Saturday, November 4, 2017

About Movie Industry Comments


The very media industry assembled to promote the entertainment aspect of motion pictures consistently demonstrated a lukewarm or puzzled response to "U.F.O." because its low key, documentary style couldn't find a perfect fit in Hollywood's world of fifties glitter, not even if one stretched the truth and looked upon the film as something akin to a product of science fiction.  It WASN'T sci-fi, but it wasn't all that entertaining, either.

In one entertainment news clipping shown here, we find a source placing blame on director Winston Jones for the movie's slow, often lackluster pace -- hardly surprising, since Jones had no firm resume' as a director and had actually escalated his status following a career working with Hollywood props.  Nevertheless, knowing how close co-producer Clarence Greene remained to the project, Jones likely reflected the production and vision pretty much the way Greene desired.  Ditto the script writer, Francis Martin.

Note, too, that throughout our several-year journey on this blog, there was nary a word about the film relating to Greene's partner on this and other films, producer Russell Rouse.  Like a child in a single parent family, "U.F.O." was dependent, I would suggest overwhelmingly, upon one daddy:  Greene himself.


(Visual Credit:  Barry Greenwood)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Foreign Reviews - 1956, 1958, 1960



At least for now, these are the last of a few foreign language motion picture reviews.  Next time, a page in English.


(Credit:  Barry Greenwood)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Motion Picture Herald, June 1956
























(Credit:  Barry Greenwood)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Publicity: June, July, October 1956

This miscellaneous collection of clippings spotlights producer Clarence Greene himself, along with snippets of movie reviews.  Of special interest is a motion picture promotion involving silver (we assume tin foil) pie plates organized by a theater manager, exactly the kind of zany publicity maneuver United Artists invited in their quest to draw people to the box office.

Looking at Greene's 1956 picture of confidence, we are again reminded how fickle Hollywood success can be, as, it is alleged, he eventually died nearly penniless in a nursing home.


(Scan Credit:  Barry Greenwood)

Monday, October 23, 2017

Foreign Cinema - August 7, 1957




(Credit:  Barry Greenwood)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

News and Reviews, 1956 & 1963


Among movie-related articles from 1956 and 1963 shown here are a somewhat smarmy review, another piece regarding a thumbs-up for "U.F.O." from the Catholic Church's National League of Decency, and an important little mention about United Artists.

From Broadcasting magazine we learn that United Artists compiled a package of 60 films available to interested TV stations in May of 1963, which neatly explains why my first opportunity to see "U.F.O." as a teenager occurred in the mid-sixties via a local TV station, and this brief published comment indicates that the motion picture started to air on afternoon or late-late TV shows in locations large and small all over the USA between 1963-1965. 

For the most part, unsuspecting TV viewers probably never even heard of the film, let alone realize or cherish any historical importance it conveyed.  The "good stuff" for typical TV screen popcorn munchers would easily be lost, secondary to marginal acting and a documentary style devoid of high dramatic effect.


(Credit:  Barry Greenwood)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Foreign Cinema - December 23, 1958

We'll be posting several foreign reviews, but I will leave it up to readers properly equipped online or with time to meander through the text to translate.  Today's entry is said to be written in Portugese, as are additional pages we will post here, in between reviews presented in English.

(Credit:  Barry Greenwood)

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Box Office Roulette


For a motion picture said to be a loser at the box office, these glowing reports from the Motion Picture Herald during the summer of 1956, and apparently on into at least November suggest otherwise.  Is there really any accounting for accounting in Hollywood?

(Document credit:  Barry Greenwood)

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Certified by God


Researcher Barry Greenwood continues to unearth publicity information and other documentation relating to the movie.  Today we're highlighting, more or less, the cinematic blessings bestowed upon "U.F.O." by the National League of Decency.

As you see, it's indeed fortunate that producers Clarence Greene and Russell Rouse intended neither to elicit sympathy for key personnel's "questionable ethics," nor to lend credence to "spiritistic practices," thereby granting the movie a comfortable rating of A-I, designated "suitable for all audiences."

