The Flying Saucer (1950)

The Flying Saucer (1950) is a film perennially and erroneously filed as science fiction, despite the fact that the movie is as much in the action and adventure and romance film noir style of its day — as it is anything else.

With its bizarre chain smoking hero and elite Washington power brokers, its blockish tropes and violence, there is not a hella lot of science with this fiction but there is plenty Alaskan wilds travelogeurie and nature adventuring, including no end of aerials, with a fat deal of picnicking romance style fun and longing to a melodramatically marital soundtrack. 

In between these is a stab at an espionage story, with the notion being the playboy hero.

The Flying Saucer does suddenly forget itself from time to time but it surely identifies as noir. It must be the only science fiction with a film noir voiceover when it wants it. 

There is a kidnap to Alaska but it is a fake kidnap and around it no structure and form, especially in the approach to Alaska scenes, all of which offers it rambling hope that it might ay any minute turn into a movie. There is virtually no flying saucer action in this film, too. What that means in terms of disappointment is hard to say and it depends if you feel the Alaskan wildlife and aerial footage made up for it.

Saucer craze! The Flying Saucer (1950)

Mikel Conrad's character Mike Trent travels to Alaska with the worst worst worst cover story of all time. Then more science fiction with no science fiction, instead hopping about on undercover espionage elements supposedly, beautiful entire reels of larking around in he Alaskan wilds, really very lovely and tender too.

However Mike Trent is a pathetic pretend prisoner. He's a lousy spy too it seems and The Flying Saucer (1950) — this is a movie that thinks it's noir. 

So yes it is certainly most erroneously classed as science fiction because The Flying Saucer is more of an alcoholic romantic spy spoof movie, with more in common with North By Northwest — being a romantic spy-pairing couple flung together against the common foreign enemy picture — than it does with The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951).

Lost almost entirely from restrictions of style and genre The Flying Saucer (1950) also profiles drunken goofing about with punch ups, a bunch of mooks and goons and not much talk of Communism at all, which may be mentioned once in the film and near the start.

Mikel Conrad as Mike Trent in The Flying Saucer (1950)

This is however in competition with a most swelling and frothing delightful romantic score, with harps at points, and the romance of Alaska is always in mind. As noted — reels without context showing off Alaskan geographical formations.

The association of flying saucers with a specific shape, typically disc-shaped, can be attributed to historical UFO sightings and popular culture. Here are some factors that contribute to the flying saucer's iconic shape:

Pat Garrison in The Flying Saucer (1950)

Historical Sightings: The term "flying saucer" originated from an incident in 1947 when pilot Kenneth Arnold reported seeing nine unidentified objects flying in a saucer-like fashion near Mount Rainier in Washington State. Arnold described their movement as similar to "saucers skipping on water." This description, combined with subsequent reports of disc-shaped objects, led to the popularization of the term and the association of UFOs with a saucer-like shape.

Alaskan romance in The Flying Saucer (1950)

Media Influence: The media played a crucial role in shaping the public perception of UFOs. Early reports and illustrations in newspapers depicted saucer-like objects, influencing how people imagined these unidentified flying phenomena. Movies, television shows, and other forms of entertainment also depicted UFOs as disc-shaped craft, further reinforcing the association.

Cultural Symbols: The disc shape became a cultural symbol of UFOs and extra-terrestrial visitations. As sightings and reports increased, the flying saucer shape became ingrained in popular culture as the quintessential form of alien spacecraft. This cultural imprinting has influenced how artists, filmmakers, and storytellers depict UFOs.

Mike romances Vee in The Flying Saucer (1950)

Technological Representation: In the mid-20th century, during the initial wave of UFO sightings, disc-shaped objects were associated with advanced and unconventional technology. The idea was that if these were spacecraft from other worlds, their design might differ significantly from conventional human aircraft. The disc shape seemed futuristic and mysterious, contributing to the mystique surrounding UFOs.

The greatest decade in the history of the science fiction film got off to a distinctly inauspicious start with 1950’s The Flying Saucer, a tepid spy-drama that doubles as one of the oddest vanity projects ever to grace the silver screen. For the most part a minor bit player (although he did star in Untamed Women, if you consider that anything to brag about), Mikel Conrad put on his multi-tasker hat to co-write, produce, direct and star in this stultifyingly unimaginative piece of Cold War nonsense, in which the onscreen action is completely overshadowed by the events surrounding the production of the film.

