By Kent Jeffrey
To paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill, 'Never in the history of human deception have so many been fooled so much by so few'. The claimed 1947 'alien autopsy' footage, acquired and marketed by Merlin Productions, a small London video distribution company owned by Ray Santilli, has now been seen, and in many cases believed, by tens of millions of viewers in over 30 countries worldwide.
Through a selective presentation of the facts and selective editing, programs like Fox network's 'Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction' have misled the public by giving the impression that a number of interdisciplinary experts, including pathologists and film-makers, feel that the Santilli footage might be genuine. The waters have been further muddied by Fox's mingling of facts and witness testimony from the actual Roswell case with scenes from the alleged alien autopsy film.
Since the existence of alleged 1947 Roswell footage was first announced in January 1995 on a British television talk show, there has been an overwhelming amount of circumstantial evidence in the form of inconsistencies, contradictions, lies, and false claims to indicate that the alien autopsy film i a hoax. Furthermore, there has not been one shred of evidence to indicate that the film is genuine. While volumes could be written on the subject, the objective here is to outline some of the more significant problems and discrepancies and to bring to public attention two very reasonable and impo tant offers of verification that could quickly and conclusively settle the matter of the film's authenticity, once and for all. Among the more significant discrepancies are the following:
* Problems with the alleged body and autopsy procedures are noted by leading medical experts.
* When polled, special-effects artists unanimously believed the body to be a special-effects dummy.
* False claims have been made by Santilli concerning authentication of the alleged original film.
* A mysterious 'collector' cited by Santilli as the reason for the film's unavailability is a business partner of Santilli's.
* 'Security markings' disappeared from the film after being labeled phony by military experts.
* 'Hieroglyphics' on the supposed debris spell out two slightly disguised English words.
* Santilli changed his story about how he acquired the film after he was caught in a gross 'inconsistency' on a French TV program.
* Three highly qualified former WWII military cameramen have pointed out major flaws in both the film itself and the story surrounding it.
A Questionable Autopsy
As I pointed out in a previous article on the film ('The Purported 1947 Roswell Footage', MUFON Journal, June 1995) the anthropomorphic aspect of the alleged alien is implausible. This contention has since been supported by a number of prominent medical experts. In a July 23, 1995, article in a British newspaper, The Observer, anatomist Dr. Paul O'Higgins, of University College London, stated, 'I would think the chances that an alien which evolved on another world would look so like us would be astronomically remote'.
Beside the anthropomorphic aspect of the body, other serious problems exist from a medical standpoint. Dr. O'Higgins also stated, 'To judge from the film, the autopsy was carried out in a couple of hours. Yet these were alien creatures. They represented an unparalleled opportunity to science. We are expected to believe we casually cut them up in an afternoon? I would have taken weeks to do such an autopsy'. Houston pathologist Ed Uthman, quoted in the November/December Skeptical Inquirer, states, 'The most implausible thing of all is that the 'alien' just had amorphous lumps of tissue in 'her' body cavities. I cannot fathom that an alien who had external organs so much like ours could not have some sort of definitive structural organs internally'.
Particular aspects of the alleged alien's external body shape, such as the protrusions of certain underlying muscles and bones, like the clavicle, imply a corresponding human internal structure. Yet what was removed from the body cavity looks entirely nonhuman. (This incongruity in itself is a serious flaw.) In effect, what we have is a hybrid that is basically human on the outside and nonhuman on the inside -- an entity that is half human, half something else. While such creatures exist in mythology -- minotaurs, centaurs, mermaids, werewolves, etc. -- they do not exist in reality.
A Not-So-Special Effect
The humanlike qualities of the supposed alien suggest that it is either a doctored human corpse or a dummy patterned after a human body. Movie special-effects experts who have examined the alien autopsy video, however, feel that the scene was faked by using a special-effects dummy. Special-effects artists, including Trey Stokes, whose credits include 'The Abyss', 'The Blob', 'Batman Returns', 'Robocop Two', etc., and Cliff Wallace of 'Creature Effects', Pinewood Studios, London, have pointed out that the posture and weighting of the corpse on the table in the film is inconsistent for a body in the supine position and that it was therefore apparently made from a body-cast taken in the upright position. A multitude of special-effects techniques noticeable in the film are described by Trey Stokes in an excellent article, 'How to Build an Alien', available on his Internet Web page (http://www.trudang com).
Trey Stokes has also published on his Web page the opinions of 15 of his movie industry colleagues about the claimed alien autopsy footage. All 15 have either spoken directly to Stokes or gone on record with their opinion about the footage. Among the group are several Academy and Emmy award winner, including Stan Winston (Jurassic Park), who after some misunderstanding following his interview on Fox, clarified his position about the footage in a recent Time magazine article -- 'Do I think it's a hoax? Absolutely'. The result of Stoke's survey was unanimous -- all 15 special-effects experts felt the film was a fake. Not one felt that there was even the slightest possibility it was real. Many, according to Stokes, found the footage so laughable that they couldn't believe that anyone in the business would take it seriously enough to even do a survey about it.