The National League of Decency, well-described via Wikipedia and other sources, was basically the Catholic religion's attempt to rate motion pictures based upon its strict moral standards.  We would like to believe this was intended only for followers of the Church, but, alas, those of other religions and belief systems were also targeted, the League having acted essentially as a government within a government.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Tom Towers Speaks


Researcher Barry Greenwood has unearthed two brief TV (audio) interviews with Tom Towers, recorded at least several years after the national release of "U.F.O."  These clips, which I have transcribed below, come from KABC-TV in Los Angeles, and focus in large part upon Towers' opinion of the UFO phenomenon, the Kenneth Arnold sighting and the Senator Richard Russell UFO incident.  Together, the clips barely last seven minutes, so yes, they truly are brief.

Towers' mention of the Arnold incident and the origin of the term, "flying saucers" is rather tangled here, but because the UFO subject wasn't really his focus, as he concentrated mainly on aviation and airport issues, and because he was being asked questions for which he may not have been fully prepared, his response regarding Arnold and "saucers" can be forgiven.


Transcripts of the two brief interviews are posted below.  The interviewer was Baxter Ward, KABC-TV news director, and these portions were culled from a series entitled "Objects Unidentified," apparently concerned with a host of strange subjects in addition to UFOs.

(Thanks, Barry)

TOM TOWERS, FROM INTERVIEW AIRED JUNE 15, YEAR UNKNOWN:

(Here, Towers recalls his interest in UFOs as a result of his motion picture role) 

"I could refer back to some correspondence I had with the very eminent Georgia senator, Senator Richard Russell, and I was then working for the late and lamented Los Angeles Examiner as aviation editor.  It was 1955 when Senator Russell went to Europe on a trip, and when he came back there were reports in the press that he had made some type of sighting or seen something in Europe that he could not explain.  I corresponded with him, and I have here a letter that I should like to read, which I think further points up the great mystery behind the flying saucer phenomenon -- at least it does in my opinion.

"Dear Mr. Towers -- this letter is dated January 17, 1956 -- Permit me to acknowledge your letters relative to reports that have come to you regarding aerial objects seen in Europe last year.  I have received your letter, but I have discussed this matter with the affected agencies of the government, and they are of the opinion that it is not wise to publicize this matter at this time.  I regret very much that I am unable to be of assistance to you.  With assurances of esteem, I remain, Sincerely, Richard B. Russell.

"Now, I guess many people can place many interpretations on Senator Russell's letter.  But to me it only means that he did see something in Europe in 1955, he dutifully reported it to our government in Washington, and somebody back there said keep still, don't talk.

"As long as we have this sort of atmosphere existing, I think we will always then have a certain mysticism, a certain fascination with the entire phenomenon of the unidentified flying objects. 

"I have also been asked my opinion of flying saucer reports, and the answer to this is that I've kept an open mind, very definitely, on this subject, and I lend a great deal of credence and veracity -- I should say I've never doubted the veracity of certain reports that have come in, namely from controllers of the Federal Aviation Agency, men who are very highly reliable, who work in the control towers 24 hours a day, and certainly of airline pilots such as Captain Willis Sperry, a jet captain for American Airlines, who has made a sighting and appeared in "U.F.O."  And I would never, for one moment, doubt the honesty and the reliability and the veracity of men like Captain Willis Sperry and other airline pilots flying five million, six million dollar jet aircraft today.  If we have to deny them and turn our back on some of the reports that they have offered, then I'm afraid they shouldn't be flying airplanes."


TOM TOWERS, FROM INTERVIEW AIRED A FEW DAYS LATER ON JUNE 23, YEAR UNKNOWN:


(Here, Towers responds to a question about the origin of  the term, flying saucers)


"I've done a little research on this at the time we were making this picture, "U.F.O." and I found that it had its start back in the late forties, when a man named Kenneth Arnold, a (fixed?) base operator at the airport in Boise, Idaho made a sighting of some objects that he could not identify.  He alerted a newspaper man, a friend of his, working for a Boise newspaper, and then took off in his airplane and flew as far as the Grand Cooley Dam in Washington, attempting to catch up to these objects, or make some accurate identification.

