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Folks, there are no words; hyperbole fails us. This movie is so incredibly bad, so stultifyingly boring, that it has to be seen to be believed. Granted, it was made in 1950, and, granted, there obviously wasn't much of a budget, but really. . .! Yes, we will allow that it was, after all, one of the first films to deal with the subject of UFOs (and CIA cover-ups, and Russian hoaxes, and a Canadian connection) but, after a mildly promising start, the film plays largely as if it were funded by the Alaska Board of Tourism - ENDLESS tableaux of glaciers, and wildlife, and rivers, and more glaciers, but precious little action, and even less in the way of FX. The saucer, when FINALLY seen, looks like something out of "Killers From Space." The fact that this cowflop of a film was made in 1950 doesn't really save it, either: both "The Thing" and "The Man from Planet X" were made right around the same time, and are far better efforts. In the case of "The Man from Planet X", that one was made for around $50,000.00 and was shot in six days on borrowed sets, and it was still better! In short, "The Flying Saucer" isn't just crummier than you think, it's crummier than you CAN think! If you really want to see early UFO films, see the above mentioned pair; don't - repeat, DON'T - waste your time with "The Flying Saucer".
THE FLYING SAUCER is the first feature film about UFO's. The first
depiction of "flying saucers" was in the serial BRUCE GENTRY: DARE DEVIL OF
THE SKIES. Other than being a first, this film about a FBI agent sent to
Alaska to find a flying saucer is pretty minor. Not much flying saucer in
this film, but a lot endless shots Alaska's natural wonders, and scenes of
FBI agent Mike Trent wandering around from one bar to another. The saucer
shown airborne for about a total of 30 seconds. There is also an
full scale mock up of the saucer, but it looks very different from the
airborne one. Also the writers of this film seemed to think that there was
always only one flying saucer that everybody was spotting back then.
One thing that disappoints a lot of people is that the saucer isn't even from outer space. This is not so odd considering when this movie was made. Back in 1949 about 80% of Americans thought flying saucers were real but did not automatically believe in E.T.s. Some thought they were from outer space, others thought they came from the U.S.S.R, while most thought they were American secret weapons (the Navy was often sighted as the ones who were testing them.) However in this film the subject of the flying saucer being from Russia is brought up, but no one mentions the idea of the saucer being from outer space. Also at the start of the film Mikes boss mentions that the saucer works on some totally new scientific principal. When the film wraps up, we are never told how the flying saucer works. I suspect the writers could not come up with one.
A scientist in the wilds of Alaska has created a flying saucer and both the CIA and KGB are interested in the new technology. Such is the premise of The Flying Saucer, and if you were looking for aliens, a creative spaceship, or anything which might resemble good film-making - sorry you lose! This is one abysmal film. Mikel Conrad wears the hats of producer, screenwriter, director, and leading man; none fit too well - or at all. It seems that the CIA and the United States government is so hard up for help that they must enlist the aid of a "two-fisted" drinking playboy in New York who just happens to have roots in Alaska. So off goes Mike Trent with his "nurse" Vera Langley. Vera is played by the very forgettable Pat Garrison whose acting range is no range at all. She looks so disinterested through much of the film playing matron to tough guy Trent. Tough guy, yeah right! Mikel Conrad looks like he just left his barcolounger and got another piece of pie as he stumbles through this dreck. I have to be pretty harsh on Conrad here, because he is responsible for so much of the film. How he ever got backing for this project God only knows. Conrad's inept, stoic stumbling on camera is his worst fault in The Flying Saucer, but closely following its heels are his "abilities" as a director. His choice of music to accompany all the action in the movie just about put me to sleep. It sounds like something you might hear in one of those 50s movies made about putting out forest fires or how to avoid catching venereal diseases. Not to be outdone are some of the special effects as well. How about that glacier blow-up and what happens to one man screaming as he falls or the Russians who look like old veterans from the black and white version of Northern Exposure. And let's not forget that spaceship. All you see is it bounce across a very dark sky a few times and then rest in the ground looking like the smallest cast member from Willow MIGHT be able to get in. The acting is just horrible as previously stated with Conrad showing a range of no emotion flying a plane across the Alaskan wilderness with at least three possible engine failures looming. Now, that takes guts to just sit and look like you are waiting in a deli line for your sandwich to be made. After Conrad and Garrison, Hantz von Teuffen stars as - Hans, the mysterious caretaker of the lodge who looks like he wants to kill our two protagonists but waits to do so for the worst possible moment. Yes, Denver Pyle is in this and he is not able to rise above this material. This is a truly bad film that promises some kind of science fiction and delivers nothing. In that regard it is a disappointment. But if you like bad movies that are funny because they are bad, then The Flying Saucer is just up your avenue. It will deliver the goods with gut-wrenching laughs as the incompetence ensues. That is if you are able to stay awake through it.
Whenever I think about this movie, the scene that comes to mind is when
the head bad-guy machine-guns one of his own henchmen to get the hero
who is using the poor sap as a shield, figuring that the Evil Russian
won't kill his own lackey. The E.R. than proceeds to pump about fifty
rounds into the poor chump, but the hero is not hit once. Anyone with
military or police experience knows that a human body will not serve as
protection against a Thompson sub-machine gun shot from less than ten
feet away. In real life, the hero would have been a sieve.
Now, the fact that this is what stuck with me about this movie is actually too bad. The shots of Alaskan scenery are terrific and the basic story was not too badly conceived. The plot as it is played out and dialog however are in the poor to horrid range. Not bad enough to be funny, disjointed and entirely unacceptable as to the actions of the hero and heroine who are supposed to be high level secret operatives, the abrupt ending typifies the entire movie.
