Friday, October 26, 2018

Houdini on the Meaning of Flying Saucers

A warning from beyond the grave about UFOs.

Joseph Dunninger had been waiting for decades for a message from his departed friend, magician Harry Houdini. 
Brownwood Bulletin Oct.14, 1952

Psychic Henry C. Roberts was making a name for himself as an expert on Nostradamus and his prophecies. This time, Roberts had a message for the world from another source, and he urged Dunninger broadcast it to the the world. He had been contacted by the spirit of Houdini, who told him that the flying saucers were a warning for mankind. 

Houdini, like the aliens Xeglon, Klaatu and Orthon, carried a message for the Earth:
Stop your wars and atomic bombs or be destroyed.

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas) Aug. 3, 1952
That story seems to have been about the extent of Henry C. Roberts' involvement with UFOs - and Houdini's. Joshua Blu Buhs' blog, From an Oblique Angle, has more on the saga of Roberts' life, see: Henry C. Roberts as a Fortean

Friday, September 28, 2018

Kenneth Arnold's 1952 UFO Book Promotion

Kenneth Arnold was back in the news in September 1952, due the release of his new book, The Coming of the Saucers, which was co-authored by his friend and publisher, Raymond A. Palmer. The story "Flying Saucer-y" was prepared by King Features Syndicate, and carried in many newspapers as a full-page story.

Here's a shot of the page, followed by larger views of the pictures and text.

The article also featured 11 photographs from the book, both about Arnold's experiences and other UFO and Fortean events he found genuine.
Radar ghosts or "angels."
Here's the two columns of text from the article.

There were a few photographs from a rising star on the saucer scene, "Professor George Adamski," from pages 190-191 of the Arnold-Palmer book.

Also included were photos of  mysterious objects in the sky and a puzzling bridge fire.

Here's the advertisement for the book from Ray Palmer's  Sept. 1952 Fantastic Adventures magazine:

The Coming of the Saucers by Kenneth Arnold and Ray Palmer is hosted online as a PDF at the British Earth and Aerial Mysteries Society.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Project A: The Short Life of a UFO Study

Dr. Warren L. Hickman, director of Project A
In 1952 there was an independent academic study of UFOs at Ohio Northern University conducted by Dean Warren L. Hickman and Eric C. Turner. Here's an early update on their progress from The Sandusky Register Sept. 27, 1952

Sept. 27 (AP)—An unknown object hurtled through the skies over Denison Tex., in 1878, and someone called it a "flying saucer." So flying objects are nothing new, says Dr. Warren Hickman, dean of Ohio Northern University and co-chairman of the school's flying saucer project. But the school wants to examine each instance of reports of the saucers. "Ohio Northern is not going out to prove the flying saucer is something," Dr. Hickman says. "We are going to examine the facts and let people know what we find. Persons reporting saucers will not be ridiculed and names will be withheld unless the observer consents to publicity. The university's engineering, chemistry and physics departments will analyze unexplained 'flying objects after 200 examples are available. 
Not Enough Sightings
There has not been enough sightings for proper analysis," Dr. Hickman asserts. However, he reports about 20 percent of the sightings reported to the university "cannot be explained away by ordinary procedure." And these unexplained phenomena have a general consistency— "a saucer-shaped object, flat on the bottom with rounded edges and rising to a slight dome on top." The color in these sightings is similar, all bright blue or green. Dr. Hickman also finds significance in that similar objects have been sighted throughout the nation, Canada and the world. 
More Looking
Historians trace the appearance of strange sky objects to 1762, Dr. Hickman says, with the first report in this country in 1873. But the rash of reports did not break out until the American people became "sky minded." Dr. Hickman says, with persons looking at the sky more than ever before, there is a greater chance the flying objects will be seen. And when they are seen Ohio Northern's flying saucer project hopes to determine what they are. 
The Sun and the Erie County Independent (Hamburg, NY) April 2, 1953

Despite the high hopes for the study, it came to an end after only two years. The Evening Independent (Massillon OH), Aug 4, 1954 reported on the closure of Project A.

