Thursday, December 1, 2022

In Plain Sight, 1956

All one needed to do in 1956 was to look upon the silver screen.  There it was, a semi-documentary motion picture about UFOs and government concern, blazing across the screen in black and white, with two actual films of unknown objects shown in their original color.  Clearly, something was going on.  

Something is still going on, decades later.

Are you curious about the movie and its background?  Do you wonder why a UFO documentary focusing upon famous UFO reports from the forties, and particularly the fifties was produced at all?  Are you 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." attains added historical significance and legitimacy with renewed public attention. -- Robert Barrow

Monday, November 21, 2022

 A Circuitous Route for the Movie's Music

You may recall a few years back when I posted an e-mail (reference via the search engine above) from recording artist and composer Andrew Gold, son of famed composer Ernest Gold.  I would not have posted the note, but for the unfortunate fact that Andrew died soon after corresponding with me, and it was historically relevant at that point to document his words.

I had found his e-mail address on his Web site, and thought it couldn't hurt to inquire as to the location of his late father's music for "U.F.O."  Andrew's incredibly kind response was more than forthcoming, for while he pretty much considered the music an "oldie" and seemingly not a piece particularly up front in his mind, he astounded me, a complete stranger, by promising he would send me the music if he found it!

Obviously, this never happened and the world grew sad the day Andrew Gold, popular composer/performer of such songs as "Thank You for Being a Friend" and "Lonely Boy" passed away.

A little time went by, when one day there appeared among my e-mails a note from Monstrous Movie Music about re-releasing the movie's music, perhaps a re-orchestration from the original score.  This was truly amazing news, because Ernest Gold's lively and emotional, yet sympathetic score conducted by Emil Newman provided pure magic to prop up a motion picture production which, I readily confess, sometimes thirsted for great music to accentuate slow and even tedious portions.

More time, years, slid by, but no project occurred, and finally it came to my attention that the original score was indeed missing, gone, apparently irretrievably.  To a long-time motion picture music fanatic such as myself, this was devastating news, and I even conjured in my head a scenario where a super-computer might rewrite Gold's score based upon a digital perusal of his previous work and style (Verdict:  Unlikely, and very expensive in any case to even attempt it).

Yet, there was a modicum of good news.  The original tapes containing Newman's music were apparently intact, even with some "raw track" selections on acetate, and the music recordings are or were in possession of at least one person, a music producer who actually included four pieces of the movie's music a few years ago in a CD entitled, The Ernest Gold Collection, Volume One (Dragon's Domain Records, DDR738).  David at Monstrous Movie Music does not know why the entire music soundtrack was not included among the many other Gold selections on the CD.

I attempted to get a response from a source at the CD distributor's location, but nobody responded and, as is the usual dilemma, a troublesome number of years have passed anyway.  If I learn more, I'll note it here.

(From the dark side: At least one pirate Internet site which will not be identified and whose location I have nevertheless forgotten posted two music selections from the movie.  I was surprised and had not searched out of curiosity until I knew about the CD's release.  I'm well aware how pirate sites grab new music and post it immediately, depriving artists of royalties, but the last things I would have expected to find would be selections from the now relatively obscure "U.F.O."  Then again, Ernest Gold's music was probably the draw because of his fame and reputation.)

In the meantime, the two visuals here impart a little more historical information about the music, including standard union payments and individual musicians involved when a definitive recording session finally took place in November, 1955. Chappell and Co. owned rights to the music for a time, as indicated in a list of the movie's music titles (we posted two pages of titles with further info a few years ago).

(My appreciation to David at Monstrous Movie Music for vital information regarding the music cannot be overestimated.)

Thursday, November 17, 2022

When "Powers" Went Viral

Like many sources, when the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) prepared this information sheet regarding the movie, the actor's name was listed as Tom Powers instead of Towers.  Some confusion likely stemmed from the fact that, as we have mentioned on numerous occasions, there actually once was a Hollywood character actor of some repute named Tom Powers, who surely would have enjoyed these recurring episodes of misdirected publicity in 1956.

There's more to be said about the motion picture's music, coming up next time.

