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This great and very extensive 14 pages article concerning the "UFO" Green-Rouse documentary film, appeared in 1976 in SAGA Magazine. It was re-typed into two web pages by Jerry Washington and Francis Ridge.

The SAGA Magazine article on the Green-Rouse UFO documentary:

The "UFO" documentary film by Green-Rouse production is probably one of the most important feature-length documentaries about UFOs ever made. It is mentioned as reference in several cases documents of my site, and I am convinced that people interested in UFO studies would benefit from watching it. And this article tells why.

"U.F.O." REVISITED
"Unidentified Flying Objects", 1956
A Greene-Rouse Production
By Robert Barrow (1976)

"I saw an unidentified flying object." Clarence Greene, producer of the 1956 United Artists release, "U.F.O.," recently gave me this answer when I asked why he decided to make the movie. In 1956, Greene was a partner in Greene-Rouse Productions, Los Angeles. Today, he is President of Tower Productions, located in the same city.

Since "U.F.O.," Greene has produced a number of motion picture features: "The Fastest Gun Alive," "New York Confidential," "The Oscar," "Caper of the Golden Bulls," and others.

Because of his simply-stated reason, Clarence Greene produced a major motion picture dealing with the UFO subject which surfaced in 1956, 92 minutes in duration, 8,166 feet in length, and shot in black & white - except for two actual films of UFOs which were offered in their original color.

During an August night in 1952, Greene and a friend were standing outside the former's house. The friend called attention to an object in the sky that looked like a "sphere of light." For five minutes they watched the UFO maneuver through stops and turns until it finally sped away over the horizon. Later, Greene learned that the UFO had also been seen by members of the Ground Observer Corps.

The producer readily admitted that the sighting made "an indelible impression" on him. The next day, he told his partner, Russell Rouse, and the Greene-Rouse staff of the incident. This was a harsh period of time for sighting witnesses who made their reports public, and now Clarence Greene knew how others must have felt in the face of contempt and ridicule.

"I was to learn," he explained, "that hundreds of other sightings had been made, with the sighters reluctant to mention it for fear of ridicule. I found myself becoming irritated at the scoffers. I was at a complete loss to understand why there seemed to be such a determined effort to suppress all news of UFOs by what seemed to be a planned campaign of skepticism and scoffing."

Greene decided the public should know the facts about "flying saucers." He began to dwelve into the UFO enigma. He discovered that Albert M. Chop, who had once been the Pentagon's Press Information Specialist and handled UFO news was nearby on the West Coast.

I had several meetings with him," Greene stated. "Chop was reluctant to talk at first. But when he realized I was dead serious about the unidentified flying object business, he gave me a breakdown on Project Blue Book, code name for the investigation of UFO." Chop and certain newsmen subsequently arranged a meeting between Greene and Capt. Edward Ruppelt, USAF Reserve, former Director of Project Bluebook.

"Together," Greene continued, "we went into a lengthy and exhaustive study of reports, various documents and affidavits of UFO sightings and reports from radar experts which, with some heretofore top secret motion pictures, in color, of flying saucers, form the basis of the film."

Several months ago, Greene assured me that there was no official opposition to his plans to make the movie, nor was there any from his colleagues when they learned of this first-time event. He had no trouble in negotiating for use of the Montana (Mariana) and Utah (Newhouse) UFO films, which had only recently been de-classified and made available publicly.

However, according to David Michael Jacobs in his excellent book, "The UFO Controversy in America" (1975, Indiana University Press), there was official concern going on in the background over Green's movie. Jacobs stated that Capt. George T. Gregory, who became head of Project Bluebook in April, 1956, was a UFO "debunker." He and the Air Force were obviously very concerned with "U.F.O."

Quoting Jacobs: "Gregory kept a file of all the movie's reviews, notifications, and advertisements, carefully underlining every statement that might cause problems for the Air Force or generate interest in UFOs. From Richard Dyer McCann's review in the 'Christian Science Monitor,' Gregory singled out the statement, 'It will almost certainly stir up a storm of public controversy,' and added the marginal note, 'This is something that neither PIO (Office of Public Information) or ATIC would like to undergo again!' ATIC asked (Dr. J. Allen) Hynek (AF Chief UFO Consultant) and Air Force officers to review the film before its release, and asked photo experts to compare copies of the Mariana and Newhouse films with the excerpts shown in the movie. ATIC Chief Scientist A. Francis Arcier met with agency officials to discuss the preparation of a case file giving the official Air Force explanation for every sighting portrayed in the film.

