“Flying Saucers and the Culture Wars: The first invasion from 1951 to 1977”
Leaping back in time to Robert Wise’s classic film “The Day the Earth Stood Still” of 1951 and taking us up to Karen Carpenter’s musical performance of “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” in 1977, Paul Davids will unearth the many early forgotten treasures of UFO’s in popular culture. Did you know there were about fifty songs about flying saucers, including some by talents ranging from Burt Bacharach and Allan Sherman to Jimmy Durante? Paul examines all aspects of the influence of the public’s seminal interest in UFO’s on popular culture, first emphasizing music and the lost tradition of songs about spacemen, purple people eaters and 30 foot tall space women on the moon (as in Buddy Clinton’s song “Take Me to Your Ladder, I’ll See Your Leader Later”, which was popular in both English and Italian). And of course he includes the great interplanetary doo wop dance known as “The Martian Hop” by the Ran-Dells.
UFO culture graduated from the seemingly hopeful Era of fun saucer songs and idealistic Contactees in the 1950’s who channeled human-like Space Brothers – and what emerged was a Dark Side of UFO lore. The public was inundated with evolving science-fiction TV shows and films. The themes changed as the years went by, sometimes thoughtful and complex, such as in the MGM classic “Forbidden Planet” but usually offering low-budget monstrosities that all were variations on one message — that creatures from space are coming and they will either turn us into cattle or destroy our civilization in ways we can hardly imagine.
Paul Davids’ presentation is unique in many ways. First, he tracks many major UFO sightings and incidents during the early UFO era showing year by year what people were watching on movie screens and music they were listening to on 45 rpm records and radios at the same time that some of the key historic UFO sightings were taking place. He analyzes how popular culture reacted when the curtain of secrecy fell on UFO reports and the era of ridicule set in. Hundreds of books and even non-fiction newspaper comics about UFO’s flooded the marketplace. There are long lost classics such as Otto Binder’s comic called “Our Space Age,” which mimicked Ripley’s “Believe It Or Not” while focusing solely on suppressed reports of visitors from space… hundreds of non-fiction one-panel comics now all but forgotten, from the writer of many Captain Marvel and Superman adventures. Dozens of other popular writers also hammered home the idea that we had better get used to sharing our world with unearthly visitors – and had better explore other worlds in space because our Earth may be doomed. And all the while, the Pentagon and Air Force were insisting “there ain’t no such thing as flying saucers,” and reporting a flying saucer could end up getting you labeled as having a psychiatric disorder.
There are some unique personal touches in this presentation, such as can only come from someone who has worked in the trenches of Hollywood for an entire career, and from someone who knows from first-hand experience that flying saucers are real.
Having transitioned from being a pre-med undergraduate at Princeton University to becoming one of the first 15 Fellows at the prestigious American Film Institute Center for Advanced Film Studies in Los Angeles, Paul’s interest in flying saucers as science-fiction dates back to his childhood growing up in the 1950’s and ‘60’s. That interest intensified as he met and later worked with some of the greats of science-fiction in Hollywood, including the likes of George Pal (“The War of the Worlds”), Robert Wise (“The Day the Earth Stood Still”), Forrest J Ackerman (editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine), Marvel Productions (Paul was production coordinator for almost all of the original “Transformers” episodes), Lucasfilm (he wrote for “Star Wars”) and Peter Jackson (“Lord of the Rings”), who hosted Paul’s documentary film “The Sci-Fi Boys.”
Paul’s interest in saucers as science fact dates to February 25, 1987, when a daylight saucer sighting at close range with his two children transformed his former skepticism into a near messianic fervor to let the world know, in whatever way he could, that flying saucers are indeed real.
25 years ago Showtime released the very popular TV film on which Paul served as Executive Producer and co-writer: “Roswell” starring Kyle MacLachlan, Martin Sheen and Dwight Yoakam. Later distributed as “Roswell: The UFO Coverup” for its video and DVD release, it was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Motion Picture for Television by the Hollywood Foreign Press. Paul was invited to be the keynote speaker on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the White Sands Missile Range Pioneers, where he presented (to the founders of America’s rocketry programs) the best evidence that Earth is in fact
being visited from realms unknown. He has been a previous speaker at the MUFON International UFO Symposium – he gave a talk called “Profiles in UFO Courage” at the Denver symposium in 2004.
Paul has produced and or directed 10 feature length films, both dramas and documentaries, mainly distributed by NBCUniversal International Television. His 2016 feature, “Marilyn Monroe Declassified” (streaming at Amazon Prime) includes a UFO angle that impacted the iconic actress’ life. Paul is also a noted artist whose work can be seen at www.pauldavids-artist.com Also, Paul has been member of Hollywood’s Magic Castle for about 35 years, so don’t be surprised if he convinced you that he can read your mind if you have a personal Close Encounter with Paul Davids at this year’s MUFON Symposium.