Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Movie That Cried "UFO" 66 Years Ago


Curious about the movie and its background?  Wondering why a UFO documentary focusing upon famous UFO reports from the forties, and particularly the fifties was produced at all?  Inquisitive regarding U.S. government concerns about a phenomenon tracked both visually and on radar? Then the contents of this blog are for you.  Blogs being what they are, you need to go back in time and advance forward chronologically to gain the best perspective.  You can and really should begin with the very first entry right here:

I hope you find your visit rewarding and, like myself and others intrigued by UFOs, walk away knowing why this old film glows with historical significance, despite a few bumps here and there along the way. 

The U.S. government became surprisingly open about this subject in 2021, but  the bad old days of censorship may return, according to newly revealed (with extensive redactions) military documents.   In any event. the movie "U.F.O." attained added historical significance and legitimacy once the UFO subject gained increased public attention. -- Robert Barrow

Monday, January 31, 2022

Ground Observer

Production Note:  This could be considered movie trivia, and though I've been aware of this minor little issue for years, I've never thought about it long enough to mention it here.  Basically, in scenes where Al Chop (Tom Towers) walks through the streets of Washington, D.C. at the end of the motion picture, just before the UFO film analysis portion, there seem to be little white-ish objects placed on the sidewalks and even near his parked car.  Because they stand alone, their locations devoid of trash or anything similar, I assume they served as markers showing Towers where to walk or perhaps as objects to designate camera positions or the like.  They are readily apparent to the viewer, and if they are what their presence suggests, it is puzzling that something so obvious and actually distracting from the story's flow (to me) would have been missed during filming.  Of course, I could be wrong about all of this, and we'll probably never know for sure unless sharper eyes or better optical equipment than mine discover another solution.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Planting the Movie's Roots

I was pleasantly surprised a few days ago to get an e-mail from Josh, a documentary video producer whose work is apparently well-established on YouTube, where his projects are known under the designation Red Panda Koala.  The documentarian was wrapping up an historical account of government UFO activity and reports preceding and eventually resulting in the making of "U.F.O." by a very determined producer Clarence Greene.

As well, I was honored and, again, surprised to learn that videographer Josh had dedicated his production to me.

"The First UFO Movie Ever Made" is now up on YouTube and his hard work and care are apparent.  Josh also included a sound bite from the last (and final) broadcast interview I did in 2006, on the late Errol Bruce-Knapp's Canadian radio show, "Strange Days Indeed."

Anytime somebody emphasizes the importance of the 1956 motion picture to UFO history -- and  hasn't Clarence Greene's cinematic alert been somewhat "vindicated" now that the UFO (UAP) subject is rather fashionable and "real" among government and military personnel? -- I'm all in for the effort.  Thanks, Josh.

By the way, "U.F.O." the motion picture is also available on YouTube for free viewing, so be sure to wander through history for about 92 minutes if you've never seen it.

You can find Josh's YouTube presentation by typing in the title at your favorite search engine, or at the following site (I'll also put it up on the link list soon):

Friday, April 9, 2021

Used as a Training Film?

eteran researcher
and frequent contributor Barry Greenwood contributes this little gem from the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, October 6, 1956.  

"U.F.O." had premiered in theaters coast to coast just months previously in 1956, but from all indications the movie took on an unexpected versatility when it was shown as something of a training film for volunteer airplane-spotting members of a Civil Defense ground observer unit.

Whether watching the movie generated any legitimate UFO reports among ground observers is unknown, but the reasoning behind a presentation of "U.F.O." in this manner would be an interesting story in itself.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

About Movie Industry Comments

The very media industry assembled to promote the entertainment aspect of motion pictures consistently demonstrated a lukewarm or puzzled response to "U.F.O." because its low key, documentary style couldn't find a perfect fit in Hollywood's world of fifties glitter, not even if one stretched the truth and looked upon the film as something akin to a product of science fiction.  It WASN'T sci-fi, but it wasn't all that entertaining, either.

In one entertainment news clipping shown here, we find a source placing blame on director Winston Jones for the movie's slow, often lackluster pace -- hardly surprising, since Jones had no firm resume' as a director and had actually escalated his status following a career working with Hollywood props.  Nevertheless, knowing how close co-producer Clarence Greene remained to the project, Jones likely reflected the production and vision pretty much the way Greene desired.  Ditto the script writer, Francis Martin.

Note, too, that throughout our several-year journey on this blog, there was nary a word about the film relating to Greene's partner on this and other films, producer Russell Rouse.  Like a child in a single parent family, "U.F.O." was dependent, I would suggest overwhelmingly, upon one daddy:  Greene himself.

(Visual Credit:  Barry Greenwood)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Foreign Reviews - 1956, 1958, 1960

At least for now, these are the last of a few foreign language motion picture reviews.  Next time, a page in English.

(Credit:  Barry Greenwood)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Motion Picture Herald, June 1956

(Credit:  Barry Greenwood)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Publicity: June, July, October 1956

This miscellaneous collection of clippings spotlights producer Clarence Greene himself, along with snippets of movie reviews.  Of special interest is a motion picture promotion involving silver (we assume tin foil) pie plates organized by a theater manager, exactly the kind of zany publicity maneuver United Artists invited in their quest to draw people to the box office.

Looking at Greene's 1956 picture of confidence, we are again reminded how fickle Hollywood success can be, as, it is alleged, he eventually died nearly penniless in a nursing home.

(Scan Credit:  Barry Greenwood)

Monday, October 23, 2017

Foreign Cinema - August 7, 1957

(Credit:  Barry Greenwood)

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 ( 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.