Another indication that something is very wrong with this entire affair is the gross inconsistency between the scenes initially described by Santilli and what was eventually delivered. Back in January 1995, we were told that the footage included an autopsy scene with President Truman. Truman was described as standing with other individuals behind a glass window, his face so clearly visible that it would be possible to lip-read his words. Author and crop circle researcher Colin Andrews, one of those who has been in direct contact with Ray Santilli, described the scene in the winter 1995 issue of the Circle Phenomenon Research International Newsletter. When Andrews asked Santilli what impressed him most about the film -- "what had convinced him that it was authentic" -- Santilli responded, "I had no doubts when I saw President Truman." According to the research director for the British UFO Research Association (BUFORA), Philip Mantle (who has also been in close contact with Santilli), Santilli told him that "if it wasn't Truman, it was a damned good actor".
The most spectacular claim of all was that of the debris-site footage. On January 20, 1995, I spoke to a movie producer, who has a serious interest in the 1947 Roswell event, just hours after he had spoken with Ray Santilli. Santilli had given a detailed description of the debris site. According to Santilli, the terrain was somewhat hilly. The craft was visible, not in one piece, but in a number of large pieces, necessitating the use of a large crane. Also, numerous soldiers in uniform were visible, in some cases clearly enough for their faces to be seen. Santilli described the debris sit in detail to others, including Philip Mantle, Colin Andrews, and Reg Presley, a friend of Colin Andrews' with an interest in crop circles. Presley, who was the lead singer of a popular 60s British rock group, the Troggs ('Wild Thing'), and who has also been in close contact with Ray Santilli, made the initial announcement of the Santilli film's existence on British television.
Because such scenes as that of President Truman and the debris site would be extremely difficult and expensive to hoax, there seemed at first to be a real possibility that the footage might be genuine. Unfortunately, the spectacular claims about these scenes have turned out to be false, apparently blatant lies. No one has ever seen anything of either scene. What has been seen is rather unspectacular, and would have been relatively easy to hoax. Special-effects expert Trey Stokes estimates that the entire 'alien autopsy' production could have been accomplished for as little as $50,000.
The Nonexistent Film
Ray Santilli first claimed that he obtained "15 10-minute reels" of film from the cameraman. Later he changed his story to "22 3-minute reels." In his January 20, 1995, conversation with the previously mentioned film producer, Santilli claimed that the footage was "1947, 16mm nitrate" film. Kodak however, has never produced 16mm nitrate film. Santilli told Colin Andrews that the prestigious Royal Society in London had agreed to assist using their high-tech computer enhancement facility. When officials at the Royal Society were questioned about the matter, however, they knew nothing about it.
There have been other false and misleading claims regarding the alleged "original film" and its authentication. For example, Santilli has submitted film with the appropriate edge code for 1947 (a square and a triangle), but it has been either blank leader film or film with unidentifiable images -- both of which are meaningless for verification purposes. The criterion required by Kodak for a valid test is that the film submitted have clearly identifiable images from the actual 'alien autopsy' footage that has been shown worldwide. This is a very reasonable request since, otherwise, the sample provided could be any piece of 1947 film.
In a pre-taped interview broadcast on Channel Four in Britain on August 28, 1995, Santilli was asked, "Are you going to provide proper film extract which can be properly tested by Kodak which has proper images on it?" Santilli replied, "I'll provide you with the film, I'll provide you with what I can, which will be a film with image, and the only way that I can do that is by securing some film from the collector that bought the first autopsy, which is currently en route to us." The announcer then went on to lament the fact that despite Santilli's assurance, nothing had been provided since his interview.
A couple of months after the British broadcast, in a live interview on the Seattle television program 'Town Meeting' (November 10, 1995), Santilli was blatantly attempting to convey the false impression that original film (with suitable images) from the alien autopsy footage had been submitted worldwide. On the program he stated, "Film with image and not leader tape has been given, and...that film has been given to the English broadcasters, the French broadcasters...." When asked specifically about Kodak, he stated, "It has been submitted to Kodak by the broadcasters."
Extensive checking, however, has revealed that no broadcaster, either French, English, or any other nationality, or the Eastman Kodak Company, has ever been given a single frame 'with image' of the alleged alien autopsy footage. Furthermore, the only way that anyone has ever seen the alien autopsy equence is on video. So far as is known, no one has ever seen it projected from 16mm film.
Kodak's Unaccepted Offer
Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York, has been standing by since July 1995 with an open offer to authenticate the film's date of manufacture. I confirmed this fact in a recent telephone conversation with Tony Amato, the Kodak motion-picture product specialist who would oversee the authentication pr cess. Amato told me that Kodak has received repeated promises during the last six months from Santilli through an intermediary in the United States that film meeting the required criteria was "on its way."
According to Tony Amato, while the short-term loan of a complete reel of film would be desirable, Kodak would be willing to work with as little as two or three frames. The only 'damage' to the film would be a small punch-hole in one frame -- not much of a sacrifice, especially considering the increased value authentication would bring. (With 16mm film, one frame represents 1/24th of a second -- less than 1/25,000th of an 18-minute sequence.)
Amato explained that since the chemical composition of Kodak film has changed through the years, the approximate date of manufacture of a given piece of film can be determined by analyzing its exact chemical makeup and matching it with records of the chemical formulas for Kodak film from different years. Because Kodak never releases the formulas for any of its film, authentication of the film's date of manufacture by any other laboratory or institution would be of questionable value. Any film received by Kodak for testing would be returned intact (with the exception of the one small punch-hole in one frame) within a couple of weeks.
