Frank E. Stranges & The Saucer Films That Time Forgot
"No one knows this more than Dr. Frank E. Stranges. This erudite, holding degrees in Theology, Criminology and Psychology, has dedicated his life to the study of the Bible and other sacred texts in relationship to spiritual growth and understanding not only of our planet and its people, but also of those from other worlds."So says his bio/obit at ISUIS. Dr. Stranges also made a few UFO film projects, but it's the missing ones that may matter the most. Here's a news item on his lecture promoting his UFO documentary Phenomena 7.7 from the Redlands Daily Facts (CA) March 5, 1965:
Saucers—Fact or Fiction ... announcing a lecture by Dr. Frank E. Stranges, president of the International Evangelism Crusades... Frank Stranges has just completed work on a color documentary film entitled, "Phenomena 7.7." It will be released to movie and television shortly... Versed in many fields of interest. Dr. Stranges will lecture on flying saucers.A review with details of the movie, from the Citizen Times (Cedar Rapids, Iowa,) July 13, 1966:
A Documentary on UFO's ...after 21 years of research Dr. Frank E. Stranges... has produced a UFO color documentary entitled "Phenomena 7.7.' The strange title comes from equally strange information... UFO sightings have been reported to the U.S. Air Force and of these, 7.7 per cent still remain' classified as "unknown... unidentified." Phenomena... is an interesting and well-put-together documentary. Its main purpose is to inform rather than alarm, but in some places it falls short of this goal. Included are concepts and explanations from a variety of newscasters and for interesting viewing but this attempt to cover all phases of the mystery appears to lack any scientific basis. Highlights of the film include impressive film clips and color stills of UFO's that never before have been presented to a public audience, and reports from scientists and military officials on their theories and observances.
An advertisement in Understanding published by Dan Fry, Volume 11 Number 6, June 1966 made the film sound sensational:
PHENOMENA 7.7 ... DOCUMENTARY-70 Minute, Full Color Motion Picture
concerning . . . Unidentified Flying Objects
by Dr. Frank E. Stranges, Michael Musto, Capt. Merle S. Gould, Wm. F. Paul
– PRODUCERS –
... YOU WILL SEE Actual Motion Pictures of ‘Unidentified Flying Objects’ never before viewed by any public audience. If You Do Not believe in the existence of ‘Flying Saucers’ you owe it to yourself to see “PHENOMENA 7.7.” Hear profound statements from those who have actually seen Unidentified Flying Objects!
|Lonnie Zamora and the scene of his sighting.|
Documenting the Socorro Saucer
Phenomena 7.7 included a rare filmed segment on one of the most compelling unexplained UFO sightings of all time, the 1964 Lonnie Zamora encounter in Socorro, New Mexico. The documentary is of particular interest to UFO historians for its color photography of the witness and the landscape surrounding the sighting, relatively close to the date of the original events.
The film may also shed some light on later theories about the UFO sighting being a hoax. Debunker Phil Klass' speculation about Socorro Mayor Holm Bursum, Jr being part of a scheme to bring tourists to the town had some reality behind it. The town leaders were banking on the movie, Phenomena 7.7 to bring in the tourists. Project Blue Book files contain Dr. J. Allen Hynek's letter on his March 1965 Socorro visit, where he wrote that Sgt. Sam Chavez told him, "Zamora did not want to be in the picture, but it was at the Mayor's insistence, via his boss, that he consented to do so. I can't quite believe this myself. When I talked to Zamora later, he seemed to be reasonably pleased about being in the move." A later passage tells of the film producers promise to the town's Mayor in (the Socorro El Defensor Chieftan)
March 9 issue has a story "Film Studios Praise Cooperation Here in Film on UFO's." The letter received from Mr. Michael Musto, a letter sent to Mayor Holm O. Burson, stated, "Phenomena 7.7 is now completed. It will be viewed by countless millions of people throughout the world. It will open the door to facts heretofore shrouded in secrecy. It will prepare the entire human race for a better knowledge of the universe and possible neighbors who may have been observing our earth for centuries."The Alamogordo Daily News from April 25, 1965, stated, "Posters are being planned by the Chamber of Commerce for placement within Socorro businesses to alert tourists to the town’s claim to fame. A portion of a movie on UFO’s was filmed earlier this year at Socorro. Much of the town’s hope for additional tourist dollars is based on this film, which Empire Films Studio of Hollywood had planned to premier at Socorro soon."