The Evening Independent (Massillon OH), Aug 4 1954

In The Saucerian, Sept. 1954, Gray Barker reported on the demise of the project and how Dr. Hickman had addressed speculation that that  it was shut down by the Government.

The Saucerian, Sept. 1954

For more information on Project A, see the collection of 1950s articles hosted at Project 1947:

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Ohio UFO from Project Michigan

(Approximate, the flight actually crossed Lake Erie.)

Secrecy, UFOs and Secret Military Projects

On June 22, 1955 a UFO flew over a major metropolitan city and was witnessed by thousands, reported by many as a flying saucer. The object posed a danger to air traffic, and Air Force planes were scrambled to intercept it. In truth, it was a military experiment that got out of control.

The next day, United Press news service carried a short illustrated story:
A big plastic balloon flowed across Cleveland and Eastern Ohio Wednesday and set off a wave of flying saucer reports from citizens. Two men are in it. The University of Michigan later reported that the balloon was a science project. It carried a crew of two men and was equipped with a radio transmitter, A helicopter caught this picture of the balloon over Middleburgh Heights, Ohio.
(A much clearer copy of the press photo can be found at HistoricImages. ) 
The Daily World, June 23, 1955
The UFO was a bust, an IFO or Identified Flying Object, but there was an air of mystery about the scientific experiment behind it. United Press also released a more detailed story that was carried in papers across the USA under various titles such as: 
Balloon From Mars
‘Flying Disc' Explained
Balloon Starts Saucer Reports
'Men from Mars' Worry Ohioans
‘Saucer' Is Just Balloon
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (U.P) — A mysterious balloon that startled and frightened northern Ohio residents and caused a rash of reports about "flying saucers' and "spacemen" was en route today to its home base, the Willow Run research center near Detroit. The strange craft, carrying two men and scientific instruments, was identified by Michigan University officials as part of “a highly secret research program on battlefield surveillance."
The plastic, pear-shaped balloon was sighted first by a Ground Observer Corps member yesterday as it drifted over Cleveland. Later, Air Force officials here reported the craft landed near Hartford, O, in the afternoon. But not before frightened householders swamped newspapers and radio stations with calls about "flying saucers" and "men from Mars.
Air Force planes from Youngstown were dispatched to intercept the craft. The two passengers paid little attention to the planes and were just as noncommittal when the balloon landed near Hartford. They placed the deflated balloon and instruments into a station wagon that had been following the balloon's progress and headed for Detroit and the research center.
There's no Project Blue Book file on the incident, but further details on the landing and recovery were published in The Michigan Alumnus, July 9, 1955:

Project Michigan

The "flying saucer" incident threatened the secrecy of Project Michigan, but the associated goofiness of it also helped it get laughed off and forgotten. Fortunately for them, there were many secret military balloon projects that that had been mistaken for UFOs, and they were only worth one day of news. Project Michigan was one of many Cold War military enterprises in the arms race against the Soviets for technological superiority.

While the exact nature of the balloon experiment is unknown, we now know a lot about the army project it was being conducted for. The Army Research and Development Newsmagazine, July 1964 described the program:
“Project Michigan, which is conducted for the Army by the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, is a continuing research program devoted to combat surveillance.” What they don't emphasize is this was aerial surveillance, radar development and also combat targeting apparatus.

Here's a photo of some of the US Army's players at the university from the Ann Arbor News, July 9, 1957:
MILITARY BRASS ASSEMBLES HERE: Attending sessions concerning the University's secret military research program, Project Michigan, are a number of top military leaders. From left to right are Dr. M. M. Flood, associate director of the University's Engineering Research Institute; Maj. Ben J. D. O'Connell, chief signal officer for the U. S. Army; Brig. Gen. F. W. Gibb, commanding general of CDEC (Combat Development Experimentation Center); Brig Gen. William H. Thames, commanding general of the U. S. Army Combat Surveillance Agency; Col. G. M. Wertz, deputy to the commanding general of the Surveillance Agency; and Dr. R. G. Folsom, director of the U-M Institute.

The report on Project Michigan made to the board of the University of Michigan,
The President's Report for 1957 - 1958, provides more details on the scope of its investigations under contract with the Army Signals Corps. 