In the August 28, 1995, British television interview (quoted previously), Santilli referred to "the collector that bought the first autopsy". The alien autopsy film's being in the possession of a wealthy collector has been given as a reason for its unavailability. Thanks to the admirable efforts o the investigative team at Television France One (TF1), the only network in the world to do a true investigation into the matter of the Santilli film, we now know not only the name of the mysterious, so-called collector, Volker Spielberg, but also some things about Spielberg's background and busines activities. Spielberg, like Santilli, is in the video distribution business. He has a small office in Hamburg, Germany, but presently resides in Austria.
During a live interview on TF1's October 23, 1995, 'Jacques Pradel' special about the alien autopsy footage, Ray Santilli, when pressed about providing the original film, danced around the issue and reiterated that matters were out of his hands. TF1 then showed video clips of Volker Spielberg's business office in a small cottage in Hamburg, Germany, and his apartment in Austria with his name visible on a common doorbell marker. It was then announced that TF1's background check revealed that Volker Spielberg was in fact not a film collector. At this point, Santilli became noticeably angry and accused TF1 of violating their agreement to keep certain aspects of the film story confidential. The announcer, Jacques Pradel, responded by pointing out that Santilli had failed to live up to certain promises he had made (such as providing the original film).
TF1 also played an excerpt from the recording of a September 28, 1995, phone conversation between TF1 investigator Nicolas Maillard and Volker Spielberg. Maillard, whose demeanor was very courteous throughout the conversation, noted the potential importance of the supposed film that Spielberg posse sed and asked for his cooperation in submitting it for verification. A partial transcript of Volker Spielberg's remarks follows.
"I want to be left alone. I'm a collector, I want to be out, and I want to have no contact with nobody regarding this matter because this is my personal thing....Simply I'm not interested. You see, the whole matter is of no interest to me, I have made up my mind. I have my belief and that's it. And I got what I want. I'm happy and that's it."
"What have I to do with this? As to my knowledge, I'll keep all the cans, yes, as to my knowledge, that's all I can tell you. Well, as to my knowledge I am, uh, possess all the film reels. Whether this is true or not, that's not up to me to judge, but that is my belief, yes."
"I don't want to support any f__kin' TV or radio station in this particular matter, no!...Come on, I've done my job, and all I can tell you is I'm happy, I got what I want, and that's it. I haven't bartered for any broadcast of public, and for any f__kin' papers and all that's going on worldwide. I'm not happy about it anyway. But, that's a different story. I have to accept that and I have to admit it's much too late to stop it, but no, I just want to be, if I may say so to you, left alone, okay...."
When asked by Maillard if he didn't think this was something that should be shared with all humanity, Spielberg's answer was resoundingly clear!
"No, no, I don't think so, I have a totally different opinion, f__k the world, I mean, the world is full of egoism and so am I...."
During the weekend of October 28, 1995 (a week after the "Jacques Pradel" show), TF1 investigators learned of a confidential meeting in Hamburg, Germany, between Ray Santilli, Volker Spielberg, and one or two other individuals. As it turns out, Santilli and Spielberg are apparently friends, as well as business partners, and have worked together before. Reportedly, the primary topic of discussion at the Hamburg meeting was a future CD-rom project involving the music of Frank Sinatra.
The Missing Security Markings
One of the more bizarre aspects of the alien autopsy story is the relatively short videotape that has come to be called the "tent footage." Unlike the other alleged autopsy film, the tent footage has not been publicly distributed or marketed. Videotape copies, however, were reportedly given to Philip Mantle, Reg Presley, and Colin Andrews in January 1995. The tent footage depicts some kind of emergency medical procedure or autopsy being carried out on an alleged alien in what appears to be a tent or barn. The picture quality is very poor, supposedly due to poor lighting, making it difficult if not impossible, to accurately distinguish features. The alleged alien is different from the alien in the other autopsy footage in that it appears to have skinny limbs and to be much taller. This discrepancy has not been explained. With respect to the circumstances surrounding the scene, Colin Andrews wrote in his newsletter, 'Santilli verified that the photographer does indeed claim that this was an emergency procedure carried out in a barn at the crash site after discovering that one of the two aliens was in fact still alive.'
In the July 30, 1995, edition of the British newspaper Sunday Times, an article titled 'Film that 'proves' aliens visited earth is a hoax', by investigative journalist Maurice Chittenden, described the tent scene and some unusual security markings that appeared on the bottom right-hand side of the screen throughout the film -- markings that disappeared after their authenticity was challenged:
SUBJECT 1 of 2
JULY 30th 1947
The Sunday Times article points out, however, that 'restricted access' is not a recognized U.S. military code and that the A01 classification had been dismissed as 'pure Hollywood'. Even more telling is the month-day-year format of the date. The U.S. military always uses a day-month-year format. Therefore, the date should have read '30 July 1947'.
Chittenden revealed that 'later, when film of the same autopsy was shown to John Purdie of Union Pictures...the coding had disappeared'. Chittenden also reported that conflicting explanations were offered for the discrepancy. A British business associate of Ray Santilli's, Gary Shoefield, stated that no footage marked 'Restricted Access' had ever been released. However, when Santilli was contacted, he claimed that he had found the markings on one of the film canisters and had decided to run them on the film. Yet, a month earlier in an email letter to researcher James Easton, Santilli had indicated that the markings had been on the film since before he obtained it from the cameraman. Santilli wrote to Easton, 'On part of the tent footage there is a date board...It could be the date of process (developing), we don't know'.
