Friday, July 24, 2009

UFO: The Movie Script (Part 6)

The dissolution of Project Sign has been duly noted, and now the scene shifts to the introduction of Tom Towers in his role as Al Chop. In the script, Chop enters his old newspaper office and is mobbed by reporters and others apparently intent upon greeting him after a long absence. But in the movie Chop merely acknowledges a person here and there as he enters, then progresses directly to the chief editor's office, and post-production narration by Towers indicates that he (Chop) was discharged from the Marine Corps and had returned to the newspaper where he previously worked for five years. Only the script notes the editor's name as Carl Roberts, and once he begins dialing a phone call to Air Materiel Command on Chop's behalf, regarding a potential job interview, he informs Chop that the "big wheel" out there is a Major Krough. How much these names are based on reality I don't know, but one suspects they might be genuine, given the concern for accuracy in the motion picture project.

As Chop offers personal information during questioning by a personnel officer, his children's ages are requested. The script originally states "Girl, age two, boy, three," but these numbers are scratched out and replaced with 11 and 5, respectively, and these errors were almost certainly corrected by Chop himself during a script review. This page also notes at the top, as the occasional previous page and numerous succeeding pages have: "UFO" FINAL CHANGES (1) - 3-7-55.

National media excitement over the Sioux City UFO incident is then explored, as Chop is besieged by newspaper inquiries from coast to coast, and the script and movie are faithful to one another with minor word changes. Many portions where Towers narrates, incidentally, are circled throughout his copy of the script.

There is an interesting scripted paragraph deleted from final production, right after Chop asks a couple of reporters at his desk, "Don't tell me you guys believe this saucer bunk?" In turn, one replies, " Those pilots are qualified observers -- men with over ten thousand hours in the air. That doesn't sound like bunk to me, Chop." Affirming his belief that saucers are "bunk," Chop watches the reporters storm off, and as the camera focuses upon him with several telephones ringing incessantly, his office door is heard to slam shut, a message of disgust left by departing members of the press..

Chop conducts an eye-opening interview with an important former German scientist, named in the script (not named in the movie) as Dr. Reiskaywitz. Here, too, is an interesting alteration in the finished product. For instance, when Chop says, "It must be amusing to a man in your line of work to hear about all of these screwball reports," the script has the scientist responding: "For such an open-faced young man, you certainly have a closed mind." The movie omits this comment and goes directly to Dr. Reiskaywitz's assertion that, "It is my firm opinion that these sightings should be investigated most meticulously."

Omitted from an on-screen statement where Reiskaywitz admonishes the skeptical Chop with the words, "Wrong conclusions are usually the result of lack of comprehensive analysis," is this segment: "A man cannot scratch the surface and say 'this vein has no gold.' He must dig deep before he can be sure." Priceless! How excellent, had the producer left this in the movie -- much in line with a brilliant statement Dr. J. Allen Hynek would make years later about the "pay dirt" potential of a UFO investigation.

The script and movie continue to where Chop discovers Project Grudge was secretly initiated as UFO reports continued, and his promotion to chief of the Air Force press section at the Pentagon is touched upon. Highly intriguing is the segment where Chop listens in on a conversation regarding three men flying a B-29 over Georgia who watched a mysterious object make a pass at a weather balloon, which was later found to have a six-foot tear in its fabric.