Army Lineage Series: Military Intelligence by John Patrick Finnegan Lineages, Center of Military History United States Army Washington, D. C., 1998, provides a look at the overall project, and what was accomplished:

In 1953 the Army became involved in Project MICHIGAN, a research and development effort in which civilian scientific personnel explored the possibilities of using various types of manned aircraft, drones, balloons, and missiles carrying television and other sensors to allow surveillance and target location up to 200 miles behind enemy lines. The new technologies under development would have profound consequences for the structure of Army Intelligence in the years that followed.

UFOs and Mixed Messages from the Military 

The public has often been assured that the military does not fly UFO-like craft, it's just that people often mistake aircraft or balloons for flying saucers. If not for the photograph and documentation of the balloon in flight, the sightings this incident generated might have spawned a classic UFO legend. Military secrecy leaves an information void, and inevitably fuels rumors and speculation.

The public has also often been assured that the military does not conduct experimental test flights over populated areas. The Project Michigan "flying saucer" incident is just one of many examples that proves that it happens.

. . .


Another balloon item from June 1955:

"Flying Saucers? Who looks at them when I'm aloft?"
Maidenform bra ad, June 26, 1955 from Parade magazine.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Arthur J. Hartman, Flying Saucer Pilot

A.J. Hartman flying a dirigible style” powered balloon 
during a 1907 Cedar Rapid, Iowa carnival.  

From Eastern Iowa's Aviation Heritage by Scott M. Fisher

"Hartman's Flying Saucer" was an experimental aircraft built and test flown in 1955 - 56 by an aviation daredevil and pioneer. Before we get to the machine, some background on the man from his entry at the Iowa Aviation Museum:

Arthur J. Hartman
Art was born July 14, 1888 in Burlington, Iowa. At the age of 15 he ran away from home to be a balloonist and parachute jumper. Under the pseudonym Professor Art J. Hart, he made his first balloon jump on September 6, 1903 and while still in his teens became an expert balloonist. After his marriage in 1909 he was employed by the railroad in Burlington. Most of his spare time was spent building a monoplane. On a spring morning in 1910 he took the monoplane to the Burlington Golf Club and became the first Iowan to make a recorded and witnessed flight with a heavier-than-air craft. After World War I, Art became interested in the Curtiss JN-4 airplane. He built, restored, flew, bought and sold Jennies throughout the rest of his life. In 1928 he built and sold his own designed plane, the Hartman Air Plane and later started a flying school which continued until 1948. He founded and managed the Burlington Municipal Airport and trained World War II pilots. He died at the age of 82, after being involved in aviation for nearly 70 years.
Art Hartman continued inventing and flying throughout his life, and in 1955, while in his mid-60s, he created a skycycle with a disc-shaped canopy for lift. He called it "Hartman's Flying Saucer."

The Hammond Times, Aug. 10, 1955

In October 1955, Hartman's Flying Saucer was ready for launch. The Burlington Hawk Eye Gazette, Sept. 9, 1955 reported on how it'd be part of his anniversary of 52 years of as an aviator.

Unfortunately, the weather die not cooperate. The flight was cancelled due to strong winds.

 Daily Independent Journal Oct. 4, 1955
Burlington Hawk-Eye Gazette, Oct. 15, 1955

One year later, Oct. 1956, Hartman's Flying Saucer took to the skies.

Burlington Hawk-Eye Gazette October 4, 1956

Experimental Flight For Hartman Air-Bike

     The October 4, 1956 issue of the Burlington, Iowa Hawk-Eye Gazette indicates that Art Hartman is up to his old tricks. Art, who conducted many an exhibition balloon flight in the days from 1903 to 1910 and who built and flew planes in the next decade, conducted his first experimental flight with an "air-Bike" he had rigged up. Art's bike was attached to about 50 hydrogen balloons of small size, while attached to the frame of the bike was a three-bladed propeller which turned by pedaling. A rudder aided in the control of this odd one-man flying machine. In his recent test, as brought out in the newspaper story, he was able to gain an altitude of 150 feet, while a long rope attached to the ground kept him from drifting away. In order to return to the ground, he merely cuts loose some of the balloons. Art plans a few improvements and he expects to be able to literally pedal through the air. 
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP, March, 1957, Number 56