VERY heavy petting in The Flying Saucer (1950)

Some brilliant observations and calculations from And You Call Yourself A Scientist:

The Flying Saucer’s final Mike Trent tally:

Number of cigarettes: 12

Number of drinks: 7

Number of times the bartender leaves the bottle: 3

Number of benders: 2

Number of times Our Hero flicks a cigarette butt into the pristine Alaskan waters: 2

Sometimes there is an article and a piece of research that is hard to beat, and in the case of The Flying Saucer, readers must be pointed to the website And You Call Yourself A Scientist (June 2017) . To wit:

While a surprising number of films do feature thoroughly unlikeable heroes, you’d be struggling to find one who more richly deserves the title of Individual You Would Least Like To Be Trapped In A Small Cabin In The Middle Of Nowhere With than Mike Trent. The mystery of The Flying Saucer is why, with such total control of the project, Mikel Conrad chose to depict himself onscreen as a thick-headed, loud-mouthed, irresponsible, petulant, drunken boor. No, I take that back. The real mystery is why, with all the resources of the US government at its disposal, the CIA would light upon a thick-headed, loud-mouthed, irresponsible, petulant, drunken boor as its agent of choice when trying to prevent cutting-edge technology from falling into the hands of the Russians.

In the frigid expanse of Alaska's snow-laden wilderness, whispers of an otherworldly visitor, a flying saucer, ripple through the icy air. The unsettling reports gain life when an elderly woman, consumed by terror, confronts the lens with a primal scream, her vocal tremors echoing amidst the stark beauty of the snow-covered terrain. Brace yourself, for this fleeting moment might be the pinnacle of cinematic delight.

Our government, stirred by the mysterious sightings, dispatches an unlikely duo to the snow-draped frontiers of Alaska. A hard-drinking playboy, perhaps an odd choice for extra-terrestrial encounters, becomes an unwitting investigator. Accompanying him is a government agent, skilfully concealed as the playboy's nurse, forging an alliance in the face of the enigmatic phenomena. Together, they embark on a journey, sailing through icy waters, inching towards Juneau. As the ship glides through the frozen expanse, the viewers are treated to a visual spectacle, capturing the serene majesty of the snow-cloaked landscapes. Amidst the glacial panorama, a tale unfolds, where the chill of the unknown meets the warmth of conspiracy.

Pat Garrison in The Flying Saucer (1950)

As the curtains drew upon the theater of World War II, a clandestine ballet unfolded, pirouetting scientists from Nazi Germany onto the geopolitical stage, where clandestine affairs of technology, military prowess, and other covert enterprises awaited their intellectual dexterity.

A zeitgeist burgeoned, wherein the firmament became a canvas for the celestial choreography of unidentified aerial phenomena, intricately interwoven into the cinematic tapestry as allegorical heralds of the Cold War.

The epoch of the Cold War, etched into the collective memory of many an American, unfolded as an era marinated in the elixir of trepidation – an era wherein the specter of nuclear cataclysm, the looming threat of Soviet incursion, the grim premonition of a world once again plunged into the cauldron of warfare, and the omnipresent shadow of subversive Communist machinations against the sacrosanct American ethos, liberties, and democratic ideals, collectively loomed large over the collective psyche.

From the crucible of Nazi Germany's desperate struggle for survival emerged a pantheon of marvels, crafted and nurtured by the discerning hands of the Western powers in the aftermath of the great conflict. Extraordinary aerodynamic marvels, both terrestrial and celestial, manifested in the form of jet-propelled chariots and rockets, wherein the likes of V1 & V2 rockets, me163 & me 262 rocket & jet aircraft stood as epitomes of technological opulence, surpassing the meager arsenal wielded by the Allied nations.

Recent rumination, tinged with whispers of historical intrigue, hints at clandestine research endeavors within the annals of the Nazi regime, delving into the arcane realms of magnetic levitation and the clandestine birthing of aeroforms akin to those perceived in the ethereal sightings of unidentified flying objects.