"The newspaper man that he alerted was a "stringer," or correspondent for United Press at that time in Boise, and he in turn contacted Roger Johnson, who was the Pacific Northwest news bureau manager for United Press, and told him of the sighting.

"After Arnold returned from his flight, Mr. Johnson, who is now a Beverly Hills public relations executive, questioned Mr. Arnold in great length on what he had seen and, as I recall, Mr. Arnold said that the objects that he  saw in the sky on that particular Sunday, the afternoon, resembled an inverted dish, and they talked about it back and forth on the phone, and Mr. Johnson then drew from Mr. Arnold that possibly they resembled not so much of an inverted dish, but possibly some kind of a saucer.  And Mr. Arnold agreed to that, and then Mr. Johnson reported all of this back to the New York office of  the United Press, and the story was actually written from back there, and when it came out from New York, that it came out saying that Mr. Arnold in Boise, Idaho had spotted flying saucers."

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Comet Carries "U.F.O."




The Comet TV network (comettv.com) shows primarily old movies and TV shows with a science fiction or horror theme.  Apparently, Comet has also picked up U.F.O. for occasional airing.  One wonders how many viewers will understand the movie's sober intent as a documentary, while some will behold only a sci-fi film devoid of terrifying rubber monsters and vampires. **

** I happened upon the last half of an airing a few days after posting this entry, and was disappointed to find that some cuts have been made (the scene where the Newhouse UFO film is first shown to military brass excludes the UFO films!).  I assume the snip-snip occurs earlier in the movie as well.  I think I understand why the cuts were performed -- assume more time to throw in TV commercials, and, after all, the Montana and Utah UFO films do turn up at the end of the movie for a brief analysis -- but regret very much the loss of continuity.  Cuts were likewise made in past years as U.F.O. made the rounds on cable TV, so this is hardly a surprise.  Nevertheless, it's a shame.  If  The Walking Dead reflected reality, the zombies would probably consist of deceased motion picture directors, returning to eat the brains of living TV movie editors -- if any such brains were to be found.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Movie Trailer Available Online

A very nice copy of the trailer for "U.F.O." has been posted among the online archives, and if you haven't yet seen the motion picture itself, this is a very intriguing place to start.  Just click on this link:
https://archive.org/details/UnidentifiedFlyingObjects-Trailer

Thanks to researcher and author Barry Greenwood for alerting me to this additional link to an important piece of UFO history.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Best is the Oldest



"U.F.O." is an old motion picture, but one destined not to be forgotten by people interested in the subject and ongoing mystery of unidentified flying objects  -- or, as they say in higher social circles, unidentified aerial objects (UAO) or unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP).  Call them what you will, they continue to confound science and the truly open-minded. Should this be your first visit here, please be sure to start way back at the very beginning for a cohesive account of this 1956 classic.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dr. Hynek's Impression


It's a worthwhile observation that years after a highly skeptical Al Chop had radically changed his mind and decided that UFOs were something real and extraordinary, perhaps of a source extraterrestrial, the Air Force's chief UFO consultant, astronomer Dr. J. Allen Hynek, reached a similar conclusion.

However, in a letter typed about a month after the release of "U.F.O." dated June 19, 1956, a still-cautious (perhaps "on the fence" is a better description, as negativity toward the phenomenon's potentially incredible origin was part and parcel of Hynek's early approach) Dr. Hynek addressed the movie and a few other issues with veteran UFO researcher Alexander D. Mebane (NY).  At this time, Hynek had just moved to Cambridge, MA to work with the Smithsonian Institution Astrophysical Observatory.  Among the subjects of interest covered in the letter was this:

"Activity at ATIC*  has picked up considerably recently, what with the UFO film, which I had an opportunity of previewing before it hit the public theaters, and with Jessup's**  UFO Annual  . . .well, all of these things are having their repercussions."

Hynek also noted that ATIC's "Saucer Division" had recently acquired Capt. Gregory, a name familiar to historians, as its chief.

Though frequently seeming to tow the Air Force line regarding UFOs in the fifties, Hynek nevertheless confessed to Mebane, "The Air Force still believes that my services are of some value to them, even though lately I have been quite critical of a number of things."

