Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Movie: Where is it?

Most likely, you have not seen "U.F.O." The 1956 movie isn't always easy to find. I hadn't viewed it since the 1960s. though I know that when cable TV became popular it showed up from time to time -- sometimes treated as a cheap sci-fi thriller, depending upon the program hosting it.

Many years ago, prior to the Internet, when videotape search companies charged some hefty prices to locate obscure motion picture videos, one such firm quoted me a ridiculous price for a VHS copy of "U.F.O." put out, apparently, by some small company with rights to the film's videotape format. The search company didn't have a copy in stock, but if I offered to pay enough they would actively look for it. I agreed to pay and they agreed to search, but ultimately located no tapes.

Then, in 2000, a near-miracle occurred when MGM Home Video actually released "UFO: The True Story of Flying Saucers" on VHS tape, and you could buy the cassette, brand new, for something around $12.95 at its cheapest price (see blue box cover). The format wasn't the letterbox version I've always craved, but it was intended for standard TV showing and conversion to tape looked just fine. Nevertheless, after a couple of years the videotape was withdrawn from production and disappeared faster than the UFO that smashed through the cloud cover at O'Hare Airport a couple of years ago. Now, we find the occasional new or used copy on the Internet on e-bay and other sources. Strangely, MGM never released a DVD version and from all indications just wanted to be done with the film, which probably wasn't profitable -- though at one point I had heard quite the opposite and assume sales were doing well.

Still, copies of this neglected and all-but-forgotten movie do turn up in unlikely places on occasion (such as NICAP.org) and Ted Turner's TV network is evidently willing to show it if potential viewers request it in large numbers. Researcher Barry Greenwood recently tipped me off to Turner TV's voting site and suggests that readers go there and vote to have "U.F.O." offered again. The site is:

In addition to its historical value, the movie is well worth having just because it features an analysis of the Utah and Montana UFO films, still officially unexplained more than 50 years later. Neither film had been seen publicly until Clarence Greene incorporated them into his story, and on that basis alone "U.F.O." was remarkable for its time.