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)


(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."


(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:

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.)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Physicist Disturbed by Movie

Somewhere along this very long cinematic journey, we mentioned that a rare copy of the Great Britain press book for "U.F.O." dropped into our hands (well, that is, after I paid handsomely for it many years ago), and its appearance surpassed the more readily available American version.  In fact, we were able to extract and scan a considerable amount of information for this blog from the English press book.

Because the two press books evidenced subtle differences, maybe audience reactions reported by the press in each country could be expected to differ as well -- and, at least in this instance, one did.  Having had an opportunity to read numerous reviews, particularly from the USA, regarding the film's 1956 premiere, I noticed that some were polite, others relentlessly negative and still others showered praise upon the new movie in town.

However, I don't recall an American review quite like that offered by England's New Scientist of November 22, 1956, in which a staff physicist for the publication admits being (with my apologies to James Bond fans) shaken more than stirred following a session at a London movie theater.  Like every good skeptical scientist, the unnamed physicist found reasons to attack the film's uninspiring "blah" aspect (read as:  the acting and progression sucked) in depth -- but then, as imparted by the writer quoting his impression:  "And yet it is uncomfortably convincing."

Apparently drawing upon press book material, as the review briefly spreads out details about the famous 1952 Washington, D.C. UFO pursuit and the Montana and Utah UFO films, the New Scientist article also manages to throw in a little commentary disparaging the British Air Ministry's negative attitude about the UFO phenomenon.  The B.A.M. may not be impressed publicly with UFOs in the fifties, "however," states the writer, "Unidentified Flying Objects revives doubts."

The very existence of this little piece from a scientific publication which dares to admit a staff physicist's mental shape-shift regarding UFOs -- in the 1950s yet, when the mere thought of a scientist taking "flying saucers" seriously could elicit potential career-killing ridicule -- causes us to wonder how many other scientists throughout the world were impressed by Clarence Greene and Russell Rouse's movie -- though remaining so in utter silence.  Forever.

(Author Barry Greenwood, recent contributor to the monumentally documented and impressive volume, UFOs and Government:  A Historical Inquiry, kindly passed the New Scientist gem along for today's entry.)

Friday, March 7, 2014

On Their Own

A reader (whom I'll be happy to identify by name in this space, should he wish to grant permission) recently questioned me about something indirectly related to a substantial issue -- the use of stock film footage in motion pictures.  Stock films and photos are generally in the public domain or available to a production staff from some source for a fee, or simply for a mention in the end credits.  The inclusion of stock images can greatly enhance a motion picture's message when alternative sources are just not available or beyond the director's reach for legal reasons, or merely because the ownership contact at a location where one wishes to film refuses to cooperate for any variety of reasons.

Of course, the use of stock music in movies is also well known.  The creepy background music for the original George Romero film, Night of the Living Dead, depended greatly upon stock music as a mood enhancer and scare tactic, and the implementation of stock music is noted in the original soundtrack (LP)album.

As the motion picture, U.F.O." was being developed and eventually produced between 1954 and 1956, a major obstacle became clear:  There would be no official government cooperation for producers Clarence Greene or Russell Rouse. 

To the current day, it's widely common for U.S. government officials to go "all out" to provide locations and in-your-face production values for movies intended to put the government or military in a "good light" -- but woe, unspoken brickbats and denials to scripts taking an opposite view.  In fact, this acknowledged practice has been and is still being discussed by Robbie Graham (of the Web site Silver Screen Saucers) and his colleagues in the film industry.

But -- a major motion picture about UFOs and recognition that in the early fifties some higher-ups believed the U.S. government should be on the verge of 'fessing up about "saucers" representing an extraterrestrial source?  Government cooperation?  Fat chance!

Indeed, the reader's query sent me back to my old faded and submarginal (especially for handwritten notes) photocopy of Tom Towers' script, and as I flipped through more than 100 pages from beginning to end, every spot where fresh filming would have been ideal was sacrificed instead for the use of stock film footage.  This was no accident or oversight.

Long after the movie's release, Air Force documents surfaced indicating official fears about "U.F.O." and the negative publicity it was expected to generate regarding the government's position on the phenomenon.  As it turned out, Clarence Greene's documentary pretty much bombed at the box office and any potential public uproar of consequence did not materialize -- as the government continued to dismiss and deny, as per Robertson Panel (1953) protocol, by the time the early fifties' frank official honesty had all but disappeared.