Finally, zeroing in on the motion picture, Hynek stated:

"I enjoyed the UFO film immensely even though it was over-dramatized and terribly slanted.  I suppose it's some sort of a commentary that I found the most dramatic part of the picture to be the bringing in of a plane through fog by radar.  This part at least was factual."

This part at least was factual.   One gets the impression that Hynek was still securely locked away in his skeptical box as apparently, in his view, all the other contents and components of "U.F.O." were based upon thin air.  Whatever he meant, this was a curious statement, probably quite telling of Hynek's fifties UFO approach. 

Of course, by the time the mid-sixties, the Socorro encounter, the Michigan sightings and then abduction reports of the seventies started to evolve, Dr. J. Allen Hynek was no longer a skeptic, and in the seventies his J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies set out to be a repository and investigative source for reports by police officers and what were envisioned as other qualified UFO observers.  In other words -- the version of Dr. Hynek observed briefly during his walk-on in the film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind was by that time (1977) both what we saw and what we got. 

Indeed, what a metamorphosis had occurred, since Hynek in 1956 declined Mebane's invitation to make a public appearance in NY City because he felt he could do more by remaining in the background as a "catalyst."

(Thanks to author and veteran UFO researcher Barry Greenwood for bringing the Hynek letter to our attention.)

(* Air Technical Intelligence Center)

(** Morris K. Jessup's UFO Annual, appearing in hardcover, was basically a collection of newspaper stories about UFO activity, and I recall an addendum here and there afterwards, but any possibility of a continuing "annual" book of monumental proportions was dashed due to Jessup's death -- which is another story in itself, recounted elsewhere.)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Towers on the News Beat: Before and After the Movie




Knowing why Al Chop suggested that producer Clarence Greene ask Tom Towers to play him in "U.F.O." is easy.  The two knew one another, both had extensive experience as newspaper reporters, and each, for different reasons, was convinced the UFO issue deserved to be taken seriously, though in agreement that a delusional or fringe aspect also haunted the subject.

Regarding today's scans:  A 1954 Towers column from the Los Angeles Examiner recounts a meeting at Giant Rock in California, famous for "contactee" gatherings and lucrative book sales by and about folks who claimed generally friendly contact and excursions with flying saucer occupants.  In my correspondence with Towers, he never denied his negative impression of the contactee realm, and in fact his closing paragraph (as shown) about Venus and the like clearly illustrates this.  Incidentally, if you think we may have mentioned Giant Rock previously, you're correct.  When I put up my e-mail months ago from the late recording artist Andrew Gold, whose father Ernest Gold wrote the music score for the motion picture, the younger Gold had mentioned that his grandparents used to go to the Giant Rock affairs.  I'm betting they were in attendance while Towers was there -- too bad he didn't get an interview with them.  Anyway, in 1954 plans for the Greene-Rouse production were well underway, though Towers may not have known at this point that he would be requested for the movie role.

The June, 1956 photo from the Boston Sunday Advertiser shows Tom Towers looking over film in a projector in conjunction with publicity for "U.F.O."  A major "selling point" for the movie was the inclusion of two actual films of assumed UFOs, and that fact was extensively circulated via studio PR activities.

The 1957 Boston Sunday Advertiser column, originating from Towers' home base at the L.A. Examiner, saw print long after "U.F.O." was released, and temporary movie star Tom Towers was back at the newspaper, this time writing about a terrible air collision between an airplane and a jet over the densely populated San Fernando Valley in California, which killed five people in the air and two high school students on the ground -- with 73 more serious injuries inflicted upon students at the school over which the chaos occurred and flaming aircraft fragments rained.  Towers remained very keen about social issues related to aircraft in his position as aviation editor and, as we've indicated previously, noise abatement at airports near residential areas concerned him much of the time.

(Thanks to author and historian Barry Greenwood for the scans in today's entry.  Click on my main blog in the link list, and once there click on Barry's name noted at the top of that page's link list to access free copies of his former UFO history newsletters and other material via his Web site.)