Art Hartman proved his skycycle would fly, but it took the heart of a daredevil to do it. In his many years in the air in balloons and planes, some of Hartman's flights may have been reported to Project Blue Book as UFOs.  If so, the cases remain unidentified. 
Harrisburg Daily Register, Aug 31, 1955
In the Daily Independent-Journal September 29, 1955, Art Hartman explained how the Flying Saucer would be filmed, added to the biographical documentary on his career. His remarks on aerospace exploration serve as a fitting, inspirational epitaph:
Hartman said a film is being made of his exploits. Most of it is completed. Another section will be added Saturday. The title: "My 52 Years in the Air, From Balloon to Jet.” The sprightly Hartman took his first jet plane ride several months ago. He scorns the idea of retirement. "I’m out to get the title of ‘Mr. Aviation of the World,” he said Tuesday upon arrival at Hamilton Field. "Some of the early birds in the aviation age have to stick around to see the thing through. I’m doing my part.” 
"Sure,” he told the Independent- Journal, “I’m a nut. But it’s the nuts, us crazy guys, who have kept aviation moving. There’s no limit to what can be done in this field. Hartman related a conversation he had with the pilot on his first jet ride several months ago. “I’ve got an engagement with you,” he told the fellow. "One of these days we’re going all the way to Mars.”

Friday, August 24, 2018

Project Blue Book: UFO, the Motion Picture

The story behind the story may seem familiar. A Pentagon employee takes a new assignment with a government agency secretly studying UFOs. He becomes fascinated with the topic and wants to do more, but frustrated by the government’s stance, he resigns. Shortly afterward he works with an entertainment company, helping them expose two previously classified UFO films to the public. That’s the story of Al Chop, who became the focus of the first factual motion picture about UFOs.

Unidentified Flying Objects: The True Story of Flying Saucers was released May 1956, and its purpose was to tell the authentic story of the UFO phenomenon and its investigation by the United States Air Force. Movie producer Clarence Greene became interested in UFOs after his 1952 sighting, persuading his partner, Russell Rouse, to make a film examining the topic. In the press for the film, Greene wrote how they got started in 1954:
“I learned that Albert M. Chop, who had been the Press Information Specialist for the Pentagon, handling all flying saucer news, was on the West Coast. I had several meetings with him. … 
Through Chop and certain newspapermen, a meeting was arranged with Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, USAF Reserve, former director of Project Bluebook. Together, we went into a lengthy and exhaustive study…” 
The movie took form as docu-drama, factually covering flying saucer events and investigation, using the story of Al Chop’s transition from skeptic to believer as a narrative device. Chop and Ruppelt were technical advisors and script consultants, but they did not receive screen credit, only mentions in the press. Both appeared as characters in the movie, Chop played by a non-actor aviation writer Tom Towers, while Ruppelt was played by actor Robert Phillips. 

Screenwriter Francis Martin with Albert M. Chop & Edward J. Ruppelt

What the film did not have was the participation or approval of the Air Force. They thought it was poison. Captain George T. Gregory of Project Blue Book wrote a memo on May 17, 1956 stating the concern that the UFO movie could be incendiary, and called meeting with Dr. J. Allen Hynek and others review the AF explanations for the UFO cases featured in the movie: 
This film may stir up a storm of public controversy similar to that which USAF was subjected to in 1952 with regard to UFOs, as a result of the unwarranted sensationalism generated by so-called “UFO experts”, writers and publishers...
In conferences held with Lt Col Johnson of General Samford’s office, Dr. Hynek, Prime UFO consultant, Scientific Advisor’s office and other pertinent personnel, it was agreed by all that ATIC should review this film before any wide-scale release to the public, for purposes of “countermeasures", that is, the preparation of some official comment to be kept in readiness to queries which will undoubtedly arise.
The 40-page file in Project Blue Book relating to the UFO movie contains a range of documents from news clippings and reviews of the film, to internal AF correspondence and relevant UFO case summaries. Captain Gregory’s position was that the film was deceptive by ignoring the investigations and explanations, and instead was exploiting solved cases as UFO mysteries. In a memorandum to the Scientific Advisor dated May 21, 1956, Capt. Gregory wrote:
In each instance of the portrayal of a case, the film dramatically, and with great suspense, presents the incident and circumstances surrounding the sighting, then abruptly drops the matter… calculated to let the viewer form his own (influenced) conclusions.
The firestorm Captain Gregory expected fizzled, partly due to the low-key approach of the film. UFO was modestly successful commercially, but it didn’t rally the public like he’d feared. The press covered it, but reviews were mixed.

