Wednesday, August 5, 2009

UFO: The Motion Picture Script (Part 16)

General Samford's press conference begins and, according to Francis Martin's script, in scenes not shown in the movie, a reporter asks, "Is it all right to ask if the Air Force thinks that these objects the other night were a result of temperature inversion?"

Chop would then narrate: "The General gave a brief outline of two opposing scientific theories on temperature inversion and its effect on radar, then answered:"

General Samford says, responding to the reporter's question: "It's supported by some people. Other people who have equal competence, it would appear, discredit it. So the gamble as to whether that is a cause or not is about a fifty-fifty proposition."

None of this is in the final production, nor is anything from the final two pages of script. What Martin next intended would be a news reel shot of General Twining, covered by two narrators, and occurring two years further in the future than events shown by the movie, which covered the situation only to the summer of 1952:

FIRST NARRATOR: On May 16th, 1954, General Nathan Twining, Air Force Chief of Staff, said:

SECOND NARRATOR: Today the Air Force is vitally interested in flying saucer reports. Flying saucer reports runs in cycles, but some very reliable people have made reports -- they aren't all screwball by any means.

Then, finally, after dissolving to a series of shots, including -- for reasons unknown -- a WAC (Woman's Air Corps) corporal, a final narrator checks in:

"We shall not attempt to sway you in your judgement. You, as separate individuals, will make your own interpretations of the Newhouse and Mariana films of the unknown objects, as well as the rest of the documented evidence presented in this motion picture. But, could we be on the threshold of a new era? Could we be entering wonderful vistas where problems and fears and prejudices fall into nothingness? Could we be entering a great era of enlightenment?" (FADE OUT)

Wow. Well, I would suggest that almost anybody who had an opportunity to see "U.F.O." would agree -- the movie's actual ending scenes were far better than this. What a great touch to have Towers complete the final scene as Chop, walking in contemplation through the streets of Washington, D.C., expressing his sentiments about UFOs, just before the Montana and Utah UFO films are presented for the last time. Martin's suggested fade-out narration in the previous paragraph was surprisingly "new age" for its time, and similarly as disappointing and presumptuous as it would have appeared to audiences then, as now. Far better it was, I think, to let Tom Towers as Al Chop wrap the movie up in an aura of mystery, with legitimate questions left unanswered. Chop, the former rock-solid skeptical Marine, had shifted his opinions 180 degrees based upon his relationship with the government. "To me," Towers' narration about UFOs concludes, leaving no doubts and surely approved by Chop himself, "the evidence indicated intelligence behind their control, and by now the belief that their source was interplanetary was no longer incredible."

Oh, I do have one peculiar little observation to make before we depart the movie vs. script issue. The next time you see "U.F.O." (if ever?), watch carefully as Tom Towers strolls the avenues of Washington toward the end. I've long found intriguing those little white things on different sidewalks or streets as his walking scenes change. Each stands alone and would seem intended to either mark the spot from which he begins walking, or to indicate in what direction he should go. They appear to be little pieces of paper, or maybe tissues. The entire paved areas seem clear, except for one -- just one -- of these little things per scene. Even in a scene with his car, there's a little white something to mark the spot for Towers. Wrong or right, that's my impression. Show biz sure is a strange critter, what?