the tyranny of Ming and to save the earth.
The film has a mediocre success in the United States, where it has not even managed to match the 35 million in production costs. In the UK it is doing a little better, making over thirteen million pounds at the box office. The film is initially little appreciated by critics, which saves the only one Max von Sydow (in the role of Ming) and harshly criticizes the protagonist Sam Jones, who will gradually disappear from the big screen in Hollywood. As the years went by, the film was re-evaluated and is now considered a cult of science fiction cinema.
But what carved the film into my memory, plus of course Gordon’s presentation in style Monday Night Footballis the soundtrack of the film, written by one of the most famous groups in the history of music, i Queenauthors of the homonymous album. Flash Gordon is one of the first high-budget films to make use of music mainly composed by a rock band.
Given that Gordon claims to be the Jets’ QB in 1980, it is safe to assume that the blond signal caller could be driving the attack of the Gang Green in 1982, a season that saw the New York franchise rejoin the Holy Grail for the first time since the magical 1969 campaign (it will only succeed again almost thirty years later, in 2010). And needless to do it on purpose, the starting QB of the Jets in 1982 is blond like Flash, his name is Richard Toddand played college in Alabama, just like illustrious “Broadway” predecessor Joe Namath.
The 1982 season is remembered for one strike of the players lasted 57 days which causes a reduction in the calendar of the regular season 16 to 9 games. The NFL launches an anomalous formula to determine the participants in the playoffs, selecting 16 teams, the best 8 teams of each Conference, without taking into account the divisional rankings.
The Jets qualify for the Playoffs as # 6 seeded in the AFC with a 6-3 record. Under the orders of Head Coach Walt Michaels, the Jets can count on 5 players nominated for the Pro Bowl, with stars such as RB Freeman Mc Neil, WR Wesley Walker but above all with a line of defense anchored by DE Mark Gastineau and DT Joe Klecko.
After beating seed # 2, the Cincinnati Bengals in ease 44 to 17 at Riverfront Stadium, on January 15, 1983 the Jets showed up at the Coliseum to face seed # 1, the Los Angeles Raiders, who had just arrived in city from Oakland after winning the lengthy trial brought by owner Al Davis against the League (to find and watch the documentary of the excellent series of ESPN “30 for 30” entitled “Al Davis vs the NFL“On the constant clashes between Davis and the then Commissioner of the NFL, Pete Rozelle).
Although the historical rivalry for the Jets, even for a divisional question, is certainly the one with Miami, the second place is certainly occupied by the Raiders. Jets and Raiders are two of the original AFL teams and have clashed on the pitches since 1960. In 1967 Ike Lassiter of the Raiders broke Joe Namath’s cheekbone and Broadway Joe retaliated the following year by throwing three TDs. pass in the AFL Championship played at Shea Stadium against the Raiders before winning Super Bowl III a few days later. The same year, during the regular season, the Raiders had won the famous one Heidi game against the Jets for 43 to 32 scoring 14 points in the last 65 seconds of the game. Al Davis often accused the Jets of hiding bugs in Shea’s guest locker room while Michaels, who had been an assistant on the LA staff before being fired by Davis himself, criticized his old boss for his never entirely lost habit of putting pressure. to referees during home games to get calls in favor. Just during the interval of the game that we are talking about today, the Jets coach is called on the phone by a bartender from New York who pretends to be the owner of the Jets and urges the team to play better in the second half. In post-game interviews Michaels accuses Davis to have organized the call to annoy the Jets, a theory that will remain valid until the confession of the bartender, arrived a few days later, who will say that he acted autonomously in order to charge the team.
The game, played in front of 90,000 spectators, needless to say, is very physical and nervous, with 10 total turnover (5 fumbles and 5 interceptions). With the Jets leading 10-0 in the second quarter, after personal fouls by each team Lyle Alzado attacks Jets OT Chris Ward, rips his helmet off and throws it at him. The tactic seems to work as on returning from the locker room LA scores 14 consecutive points in the third quarter and moves forward, 14-10. But a TD on the run by reserve RB Scott Dierking in the last part of the game and a lot of defense give the Jets the ticket for theAFC Championship Game against Miami 8 days later. Miami will win after a big 14-0 defensive battle and then lose Super Bowl XVII 27-17 to the Redskins at the Rose Bowl the following week (yeah, once the championship ended in January and there were no weekend breaks during the Playoffs).
It was Dino De Laurentiis, the Flash producer entrusted Freddie, Brian, John and Roger with the music of the film, giving the four complete control of the soundtrack. There is little to say about Queen, without incurring the lese majesty rate. Let’s just remember that Freddie Mercury’s group will participate in the soundtrack of another film shot in the 80s, Highlander, which like Flash Gordon does not have a great success at the US box office and probably remains in the memory of cinephiles precisely for the music of the British group. So here she is, in all her glory, the “Queen” of rock, who plays Flash, titletrack taken from the soundtrack of the film. Enjoy!