Thursday, September 23, 2021

Sam Sawyer and the Flying Saucer Pirates

"Sam Sawyer learned …that the whole world was in grave danger! The threat came from the flying saucers. Two wrecked saucers had been recovered and found to be spaceships from another world!”

Thanks to Brian B. of the blog, What My Dad Saw, for his scans of Sam and the Flying Saucer Pirates. 

From the brochure, View-Master Reel List (early 1950s) PDF

Sawyer’s Inc. made View-Master, a viewer for "reels" sold separately, thin cardboard disks containing small transparent color photographs on film, seven stereoscopic 3-D pairs of images. The focus of View-Master was originally educational, and on travel and "cities of the world," but also included story reels for children based on things like fairy tales and cartoons. To achieve the 3-D effect, they used small clay sculptures and photographed the scenes with a stereoscopic camera. In 1950, they introduced “Adventures of Sam Sawyer.” Leland Green of Sawyers Inc. owned the character and series. 

According to J. Clement’s entry on creator Paul Sprunk at the View-Master Database:

“Paul Sprunk (1892 - 1963) was commissioned by Sawyer’s to create their own character, Sam Sawyer in 1950. He was never credited in the accompanying booklets. He had already worked on many Hollywood films as a miniature artist and had his own film studio.” 

“Adventures of Sam Sawyer” had six 1-reel stories, the first three released in 1950, then another group in 1951. The first and last reels featured Sam in space adventures.

1. Sam Flies to the Moon

2. Sam Finds a Treasure

3. Sam in the Land of The Giants

4. Sam in Darkest Africa

5. Sam in the Land of Ice

6. Sam and the Flying Saucer Pirates


The First Boy on the Moon

The stories were written for children, compact, short on details and characterization. As you’ll see in the opening line of “Sam Flies to the Moon,” it’s quickly established that our hero Sam is a scientist, inventor, and an intrepid explorer.

When Sam Sawyer finished his new rocket ship, he decided to fly it to the moon. Although the moon looked small and close at hand in the sky at night, Sam knew it was really a world in itself that circled the earth almost a quarter of a million miles away. He had often thought to himself, "If I were the first boy on the moon, maybe I would discover what kind of people live up there." Excited at the prospect of this, his most daring adventure to date, Sam loaded his ship, checked his space helmet and paralyzer gun, then climbed into his ship.

The titles for the seven scenes: 

1. Sam Sawyer enters his rocket ship. 2. Sam Leaves Earth for the Moon. 3.Sam Sets Foot on the Moon. 4. Sam Fights Moonmen with Paralyzer Gun. 5. Sam Struggles Hand to Hand with Moonman Leader. 6. Sam Surveys His Paralyzed Attackers. 7. He Rockets Back to Earth with Captured Moonman. 

Once he landed, Sam encountered the Moonmen, “strange man-like creatures. Their arms and legs were like metal tentacles, and their heads seemed to glow from within! Antenna-like projections served as ears and they carried short rods that emitted a weird red spark!” Sam was seen as a hostile alien by the Moonmen, and he used his paralyzer gun in self-defense. 

Sam decided to take (abduct!) the Moonman leader to Earth to show him that “we are not really monsters.” On the way, they become friends, and once there, “before he returned to his home on the moon, became convinced that human beings were, on the whole, decent peaceable people.

Sam Fights Moonmen with Paralyzer Gun

Sam’s first space mission had been for peaceful exploration, but not his second trip. He shot to kill, and the target was invaders in flying saucers. Before that voyage, a brief recap UFOs in culture circa 1950. 

In late 1949, writers Donald Keyhoe and Frank Scully both published flying saucer articles that were later expanded into bestselling 1950 book. Keyhoe’s book was based on documented events and speculation from military sources, which led him to proclaim in The Flying Saucers are Real that visitors from other planets were coming in spaceships and the US government was hiding the truth from the public. Far less credible was Scully’s Behind the Flying Saucers, based solely on the second-hand account of oil swindler Silas Newton. It was a whopper about wrecked flying saucers and the bodies of the little men found inside, captured for secret study by the US government. Together, these two books established a lore that has forever since shaped the public’s notions about flying saucers. Scully’s book was reprinted in paperback, giving it further exposure in 1951, just shortly before the release of Sam Sawyer’s flying saucer adventure.

Sam and the Flying Saucer Pirates

“Sam and the Flying Saucer Pirates” was reel 6 in the series.

Scene 1: From the story booklet: “Using secret information from the wrecked saucers,” Sam built a long-range radar-telescope to track the saucers’ point of origin, finding it be “Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our own sun.”

Sam's radar-telescope tracks a flying saucer.

Scene 2: Sam hopped into his spaceship and headed there. On his way, he spotted a saucer headed towards earth, so he blasted it to bits.

Atomic dischargers blow up the saucer from outer space.

Scene 3: Sam lands on their planet and finds a flying saucer factory, indicating they were gearing up to invade earth. Luckily, he thought to bring a bomb.   

Sam plants an H-time bomb at the flying saucer factory.

Scene 4: The Centarurians did not speak but communicated by “thought-waves” or telepathy. They carried weapons, rods that fired a red lightning-like ray that caused paralysis. Sam is abducted, and put in prison.


The men of star Proxima Centaruri paralyze Sam with ray-rods.

Scene 5: Sam had gone to their planet prepared for war, but when captured, tried to persuade them with thoughts of peace and friendship. It didn’t work. They’d been working for three centuries to construct a fleet to conquer earth, and they were launching the invasion soon.

The atomic blast rocks the planet.

Scene 6Bodies of the wounded and dead lay outside the factory and saucer parts are scattered for miles.

Sam views the wreckage of the Centaurian space fleet.

Scene 7: On the voyage home Sam thinks about how he’s prevented war between the planets. Maybe someday, they’ll have friendship, commerce, and tourism instead.

Sam rockets homeward, mission accomplished.

 “Sam and the Flying Saucer Pirates” is a contemporary of the movies The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Thing from Another World. Each has its own take of flying saucer lore, but only in Sam Sawyer did we see a protagonist that was capable of thwarting the aliens’ attempt to dominate the earth. It's worth remembering, even if it was "only" a View-Master story.

. . .


  1. Sam passes Tom Swift Jr. in space, heading the other way. They exchange waves.

  2. No big loss relieving creation of their kind by taking an H Time Bomb to them. Yeah, the Centaurans gave us our flying saucer technology but the rest of their civilization looks like shit and they live like cave rats..

    1. Harsh words. Since then we've put our differences aside in hopes not of just a harmonic union between our planets, but the entire galaxy.

    2. Sam Sawyer at his perfunctory trial for war crimes:


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