"When the film was released in May 1956, the 'storm of controversy' turned out to be little more than a light mist. "U.F.O." was successful, but it did not cause flying saucer hysteria, criticism of the Air Force, or more UFO reports."

Air Force concern was probably legitimate at the time, for Greene had gone straight to the source by getting technical assistance from people like Chop, Ruppelt and Dewey J. Fournet Jr. (Fournet, as an AF Major, had been the AF UFO Project Monitor).

Clarence Greene demanded realism in his movie. Several key people played their own roles. Many of the "extras" in "U.F.O." were officials or members of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department who had experiences with UFOs and UFO reports. They offered their cooperation by "moonlighting" in the movie. And while it is true that "U.F.O." is a film composed of unknown actors, there is a scene during portrayal of the legendary 1952 radar-visual sightings over Washington. D.C. where a well-known name is involved. The voice of the pilot of "Red Dog One," who is surrounded by UFOs while in flight, is that of veteran actor Harry Morgan who plays [played] Col. Sherman Potter on the television series, "M*A*S*H."

Despite Greene's painstaking concern for authenticity (even the script went through some severe changes in the interest of accuracy - the final production seems totally unlike many of the original pages of the script). "U.F.O." did not "make bricks" at the theaters. This seems to be a real anomaly, considering the period interest and enthusiasm for unusual and science-fiction films. Why didn't "U.F.O." captivate everybody with its enticement for real oddities?

At any rate, according to Albert Chop in a letter he wrote me in 1966 (he was then Deputy Public Affairs Officer for NASA in Houston), "The documentary "U.F.O." accurately portrays my role in Project Bluebook. We tried, and I think succeeded, in keeping the film honest and accurate.

Perhaps that is the main reason why the producer and all participants failed to realize any monetary gains from the effort. According to the books," Chop certified, "the producer lost over a hundred thousand [dollars].

"Maybe a little of the Hollywood touch would have helped."

I asked Greene why the movie lost money at the box office. Was it possible, I queried in a letter, that the country wasn't ready for the documentary-like motion picture in 1956?

"It is possible," he replied, "but the audience wasn't ready."

He had "no way of knowing" how "U.F.O." might have done if it were filmed today instead of in 1956. Further, Greene disclosed that he never considered making a "U.F.O. Part II."

No matter, though, how the movie fared at the theaters. UFO researchers and "fans" can be grateful to Clarence Greene for his concern with honesty in the documentary.

"I made "U.F.O." because of a simple, but most urgent belief," Greene stated when the movie opened in 1956, "that the public should know the true facts about flying saucers."

Well, what about Al Chop and UFOs? This is the man whose background of UFO knowledge and work for the government in the early fifties precipitated Clarence Greene's efforts in making a movie about his official UFO experiences.

Prior to Chop's assignment to the Pentagon's UFO Press Desk, Chop acted as Chief of the Press Section, Headquarters, Air Materiel Command, USAF, at Wright-Patterson AFB. At that time he wrote press releases, unsigned articles and responses to various inquiries. These duties were routine to the job. Among the unsigned pieces Chop wrote was one on helicopters which were becoming popular for use in the Korean conflict. The article saw print in "Newsweek" and assorted newspapers across the country.

Chop's opinion about UFOs at the time was: "this whole saucer business is pure, unadulterated bunk." He was as confirmed a skeptic as there could be.

However, after his promotion to Chief of the Press Section at A.M.C., he began to change his mind. Chop talked with top government personnel who were certain UFOs existed. He learned the government was, indeed, vitally concerned about UFOs.

When he was transferred to the Pentagon's Press Section, by request of Colonel Richard Searles, Chop - much to his surprise - was assigned directly to UFO investigation. It was here that he met Maj. Dewey Fournet of the Current Intelligence Branch. Chop worked closely with Fournet (UFO Project Monitor) and Capt. Ruppelt, head of Project Bluebook. Throughout the months he served with the official project, Chop cautiously began to accept the reality of UFOs.

What caliber of UFO sightings did it take to alter his skepticism of "flying saucers?" One early report from 1951, mentioned in "U.F.O.," was sophisticated enough to make a big impression on Al Chop. He recently recalled:

"There was a report from General Mills' scientists who were tracking a large weather balloon with a theodolite," Chop began. "They saw an object descend on their balloon and make several passes at it. When the balloon was retrieved, it had a ten-foot dent in its side. The report contained figures on elevation, wind direction, and details on the appearance and exit of the UFO."

Considering the position Al Chop held, enviable from the viewpoint of a UFO researcher, it is easy to realize how the Pentagon's Press Chief became a believer.