Greene realized from the outset, even after enlisting the help of notables Edward Ruppelt, Dewey Fournet, Al Chop and others with previous government UFO investigation experience, that official cooperation would not be forthcoming.  As a result,, other than the weekend that Tom Towers spent filming exterior "walking around" scenes in Washington, D.C., stock film footage fills a lot of production nooks and crannies.  Such file footage in "U.F.O." includes exterior Pentagon scenes, Wright-Patterson AFB, runway shots, Air Materiel Command, miscellaneous Washington scenes, F-51 aircraft and other military planes, views of military pilots (!), plus a laboratory and work table.  In addition, scenes involving a darkroom (I'm not sure that some of these made it into the movie's final cut), projection room, Washington Airport and the White House were file footage, as were scenes showing a busy Pentagon switchboard.

Topping off this mosaic of old footage was obvious newsreel material of General John A. Samford and others.

The funny thing is, were Clarence Greene alive today (and it is my understanding that he died in a nursing home years ago, virtually broke financially, and perhaps a broken man in other Hollywood ways), attempting to remake "U.F.O." nearly 60 years later -- this time, armed with awesome computerized special effects and digital cinematography unimaginable in the fifties -- the government would still slam the door of cooperation.  What's changed since 1956?  Well, with the addition of the TSA, DARPA, NSA steroid-level spy abilities and all manner of who-knows-what -- I think you can guess.

Friday, November 22, 2013




Note:  I haven't written a book review in years, having put myself "out to pasture" in that area, but this book deserves attention because the author's references to the Montana UFO film -- and the movie upon which this blog is based -- fit right in.


MONTANA UFOS AND EXTRATERRESTRIALS, by Joan Bird, Riverbend Publishing, P.O. Box 5833, Helena, MT  59604 (Tel. 1-866-787-2363), 230 pages, publ. date 2013, $14.95 (Autographed copies are available from the author for $18.95, shipping included, inquire via joanbird@mt.net.  The book may also be purchased through Amazon.com for $10.97, and of course can be ordered at list price through your local independent bookstore, through Barnes & Noble or from the publisher, where shipping charges may apply.  Many Montana bookstores currently have it in stock.).

Oh, Montana -- oh, world -- what a gift this author has left at the doorstep of inquiring minds.

 The decades have produced a number of regional UFO-related books, some worthwhile and some not.  But Joan Bird's extensively researched volume, taking on the history of UFOs in Montana, ranks among the best area-specific trade books I've encountered, superbly footnoted with an illustration sprinkled here and there.  Bonus:  A mini-journey through the earliest years of UFO history in the U.S., ranging from the Air Force investigation to the Condon Report disaster and beyond is well-accomplished, and certainly important for those unfamiliar with the historical progression of research into the phenomenon.

Truth in reviewing dictates that I tell you right up front that Ms. Bird generously quotes and credits me in the first chapter and, indeed, that leads to my reason for featuring her book on this blog, intended. as you know, only for connections to the movie, "U.F.O."  It turns out, as anybody remotely familiar with UFO history knows, that Montana was the home of Nick Mariana, whose brief fifties film of two UFOs traversing the sky and disappearing behind a water tower remains unexplained, even after in-depth analysis by government photo experts (with most credit going to the Navy's labs).  The kicker here is that Mariana's film was prominently featured in Clarence Greene's documentary, and of course we've mentioned this in previous blog entries.

 For this reason alone, Joan Bird's work has a home on this blog, all the more because the first chapter (of 76 pages) is consumed by a fascinating account of the late Nick Mariana's life before, during and after his famous UFO photography incident and, as we indicated, among all of this is the author's exploration of the United Artists documentary motion picture as it relates to the Mariana film.

Of special interest, though Ms. Bird accumulates a significant amount of information about Mariana from publications, studies and other sources from the past, to her credit she also wisely went to the trouble of contacting and interviewing the son and daughter of Nicholas Mariana, thereby updating and personalizing our knowledge about the man and his established integrity and veracity.  Mariana passed on many years ago, but one wonders what additional gems Bird would have discovered, were he still available for questions.

The problems of time's passage in the book reminded me of a fleeting moment a few years ago, when a member of Canadian documentary film-maker David Cherniack's All in One Films contacted me prior to their visit to the United States, where they intended to conduct interviews and research all over the country regarding UFOs.  Somehow, I think in relation to Greene's documentary, the name of  former Navy chief warrant officer Delbert Newhouse came up.  Newhouse, of course, was the other UFO photography "star" of Greene's 1956 documentary, because Newhouse, accompanied by his family on a trip, filmed a cluster of strange objects moving across the skies over Tremonton, Utah in the fifties.  Like Mariana's film, Newhouse's offering confounded government film analysts -- and realize, too, that both Mariana and Newhouse complained that the best frames of their films were "missing" when returned by government officials, though this was not mentioned in Greene's "U.F.O."