Last summer, a reception was held in movie producer John Purdie's London office for the 'commissioning editors' of Channel Four television. Philip Mantle, who attended the reception, said that Santilli and a business associate, Chris Carey, brought along and showed a videotape copy of the 'tent footage', which was -- unlike copies of the tent scene shown before or since -- of very good quality. According to Mantle, the two supposed doctors working on the alleged alien were not wearing surgical masks, and their faces were clearly visible.
By way of contrast, the quality of the tent scene video delivered to TF1 and other television networks that paid big money for the broadcast rights was of such poor quality that it was considered unusable. Unlike the copy shown in Purdie's office, the faces of the medical personnel were no longer recognizable. This is significant. If a time-period film is hoaxed, it is important that there be no recognizable faces, especially if it's going to be shown on worldwide television. If one actor were recognized, it would all be over. (This is almost certainly why the observer behind the glass partition in the other autopsy sequence was inappropriately wearing a surgical mask.)
In addition to The Sunday Times, a number of other mainstream British newspapers have run stories declaring the alien autopsy film a hoax. Interestingly, one British paper, The Mail on Sunday, made a rather curious discovery while researching the film. Reportedly, a routine check of their database revealed that Santilli had contacted the paper four years earlier claiming to have information on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Shroud of Turin.
Debris Reflecting Super (Un)Advanced Technology
Instead of the originally described dramatic scene with hilly terrain, a crane, a craft broken into large pieces, men in uniform, military equipment etc., the Santilli-film 'debris site' consists of the tops of two adjacent, small, wooden tables upon which lies some very unimpressive-looking material -- not much for the remains of an extraterrestrial spacecraft that would reflect an unimaginable degree of technological sophistication and whose remains were reportedly scattered over a three-quarter-mile-long area. What's shown, is, in fact, laughable.
The camera focuses first on a couple of slabs of material (approximately two by three feet and three inches thick) with embedded six-fingered hand prints -- obviously to underscore the polydactyl quality of the aliens. Billed by Fox as possible alien 'control panels', the slabs look more like piece from the pavement in front of Mann's Chinese Theater (formerly Grauman's) in Hollywood.
Next we are shown an I-beam, complete with symbols. Although quite different from the I-beam described by Jesse Marcel, Jr., it was undoubtedly inspired by it. While a true I-beam is a structural member with an I-like cross section designed to maximize strength, it is obvious that the cross section of this I-beam does not meet that criterion. Instead, the beam looks suspiciously like a prop fashioned in a sheet metal shop.
Quite possibly, the most damning evidence against the Santilli film yet comes from the symbols on the I-beam. Commenting on those symbols, Cliff Wallace of Creature Effects at Pinewood Studios, London, pointed out that special-effects people sometimes leave a subtle clue as a kind of signature to their work. As could be seen in the British documentary (though the point was ignored by Fox), the clue in this case is hardly subtle. The symbols, supposedly from an alien alphabet, spell out the words 'VIDEO O TV'. Although the 'E' and the 'T' are disguised (embedded in a hieroglyph), the outline of the letters are present.
In essence, six characters from the Roman alphabet, four readily recognizable and two disguised, correctly spell out two words in the English language -- words that are related to both the subject at hand and to each other. This is hardly chance. The difficulty in creating even a remote resemblance to an English word -- any English word -- using characters from an alphabet derived independently of the Roman alphabet, such as the Arabic alphabet, illustrates that point.
With such convincing evidence for a hoax and so much money having changed hands -- far more than with the hoaxed Hitler Diaries -- one has to wonder why no police agency has investigated the alien autopsy affair. On May 31, 1995, I faxed a letter and material on the alien autopsy film to the 'Serious Fraud Office' of Scotland Yard, presumably the most appropriate agency to handle such a case.
In response, I received a polite letter dated June 19, 1995, from a Martin Pinfold at the Serious Fraud Office, stating that this was not 'a matter suitable for investigation by this office'. In a follow-up phone call, I was told that before they could act, "there had to be a victim in the U.K." Astoundingly, then, in the eyes of Scotland Yard, it's acceptable to run an operation out of London, victimizing people in the United States and elsewhere, as long as no British citizen is affected.
In the 1995 Fox documentary 'Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction', the interview with Ray Santilli begins with the announcer stating, "Ray Santilli owns a small music and video distribution company in London. He was acquiring some 1950s rock and roll footage when an elderly American cameraman he had been dealing with said, 'By the way, I have something else to show you.'" Santilli then continues, "And, you know, we looked at it. It was just the most incredible piece of film, and obviously my first impression is this can't be real". The program continues with the announcer telling about the purchase of the 'alien autopsy' film and Santilli recounting the cameraman's story.
In a July 1995 email exchange, Ray Santilli wrote researcher James Easton, 'I have spent some time with the cameraman and now have a full and detailed statement which I am sure you will find very interesting'. The statement, reportedly transcribed by Santilli's secretary from a recording, recounts the same basic story Santilli has told in numerous interviews, but in more detail.
