Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (film)
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|Buck Rogers in the 25th Century|
|Directed by||Daniel Haller|
|Produced by||Richard Caffey
Glen A. Larson
|Written by||Glen A. Larson
Based on "Buck Rogers" created by Philip Francis Nowlan
|Narrated by||William Conrad|
Mel Blanc (voice)
|Music by||Stu Phillips|
|Editing by||John J. Dumas
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Release dates||March 30, 1979|
|Running time||89 minutes|
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is an American science fiction film released in March 1979. Starring Gil Gerard in the title role, it was produced by Glen A. Larson who co-wrote the screenplay with Leslie Stevens, based on the character Buck Rogers which was created by Philip Francis Nowlan in 1928.
In 1987, NASA astronaut Captain William "Buck" Rogers is piloting the space shuttle Ranger 3 when he flies into an unexpected space phenomenon and is frozen for 504 years. In the year 2491, his shuttle is found drifting in space by the alien ship Draconia, which is headed to Earth for a trade conference, under the command of Princess Ardala and her aide de camp, Kane, a former native of Earth. Rogers is revived from his cryogenic sleep and is sent on his way home. It turns out though the Draconians are actually planning to conquer the Earth through staged pirate attacks on Earth's shipping fleet, forcing Earth to seek a treaty with the Draconians and unwittingly opening up their defenses to the invaders. They plant a homing beacon aboard Roger's shuttle to track a way past Earth's planet-wide defense shield.
Buck is escorted to New Chicago, where he is interrogated and learns that Earth has been rebuilt over the centuries in his absence following a nuclear holocaust. While in New Chicago, he makes the acquaintance of Colonel Wilma Deering, an Earth defense officer, Dr. Huer, the leader of Earth's Defense Directorate, the AI computer Dr. Theopolis, and the robot drone Twiki who becomes his assistant. Against advice, Buck ventures outside the city to the ruins of old Chicago in an attempt to prove what he has been told is real. There he is accosted by several mutants, but is rescued by Wilma who arrives with a squad of troops. Buck returns to the Inner City, however, when the Draconian tracking device is found aboard his ship, the authorities accuse Buck of espionage. Buck claims the Draconians set him up, and eventually Deering decides to test Buck's claims by flying up to the Draconia and meeting Princess Ardala and Kane. Before Buck and his companions can discover some evidence about their true agenda, the Draconians stage a pirate attack on their own ship to throw off any suspicion. Initially, Deering's fighter squadron takes heavy losses due to their reliance on combat computers, which are easily outmaneouvered by the Draconians, but then Buck decides to use his old-fashioned dogfight training and easily defeats the attackers.
At the official diplomatic reception, Ardala, who has taken a liking to Buck, invites him back to the Draconia, but Buck merely goes along to find out the truth behind the Draconians. After drugging Ardala, he explores the ship and discovers their plans to attack Earth, which is imminent. Dr. Theopolis and Twiki, who have followed Buck aboard, eventually meet up with him and alert Earth to the Draconian threat. Wilma immediately scrambles Earth's starfighters and attacks the Draconia, while Buck sabotages the Draconian bomber fleet prepared to attack Earth. During the battle, the Draconia is critically damaged, but Buck, Theopolis and Twiki are rescued again by Wilma before the ship explodes. Ardala and Kane also escape the Draconia's destruction in a shuttlecraft, and Kane vows to return and to take his revenge on Rogers.
- Gil Gerard as Captain William "Buck" Rogers
- Erin Gray as Colonel Wilma Deering
- Tim O'Connor as Dr. Elias Huer
- Pamela Hensley as Princess Ardala
- Henry Silva as Kane
- Howard F. Flynn as Voice of Dr. Theopolis
- Felix Silla as Twiki
- Mel Blanc as Voice of Twiki
- Duke Butler as Tigerman
- Joseph Wiseman as Emperor Draco
Inspired by the massive success of Star Wars two years earlier, Universal began developing Buck Rogers for television, spearheaded by Glen A. Larson who had a production deal with the studio. Initially, Larson and Universal had planned on making a series of Buck Rogers TV movies for NBC. Production began in 1978, however, the pilot for Larson's other sci-fi series, Battlestar Galactica (1978), had been released theatrically in some countries and in key locations in North America, and had done well at the box office. Universal then opted to release the first Buck Rogers TV movie theatrically on March 30, 1979. The movie grossed over $21 million in North America and was later released internationally, which led NBC to commission a weekly series, which began on September 20, 1979 with a slightly modified version of the theatrical release.
The movie was originally slated for release for September 1978. There were several start dates for filming but it was repeatedly delayed due to casting problems. The movie was eventually released in March 1979.
The movie's opening credits featured a song, Suspension, sung by Kipp Lennon and co-written by Glen A. Larson. An instrumental version of the song was used as the main theme for the TV series that followed, though the vocal version of the song was used again for the end credits of the season one finale, "Flight of the War Witch".
Several shots in the film were filmed at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Several other stock shots portraying futuristic buildings on Earth are that of remaining pavilions on the site of Expo 67, including the British and French national pavilion (now open as the Montreal Casino). These shots were also included in the 1979 Battlestar Galactica episode "Greetings from Earth", in which they were said to be a city on the planet Paradeen (though in production around the same time, the episode aired a month prior to the release of the Buck Rogers film). Buck's NASA shuttle, Ranger 3, was itself a prop that had been seen in this same episode where it was used as Michael's Lunar-7 shuttle.
Princess Ardala's father, Emperor Draco (played by Joseph Wiseman), originally had several scenes in the movie but most of these were cut. His only remaining scene was as a holographic image talking to Kane at the end of the movie. Despite this brief appearance, images of Draco appeared prominently in various Buck Rogers merchandise, and 12" and 3¾" Draco action figures were produced by the toy company Mego.
The film has been released on video several times since the 1980s, and was released on DVD in the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century series boxed set released in 2004. This was in lieu of the television broadcast version (entitled "Awakening") which contained some different scenes. When the first season was issued again on DVD in 2012, the boxed set still contained the theatrical version of the film. However, the television version of the film is to be released on DVD as a bonus feature in a re-issued boxed set of season two in 2013. As of 2013 both seasons are available for streaming on Netflix.
- Houston, David (April 1979). "Buck Rogers Becomes The Movie". Starlog (Starlog Group, Inc.) (21).
- Delson, James (September 1979). "Buck Rogers: The Inside Story An exclusive interview with Director Daniel Haller.". Fantastic Films (10).
- "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century - The Complete Series". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
- Canby, Vincent (March 30, 1979). "Screen: 'Buck Rogers' Glides on Automatic Pilot:'Millionaire's Row' Tour". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-03-14.
- Lambert, David (September 4, 2012). "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century - Release Date Flies Into the Future for 'Season 2' on DVD". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
- Buck Rogers in the 25th Century at the Internet Movie Database (1979 film)
- Buck Rogers in the 25th Century at allmovie