"You must remember," he continued, "that I was privy to the project files. These contained hundreds of official reports of UFO encounters made by military personnel from all branches of the service. They were all classified with a high degree of security classification.

"Almost all of these made pretty scary reading from the verbatim descriptions of the pilots concerned."

By the time Chop viewed the famous Utah and Montana films, two years later, his observation of them "merely strengthened my personal beliefs and theories on the subject of UFOs; I leaned heavily toward the extraterrestrial theory prior to viewing the Montana and Newhouse films."

Chop described for me what it was really like to have been on the scene during the incredible incidents depicted in "U.F.O." Without a doubt, his most hectic time with the official project came during the classic month of July 1952, when up to 14 UFOs (at one time) appeared several times over Washington, D.C. On July 20, when the things first flew over the nation's capital, Chop was home sleeping through the chaos. But for the next week his desk was bombarded with press queries from across the country.

Then, a week later, Al Chop really became firmly involved in UFO history. It was July 26, around midnight, when the phone at his home rang.

"The initial phone call was received from the FAA Public Information Officer at the airport (Washington National)." The officer told Chop the UFOs over D.C. were being tracked on radar.

"I told him I would be there as quickly as I could make it. After dressing, I called Major Fournet at his home and gave him what information I had. I asked my wife, Dolores, to come with me." This is one of the few points on which the movie and reality differ. In "U.F.O." Chop (played by Tom Towers) tells his wife "don't wait up" and leaves for the airport by himself.

Speeding to Washington National, the Chops' kept looking skyward, hoping to see the objects which some people were seeing visually. There was nothing in sight.

"I was rather apprehensive, but for no particular reason," Chop recalls. "All reports (of previous sightings) failed to mention any hazard to the observers. I did wonder what fate had decreed that I would be a part of the UFO project."

"In my haste I did probably run a few red lights or stop signs. However, there was extremely light traffic at that time of the morning, and I made the trip in a matter of 20 minutes or less."

The movie "U.F.O.," like many written accounts of the Washington National Sightings, concerned itself with the prominent details. I thought it would be interesting to ask Chop about the lesser known, obscure factors of this arrival at the airport.

"Well," he went on, "a routine evening in an airport traffic control center can best be described as exceedingly monotonous at least back in 1952 when most airplanes were slow prop jobs and air travel was not at its heyday. The military planes had their own airport facilities and were not using Washington National runways except on special occasions. So, there usually was very little conversation among tower personnel except the routine conversation, and the usual low-key conversation between controllers and aircraft pilots flying in their vicinity."

But, true to the setting of the motion picture which dramatized this summer night in 1952, "The atmosphere was 'electric.' Everyone was aware that something unusual was going on. There were at least a dozen news media representatives on hand. They were confined to an ante room outside the radar room.

They were all clamoring for access to the radar." Chop immediately gave permission for the newsmen to watch the unknowns on the radar scope. "So, we had a mixed bag of reporters, including photographers, government personnel and airport control operators. Major Fournet arrived soon after I let the reporters into the room."

In "U.F.O.," Chop is seen to refuse reporters access to the radar, which is inaccurate, though news personnel were asked to leave during intercept attempts, as was Mrs. Chop.

I asked Chop how everyone in the scope room felt when one of the pursuing pilots (Red Dog One) was surrounded by UFOs visually and on radar. Was there a sense of helplessness or disbelief?

"Disbelief No! Helplessness Yes!" he insisted. "As we looked up at each other while watching that intercept attempt, you could imagine each of us trying to think of something that would be helpful."

I might also add there were no disbelievers around that scope. We all knew these objects represented something with which we could not cope."

All of this happened for several hours, while the radar room was in constant contact with the radar personnel at Andrews AFB (where UFOs were simultaneously tracked on radar). "These people were as apprehensive as we."

Skipping ahead to the present year, I asked Chop if his views on UFOs had changed since 1956, when the movie portrayed him as accepting the extraterrestrial theory for UFOs.

"I have not changed my theories on this subject as expressed in the film, except to consider the possibility that these objects could originate from another dimension in time and space."

It does seem improbable that physical objects can travel the vast distances between star systems in a profitable time span as we measure time and longevity here on our planet Earth." Chop has apparently done some thinking in this realm; he has discussed, for example, various theories on what happens to dying stars that eventually become "holes" in space, with top physicists.

Clarence Greene indicated in 1956 that Chop was reluctant to assist with "U.F.O." Chop bears this out.

"When first approached about helping with the documentary back in 1954, I was extremely wary about getting involved. However, in subsequent discussions with Greene and Russell Rouse, I became convinced they really wanted to do an unbiased, objective documentary that would shed some light on this subject for the general public."