I tried to like The Flying saucer...I really did, but this low budget thriller simply didn't work for me. (It didn't "take off", if you will.) For one thing the black and white photography is so bleak and cold that it actually works against the film. The acting ranges from bland to overwrought and the dialog is stilted and lifeless. Here's the thing; all of these shortcomings taken together still might mot torpedo the overall enjoyment of this film, but its' boneheaded polemic (even for 1950) left me flat. I did like the location shooting ( the film is set in Alaska) but that didn't stop me from wanting the movie to be over--soon. The Flying Saucer is disappointing on all levels.
I can't really add much more to what's already been said about this Alaska travelogue, but I will offer some praise to the unknown actress Pat Garrison, who plays the phony nurse Vee Langley. There is one sequence in which she goes swimming in a one-piece bathing suit, displaying an admittedly fine figure (she gets my choice for Anatomy Award Winner). There are some notable actors involved, all of them totally wasted (especially Denver Pyle and Earle Lyon), but veteran Frank Darien (Uncle John in "The Grapes of Wrath") has a better than usual role. Mikel Conrad is a total failure as a dramatic director, the action scenes are ineptly staged in what seems to come across as slow motion, and his own failings as an actor are maximized. He plays a two-fisted drinker who smokes constantly throughout the film (have to ward off boredom somehow), and the success of his secret mission (and the leading lady falling in love with him) boggles the mind; upon meeting the suspicious Russian caretaker for the first time, he blithely inquires as to whether or not he's noticed any Russian spies in the area! "The Flying Saucer" (1949) remains nothing more than a publicity stunt and vanity film for director-producer-star Mikel Conrad, notable chiefly as an historical footnote (being the first saucer movie), but effective only as a showcase for the Alaskan wilderness (I wonder if Sarah Palin ever saw this?)
The Flying Saucer started life as a documentary on Alaska -and indeed some of the B&W photography and scenery are not only spectacular, they are beautiful. Then, according to Hans de Meiss-Teuffen "the Big Brains in Hollywood re-wrote the story and made me, without the loss of a single foot already shot, into a villainous Russian spy". As an aside, Hans de Meiss-Teuffen was one of the great adventurers of the XXth cy, singlehanded-sailor, mining engineer, hotel owner, lion hunter, double-spy... (his "Winds of Adventure", 1953, is a wonderful read) As a grade-B movie of minimal budget, The Flying Saucer is much better than most. Continuity, that some have criticized her, is actually decent for its period (and immensely better than in the famed "Flash Gordon"); and it is much less incredible than John Wayne's "Jet Pilot". Definitely worth seeing.
This film was a disappointment simply because I expected that it would
be all about aliens. After all, with a title like "The Flying Saucer"
you'd THINK it would be sci-fi...but it isn't. I LOVE cheesy 50s
sci-fi. What you have instead is a Cold War Commie film- --which is
interesting just because so many people have talked about how the
sci-fi films of the day were actually metaphors for the West's paranoia
and struggle with communism.
Mike is begged to become a special agent for the US government. However, he's very apprehensive to go and seems like a loser--and their picking him because he's a native Alaskan seemed silly. There MUST have been some other Alaskans who were more qualified than this drip! Eventually he goes and is assisted by an agent posing as his nurse. The reason they're going? Well, the Russians MIGHT have developed some top secret UFO and Mike and Vee (an odd name for a lady) are there to investigate covertly.
I was surprised that the film actually WAS filmed, in part, in Alaska. I expected lots of crappy stock footage but they really went places in this 49th state and I recognized the glacier in Juneau which was the backdrop for many scenes. It actually is a really lovely film despite being in black & white.
Unfortunately, the story itself is cheesy. Much of it consists of voice-over narration and the story is amazingly slow and dull considering it's about the Red menace! Other 50s anti-Commie films were certainly more exciting than this one. The leading man, Mike (Mikel Conrad) isn't exactly Mr. Charisma and having much of the story rest on his shoulders wasn't a good idea in hindsight. James Bond he wasn't! Perhaps he's all they could afford after blowing most of the budget getting everyone to Alaska! Overall it's a terribly dull thing that only gets a 2 because of the nice scenery. Probably not worth your time unless you are (like me) incredibly lame.
Hardly worth the time to write this. Flying saucer sightings have been going on, making the headlines of major newspapers. A playboy and his girlfriend are sent to investigate. Mostly, we look at stock footage of Alaska (quite beautiful) as he tries to figure out what's with these devices. When we finally see one, it's all lumpy and disfigured, like it was hand made by some prop man. The plot really involves the Russians, who are going to use this saucer to attack the West (I guess). On the one hand, they are ruthless spies; on the other, they let people live, giving them opportunities to foil (aluminum foil) their plans. Since they are capable of killing, why tromp around a glacier when bodies could have been so easily disposed of? But that would have involved some intelligence on their part. Don't even bother to watch this.
I just love 1950s B-grade science fiction movies, but I can't open my heart to this one. Mikel Conrad walking, Mikel Conrad smoking, Mikel Conrad standing around, Mikel Conrad riding in a boat, Mikel Conrad...well, you surely have the drift of my opinion by now. For the life of me I can't figure out what anyone had in mind when they financed this turkey of a film, which has some of the worst acting and dialogue I've ever laid eyes or ears on. Even the "action-filled" fight scenes have all the realism one might expect from a grade school production. The flying saucer? Well it appears they saved a bit on the budget by purchasing the item from the pages of a schlock comic book of the era ("Genuine Spaceship!! Holds 2 crewman!! Only $3.99 plus shipping!!!"). Nope, not even my odd obsession with giant irradiated bugs, spooky invaders and evil scientists can brook this piece of garbage.
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