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I am looking for a movie I saw in the late 70s, at most early 80s (1980 or 1981 at the latest) and that could have been an older movie back then. I saw it at school, and in the same period they also gave us "The Black Hole", which is a 1980-ish movie. It was not necessarily a movie out in theathers at the time, so I believe it could also have been a 70s movie or at most a late 60s movie. It was a color movie, most likely an American production.

Unfortunately, since I only saw this movie once when I was a kid, I retained only sketchy fragments. Basically what I seem to remember is that a flying saucer was found after it had crashed or landed in some desert area (Roswell? I can't tell). In this movie the aliens are all dead, possibly because of the crash.

A small group of scientists is sent there to study the spaceship, trying to get inside it and possibly understand how to make it fly. There are only a handful of scientists, most of them are men but there is at least one woman (the mandatory chick, a brunette IIRC); I also remember whitish or gray or light blue suits.

The action takes place in a secluded location in some desert or barren area (area 51? I don't know - but it looked like it was someplace in an American desert - non necessarily US). The saucer was kept in some hangar in the middle of the desert. The dominant colors of the movie were the light brown of the sand/rock, the blue of the sky and the whitish-silverish of the saucer.

What I remember clearly is that at one point one of the scientists manages to get inside the saucer and does something that gets him killed, possibly because of the pressure or some other "alienification" of the 'cockpit'. I remember clearly when the other scientists manage to open the hatch (at the bottom of the saucer) and the body of the poor fella springs out with a sticking tongue as if he had choked to death.

Two other things I remember: 1. There was some sort of pressure in making the saucer fly. I don't remember why. Perhaps some government or foreign agencies were trying to seize the saucer? Maybe the saucer was in some foreign country and the scientist were trying to take it back to the US? 2. They finally succeeded in making the darn thing fly and IIRC the movie ends with them flying back home.

No kids were involved. No aliens were seen. No threat comes from the saucer. Possibly the theme of the movie was trying to avoid that the saucer could get in 'bad' hands.

This movie has been haunting me for ages, because its plot is so common (find a ship, study it...) that I cannot refine my search. I have to ask the movie buffs in this forum.

Can you help me?

  • Very fast, but no, it's not that recent. I saw the movie in the seventies or early eigthies, so it has to be an old movie. Also there were no live aliens in this movie, no invasions, no plans of invasion and no threat from the aliens. – Sredni Vashtar Aug 3 '14 at 0:05
  • My first thought was Flight of the Navigator, however further reading of your question I think nixes that; I don't recall anybody being killed by this ship. Its not this one either, eh? – Paul Richter Aug 3 '14 at 0:30
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    Nope, I know FotN very well, it's not that. In 'my' movie here the saucer is standing still for almost all of the film. The only manage to make it fly at the end, and no children are involved. Only 4 or five scientists (at least one of them gets killed by an accident) and possibily a competing team of scientist from another agency/state (Russians?) – Sredni Vashtar Aug 3 '14 at 0:55
  • You sure it was a dead scientist they found, not a dead humanlike alien? The 1980 movie Hangar 18 involved the investigation of a crashed saucer (it may have been the first to explore this theme), and you can see the scene where they discover the dead alien pilots about 36 minutes in at youtube.com/watch?v=JLTVl6YWOjA – Hypnosifl Aug 3 '14 at 3:02
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I found an extensive list of UFO movies here and googled a few for plot descriptions, I think I found the one you remembered--it's The Bamboo Saucer from 1968, available on DVD here and blu-ray here. The blu ray review here explains the basic plot, a UFO that's shot down over Chinese territory, and a group of Americans sent to investigate and possibly recover it runs into a group of Russians trying to do the same (both want to make sure it doesn't fall into the hands of the 'Red Chinese', who were at odds with Russia in that period), they team up for a bit but it's only a matter of time before the sudden but inevitable betrayal. Someone put a low-resolution version online here, I skipped around a bit in the UFO investigation scenes and found the scene where a Russian tries to steal it but something goes wrong and he falls out the hatch at the bottom dead, it's between 1:07 and 1:08. And the scene at the end where they manage to fly it away starts at around 1:32.

  • I guess that might be it! At least the plot is that. It's funny the way I remember it, though: in my child's memories this movie had wonderful cinematography, beautiful outdoor shots, much more sophisticated special effects and THE CHICK WAS A BRUNETTE!!! How could I have forgot that? :-) Maybe it was remade less than 10 years after? Unlikely. Most likely I have distorted memories... I hope I Won't be part of any jury, ever. – Sredni Vashtar Aug 3 '14 at 15:15
  • Oh, and thanks a bunch for the list of UFO movies! – Sredni Vashtar Aug 3 '14 at 15:39
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This also sounds a lot like Hangar 18. Made in 1980 and staring Robert Vaughn. There is a single woman in the cast as I recall. The UFO crashes in an desert in the US after colliding with a space shuttle. One astronaut on the shuttle is killed but two survive and try to discover what happened to the UFO but are faced with a government cover up. There are no aliens in the film. It is supposed they were all killed in the crash.

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    If you look at the comments under the original question, you'll see I mentioned that one as a possibility prior to giving my answer of The Bamboo Saucer, but Sredni Vashtar responded that "Hangar 18 was one of the first movie I looked up hoping it was that". Also, there are actually some alien bodies found aboard the ship in Hangar 18 (they look just like bald people with a weird eye color). – Hypnosifl Nov 15 '15 at 2:44
  • Yep, and the movie was - I'm positive - "The Bamboo Saucer". Afterward, I saw it and there is no doubt about it. – Sredni Vashtar Nov 16 '15 at 2:20

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