"A secondary, yet very important objective, was to try to stimulate more interest in UFOs among the scientific personnel in our country."

Did you like the finished product? Any regrets about the movie?

"I continue to have mixed emotions concerning our efforts. I think we did make a contribution but we didn't achieve our goals. I am reminded of this every time I meet up with, or read about, an individual who flatly states there is nothing to the subject."

"One wonders," Chop considers, "what it will take to get people on Earth vitally interested. I wince when I think of the cost of the University of Colorado's 'Condon Study.'"

"It is so damn obvious to anyone involved in the project that the 'findings' are nothing but a calculated farce. But why? Somewhere, there's a reasoned motive I will never understand."

Drawing again on his own experiences with the official UFO investigation, Al Chop commented on a couple of names which are familiar to many UFO researchers.

"It was interesting to observe from the sidelines how Dr. Robert L. Baker changed 180 degrees from a disbeliever to one embracing the extraterrestrial theory as a result of his study of the Montana and Newhouse films. In similar fashion, it was interesting to observe the change in Allen Hynek. I met him many years ago when his primary mission in the project seemed to be that of casting discredit on all those who reported UFO encounters."

Chop finally left the Press Desk at the Pentagon "because it was apparent the lid was back on the project and I don't believe in working in a vacuum." Nor did he like working in the Washington, D.C. area.

His only recent efforts on the UFO subject went into the syndicated TV documentary, "UFOs: Past, Present and Future," presented by Allen Sandler. Chop had not seen the feature, but heard from various people that it was a "good effort."

"Clarence Greene and Russell Rouse, as well as Allen Sandler, all lived up to my expectations as well as their own word concerning film documentaries. I have no regrets over being part of their efforts. I am disappointed that we could not achieve more with the material we had to work with, but I think we did make a good start."

In response to a question about UFO investigations of today, Chop believes "the news media has come a long way in their treatment of UFO reports. Unfortunately, the government policy has not changed noticeably...it still exudes an air of disinterest in the subject...it is down-played as being of no particular importance. It is regrettable that our government officials cannot be more candid about their activities in this respect."

Seemingly, Chop doesn't buy the story that the government stopped investigating UFOs when Project Bluebook closed: "Our military forces and national security agencies have the continuing responsibility of investigating everything and anything that might prove a 'possible' threat to our country.

"It follows, then, quite naturally, that UFOs must continue to be investigated thoroughly or the agencies concerned are not doing their assigned job."

Chop indicated a preference that might surprise veteran UFO researchers. "I would welcome an opportunity to be involved in any official government dealing with UFOs.

It would have to be an objective, unclassified effort, with security classification limited to a genuine need to safeguard our own hardware performance. "And," he reflected, offering a quick qualifying remark, "since that will never come about in my lifetime, I prefer to sit on the sidelines as an observer."

"That's my reasoning," Chop said, "and it goes all the way back through Projects Sign, Grudge, and Bluebook, which should tell you something about the continuing need for study efforts."

Al Chop. With his background, he could only be an asset to a private UFO investigation. He departed from NICAP many years ago because "UFO authors" had distorted his image and tried to tie in his UFO-NICAP affiliation with his NASA employment. There was no such connection, but Chop, tired of the lies and angered by the inaccuracies, left the UFO scene.

Aside for his respect for the movie that portrayed him so well, Chop is a good, long-time friend of Major Donald E. Keyhoe (USMC, ret.) and staunchly lauds Keyhoe's pioneering UFO work.

Al Chop. After these years, he keenly reinforces what many UFO researchers tend to forget: "Someone, somewhere, has got to have the responsibility in our national security plans to continue the investigation of unknown objects reported in our skies."

Dewey J. Fournet Jr. is presently employed as a member of management in a large international chemical company. Like Chop, he stays quite busy with his job, and he isn't a publicity-seeker in any sense. As a matter of fact, when it comes to UFOs these days, Fournet stays very "low key." He offered me some rather profound dialogue, however, dealing with his involvement in the Air force UFO project in the early fifties. He, Chop and Ruppelt worked closely together on the official UFO investigation. And, like many other knowledgeable contributors, Fournet provided technical experience during the making of "U.F.O."

Fournet's role in the Air Force was intelligence. He served in the Army nearly four years in World War II, and for the last three years of that period he performed intelligence work in the Army Air Force. The Air Force became a separate operation soon after the war, and Fournet's reserve commission was transferred from the Army to the Air Force. In April 1951, Fournet found himself recalled to active Air Force duty and he was sent to Air Command and Staff School until August. He was soon assigned to Intelligence at the Pentagon.