Santilli's 'detailed statement', titled 'The Cameraman's Story', however, is inherently implausible. The cameraman told of being stationed in Washington, D.C., and being flown by way of Wright Patterson to Roswell (after having been told initially that he was to film the crash of a Russian spy plane). Because the trip was a distance of over 1600 miles -- an all-day trip, even by air, in 1947 -- it would have therefore been impossible for him to have arrived much sooner than 10 to 12 hours after the crash was discovered. Yet the cameraman described filming the initial approach of soldiers to the downed spacecraft and the 'screams of the freak creatures that were lying by the vehicle', screams that got 'even louder' as they were approached. The idea is preposterous that the military would have waited for a lone cameraman to fly more than halfway across the country before they made a move or started filming.
One almost humorous aspect of the American cameraman's story is that it was told in British English. While the nuances may not be readily apparent to those who speak the 'King's English' (the language would, naturally, seem normal to them), they are obvious to Americans. Certain expressions are a ead giveaway, such as 'I joined the forces', 'I fast learnt', 'Assistant Chief of Air Staff' (a Royal Air Force term), 'no messing', 'the decision was taken', 'a flattop', 'a further three weeks', etc.
Apparently, Santilli's cameraman really got around. Not only did he film the monumental recovery operation at Roswell, he also claimed to have filmed the first atomic bomb (Trinity) test. Also, according to his statement, just prior to being called to Roswell, he 'had not long returned' (more British English) from St. Louis, Missouri, where he had filmed the McDonnell Aircraft Company's new ramjet helicopter, the XH-20, nicknamed 'Little Henry'. Unfortunately, there's a major problem for the cameraman here. On October 16, 1995, Nicolas Maillard of TF1 received a faxed letter from the public relations department at McDonnell Douglas (successor of the McDonnell Aircraft Company), confirming that McDonnell used their own employees, not military cameramen, to film all tests, including those of the XH-20 ramjet helicopter, 'Little Henry'. The letter gave the names of the two McDonnell employees who would have shot the Little Henry tests -- Chester Turk, who shot motion, and Bill Schmitt, who shot stills.
Santilli has given the name of the cameraman as 'Jack Barnett'. In January 1995, he confided the name to Philip Mantle, Reg Presley, and Colin Andrews. On June 22, 1995, Philip Mantle, by prior arrangement with Santilli, received a telephone call from the alleged cameraman, who identified himself as Jack Barnett.
Ray Santilli promised TF1 that they would receive a call from the cameraman, Jack Barnett, in early September 1995, but the call never came. Santilli did, however, agree to relay a list of questions from TF1 to the cameraman. On September 14, 1995, approximately three days after the list was submitted, TF1 received a fax from Ray Santilli with the answers from the supposed cameraman. Two of the answers were of particular interest. TF1 asked, 'What tests of the ramjet 'Little Henry' did you film in St. Louis in May 1947?' The answer, 'Initial experimental tests', reiterated the cameraman's claim that he had filmed McDonnell Aircraft Company's testing of its 'Little Henry' ramjet helicopter -- a claim that we now know is impossible since McDonnell used its own employees to film such tests.
The cameraman's answer to a question by TF1 as to "why the army didn't use color film for such an event" was also very telling. 'I was given instructions to leave immediately to film an aviation crash of a Russian spy plane. I did not have time to order either colour film stock or special camera equipment. I used standard issue film stock and a standard issue Bell and Howell'. Hypothetically, such an answer could explain why the cameraman didn't use color film at the initial crash scene. However, such an answer in no way explains why he didn't use color film for the autopsies -- which he claims took place a month later in July in Fort Worth, Texas.
It is important to keep in mind that in television interviews, radio interviews, personal interviews, and Internet postings, Ray Santilli has repeatedly told of how the cameraman, after having shown Santilli the Elvis film, announced that he had 'something else' to show him -- the now-famous 'alien autopsy' footage. Santilli has repeatedly and unequivocally claimed that the cameraman from whom he acquired the 1955 Elvis footage was the same cameraman from whom he purchased the alien autopsy footage.
The big break in the investigation of the alien autopsy film came at the end of September, 1995, when TF1 reporter Nicolas Maillard located Cleveland, Ohio, disc jockey Bill Randle, the real source of the early Elvis Presley footage -- footage which Santilli said had been sold to him by the camerama during a trip to the United States in 1993. As it turns out, the purchase of the Elvis film actually took place in Bill Randle's office on July 4, 1992, in the presence of Gary Shoefield. In a November 28, 1995, phone conversation, Bill Randle told me that as soon as Santilli purchased the film (after hours of negotiation), he immediately turned around and sold it to Gary Shoefield, who was representing the British film company Polygram. The transaction took place right in Randle's office.
The footage, to which Santilli purchased the rights, is the first-known film of Elvis Presley live on stage and is part of a larger documentary that was a joint effort between Bill Randle and Universal Pictures in 1955. The footage sold to Santilli is relatively short and includes segments from two concerts -- an afternoon performance at a Cleveland high school and an evening show at a local Cleveland auditorium. Both performances took place on Thursday, July 20, 1955, and featured the Four Lads, Bill Haley and the Comets, Pat Boone, and the then-unknown Elvis Presley. Both performances were filmed by a freelance photographer who had been hired by Bill Randle -- a photographer named Jack Barnett.
We now know the origin of the name 'Jack Barnett' -- the name Santilli told to Philip Mantle, Reg Presley, and others as the name of his alleged cameraman. The real Jack Barnett was born of Russian parents on January 1, 1906, and died in 1967. Although he was a newsreel cameraman on the Italian front during WWII, he was never in the U.S. military.