Sadly, the film did not get national distribution, so the tourism Socorro hoped for did not materialize. It was instead shown at Stranges' UFO lectures and in smaller venues. From the San Jose State College newspaper, the Spartan Daily for May 24, 1966:
NICAP, The Silence Group?
|The UFO Investigator, Nov./Dec. 1965|
Film '7.7' Disappointment
The Vinyl Disc
The 1966 record, Flying Saucers Unlimited, is listed as being based on the motion picture Phenomena 7.7, but seems to be mainly a recorded lecture of Frank Stranges.
|Flying Saucers Unlimited|
Television: Flying Saucers- Here and Now
|Frank E. Stranges, as seen in a clip from the TV show, UFO|
|Flying Saucers International No 26, March 1968|
|Broadcasting, March 4, 1968|
|Daniel Fry, Contactee|
On March 26th our Founder-President, Dr. Daniel W. Fry, flew to Chicago for the filming of his particular contribution to a proposed TV series entitled "FLYING SAUCERS, HERE AND NOW."
This series is being produced by Mr. Cy Newman and hosted by Dr. Frank E. Stranges. It is expected the series will be a continuation of the Frank Edwards Program.
We alert you to check your TV programs for this program. Although neither dates nor TV affiliates have yet been announced it is "reported" that 34 stations have evidenced interest in the subject matter to be offered.
Not everyone took the news well or was looking forward to the series. The MUFON Journal to-be, Skylook, in their May 1968 issue panned the show in advance.
|Skylook, May 1968|
Like Phenomena 7.7., the pilot for Flying Saucers- Here and Now was shown at Dr. Stranges' flying saucer lectures and conferences.
A TV Guide listing for early 1969 indicates the movie and TV pilot may have been edited together for at least one broadcast on KEMO-TV Channel 20; San Francisco, CA:
DOCUMENTARY TWENTY [color] "Flying Saucers Here and Now.” A report on the UFO sightings 1952-1968, includes stills and film clips of the objects and and interviews with persons who saw them. Dr. Frank E. Stranges, head of the national investigations on UFO's, is the host.The next listing for the channel suggest the broadcast was 2 hours long.
Phenomena 7.7 was shown (perhaps for the lat time) at the 1971 Giant Rock convention in California, and James W. Moseley who was between Saucer News and Saucer Smear was there with Gray Barker , and Moselry reported on the scene, including a passage on Dr. Stranges' lecture and his film:
|Saucers, Space & Science # 60, 1971 PDF at AFU|
The last known showing of the TV pilot was described in the Valley News from Van Nuys, California, February 22, 1973:
Unidentified Flying Objects" will be the subject of the family night meeting of Boy Scout Troop 133 tomorrow at 6:30 o'clock at the Northridge United Methodist Church, 9650 Reseda Blvd., according to Scoutmaster Hal Holoter. Dr. Frank E. Stranges, international director of the National Investigations Committee on UFOs, headquartered in Van Nuys, will present a lecture titled "The World of UFOs." He will also show a portion of a color television series called "Flying Saucers -- Here and Now," with sound film showing actual UFO footage.Contacting the company that produced the television show revealed that they no longer had the pilot or any records about it. Dr. Stranges' National Investigations Committee on Unidentified Flying Objects still has a website, and it offers a few DVDs, but when contacted in 2012, said, they "only have orig 35 mm of Phenomena 7.7. Sorry." It's possible then, that the film can be rescued from obscurity. There were no leads found on the fate of the television pilot.
There's a chance, though that someone reading this may own a copy of the documentaries and be prompted to share it so these films are not lost to UFO researchers and historians. If you have information on any of these films, please contact us at The Saucers That Time Forgot, and we will put in touch with capable archivists.