"Shortly afterwards," he recalls, "I was assigned official Headquarters responsibility for the UFO program, serving as Monitor for Project Bluebook and handling UFO-related intelligence matters."

Major Fournet left active service - and the UFO project - in January 1953, having racked up five-and-a-half years with the military during the two periods.

"I was indeed a UFO skeptic when I was assigned to the program," Fournet states. "At some point during the first few months of my assignment - probably during early 1952 - I became convinced that the subject deserved serious attention."

"This change," he indicates, "occurred as a result of my exposure to the project files and the study of the steadily increasing volume of sighting reports. "I didn't become a 'believer' in the popular sense," he cautions, "I simply changed my posture from complete disdain of the subject to one of conviction that it needed serious study."

Fournet, whose comments typify an intelligence officer who treated his work seriously, explained that the USAF had to learn as much as it could about the UFO phenomenon, "if for no other reason than to be able to discern a potential Soviet attack through the background 'static' created by the deluge of UFO reports in 1952."

Nowadays, admitting that scientific curiosity had to remain subordinated during his active USAF participation, Fournet hopes that science will take a major role in identifying UFOs. In the movie "U.F.O.," Fournet (who did not play himself, though he approved every line of his part in the script) shows Al Chop the Montana and Utah UFO films. In reality he, like Chop, found the films very curious. Following lab tests and witness interviews involving the Utah film, Fournet turned out to be one of the people responsible for classifying Delbert Newhouse's filmed UFOs as "unknowns."

Dewey Fournet has played a mostly silent role as a member of NICAP's Board of Governors since 1957. He recently attended the well-attended UFO conference held at Fort Smith, Arkansas (where, in fact, the Lorenzens of APRO kindly told him of my interest in interviewing him).

Again, thinking back, he summed up his views on the government's efforts to explain UFOs. "Personally, I regret the fact that the government no longer associates itself with this subject, although I feel no remorse whatsoever over the burial of the USAF project because of the extremely negative path that it generally followed after 1953. "Captain Ruppelt confided to me that he could see the negativism developing following the report by the CIA Scientific Panel in early 1953, and this was the main reason for his request to be reassigned from the project."

Fournet is keen, probably with justification, in emphasizing that the Air Force was mainly concerned with whether UFOs were a threat to national security. However, "when the CIA Scientific Panel concluded in 1953 that no threat was evident, the Air Force philosophy seems to have undergone drastic modification with minor variations until the project was disbanded following the infamous Condon report."

If a government agency with a less limited mission had been funded to study UFOs, according to Fournet, we might have had some of the answers to UFOs. "Since this has never been done, I feel that it was proper for privately funded organizations to move into the vacuum." But there are problems.

"For example." Fournet concedes, "there are few totally serious organizations. Too many have sprung up on the fringe element, either to promote preconceived philosophies and/or 'solutions' or to realize monetary windfalls. Then, the few sound organizations represent a fragmentation of resources and overlapping efforts, as a consequence of which no one is able to bring to bear all the available talent in one coordinated attack on the problem."

Dewey Fournet - via Major Fournet - was portrayed in "U.F.O." in several scenes. Like Al Chop, he was present during the famous Washington National sightings in 1952.

"My involvement in the Washington incidents did entail hectic days and nights, although these sightings were merely a small part of an unbelievable hectic period of eight or nine months in 1952." The advantage during the National sightings was that Fournet didn't have to depend on eyewitness accounts. He was on the scene, observing the UFOs on radar.

"My attention to what was going on, however, was far from undivided - long distance phone calls to handle, fighter interceptor requests to make, reporters outside to be satisfied, etc."

At this point in reality, there arises another conflict in what "U.F.O." portrays. "In fact, I wasn't even present when a fighter pilot reported that he was surrounded by UFOs," Fournet explains. "In reviewing the movie script, I had taken issue with Al Chop over this, and only after considerable discussion and reflection did I finally conclude that this occurred when I was on the phone, talking to Bob Ginna of 'Life' [magazine]."

Discussing "U.F.O.," Fournet is careful to assert that the events in the movie are depicted as they are seen through the eyes of a public information officer (Chop). "Although the facts depicted are accurate," Fournet said, "actual operations in Intelligence were materially different in many respects from the impressions the movie can leave. Al happened to be a privileged recipient of considerable information because I had convinced my superiors in 1952 that all non-sensitive UFO information should be made available to the public."

"Because of this," Fournet points out, "I tried to keep Al informed of all developments that I thought would provoke queries from the press and members of the public."

"This was the only 'open' period that I know of in the entire existence of the UFO project."