Armed with this new and very telling information, the plan of TF1 was to confront Santilli during a live interview on the October 23, 1995, 'Jacques Pradel' special. While every effort was made to keep the discovery of Bill Randle confidential, Santilli may have been tipped off prior to the show. He seemed relatively poised after a pre-taped interview of Randle was played, and immediately offered a new story -- fundamentally different from what he had told previously. His initial remark was reminiscent of the classic 'I'm so glad you asked' response politicians give when they are asked the question they least want to hear. Santilli opened with, "Well, firstly, I'm very pleased that you have found Bill Randle...." (If Santilli was so pleased, why did Bill Randle have to be found in the first place?)
At that point, Santilli described a new and changed scenario in which the person from whom he had purchased the Elvis footage was not really the military cameraman after all. He now claimed that he had met the real cameraman after he purchased the rights to the Elvis footage from Bill Randle in Cleveland during the summer of 1992 (previously Santilli had given the year as 1993). Everyone, including the host, Jacques Pradel, seemed incredulous. With time running out, the show then went into its concluding segment, playing the Volker Spielberg tape, at which point Santilli, as previously mentioned, became noticeably upset.
Three Real Military Cameramen
Among the unsung heroes of the innumerable battles of this century are the men who recorded those battles for posterity, the combat cameramen. As the pictures they took reveal, whether at the front lines with the soldiers or marines, on the decks of ships amidst sailors manning guns, or in high-flying aircraft with the pilots and bombardiers, they were right alongside those whose actions they recorded -- often taking the same risks and suffering the same high casualty rates. During the course of investigating this film, I was fortunate enough to be put in touch with three such men, Joe Longo, Bill Gibson, and Dan McGovern, all former WWII combat cameramen, and all of whom have remained active in the professional photography business to this day. Additionally, all three have been extremely helpful and accommodating in the effort to investigate the Santilli film.
An entire volume could be written about the exploits of these three retired combat cameramen. Joe Longo is president of the International Combat Camera Association, an organization consisting of several hundred former combat cameramen throughout the world. He served as a combat cameraman for he Air Force in the Pacific theater during WWII, then again during the Korean Conflict. After leaving the military in 1956, he went to work as a cameraman at the Lookout Mountain Air Force Station in Southern California. In his job there, he worked on classified research projects with the Atomic Energy Commission, as well as the X-15 project. In the early 1960s, he shot the famous scene of test pilot Scott Crossfield's X-15 falling away from under the wing of a B-52 bomber, firing its rocket engine, on its way into space, 50 miles up.
Bill Gibson has the unusual background of having served as a combat cameraman in all three branches of the armed services. In April 1942, he photographed the launching of 16 B-25s on their way to the famous 'Doolittle Raid' over Tokyo. The scene of the heavily laden bombers lumbering off the deck of the aircraft carrier Hornet, barely making it airborne, is one of the more famous of WWII. Years later, he would photograph another famous launching, that of Apollo 11 on its way to the moon.
Not long after the Doolittle Raid, Bill Gibson's ship, the Hornet, was torpedoed and sunk. Gibson along with other survivors was rescued by another American ship, the USS Hughes. After the war, Gibson photographed the early American V-2 launches at White Sands, as well as the balloon launches and recovery operations of Project Mogul. In the late 1940s, he worked on two Air Force classified UFO-related projects, Grudge and Twinkle. In the late 1960s, he was a consultant to NASA for designing the camera that brought us man's first steps on the moon. As if all that were not enough, he was assigned to the White House for an eight-month period during which he covered President Truman. No stranger to world figures, Bill Gibson's assignments also included Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush, as well as Winston Churchill, Albert Schweitzer, and Wernher von Braun, with whom he became close personal friends.
Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Daniel A. McGovern served during WWII with the Eighth Air Force in the European theater, where he was a combat cameraman on B-17 bombers flying highly dangerous missions over Germany. He shot much of the footage used in the famous wartime documentary 'Memphis Belle'. On one mission, flak (anti-aircraft artillery) blew a hole in the B-17 at his station, only moments after he had stepped away. Another time he survived a crash landing in southern England, after his aircraft had been downed by flak.
After the Japanese surrender in August 1945, McGovern was the first American military cameraman to photograph the devastation on the ground at both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Just four weeks after the atomic bombs had been dropped, McGovern was on the scene at both cities, where he shot thousands of feet of 16mm color film. The historical footage was classified shortly after it was shot. Much of it has still never been seen by the public.
Like Bill Gibson, in the late 1940s, McGovern worked on the classified projects Twinkle and Grudge, where he was the project officer. For a six month period, the Air Force, using cameras on the ground and aboard jet aircraft, attempted to capture on film the UFOs that were frequenting an area of Ne Mexico between Kirtland AFB and the White Sands Missile Range. Although no UFOs were successfully recorded on film, a number were sighted visually, including several by McGovern. According to a written statement by Colonel McGovern, "...the objects came from below the horizon, at high speed, at a angle of some 45 degrees and at an altitude of some 70,000 or 80,000 feet, changed their direction from a vertical climb to horizontal, then the brilliant white light emitted from the UFOs disappeared in the skies."
