Flight com, Flight com, I got a bogie here!
Test pilot Fred Norwood (John Ericson) is test flying an experimental jet aircraft. During the flight he finds himself being pursued by a flying saucer. After landing his superiors think he had a hallucination. They ground him. Norwood wants to prove what he saw was real. To that end he enlists the aid of his best friend and brother-in-law Joe Vetry (William Mims). Vetry is also a pilot and has use of laser radar that Norwood believes will locate the flying saucer. Along with reconnaissance in a North American P-51 mustang jet he believes he can find the saucer. While Norwood is sleeping the saucer is located. Vetry goes up in the Mustang to check it out. Vetry’s plane is disintegrated in midair.
Norwood is summoned to Washington D.C. where Hank Peters (Dan Duryea) believes his account and shows him a sketch of a space ship. Norwood identifies it as looking like the same craft he saw. Peters tells Norwood that the sketch was done by a peasant in Red China. The ship is hidden in a church. Peters asks Norwood to accompany him and two scientists on a mission to locate the ship and examine it. They are to be parachuted into Red China. Peters also tells Norwood that there were two humanoids that escaped the craft but later died. They believe because of exposure to the Earth's bacteria. The bodies were then cremated.
Once at the drop zone in Red China they are met by Chinese American agent Sam Archibald (James Hong). Archibald leads them to the craft that is hidden in the ruins of a Catholic Church. The church was partially destroyed by the communists. The local people are not happy about this so they are more than willing to assist the Americans. On the way to the church the Americans come across a party of Russian scientists who are also aware of the saucer and are trying to locate it themselves. They too do not want the Chinese to find it. The two parties grudgingly agree to cooperate in investigating the craft.
“The Bamboo Saucer” was released in 1968 and was directed by Frank Telford. A lot of movies made during the “cold war” period were labeled as cold war movies when they really weren’t. This one, however, is. During WWII the US and Russia fought together against the axis partners, Germany, China and Japan. Tensions were always high between the US and Russia, however, during the last World War we had a common enemy. (The enemy of my enemy is my friend.) After the war in 1947 and up to about 1991 is the period commonly known as the “Cold War”. During this period we find the arms race, the space race and McCarthyism. Expansion of communism contributed to tension. The “red scare” saw countries such as North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba becoming Soviet backed countries. (I could go on for hours.)
The term “cold war” was first coined in a 1945 essay by George Orwell titled “You and The Atomic Bomb”.
Although some of the special effects are a little iffy, the movie is quite good. Once the space ship is found is when the fun really starts. Lois Nettleton plays a Russian scientist. So of course there is a potential romance between her character Anna Karachev and the main character Fred Norwood. It’s a spy story and a science fiction story. It’s got good pacing, enough action to keep you interested and a flying saucer. It’s very entertaining. The movie was also dubbed in Mandarin.