The Cincinnati Enquirer May 27 and 29, 1956

Excitement and expectations in the UFO community were high, particularly in regards to the evidence represented by the declassified UFO footage. The UFO Newsletter #4, May 12, 1956, from the North Jersey U.F.O. Group reported:
Most important things in the film are the two actual COLOR FILMS OF UFOS which were kept "top secret" for some time (UTAH AND MONTANA FILMS) and which, with the official assurance that they are not normal objects, are CONCRETE PROOF FOR THE EXISTENCE OF 'SAUCERS.' ...This film is the break saucerdom has needed; it should do the trick, with proper support by those of us who are more interested in the field.
The general public and some reviewers were less impressed with the disclosure of the films.

The Los Angeles Times May 10, 1956

Conspiracy-minded Frank Scully, author of Behind the Flying Saucers, included a mini-review of UFO in his rambling column, “Scully’s Scrapbook,” in the June 13, 1956 issue of Variety.
Variety June 13, 1956

The flying saucer phenomenon was only seven years old when the film went into production, and the story takes us from Kenneth Arnold’s sighting up to the aftermath of the 1952 Washington, DC radar flap, with its “credible observers of relatively incredible things.” UFO takes an interesting approach to the history of the topic by letting us see it through the eyes of US Air Force press officer, Al Chop as he’s drawn into the flying saucer controversy. It’s a drama based on real events, with sequences featuring actual witnesses Delbert Newhouse and Nicholas Mariana recounting the stories of how they filmed UFOs. It’s not a documentary, classified as a docu-drama, dramatized re-enactments of actual events. 
The Cincinnati Enquirer May 30, 1956

The producers, Clarence Greene and Russell Rouse tried to make the film as genuine as possible, and avoided something that would have excited viewers more, seeing flying saucers in the re-enactments of UFO sightings. The closest thing we get is the scene depicting the 1952 Washington, DC, events, and in it, all we see are blips on a radar screen, not flying saucers. Due to this choice, a lot happens off-screen, including the UFO sighting and plane crash that became the centerpiece in the film’s advertising campaign, the fatal flight of Captain Thomas Mantell.

The Original UFO screenplay

A copy of the screenplay for UFO by Francis Martin was included in the papers of retired Blue Book head, Capt. Ed Ruppelt. It was written in 1954, but included revisions, “final changes,” dated March 7, 1955. It's from that draft the passages below are taken. Ruppelt along with Al Chop and were consulted for the film to make it as authentic as possible.

UFO Producer Clarence Greene with radar consultant Wendell Swanson and Edward J. Ruppelt.

One thing the Air Force should have been thankful for is that Al Chop and Ed Ruppelt omitted any mention of their nemesis, pioneering ufologist, Donald Keyhoe. But perhaps Keyhoe was being referred to in this narration:
The Air Force was forced to take official cognizance of the "flying discs" because of increasing demand from the public for an explanation, and as a result of certain publications persisting in using a sensational approach, in reporting such items.
Also absent is Keyhoe’s key claim, that there was a UFO cover-up conspiracy by the Air Force. The only thing resembling a cover-up is in the scene where Chop hears the truth about what the public had been told about the closing of Project Sign. It's depicted as typical military secrecy: “We switched the code name to Project Grudge and the investigations continued.”