McGovern remained in 'specialized photography' during his 20-year career in the military. When he retired in 1961, he was stationed at Vandenberg AFB, California, where he was the commander of the Photographic Squadron. After his retirement from the military, he became the civilian chief of the photographic division for the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, California.
A Professional Assessment
Part of the modus operandi of the military is regimentation, discipline, and strict adherence to prescribed procedures. That is the way it has to be. The mission of the military demands it. Military photographers are no exception. They receive much the same training and are subject to the same rules and regulations as other soldiers. Dan McGovern, Bill Gibson, and Joe Longo all viewed the alien autopsy footage, as well as photocopies of film box labels furnished by Santilli to TF1, supposedly supplied by his cameraman. The three former military cameramen all noted a number of significant discrepancies -- some of which are described below -- in both the film itself and the story behind it.
From the standpoint of appropriate military procedures applicable at the time and which would have definitely been followed, the scenario recounted by Santilli's alleged cameraman makes no sense. The cameraman claims that he was stationed in Washington, D.C., and flown on June 1, 1947, to Roswell, New Mexico. McGovern, Gibson, and Longo point out, however, that there were qualified cameramen with top-secret security clearances stationed at military installations all over the country, including New Mexico. Cameramen, both 'motion' and 'still', from a local military installation such as Roswel or Alamagordo -- not from Washington, D.C. -- would have been dispatched immediately to the scene.
According to Santilli, his cameraman claims that he processed the film himself and that authorities in Washington did not bother to collect all the reels. Our three cameramen consider this claim total nonsense. On top-secret projects, a cameraman never, under any circumstances, processed the film imself. Additionally, military regulations required that all film, developed or undeveloped, had to be accounted for -- not just every reel, but every frame of every reel. To ensure compliance, either the length of the film on a reel was physically measured (e.g., 99 feet, 10 frames) or a machine called a 'frame counter' was used. Furthermore, according to Santilli's cameraman, there were only three autopsies. The footage he allegedly kept covered a major part of one of those autopsies. On that basis alone, it is inconceivable that the authorities overseeing the operation would have overlooked so much missing film.
Three basic types of film were used by the military in 1947, 16mm color, 35mm black and white, and 16mm black and white. For very special or important projects (as the autopsy of an alien would have been) 16mm color film was used. Furthermore, McGovern, who filmed a number of autopsies, was very positive that all medical procedures were shot in color. He also stated that for important medical procedures, two cameras were used, both in fixed positions. The first camera was mounted on a tripod sitting on a 'riser' (for extra elevation) adjacent to the operating or autopsy table. The second camera was overhead, mounted on the ceiling.
Our three cameramen pointed out that a 'motion' picture cameraman would almost always be accompanied by a 'still' photographer. The two would work together as a team. During an autopsy, every step of the procedure would be carefully photographed by the 'still' photographer, who would invariably be visible in the 'motion' picture. (Medical people have also stated that still pictures definitely would have been taken.) In the Santilli alien autopsy film, there is no evidence whatsoever that stills were taken.
Even the technique of Santilli's cameraman, according to our three cameramen, was inconsistent with the highly standardized procedures and methods used by military cameramen at that time. McGovern, Gibson, and Longo are in a position to know -- all three trained other military cameramen. All three consider the quality of the camera work in the Santilli film appalling and, for a myriad of reasons, not even close to meeting military standards. As Joe Longo put it, "If anybody in my unit shot film in that manner, he'd be back scrubbing pots in the kitchen".
According to the box label submitted by Santilli, the film used was Kodak "High Speed Super-XX Panchromatic Safety Film." According to McGovern, Gibson, and Longo, with a Bell and Howell Model 70 (the camera used by the alleged cameraman), the depth of field should have been very good when using this film. Consequently, even with the apparent mediocre lighting conditions in the Santilli autopsy film, the picture quality should have been excellent. Our cameramen all agreed that using the Bell and Howell Model 70 and Super-XX film, with the focus set at 25 feet and the aperture at F-8, under normal indoor lighting, everything from about a foot and a half to infinity would be in focus. This should have been the case with the Santilli film, but it obviously was not. McGovern concluded that the Santilli film was "deliberately blurred so that no subject is visible in detail".
McGovern, Gibson, and Longo also noted problems with the labeling on the film box. For example, the seal with the eagle -- probably placed there to give it an official look -- was something none of them had ever seen. In their experience, of the thousands of boxes of film ordered by the military from Kodak, none were stamped with seals. One of the Santilli labels reads 'Reel # 52; Truman; 85 Filter 2/3 stop; Force X 2 stop - Possible'. All three cameramen noted that an '85 filter' was used only with color film. The '2/3 stop' indicates the amount of light that would be blocked by the filter and 'Force X 2 stop' indicates the amount of additional exposure time required to compensate for the resultant loss of light. In effect, it is a prescription for underexposing and then compensating by overdeveloping the film -- a procedure that would unnecessarily increase the graininess and lower the resolution of the picture.
An additional discrepancy concerning the labeling on the film box was caught by McGovern. McGovern, who was born and received his early education in Ireland, noticed immediately that the writing on the box was in European-style handwriting -- something that would have been most unusual for a cameraman who was supposedly born and raised and had spent most of his life in Ohio.
