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Image Entertainment presents

The Flying Saucer (1950)

"It appears it was designed for one purpose: to carry the atomic bomb. Now the first country that learns the secret of the flying saucer will control the skies of the world, and I don't want that country to be Russia."- Hank Thorn (Russell Hicks)

Stars: Mikel Conrad, Pat Garrison
Other Stars: Hantz von Teuffen, Lester Sharpe, Russell Hicks, Frank Darien, Denver Pyle, Roy Engel, Garry Owen, Virginia Hewitt, George Baxter, Philip Morris, Robert Boon, Earle Lyon
Director: Mikel Conrad

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not RatedRun Time: 01h:14m:59s
Release Date: 2001-05-08
Genre: sci-fi

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer


DVD Review

It's the 1950s, and if you're an American, what else do you have to worry about than aliens and the Russians? After a string of sightings of flying saucers, CIA chief Hank Thorn (Russell Hicks) calls in Mike Trent (played by writer/director Mikel Conrad), the hard-drinking, womanizing son of an Alaskan millionaire, to go on assignment to his home town of Juneau, where rumor has it that evidence of an alien spacecraft may be located. The CIA believes that the craft is designed to carry atomic weapons, and must find it before the Russians do. Their Alaskan operative is missing, but since Trent is a local, he should be able to investigate without much suspicion, and a ruse has been deployed that Trent is returning home after a mental breakdown, accompanied by a CIA operative, Vee Langley (Pat Garrison), posing as his nurse.

Completely sceptical about the existence of flying saucers, and not wanting to leave his social life in New York, Trent reluctantly agrees to the plan, though begins to regret it once he is underway, up the west coast of Canada. Once he and Vee arrive at his father's fishing lodge, he does a quick job of blowing their cover by asking the new servant whether he has seen any Russian spies in the area...or flying saucers. Still not convinced that there is any merit to the stories, he begins to get stir crazy at the cabin, but Vee, who he is trying to score with, won't let him go into town to look for his old buddies. When both of them finally witness the saucer in flight, Trent steals away to town to do some research, fueled by copious amounts of alcohol. When he locates one of his old pals, the truth about the saucer begins to emerge, and its sinister presence needs to be uncovered.

With all that could be done with a flying saucer film, this one leaves a lot to be desired. It does feature some interesting geographical cinematography of the icefields and some of the wilderness of Alaska, but the plot, and especially the pacing of the middle section of the film, fall short of expectations, even for a cheesy '50s sci-fi flick. The acting isn't exactly Oscar¨ material, but isn't too bad, and it is pretty fun to see the attitudes of the era, especially the heavy anti-Russian sentiment. Though he appeared in several pictures, including such notables as Untamed Fury (aka Swamp Virgins), Francis (aka Francis The Talking Mule) and Untamed Women, The Flying Saucer was the only film Conrad wrote, directed or produced, and his bender performance is interesting. If you are into 1950s sci-fi, you should probably add this one to the collection, but be warned that there's very little of the "sci", and the "fi" could use some bolstering as well. At least we finally clear up all the mystery behind flying saucers!

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The Flying Saucer is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The black & white image looks pretty good, with excellent tonal range for the most part. There are numerous source flaws to be found however, including scratches, streaks, ghosting, racking, jump cuts, a few tears and so forth, though considering the content of the film, they add some character. Not the best I've seen from this era, but still very watchable.

Image Transfer Grade: C

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The English mono audio track is a mixed bag. While dialogue comes across clearly, aside from a few rough cuts, the music has a bizarre pulsing to it, though it only seems to affect certain instruments. I can't figure out how they could have acheived this, unless they used a multichannel source, which I highly doubt. I would hazard a guess that this is some form of noise reduction artifact, as there is not nearly the hiss present in the film soundtrack as there is on the accompanying trailer, which does not have the same annoying beating in the music. Perhaps it was the radiation....

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Mesa Of Lost Women, Teenage Dolls, The Brain From Planet Arous, H.G. Wells' Things To Come, Cat Women Of The Moon
Packaging: Snapper
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The film's theatrical trailer is included, along with those from five other Image releases, semihidden in the main menu under the atomic symbol. Here we have sensational footage from Mesa Of Lost Women, Teenage Dolls, The Brain From Planet Arous, H.G. Wells' Things To Come and Cat Women Of The Moon - "see the spider puppets, witness teenage lust, feel the power of the brain from outer space" - you get the picture. The trailers are better than the films!

Extras Grade: C-

Final Comments

A moving and evocative story, exploring the conciousness of humanity and our place in the universe, in a compelling and wonderful film, full of rich cinematography, powerful performances and a cast of thousands. Oh wait, this is The Flying Saucer—never mind. This would have made a good half of a drive-in double feature, but without all the fancy extras I can only recommend this for atomic age collectors, otherwise it's kind of a bomb. Get it? Bomb?

Jeff Ulmer 2001-05-17