The Bamboo Saucer

The Bamboo Saucer is a 1968 science fiction film about competing American and Russian teams that discover a flying saucer in Communist China.[1] The film was re-released at 90 minutes in 1969 under title Collision Course.

The Bamboo Saucer
Italian film poster
Directed byFrank Telford
Screenplay byFrank Telford
Story byAlford Van Ronkle
(as Rip Von Ronkle)
John P. Fulton
(as John Fulton)
Produced byCharles E. Burns
Jerry Fairbanks
StarringDan Duryea,
John Ericson
Lois Nettleton
CinematographyHal Mohr
Edited byRichard A. Harris
(as Richard Harris)
Music byEdward Paul
National Telefilm Associates
Jerry Fairbanks Productions
Distributed byWorld Entertainment Corp.
Release date
  • October 23, 1968 (1968-10-23) (Boston, Massachusetts)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States

This was the final film of actors Dan Duryea and Nan Leslie.


Test pilot Fred Norwood is flying the experimental X-109 (actually a Lockheed F-104 Starfighter) jet aircraft along with his chase plane. During the flight testing, Norwood finds himself pursued by a flying saucer and has to engage in a tricky series of aerobatics to protect his aircraft.

Once on the ground Norwood is informed that the radar tracking of his aircraft picked up no other craft near him except his own chase plane. Though Norwood insists on what he saw his superiors who have monitored his vital signs think he has had a series of hallucinations and order him off the project. Blanchard, the USAF pilot of the chase plane comes out of a room in an unusual frightened and nervous state and parrots lines about not seeing another aircraft; the event was merely an aerial inversion. When Blanchard falters with his explanation he is prompted of what to say by members of the panel in the room.

Angered and determined, Norwood decides to prove what he saw by patrolling the area in a North American P-51 Mustang equipped with laser radar until the point of exhaustion. As Norwood sleeps, his best friend Joe Vetry, a fellow pilot who is married to Norwood's sister Dorothy takes off in the Mustang when radar picks up an unidentified flying object. Norwood and Dorothy view Joe's aircraft vanish off the screen; later Federal Aviation Administration crash investigators tell Norwood that their opinion is his friend's Mustang disintegrated in midair in a manner similar to some accounts of the Mantell UFO incident.

Norwood finds himself summoned to Washington D.C. where Hank Peters, a member of an influential unnamed agency of the United States Government not only believes his account but shows him a sketch that Norwood identifies as the same craft that buzzed his aircraft. Peters tells Norwood that the sketch was provided from intelligence sources based in Red China. Due to Norwood's familiarity with a variety of aircraft, he is asked if he will accompany Peters and two scientists who will be parachuted into Red China. Peters informs him there are reliable sources that say two humanoids escaped the craft but later died, probably through exposure to the Earth's bacteria. Due to their rapid deterioration, their bodies were cremated.

At the drop zone they are met by Chinese American agent Sam Archibald who leads them to the craft that is hidden in the ruins of a Catholic church. Due to the Communists destroying the church, the local population will assist the Americans in any way possible. On travelling to their destination and evading units of the People's Liberation Army they come across a party of Russian scientists led by their own version of Agent Peters. The two parties cooperate in investigating the craft.


Jerry Fairbanks was a producer and sometimes director of a variety of cinematic short subjects series such as Strange as It Seems and Popular Science. A 1954 trade article stated that Fairbanks was preparing his first theatrical motion picture venture, titled Project Saucer that was to be filmed in wide screen and colour.[2] A 1964 article stated that Fairbanks was moving production of his film Operation Blue Book from a runaway production in Spain to be filmed in the USA.[3]

Fairbanks persevered and had a collaborator Frank Telford rewrite the screenplay by Alford "Rip" Van Ronkel and special effects man John P. Fulton with Telford directing the film in 1966.[4] Fairbanks contacted the office of the United States Secretary of Defense about his screenplay. In a 12 April 1966 reply the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense informed Fairbanks that they had a "negative reaction" to Project Saucer. They recommend that the screenplay delete reference to the CIA saying it would not be appropriate to place one of their men in the position fictionalised, the UFO investigation was not set up factually, the Air Force General character at the aircraft testing was an unnecessarily uncomplimentary character and would not act as he does in the script, it was not clear just what part the USAF played in the aircraft testing, any one of the aircraft manufacturers would clarify the opening sequence and the USAF should not be utilised or included in the air drop in China.[5]

Fairbanks incorporated the changes in the finished screenplay though co-screenwriter, associate producer and special effects expert John P. Fulton died during filming.[6] The film was retitled The Bamboo Saucer though it had no relation to the 1967 science fiction novel The Flight of the Bamboo Saucer. The film was shot in 1966[7][8] by cinematographer Hal Mohr at Lone Pine, California where the Western street was turned into a Chinese village.[9]



composed by Reinhold Glière

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Classic Sci-Fi Movies: The Bamboo Saucer". 25 July 2011.
  2. ^ Broadcasting, Volume 46 Broadcasting Publications, 1954
  3. ^ p. 3 Fairbanks Brings Back Runaway From Spain Official Bulletin of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Machine Operators of the United States and Canada, Issues 440-457 International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Machine Operators of the United States and Canada IATSE, 1964 - Theaters
  4. ^ "Fairbanks (Jerry) Productions Records".
  5. ^
  6. ^ American Cinematographer, Volume 47 ASC Holding Corporation, 1966
  7. ^ p, 813 American Cinematographer, Volume 47 ASC Holding Corporation, 1966
  8. ^ p. 64 Films and Filming, Volume 13 Hansom Books, 1966
  9. ^ p. 103 Langley, Christopher Lone Pine Arcadia Publishing, 2007

External linksEdit