Wednesday, August 5, 2009

UFO: The Motion Picture Script (Part 11)

Radar becomes an issue with Chop (Towers), who, until now, erroneously thought radar returns provided solid evidence of UFO contact. As the Ruppelt character begins dialing a phone to connect with a radar expert, he states in the film that Air Phenomenon Branch relies upon three radar analysts, whereas the script states there are four. The real Ed Ruppelt probably corrected this small error, though, again, Chop and Fournet -- and perhaps radar expert Wendell Swanson, who plays his own role -- all had input as they reviewed the script.

Chop visits Swanson as air traffic controllers guide a plane from sky to runway amidst rain and a heavy fog. The script vs. movie dialogue is difficult to follow with some people talking over others, but at any rate this is another too-lengthy scene, intended here to demonstrate that radar is a useful tool in the hands of experienced personnel. The script contains written notations here and there where Chop's and Swanson's dialogue changes a little to clarify details.

But the script does alter a significant scene here. On paper Ruppelt, Swanson and Chop exit the radar room together, and once outside they stand near the building, protected from the weather as a light drizzle and fog cover persist:

"They all stand silently for a moment under cover, looking out. Ruppelt lights a cigarette and offers the pack to Chop and Swanson; Swanson takes one. As he searches for a match. . ." At this point, where Chop begins asking questions, the script is crossed out and a penciled notation scribbled in the margin reads, "See new scene 153." The new scene 153 appears on a revised page, this one dated 3-30-55.

Of course, per the movie, this new scene deletes Ruppelt's presence entirely outside the radar room, leaving Chop and Swanson to converse with one another, leading Chop to learn from the rather evasive radar expert Swanson of his personal familiarity with UFO blips moving at thousands of miles an hour -- punctuated by Swanson's chilling response, "I have an open mind, period," to Chop's question, "What are the chances of these objects (UFOs) having intelligence behind their control?"

It appears that part of deleted scene 153 remains in Towers' copy of the script and, while not crossed out, nor was it shown in "U.F.O." It progressed as follows:

SWANSON: "We have many unsolved cases where good solid blips appeared and no known objects (sic) in the area -- cases where speed was fantastic."

CHOP: "Swanson, what's your personal opinion of these sightings?"

SWANSON: "I believe there's something to them."

One obviously wonders whether Swanson himself, Chop or producer Greene decided to go with the "I have an open mind" ending in way of delineating Swanson 's personal attitude about UFOs. We should keep in mind, too, that Wendell Swanson, far from being merely a "radar expert," was instrumental previously in building an important U.S. radar defense installation in Okinawa. He knew the UFO issue was important, and his credentials and experience happened to be stone-solid long before Clarence Greene wisely included him in the motion picture to demonstrate a particularly essential meeting with both Chop and Ruppelt.