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UFO Incident, The

UFO Incident, The (1975) Movie Poster
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USA  •    •  92m  •    •  Directed by: Richard A. Colla.  •  Starring: James Earl Jones, Estelle Parsons, Barnard Hughes, Dick O'Neill, Beeson Carroll, Terrence O'Connor, Jeanne Joe, Lou Wagner, Vic Perrin, Joey Stefano.  •  Music by: Billy Goldenberg.
       Through memory flashbacks accessed by hypnotic regression, depicts the alleged UFO abduction of Betty and Barney Hill on September 19, 1961 in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Upon returning from a trip into Canada, Betty (a social services worker in Portsmouth, New Hampshire) and Barney (a postal employee in Boston) are plagued by crippling anxiety and nightmarish visions. Turning to Dr. Benjamin Simon for help in piecing together the happenings of that night, the Hills enter into therapy and independently relate a most unearthly tale.

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Image from: UFO Incident, The (1975)
Image from: UFO Incident, The (1975)
Image from: UFO Incident, The (1975)
Image from: UFO Incident, The (1975)
Image from: UFO Incident, The (1975)
Image from: UFO Incident, The (1975)
This made-for-television film made quite a splash when it aired on NBC in 1975, right in the midst of a UFO-mania currently sweeping the country. Chronicling the landmark alleged UFO-abduction case of Betty and Barney Hill on the night of September 19, 1961, the film recounts the turmoil they both suffered for years after experiencing "two lost hours aboard a flying saucer" while returning home to Portsmouth from Montreal.

Adapted from John G. Fuller's 1966 book "The Interrupted Journey", the teleplay cleverly utilizes transcripts of the Hills' hypnosis sessions (which commenced the following year and continued for several months) to frame the retelling of their ordeal. Peppered throughout the recreated hypnosis sessions are intriguing flashbacks of the abduction itself, composed of moodily shot and fleeting glimpses of the confrontation, abduction and examination of the Hills by their alien captors. The presentation of their story is remarkably told in a straightforward, balanced and non-exploitive manner. In the last scene there is even room for doubt in the viewer as expressed by the Hills' doctor's attempt to explain that their experience may have been anxiety-induced andor subconsciously suggested due to stresses related to their marriage.

Yet the element that makes "The UFO Incident" uncommonly excellent, particularly for a movie made for television, are the two tour-de-force performances by leads James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons. Their three-dimensional, full-bodied characterizations cover the full emotional spectrum from beginning to end. They exhibit utterly convincing turmoil, not only during and after their abduction, but in the several scenes displaying their personal doubts and fears about their interracial marriage and the potentially negative perceptions to their plight by friends, family and strangers. Therefore, it's really on an emotional level that "The UFO Incident" succeeds so well. Rather than concentrating merely on the facts of the abduction (a la "Fire In the Sky"), this film enhances the alleged incident by indelibly personalizing its victims.

Kudos should go to director Richard Colla, as well, for utilizing minutes-long takes during a few of Jones and Parsons' scenes together, allowing both of these top-drawer actors to build toward beautiful and natural emotional crescendos. Best watched without commercial interruption, "The UFO Incident" is easily one of the fifty best TV-movies ever made.


Review by BuddyBoy1961 from the Internet Movie Database.