Dr. J. Allen Hynek is another prominent UFO figure that’s not depicted or mentioned by name, but he is referenced in the film. Dr. Hynek's role in Project Blue Book is presented accurately, and it’s in the scene where Ed Ruppelt introduces Al Chop to Project Blue Book and describes the investigation of a multi-witness UFO sighting:
We now checked with our contract astronomer at a leading university... Our astronomer reported that at the time of the observation, the planet Jupiter was fifteen degrees above the horizon and on the range and bearing of the object. There's no doubt about it. What all these people saw was Jupiter.
Dr. Hynek did become involved with the film, but only in the Air Force’s defense against it, reviewing the cases presented, double-checking the debunking of them.

The movie’s story focuses on the credibility of the witnesses and evidence, not on the origin of the UFOs, but there were a few scenes in the original script suggesting the extraterrestrial hypothesis for UFOs. An early scene has Mrs. Chop asking her skeptical husband about his new job and flying saucers:

DEE: “I'm sorry. But do you really think they might be from Mars, or someplace?”
AL: “Look, honey, don’t you get like the rest of those screwballs that I have in my hair all day. Every time some kid flies a kite, fifty different people see space ships. Come on, let's get to bed.”
Another scene is unspoken, a shot of the Life magazine cover (replica) with the title, “There is a Case for Interplanetary Saucers.” 

The real Life magazine, and the movie’s more dignified stand-in. 

There's also a scene with Capt. Ed Ruppelt repeating Lt. George Gorman’s testimony about his aerial “dogfight” with a UFO:
RUPPELT: “Gorman said he was sure there was an intelligence behind the movements of the lights. He stated, too, that no earth-born pilot could have withstood the G-factor inherent in the object's turns and speed without blacking out.”
There are several interesting differences between the script and the finished film, such as how far they push the ideas of UFOs as extraterrestrial. The original screenplay had the Newhouse and Mariana films shown within the story, and the script ends after the press conference with General Samford about the Washington, DC sightings. The ending narration of the screenplay leaves the nature of UFOs ambiguous, for the viewer to decide:
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?
The final film ditches the narration and moves the footage color UFO films to the end as a grand finale. Just before they are shown, we have a final scene of Al Chop wandering around the city at night struggling to digest all he’s experienced. Instead of the narrator’s voice, we hear Chop’s thoughts about UFOs:

I started to walk through the streets of Washington, the words remaining with me, “credible observers of relatively incredible things.” ...the evidence has crystalized, and so now, in my opinion, there was no doubt as to their existence. Now, so far as I was concerned, it was no longer a question of whether or not there were unknown objects flying in our atmosphere. For me, the only questions that remained were:
What were these objects? Where do they come from?
To me the evidence indicated intelligence behind their control, and by now, the belief that their source was interplanetary was no longer incredible.
The movie did have a pro-saucer bias, and never questions that some UFOs must be structured physical craft of unknown (likely otherworldly) origin. But on the whole, Clarence Greene's UFO was an honest attempt at a factual account, understated, steering clear of sensationalism and speculation. Yet, United Artists' advertising campaign for the movie was another story, and that’s perhaps what got Blue Book’s Captain Gregory so agitated.

The Sensational Selling of Unidentified Flying Objects

From the beginning of the industry, motion picture studios provide exhibiting cinemas with press kits with materials to help direct the market and promote of the film, from advertising campaigns to publicity stunts. Pressbooks can contain advertising slicks, suggested ad copy, and often offered additional specialized pictures, posters or three-dimensional displays theatres could buy to promote the film.

The pressbook for Unidentified Flying Objects stressed to exhibitors that the topic was dynamite, and highly marketable:

“Here’s one right down the exploitation alley” - Film Daily

The advertising made it look like a thriller, and emphasized the frightening truth of the film:

The studio's copy for station break televisions advertisements:
Now! See and hear the truth about flying saucers in actual films of unidentified flying objects… kept ”top secret” until now! See it at the Bijou… the motion picture of the century… Bijou Now!
The legitimate selling point of the movie was the inclusion of formerly “top secret” films of flying saucers. The final segment of UFO showcased color footage of the Nick Mariana 1950 film from Great Falls, Montana, and the Delbert Newhouse 1952 film from Tremonton, Utah.
From the UFO Pressbook

The print advertising almost exclusively focused on capitalizing on the death of Captain Thomas J. Mantell, who had perished while pursuing a UFO on Jan. 7, 1948.