But skip ahead from the fifties to the summer of 2006, when Cherniack and crew visited the U.S.  Newhouse's name had come up during my phone conversation with an associate and we wondered where he might reside after all these years.  By pure luck in the days after that call, I discovered a location for what might be a Newhouse family member, and when the Canadian folk checked further they were delighted to learn that Delbert Newhouse was alive and residing in an Oregon nursing home.  They even established phone contact with Newhouse, getting his enthusiastic permission to come and interview him.  Joking, he informed them that he was 93 years of age, so they had better hurry!

Unfortunately, Newhouse's humor proved strangely prophetic, for as Cherniack and his crew were rushing to Oregon, Delbert died suddenly, to everyone's surprise and sorrow.

I mention the Newhouse incident in detail here because, ultimately, David Cherniack's staff would end up speaking with and interviewing Newhouse's son, just as the Mariana incident needed to be explored by Joan Bird with family members after a witness's death.  In Newhouse's case his son, a very young child in the fifties, clearly remembered the Utah filming incident.

Thus, the importance of Joan Bird's book to the movie for which this blog exists.

Beyond the Mariana expedition, the author confronts another dramatically important issue -- that of alleged UFO visitations to nuclear missile bases located in Montana, and for this she relies upon the work of Robert Hastings, Robert Salas and her own extensive research into these incidents -- and this is deadly serious stuff, apparently recognized and hushed up by our government on multiple occasions (Note:  Salas recently revealed a personal UFO abduction incident, and there are allegations that other officers associated with UFO-nuke incidents may have experienced similar events.  I mention this only as an update here, mostly about which I am uninformed - r.b.).

Other chapters discuss Montana crop circle evidence, alleged abductions and "contactee" stories from the state's past -- about which Bird effectively strives to remain factual, critical, and even dismissive where necessary.  The super touch is Bird's extensive footnoting, a nice index and a lengthy list of acknowledgments in which she kindly attempts to leave no source out in the cold.  Additionally, Bird appears intent upon continuing her research project, so perhaps there's a book or more in her future.

Yes, inclusion of  MONTANA UFOS AND EXTRATERRESTRIALS fits into this blog nicely, a book composed with great documentary-style storytelling. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

UFO: The Permanent Marker

The UFO mystery endures, but this 1956 documentary motion picture reposes in relative obscurity as its existence and historical importance go mostly unnoticed by a world in pursuit of routine matters and, all too often now, danger or frivolity.  Should this be your first visit here, welcome aboard -- and be sure to start way, way back at the beginning to gain a full and consistent appreciation for the movie.  Because nearly 60 years have elapsed since the film’s release, I guess you could consider this a museum, but always keep in mind that antiquities sometimes shine a beacon on the future.  Along the way you will find letters from major participants with whom I communicated, in addition to photos, posters, lobby cards and press book material.  If the U.S. government's own investigation in the late forties and early fifties demonstrated that UFOs are real -- and these were refreshing times when officials were briefly forthright and honest about the evidence, unlike later on -- what are we to think?  UFOs were a mystery then, and remain so.  -- Robert Barrow

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tom Towers: Beyond the Movie

On previous occasions we've mentioned that Tom Towers not only assumed the role of Al Chop for the film, but also juggled other interests during his career.

From Jack Lait Jr's "Hollywood" column as it appeared in the Brooklyn Eagle (NY) of November 24, 1950:  "There's a young reporter named Tom Towers on the Los Angeles Examiner, as handsome a lad as any movie star you could name. . .regarded as one of the best reporters on the staff. . .

"Two years ago a studio exec spotted Towers and asked him if he'd like to be a Western star, at a salary several times the size of his newspaper wage.  To his astonishment, Towers said no thanks.  'I've already got a job.’ "

Weeks later, the studio executive, Ralph Pollock, offered Towers the starring role in a movie whose intended title at that time was "Deep is the Well," about a childhood tragedy.  Towers finally gave in and agreed to do the movie -- but his city editor refused to allow him even a brief leave of absence because an American Legion convention was coming to town and Towers' assets as a reporter were required.

And there is this earlier report from the St. Petersburg Times of April 12, 1950:  Towers was sent to cover an elite fashion show in Beverly Hills for the Los Angeles Times, and after judges chose the best female dressers, they diverted their attention to the men present and Towers was named "the top male fashion plate."

Grumbled an unnamed city desk reporter, "That is what happens when a newspaperman gets a college education."

It seems there was far more to Towers’ legacy than we may ever know.  Learning the details about his work as a military intelligence officer during WW II would probably offer considerably more substance to his life’s journey than noted so far. 

(Thank you to researcher and author Barry Greenwood for unearthing more newspaper gems.)