The written interview with Dewey Fournet included a final question. Do you feel a lot of important UFO information has been and/or is still being censored by certain government agencies?

"To the best of my knowledge," he replied in conclusion, "there has never been any censoring per se, with the exception of deleting names of witnesses and any data pertaining to radar or intercept procedures."

"On the other hand, I'm positive that the public was frequently fed misleading statistics and examples of reports that were atypical, intended only to make the subject appear to be entirely asinine."

Straight talk from Dewey J. Fournet Jr., another important figure in UFO history who helped to add accuracy to "U.F.O."

Clarence Greene was well on his way to making his planned documentary a celluloid reality in late 1955.

Al Chop had given the okay to basing the film on his experiences with the official UFO investigation. Dewey Fournet had offered to lend technical advice. Arrangements were under way for Edward Ruppelt to play his own role as well as give advice. Delbert Newhouse and Nicholas Mariana were available to be interviewed on film about the unexplained UFO films they had made.

In addition, Greene had enlisted the aid of electronics engineer and radar specialist Wendell V. Swanson. Swanson had built our first radar installation at Okinawa, and later analyzed many radar-confirmed UFO reports at Wright Field during the years the movie depicts. By 1954, he was a leading engineer in the missile guidance division of a West Coast aircraft plant. Like Ruppelt, Swanson played himself in "U.F.O."

The production staff was being readied as well. Exhaustive research by screenwriter Francis Martin was being put into script form and undergoing revision. Winston Jones, a Hollywood prop man, was about to assume a more strategic position as the director of "U.F.O."

Amidst all the organizing, documenting and double-checking, however, there was still a key position to be filled. Someone had to play the role of Al Chop. That someone was found in the City Room of the now defunct "Los Angeles Examiner." His name was Tom Towers, a writer who was then a senior member of the Aviation Writers association. Towers recently recounted the events surrounding his selection for the part:

"When 'U.F.O.' came about, Al Chop recommended me to Greene-Rouse Productions as an active newspaperman who would fill the part he played as a member of Project Bluebook. Chop was then working in the public relations department of the Douglas Aircraft Company and I knew him through my aviation writing duties. So, after a few meetings with Greene-Rouse - and a check with my editors at the 'Examiner' - I was able to get a 21-day leave to make the picture."

"The picture was low-budget - under $200,000 I believe - and I furnished almost all my own wardrobe. I also furnished my own car for scenes requiring a vehicle, and the film was made in a small hideaway studio on the outskirts of Hollywood." Towers emphasizes that production was carried out under strict secrecy for fear that other companies might try to rush a competing film into print. Or perhaps to keep reporters away from the studio: "I recall that my dressing room in this 'studio' was the men's room. What a put-down!"

Tom Towers is very opinionated about his role in "U.F.O." He regrets that he wasn't able to give the form of portrayal he had in mind. "This was because I was under the direction of a director who was following the script and taking orders from producers who were genuinely interested in presenting the facts. I do not offer this as a criticism, but only as my own feeling. I felt the film was too damn factual. It attracted two kinds of people: those who believed and those who did not. The broad middle mass could not have cared less - and you need that market to make a film successful at the box office."

Tom Towers. He admits that as the highest paid performer in "U.F.O.," he only grossed $1,500.

In attempting to reach his goal of making "U.F.O." a documentary of the highest standards, Clarence Greene sought out people and events that had the means to lend authenticity. For instance, even though the Newhouse (Utah) and Mariana (Montana) films had been shot in color - and "U.F.O." was filmed in glorious black and white - Greene insisted on showing the UFO movies in their original color. Therefore, every point of "U.F.O." contains color sections just to accommodate these films.

It might be argued that Clarence Greene left very little to chance in his selection of convincing UFO events. What better form of documentation could there be than to include an interview with a commercial airlines pilot who, with crew and passengers aboard, actually encountered a UFO while in flight? Greene located an American Airlines pilot who was still on duty with the company. His name was Capt. Willis T. Sperry ("Doc" Sperry, as he is known to his friends).

Sperry had made an important UFO sighting on May 29, 1950, at about 9:30 in the evening. There was unlimited visibility, and Sperry's American Airlines flight was 60 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., headed for Nashville, Tennessee. His aircraft was flying at 7,500 feet. Sperry (who retired from American in April, 1971, after 32 years of service) was about to make UFO history. A UFO came into view.

"I was turned around in my seat at the moment it appeared, getting a map out of a briefcase. My co-pilot called out, 'What is that - look out - it's coming right at us.'" Sperry outlined what happened next.

"I made an immediate right turn from a heading of approximately 230 degrees to 320 degrees."