An Offer by Colonel McGovern
Even if, despite all the previously mentioned discrepancies, business partners Ray Santilli and Volker Spielberg submit a suitable sample of film to Kodak and, against all expectations, the film is authenticated as 1947 vintage, it would still be necessary to authenticate the ultimate source of the film -- the cameraman. Without the cameraman, this film is like a loose piece of celluloid floating in the wind, not anchored to reality. No matter how convincing, no laboratory test anywhere would in itself constitute complete authentication of the film and what it purports to represent.
On the basis of the information that has been made available to him, Dan McGovern, like his colleagues, Bill Gibson and Joe Longo, feels the Santilli film is a fraud. However, McGovern is willing to keep an open mind and to give Santilli the benefit of the doubt. Just as Kodak has offered to authenticate the film, Colonel McGovern has offered to authenticate the cameraman. McGovern would require the cameraman's full name and serial number so that he could verify his military service with the Air Force Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Colonel McGovern, a man of his word and a man who has held a top-secret security clearance, would reveal only his conclusion. He would keep other all information, including the cameraman's identity, strictly confidential, revealing it to no one. The secret of the alleged cameraman's identity would surely be safer with McGovern, who has no axe to grind, than it would be with the two foreign businessmen who are now supposedly aware of it and who would have much to gain by revealing the name, since the value of their film would soar with confirmation of the cameraman.
Aside from the cameraman's name and serial number, the only other requirement of Colonel McGovern is that the cameraman make one 15-minute phone call to McGovern. At the time of his retirement, McGovern was one of the highest ranking photographic managers in the military. Considering his experience, he is probably the most qualified person available to evaluate the alleged cameraman. In short, authentication by him would be of extreme value because no impostor in the world could fool Colonel Dan McGovern. Furthermore, Santilli's alleged cameraman, who was stationed in Washington D.C. in Jun 1947, would surely enjoy talking with McGovern because, in addition to a common background and probable common acquaintances, they have something else unique in common. In June 1947, Colonel Dan McGovern was a 'motion picture project officer' for the Air Force -- stationed in Washington, D.C.
The Kodak-McGovern Challenge
Many have now charged that the 'alien autopsy' film is a fraud and the marketing scheme surrounding it an absolute scam. It is possible, however, to quickly and easily lay all doubt to rest, once and for all. Two very reasonable offers of verification have been made -- Eastman Kodak to verify the film, and Colonel McGovern the cameraman. Verification by either would increase the monetary value of the film exponentially. Both Mr. Santilli and Mr. Spielberg have stated unequivocally that they believe the film genuine. If that is truly the case, they would have nothing to lose and everything to gain by submitting the film for verification. As experienced businessmen, they are certainly fully aware of that fact. Let them then stand behind their word and, as any reasonable person or businessman would do under such circumstances, accept either Kodak's offer or Colonel McGovern's, or, preferably, both.
Unfortunately, that is not likely to happen. We will almost certainly never see the acceptance of either offer. If past actions are any indication of future actions, as surely as the sun rises and sets, Santilli and Spielberg will continue to make excuses, false claims, and abundant promises with regard to authentication, but they will never follow through. They unquestionably have little choice. To prove an article genuine, in reality, it has to be genuine. To prove you are telling the truth, in reality, you have to be telling the truth. One cannot deliver what does not exist. A pattern of continually maneuvering to conceal or withhold critical evidence, as we have seen in this case, leads only to one inescapable conclusion -- there is no cameraman and there is no film.
According to a well-known story, it was once pointed out to nineteenth century showman and circus owner Phineas T. Barnum that customers were angry with him because they found out after having paid their admission that the 'freaks' in his show were hoaxes. Barnum's legendary reply was that he was not concerned about losing business because 'there's a sucker born every minute'. Whether or not this particular anecdote is true, we should not forget that such a mentality is widespread in today's world. Trickery and deceit are abundant. We cannot always assume the same high standards of honesty and integrity in others that we may exhibit ourselves or find in those to whom we are close. The individuals who have created, marketed, and profited from the 'alien autopsy' film are more than just aware of P. T. Barnum's philosophy. They have put it into practice on a grand scale. Barnum would be smiling.
A letter, including a copy of this article, has been sent to the chief executive officer of the Fox Entertainment Group, Rupert Murdoch. The letter requests that the Fox network, in the interest of honest journalism, refrain from airing any future version of 'Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction', until Ray Santilli has accepted both Eastman Kodak Corporation's offer to authenticate the film and Colonel Dan A. McGovern's offer to authenticate the cameraman. The chief executive officers of the other major television networks in the United States, as well as several in Europe, have also been sent a copy of this article and the letter to Rupert Murdoch.
This article (IRI Bulletin #5) and the letter to Rupert Murdoch are available on the International Roswell Initiative (IRI) Internet Web page: <http://www.roswell.org>. Additionally, any meaningful response from Fox will be posted on the Web page. Rupert Murdoch can be reached at Fox Entertainment Group, P.O. Box 900, Beverly Hills, CA 90213. The International Roswell Initiative can be reached at 3105 Gables Drive, Atlanta, GA 30319 USA. (Phone/Fax: 404 240-0655 / Email: Roswelldec@aol.com)
I would like to thank Bob Durant, Steve Gill, Gayle Nesom, Joanne Pianka, and Rebecca Schatte for their input and many helpful suggestions. All are excellent writers in their own right. Finally, I would like to thank Bill Gibson, Joe Longo, and Dan McGovern. Because of their help in this quest fo the truth, we might all better see the alien autopsy footage for what it is.
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