Today's offering is the 1983 sci fi/historical thriller: E.T. Panzer Ace.
Eager to piggyback on the success of Steven Spielberg's 1982 mega-hit, screenwriters typed out their top friendly alien offerings. But one canny scribe counter-punched. Aspiring wordsmith Moss Karling, a military history buff and bartender at Bob's Frolic Room in Hollywood, poured his dark passions onto the page. Eventually he convinced character actor (and regular customer) Gill Hong to show the script to his agent.
Karling's story followed the Spielberg path of a lost alien. But Moss elected to have the creature marooned in 1943 Germany. The frightened being is discovered hiding under a Panther tank by lonely gunner Manfred Knobble. Knobble lures it into the barracks by leaving a trail of schnapps and cigarettes. Through an improbable series of events, E.T. eventually becomes a top panzer commander on the Eastern Front, personally decorated by Hitler who is told the odd-looking soldier hails from Tibet.
|In a rare production still, E.T. (Gill Hong) is awarded an Iron Cross by Hitler (Loaf Masters).|
But a suspicious Gestapo want the chain-smoking alien brought in for questioning. Knobble helps his friend construct a device to call for rescue, using an old concertina, barbed wire and a Volkswagen battery. The contraption works and a spacecraft arrives. Soldier and alien toast farewell with mugs of schnapps. As the groggy extraterrestrial staggers onto the ship, Manfred presents a parting gift—an antitank rocket. Thick with drink, the befuddled E.T. accidentally triggers the weapon inside the craft, setting off a thermonuclear explosion that vaporizes ship, alien, Knobble, and twenty-nine acres of the Black Forest.
"I'm just not seeing this," said Gill Hong's agent. A determined Karling set out to film the picture himself. He raised enough money to shoot fourteen minutes of footage, using borrowed equipment and actors like Cleveland Bevel who went out to become a featured extra in Air Wolf.
In time, Karling's interest in the project waned and he began a successful career writing historical fiction. His copy may be found on many official U.S. government websites. Hong worked steadily, later becoming a fixture in Tucson dinner theater. His former agent was arrested for lewd conduct with office furniture.
But now a lost tale has finally been told.