"The object was a very bright shimmering blue light. We were very interested in ascertaining its distance from us."

As Sperry leveled off in flight, the UFO appeared to stop in the sky.

"As I look back on this incident, I recall that, at the time, it did not occur to me that I was seeing an object called a UFO. It was a very puzzling sight." By the time the UFO appeared to stop, the stewardess and eight passengers had seen the light, along with Sperry, the co-pilot and the flight engineer. The object remained stationary for about 30 seconds before it began moving again. "At this time," continued Sperry, "I started a left turn to keep it in view."

"There was a full moon in the eastern sky; the object passed between us and the moon, and I got a definite silhouette of it. It appeared cigar-shaped, with no external (characteristics) protruding from it."

"It circled around behind us and appeared on our right, where it again came to an apparent stop. How far was it from us? I will take a guess that it was five miles away. We really had no way of judging its distance."

"After about 20 to 30 seconds," Sperry relates, "it started moving eastbound, climbing at about a 30 degree angle. We watched it until it disappeared."

For this interview, "Doc" Sperry surprised this writer with further information on his sighting - data that is not known even to veteran researchers.

"An eastbound American Airlines DC6 between Nashville and Knoxville at 19,000 feet, headed for Washington and flown by Capt. Henry Myers, observed what appeared to be a brilliant shooting star falling eastward from the zenith."

"When it got to the horizon it stopped. They watched it for seconds as it seemed to move horizontally, then it disappeared."

"I talked to Myers after the incident and we correlated the time of my sighting with his, and it was exactly the same time."

Myers told Sperry that what was most interesting was the fact that "shooting stars" don't stop and change direction!

"His aircraft was 450 nautical miles to the southwest of us," Sperry continued.

"I have been reluctant to report this, as he asked me at the time to please keep his sighting out of the news. He is now deceased. Capt. Henry Myers was the pilot of the Sacred Cow, which flew President Roosevelt during World War II," Sperry added. (I double-checked with Sperry to make sure he wanted this information released now; he did, and I'm glad.) Thus, Clarence Greene invited Sperry to tell his story in "U.F.O." The interview took place at L.A. International Airport. Now, twenty years later, Willis Sperry is in partnership with another man, and he's still in the "flying business," though from a different point of view. Instead of just piloting assorted aircraft, Sperry now sells them, at his Orion Aircraft Sales Company (Van Nuys, California).

Sperry was asked if he recalls receiving any public reaction or any reaction from American Airlines after his interview in "U.F.O." appeared across the nation. "The public reaction at that time," he indicates, "and from American Airlines, was genuine interest."

Sperry confirms that no particular physical effects resulted among anybody on the plane during or after the UFO sighting.

"I had no idea that this sighting would generate so much interest," he confesses. "Almost everyone seemed genuinely interested in what I saw. I had several interviews with Air Force Intelligence personnel from Washington."

"American Airlines expressed only interest in what I saw and never issued any censorship orders to me."

In the Greene-Rouse movie, Sperry was asked, "Have you ever seen any similar object, Captain?" He replies, "Never before or since." He feels the same today.

"Although I observe probably more than the average layman for any unusual phenomena, I have never seen anything since then."

Willis Sperry. Like so many pilots, he believes UFOs are more than products of the imagination. What is your opinion of UFOs in 1976? I asked in conclusion.

"I am very much of the opinion that there is some extraterrestrial phenomenon that has not been explained," he advises. He believes that the findings of Erich von Daniken ("Chariots of the Gods?") are very convincing.

But Sperry bases his belief on other events - like sightings by people who know about things that fly - on the Earth and beyond.

"The sightings by Apollo flights to the moon should convince most skeptics that this old Earth has been visited in the past as well as the present."

Willis Sperry. In many ways, he unintentionally acts as a spokesman for many pilots whose views on UFOs are similar to his own. Willis Sperry. Another reason why "U.F.O." can truly be classified a documentary.

All the good, sincere people - all the documentation - all the time and all the planning came to fruition in May 1956, when "U.F.O." was released by theaters around the world. Movie reviews were generally kind, often ecstatic. Columnist Louella Parsons wrote: "Hollywood is talking about the incredible interest expressed by fans and those in the industry over the flying saucer film made by Clarence Greene and Russell Rouse with our government's knowledge. It actually shows pictures of the saucers and is attracting front page and editorial attention although what the saucers are is still a mystery."

From "Variety": "An authentic beat! Interesting, informing and important! Gripping climax! Should register well!"

And the movie did register well, but not as well as it should have. The documentary approach just didn't go over as attractively as the producers had planned. Why not, is anybody's guess, and the whole question is irrelevant at this point, anyway.