(Thanks to David and Monstrous Movie Music for this ASCAP document.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

The Mystery of the Missing

The premiere of "U.F.O." elicited a number of reactions, and if an "ornamental iron specialist" was encouraged to developed some instrument to aid in contacting "the visitors" -- ? -- because of the movie, who can fault him?

On the more serious side, however, again we find a newspaper article certifying that the producers placed "documents and official records" with the Title Insurance Company of Los Angeles.  I have never been able to determine what these items comprised, and even a letter to the Title Insurance Co. back in the 1970s only resulted in their response that they no longer had any of this material on file.

Yes, we can obviously assume that the producers eventually retrieved this material, but still have no record of the contents.  There may have been some gems there.


Cr:  Barry Greenwood

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Himalayas on Permanent Hold


When producer Clarence Greene made a brief stop in Cincinnati in 1956, he apparently commented on some future plans which we were never to hear about again.  Writer/reviewer E. B. Radcliffe mentions yet another "investigation of the incredible" project by Greene, this time intended for the Himalayas.  If indeed profits from U.F.O. were expected to fund this venture, that idea was a non-starter as soon as Greene realized box office receipts were quite the disappointment financially.

Radcliffe's reference to the movie, The Well, an early drama involving race relations, reminds us that Greene originally wanted Tom Towers to play the lead as sheriff, but Towers' work obligations as an L.A. newspaper reporter caused him to decline the offer.  To confuse matters here, character actor Tom Powers is listed as appearing in The Well.

Cr:  Barry Greenwood

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Examining the Script

Portrayed in the movie by actors, the real Albert Chop and his wife take a moment to check the script for "U.F.O." in this time-weathered photo from the Hollywood Citizen News of May 9, 1956. As we noted much earlier in this blog through a series of articles, the "final" script experienced a number of changes during production -- which I discovered when Tom Towers loaned me his copy, stored faithfully behind his sofa for years.

Cr: Barry Greenwood

Monday, October 17, 2022

From California to Hawaii

Though California seems to have set the record for mention of the movie among various news sources in 1956, which seems logical for the motion picture capital of the nation, newspaper articles steadily continued to pop up all over the planet.  A "local believer" in Hawaii, noted here in a letter to the editor, also had something to say.

(Cr: Barry Greenwood)


Tuesday, October 11, 2022

The Face You've Seen, the Voice you Know

We noted previously the voice-over role of late actor Harry Morgan, who played the role of military pilot "Red Dog One" during the famous UFO encounter over Washington, D.C. in 1952, but his was not the only famous disembodied voice to play a part in the movie.

Olan Soule (1909-1994) provided much of the off-camera narration for "U.F.O." Having started his career in radio in 1933, he quickly branched out to TV in its fledgling years and way beyond, and also had movie roles galore.  According to numerous sources, Soule was a deceptively thin 135 lb. bundle of energy whose "chameleon" voice was heard on 7,000 radio shows, commercials and TV cartoons.  He appeared on some 200 TV series and films, and chalked up roles in more than 60 motion pictures.  His authoritative narration in "U.F.O." seemed as essential as Ernest Gold's music score.

As long as we're discussing voices, another of the movie's narrators was actor Marvin Miller, who played the title character on TV's "The Millionaire" in the fifties.  Not to be confused with another series, this was the fictional one where Miller's character would give away one million dollars to a deserving person during every weekly episode, with the money donated by charitable multi-millionaire benefactor "John Beresford Tipton," who insisted strictly upon anonymity. Wouldn't you?  Miller's movie involvement is actually mentioned in his bio at the International Movie Data Base site.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Right Movie, Wrong Actor

A couple of articles from The Hollywood Citizen News during the course of one week in 1956 alerted movie viewers to the premiere of "U.F.O." in Los Angeles.  Tom Towers must have been aware, and likely amused, when one movie reviewer who should have known better listed him as "Tom Tryon."  I will assume the reviewer mixed Towers' name up with actor Thomas (Tom) Tryon, known for his appearance on a TV Western series, a starring role in a few motion pictures, and later appreciated for his fiction writing and work as a producer.

(Thanks to researcher Barry Greenwood for the articles.)

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)