Roswell Film Update

Article Published in 'Skeptics'
( Issue #37, January, 1996 )

I received this message as a member of the i_ufo-l mailing list which was started by SearchNet. I would recommend this list to anyone who has an interest in UFOs ... some good information and views are shared.


Newly Discovered Anomalies Challenge
"Alien Autopsy" Authenticity

Small filmstrips which "Alien Autopsy" movie distributor "Ray Santilli" provided to his prestigious American "authenticity investigator" "Bob Shell" -- which Shell believed were samples of the "original" film acquired from the former military cameraman who allegedly took these movies -- are really copy/duplicates, according to a very experienced cinema expert -- "Clive Tobin".

Tobin, who worked for more than 20 years in a motion picture processing laboratory and now is president of Tobin Cinema Systems in Seattle, is also a field investigator for MUFON. Tobin's suspicions arose when he saw a short filmstrip on the Fox TV show -- similar to the two strips which Santilli supplied to Shell, who is editor of "Shutterbug" magazine. Tobin revealed his suspicions that the Fox filmstrip was a copy/duplicate in a short article published in the October issue of the "MUFON UFO Journal". The subtle, technically complex details that Tobin observed convinced him that the Fox filmstrip was a COPY that had been made using a Bell & Howell "C-printer," which was not introduced until around 1960, or possibly a model JA-printer which preceded it by several years. When SUN, which has been carrying on an extensive information exchange with Shell, learned that he had not seen Tobin's article, we supplied him with a copy, which led to direct communications between the two men.

To appreciate the importance of Tobin's discovery it is necessary to review highlights of the (alleged) cameraman's tale -- as provided by Santilli. On June 2, 1947, Santilli's alleged cameraman (SAC) says he was despatched to the Roswell Army Air Field, then driven 160 miles west to near Socorro, where he filmed a crashed saucer and its four "freaks," three of whom were still alive. Then he was flown to Wright Field (now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base) where he spent "three weeks working on [filming] the debris." In early July, he was sent to Ft. Worth where he filmed autopsies on two of the "freaks." [SUN Note: Seemingly, the UFOnaut killed in the crash was kept "on ice" for a month until the second one died. The third and fourth were still alive.]


Then, in SAC's own words:

"After filming, I had several hundred reels. I separated problem reels which required special attention in processing. These I would do later. The first batch was sent through to Washington, and I processed the remainder a few days later. Once the remaining reels had been processed, I contacted Washington to arrange [for] collection of the final batch. Incredibly, they never came to collect or arrange transportation for them. I called many times and then just gave up. The footage has remained with me ever since. In May of 1949, I was asked to film the third autopsy.'

Seemingly in the spring of 1949, top Air Force/Pentagon officials remembered that SAC had filmed the first two UFOnaut autopsies so they selected him to shoot the third -- in Washington, according to Santilli.

Yet they completely forgot that major portions of the first two autopsy films were MISSING (because SAC had retained them for "special processing") so nobody thought to ask SAC to bring them along when he came to Washington to film the third autopsy. AND IT NEVER OCCURRED TO SANTILLI'S (ALLEGED) CAMERAMAN TO BRING THE ROLLS OF 1947 AUTOPSY FILM ALONG WHEN HE WENT TO WASHINGTON.

If the small filmstrips which Santilli supplied to Shell and to Fox are from the SAME footage that Santilli (allegedly) acquired from SAC, then the autopsy films are COPIES made sometime AFTER THE LATE 1950s WHEN THE JA AND C-PRINTERS BECAME AVAILABLE, according to Tobin. This raises numerous questions.

For example, if the film Santilli acquired is a copy made on a printer that did not become available until the mid/late 1950s, then SAC's tale -- as related by Santilli -- can not possibly be true. Even if Tobin were wrong and the copies were made in 1947 on an earlier model printer, how was SAC able to covertly steal so many rolls of super-secret film without being caught? And why did SAC wait 45 years before trying to sell the film directly to an obscure British film distributor whom he had just chanced to meet, rather than working covertly through an agent to sell the film to a major TV network or Hollywood producer?

Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, but not all strange tales are true.

Shell Challenges Tobin But Later Concedes He Might Be Right.

When Shell participated in an "Encounters Forum" on CompuServe in Iate August, following the first showing of "Alien Antopsy" on the Fox network, he said "I'm the guy in charge of investigating the film [for Santilli]. I've got lots of info that isn't public yet. I have the cameraman's statement which I have done some research on.... I have a piece of the actual film here on my desk." Then Shell volunteered: "Based on my investigation, I give a 95% scientific probabilitv that the film was manufactured, exposed and processed in 1947. That's my professional opinion about the film." [Emphasis added.]

During the ensuing dialogue, Tobin sent Shell a sample of film processed on a C-Printer, so he could compare its tiny characteristic "fingerprints" near the sprocket holes with the two filmstrips which Santilli had provided. Barely a month later, on Dec. 17, Shell posted a public memo in the MUFON section of CompuServe, saying that as a result of data supplied by Tobin, he was "disturbed and puzzled...My puzzlement stems from the fact that every expert other than Mr. Tobin who has examined the film is convinced that it is camera-original film."

However, Shell reminded readers that Santilli "initially said he had been given 22 reels of 'release prints' [i.e., copies] and one reel of negative film: Whether he just assumed that these were "release prints" or whether he was told this by the cameraman is a question which must be resolved. Ray is in bed with the 'flu right now, but as soon as he is up and around I will address this question with him. We have all been working on the assumption that this was camera-original material because all of the experts pronounced it as such. If it now turns out that all of these experts were wrong, and Mr. Tobin alone is correct, we will have to go all the way back to square one on the authentication process.

Obviously, dating of a 'release print' will not prove the date of the original and will not satisfy the skeptics.

Who were Shell's "Experts" who assessed the film?

Recalling the claim made by Shell in his Nov. 16 letter to Tobin that his two filmstrips had "been examined by a number of 'old timers' who were working in the 40s as well as by film experts and also pronounced as camera-originals," SUN asked Shell to provide the names and addresses of the "experts you yourself consulted and indicate what material you provided to them to facilitate their accurate assessment." Shell responded: "These experts were the ones FOX showed the filmstrips to, the experts that Phil Mantle [British UFO Research Assn.] showed them to, the experts TF-1 [French-TV] brought in, those used by Italian, German, Rumanian, Hong Kong, etc. TV networks."

Tobin also questioned whether the 16mm. filmstrip samples had sprocket holes along both sides ("double-perf") or only along one edge ("single-perf"). The Bell & Howell Filmo camera (widely employed in the 1940s by military cameramen) could not use "single-perf" film because the camera had a double-claw sprocket. By a curious coincidence, BOTH filmstrips that Santilli provided to Shell, AND the one shown by Fox, HAD ONE EDGE TORN OFF, MAKING IT IMPOSSIBLE TO TELL IF IT WAS "SINGLE-PERF" OR "DOUBLE-PERF."

Shell Offers Two Possible Explanations For Missing Edges

In Shell's Dec. 17 CompuServe memo, he acknowledged that this key issue cannot be resolved because "one whole edge of the film is torn off" in both of his filmstrip samples and the one shown by Fox. "The simple explanation is that this film was damaged in projection, or in the camera and this accounts for the tearing. The more sinister explanation would be that this side of the film was intentionally torn off to hide the fact that this was 'single-perf' film."- [Emphasis added.] [SUN doubts that Santilli would resort to such fraud and suggests another pessible explanation: Extraterrestrial microbes that penetrated the camera during the autopsies, and which like te eat movie film but get full after eating _one_ edge.]

Shell added that the 'film scraps' which Santilli provided to British TV producer John Purdy [reportedly] were all double-perf and, Shell said, "John's film pieces have been pronounced camera-originals by the experts he has submitted them to." But Shell added: "John has quite a bit of film, but has not been willing to let me examine it at any length. I have had only a brief look at it."