While the disc-shaped flying saucer has become the most iconic representation of UFOs, reported sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena vary widely in shape and appearance. Witnesses have described cigar-shaped objects, triangular craft, and various other forms. The flying saucer shape, however, remains deeply embedded in popular culture and continues to be a recognizable symbol of unidentified flying objects.

The Flying Saucer (1950) can also boast a truly excellent and first rate death scene from Hantz von Teuffen. Sadly there does not appear to be any more Hantz von Teuffen on this website. This is the page for Hantz von Teuffen, and his death scene in The Flying Saucer (1950). A good death scene. 

Death scene by Hantz von Teuffen in The Flying Saucer (1950)

The Flying Saucer (1950), directed by Mikel Conrad, is often categorised as a low-budget science fiction film rather than a classic film noir. While the film has elements of suspense and intrigue, it lacks many of the stylistic and thematic characteristics commonly associated with film noir.

Film noir is a genre of film that emerged in the 1940s and is characterized by its dark and moody visual style, morally ambiguous characters, and complex, often convoluted plots. Noir films typically feature low-key lighting, stark contrasts, and a sense of pessimism or fatalism. They often explore themes of crime, corruption, and the seedy under-side of society.

The Flying Saucer doesn't adhere to these typical noir characteristics. It is more accurately described as a Cold War-era science fiction film that capitalizes on the growing fascination and anxiety surrounding UFOs and extra-terrestrial threats during that time. The film revolves around a government investigator trying to thwart a plan by foreign agents to obtain advanced American technology.

While The Flying Saucer may share some elements with espionage or thriller genres, it lacks the visual and thematic elements that define classic film noir. It's important to note that film genres can overlap, and not every film neatly fits into a single category. In the case of  The Flying Saucer, it is primarily recognised but wrongly, that is to say incorrectly, as a science fiction film rather than a film noir.

The popularity of flying saucers in the mid-20th century can be attributed to a combination of cultural, societal, and technological factors. Here are some key reasons why flying saucers captured the public imagination:

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, there was a surge in reported sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs). The term "flying saucer" itself originated from an incident in 1947 when a pilot reported seeing objects in the sky that he described as moving like "saucers skipping on water." Numerous individuals claimed to have witnessed strange aerial phenomena, contributing to the mystery and intrigue surrounding UFOs.

The 1950s was a period marked by Cold War tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. The fear of nuclear war and the unknown fuelled anxieties about the possibility of extra-terrestrial threats. The concept of flying saucers from other planets became a metaphor for the unknown dangers that people felt during this era.

The Roswell UFO incident in 1947, where an unidentified object crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, further fuelled speculation about extra-terrestrial visitations. While the U.S. military initially reported that it was a weather balloon, conspiracy theories and claims of government cover-ups added to the mystique of UFOs.

The 1950s witnessed a surge in popularity for science fiction in various media, including literature, radio, and film. The fascination with space exploration and the possibility of life beyond Earth found expression in stories featuring flying saucers and alien encounters.

Technological Advances: Advances in aviation technology and the development of jet aircraft during and after World War II contributed to a sense of rapid progress. The idea of unconventional flying objects, such as saucers, fit into the technological zeitgeist of the time and sparked the imagination about what advanced civilizations might be capable of.

Media, including newspapers, magazines, radio, and later television, played a significant role in disseminating stories and images of flying saucers. Reports of UFO sightings and encounters were often sensationalized, contributing to their widespread popularity and cultural impact.

Twas these factors which created an environment where flying saucers became a symbol of the unknown, the mysterious, and the potential existence of extra-terrestrial life. This cultural fascination has persisted over the years, with UFOs continuing to be a subject of interest and speculation in popular culture.

The Flying Saucer (1950)

Directed by Mikel Conrad

Genres - Action, Adventure, Drama, Science & Technology, Spy Film, Science Fiction  |   Release Date - Jan 4, 1950 (USA - Unknown), Jan 4, 1950 (USA)  |   Run Time - 61 min.  |   Country - United States 

Trailer for The Flying Saucer (1950) at Archive

The Flying Saucer (1950) at Wikipedia

Images copyright Wade Williams renewed on November 29, 1977 (R 677308), Library of Congress Copyright Office.

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