The movie posters featured a close-up of the frightened pilot’s face, “- and then he crashed!”

Imagery on the other promotional material, from lobby cards to print advertising, also focused on the morbid angle. Some depicted saucers blasting the plane, while others showing the fatal crash itself.

It's interesting that the hostile saucers in the promotional artwork do not appear in the film itself, but they closely resemble those featured in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, which was released two months later.

Spanish language version from Mexico

The trailer shown as a preview for the movie was likewise exploitative.

YouTube trailer: Unidentified Flying Objects, 1956

Given the message broadcast by advertising and marketing campaign, the Air Force fully expected the movie itself to be “using a sensational approach.” Instead, the UFO mystery was presented by the filmmakers in a pretty realistic manner, as something elusive, and the Air Force comes out looking pretty good in Project Blue Book’s mission to understand the enigma.

In the End
On the whole, Unidentified Flying Objects isn’t a very entertaining movie, but it is an educational and informative one, important in spite of its flaws for the glimpse of history it provides. Despite the worries of the Air Force, UFO wound up giving us the most accurate portrayal of Project Blue Book ever put on screen. The film also gives the audience a taste of what it is like to investigate UFOs, relying on little more than the word of witnesses, blips on radar, and indistinct images on film. It’s fitting that the film leaves us with the protagonist pondering the evidence, but in the end, finds his belief.

. . .


Correcting the UFO Movie Myth-stake about Ivan Tors

Ivan Tors is widely credited as having produced the classic 1956 film, Unidentified Flying Objects: The True Story of Flying Saucers, but that’s not wrong. Tors is best known today for his later adventure and family television shows such as Sea HuntFlipper and Daktari, but at the time, he was busy with his TV series, Science Fiction Theatre, which often featured UFO-related stories. We checked with Robert Barrow who has studied the film since its release, and he stated that he had found no trace of Tors’ involvement with UFO and did not know where that mistake originated.

Library of Congress’ Catalog of Copyright Entries Motion Pictures And Filmstrips, 1956.

It came from the name, Ivar Productions, the name Clarence Greene and Russell Rouse used to produce UFO, and apparently it was taken from the street where their office was located. Film and Television Daily, 1959 listed their location at "Greene-Rouse Productions. Inc. 1741 Ivar Ave., Hollywood 28, Calif. Hollywood 9-0350." Checking the Library of Congress’ Catalog of Copyright Entries Motion Pictures And Filmstrips for 1955 and 1956 shows that Ivan Tors was producing films outside his television show, but as “Ivan Tors Films.” 

Somewhere down the line, someone confused Ivar Productions with Ivan Tors. It’s true that Ivan Tors was interested in flying saucers, but he did not produce UFO, that was Greene and Rouse.
. . .

For Further Information

Robert Barrow has written extensively on the classic 1956 film, and we highly recommend his site, UFO: The True Story of Flying Saucers:

The Sign Historical Group hosts a page about Albert M. Chop that includes an interesting interview from 1999 looking back on his days with Project Blue Book:

Edward J. Ruppelt's 1956 book, The Report On Unidentified Flying Objects, is an inside look at Project Blue Book, and a perfect companion to the movie UFO. The NICAP site hosts it free online:

For further details on the Captain Thomas J. Mantell crash, see The Mantell Incident by Fran Ridge at the NICAP site:

Project Blue Book had a 40-page file on the UFO movie and the cases it presented:
"Review of Motion Picture 'Unidentified Flying Objects'"

John Cozzoli’s blog, Zombos' Closet presents scans of the complete UFO pressbook:

The UFO Lobby Cards:

Unidentified Flying Objects: The True Story of Flying Saucers can be found on YouTube, but only with the final scenes in black and white:

Frank Edwards: Making UFOs Newsworthy

Dr. J. Allen Hynek on UFO literature (in  The Edge of Reality , 1975): “If I were to recommend anything in the popular category, I would cho...