In the wake of these discrepancies, SUN recently asked Shell if he now would like to revise his 95% probability estimate that the "Alien Autopsy" film is authentic. Shell responded he "would today give a high probability, something like 80% or so, that the original film was manufactured, exposed and processed prior to 1957 [sic]" instead of his former 95% probability that the film was manufactured, exposed and processed in 1947."

Santilli's "Double-Talk" About Authenticating His Film

Television viewers in the Seattle area had the opportunity to see and hear "Alien Autopsy's" Ray Santilli when he participated in an hour-long taIk show via satellite link, on station KOMO on Nov. 12. The show was hosted by a somewhat skeptieal Ken Schram. At one point in the program, Santilli acknowledged that his company has "made some money" from the sale of TV rights and home videos. But he added: "We are not into any kind of profit and we won't be until the film is proved to be genuine."

When host Schram and skeptical panelists asked why he had not accepted the offer of Eastman Kodak to have its scientists evaluate a several-inch-long sample of the autopsy film, Santilli replied: "Film with image -- and not leader tape -- has been given to Fox and to Bob Shell, who's an independent film expert. Kodak has film. The film has been given to the English broadcasters, to the French broadcasters...and if we keep giving away film there will soon be very little left." (The 22 rolls of film Santilli says he acquired would be 2,200 ft. in length.)

During the closing moments of the KOMO-TV show, host Schram asked Santilli:

"why you haven't gone to every length to get this film authenticated....Do you feel you've done everything you can and should?"

Santilli responded:

"I've given it to the broadcasters and I've asked them to investigate it. They've got the money and the resources to do it." (Earlier Santili claimed that "Millions of dollars world-wide has been spent on investigating the film and the film still maintains its integrity."

When Schram asked: "Why not submit this to Kodak?" Santilli replied, "It has been submitted to Kodak by the broadcasters."

Eastman Kodak's Response To Santilli's Claim

SUN decided lo check out Santilli's claim with Kodak on Nov. 30 and talked with Jim Blamphin in the company's Public affairs office. He said that the only film that had been submitted to Kodak was a "two-inch section of solid white leader, which serves to thread a film into a projector, whose edge-coding indicates it was manufactured in 1927, 1947 or 1967." Blamphin said that Kodak's British affiliate had offered to conduct a detailed chemical analysis to determine approximately when the "Alien Antopsy" film had been manufactured and processed if Santilli would provide a 10-in.strip of film and pay $8,000. "But we've not heard further from him," Blamphin said.

When we informed Blamphin that Shell had earlier told SUN that a Kodak movie film specialist in Rochester, named Tony Amato, had agreed to test the Santilli film without charge if Shell would provide a two-inch long sample from the autopsy film [_SUN_ #35/Sept. 1995], Blamphin said he would talk to Amato to confirm such an offer. Several days later, Blamphin confirmed Amato's offer.

Shell told SUN during our Sept. 7 interview that Santilli had agreed to provide the two-inch strip of autopsy film. But when SUN next talked with Shell, on Oct. 6, he reported that Santilli's financial partner, a German named Volker Spielberg -- who, reportedly, had stored all of the original autopsy film in a Swiss vault -- had flatly refused to provide the two-inch strip that Kodak needed. Shell explained that because Spielberg had put up the money to acquire the film, he "owned it" [_SUN_ #36, Nov. 1995].

When Santilli had appeared on a British radio talk show on Aug. 21, a panelist said he hoped the original film was safely stored "in a big vault somewhere." Santilli responded: "Yeah, I was going to say, Switzerland in a safe.... Some went back to the cameraman. And some is still with us." Seemingly, Santilli had a sufficient surplus of film such that he opted to return some of it to the 80+ year old cameraman. Yet it never occurred to him to send a several-inch-long-strip of film to Bob Shell to submit to Eastman Kodak for chemical analysis.


Designed for the exclusive use of VJ Enterprises © 1997