Greene-Rouse went to great lengths to support their motion picture with facts. Every document that would back up the story line was placed in the custody of a Los Angeles insurance company and made available for public inspection.

Among the documents on file was a weather chart which reported atmospheric conditions over Washington, D.C. during the July 1952 sightings. The chart reportedly proved that the radar pick-up of UFOs could not be attributed to temperature inversions. Also on file was a transcript of General Samford's Pentagon press conference held after the July 26 sightings.

A wire from Al Chop was likewise on display in which he said: "I AM TELLING THE TRUE FACTS TO THE PUBLIC FOR THE FIRST TIME IN YOUR MOTION PICTURE"

Capt. Edward Ruppelt, USAF Reserve, also had a wire on file, and he stated: "I HEREWITH CONFIRM THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE FACTS AND INCIDENTS DRAMATIZED IN YOUR SCREENPLAY"

Maj. Dewey Fournet submitted a statement to Greene-Rouse, also kept on file: He certified that the part of the script dealing with his role was "factually correct and true to the best of my knowledge."

Delbert C. Newhouse and Nicholas Mariana each placed statements on file regarding their UFO films. The Newhouse film contained up to 12 unknowns; the Mariana film, two.

Some of the documents on file were as much of an anomaly as the UFOs. Part of an official press statement prepared by Albert Chop and Colonel Wendell Smith (Current Intelligence Office Branch, Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence USAF) stated that the Newhouse Utah UFO film "could not be produced under simulated conditions."

At the same time, this press statement "was cleared by Col. Adams, Chief of Current Intelligence, and also by the Air Force Office of Information Services." Then, the puzzler: "At the last moment," the statement continued, "this press statement was killed by Col. Teaburg of Air Force Intelligence." Assuredly, the military works in strange ways.

However, Col. Adams sent a letter to Newhouse, telling him that his UFO film "still remains one of the most interesting incidents we have investigated."

The full reports of Thomas Mantell's death while chasing a UFO was also placed on view.

The Gorman case of October 1948, dramatized in "U.F.O.," was on file, containing information on a blinking, white light that made a pass at the Fargo, North Dakota, Air Base tower. Lt. Gorman, coming in for a landing, dove at the light and chased it for 27 minutes while several observers watched the "dogfight." Substantiating witness reports were on file.

Another official report, from January 1951, was in the hands of the insurance company. A Mid-Continent Airlines DC3 had taken off from Sioux City (Iowa) Airport. As it climbed for altitude, an unidentified light closed in. The object made a head-on pass at the DC3, which swerved to avoid a collision. The incident was observed by several passengers - including a colonel from Military Intelligence. The chaos ended when the UFO suddenly zoomed straight up in the air and disappeared. This event was also portrayed in the movie.

Capt. Willis Sperry's report, in affidavit form, was the final document kept on file. "Since my experience," he clearly pointed out, "I have talked to many airline pilots who have seen similar objects that absolutely cannot be identified in any known type of aircraft category due to the speed, maneuverability and shape of the object."

Any discussions of "U.F.O." should also make mention of the theme music. The lively, often beautiful score heard throughout the movie was written by Ernest Gold (conducted by Emil Newman) and is entitled "U.F.O.," according to the files of the musical society, A.S.C.A.P. It's one of those scores that, if put into an LP album (as so many movie scores are these days), might be very successful.

Where can "U.F.O." be found these days? Actually, the motion picture can be obtained for special showings (or by TV stations when purchased in a "package"). Write the following for information, and don't fear the price of rental - group showings can be arranged for around $70.00 per viewing: UA Sixteen, 729 Seventh Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10019. "Unidentified Flying Objects." / Clarence Greene.

Maybe if the two of them had made acquaintances today, instead of 1956, the movie would have the same shattering effect on audiences that recent films like "Chariots of the Gods" have had.

Strange, really. Way back in December '75, I wrote Clarence Greene and asked a question that was special to me. Considering how public interest in UFOs has become more heightened and sophisticated over the years, would you ever consider making another UFO film documentary? Green's reply consisted of just one word: "Possibly."

One contemplates what wonders Clarence Greene might work with an updated documentary on the UFO mystery. UFO research owes him a great debt. Unfortunately, he does not owe UFO research another great film documentary.

"U.F.O." Could there ever be another like it?

"Possibly," the sound of the word makes me more hopeful. "Possibly."

Webmaster's notes:

The Montana footage by Nick Mariana is documented here, the Delbert C. Newhouse Utah footage is documented here.

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This page was last updated on October 29, 2002