My friend Eric Blair bought me the following documentary as a Christmas gift: Shades of Gray directed by Bob Wilkinson and co-written by Wilkinson and Robert Tinnell. This obscure 2009 documentary details the important life and work of Gray Barker, author of such classic works of UFOlogy as They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers (1956) and The Silver Bridge (1970). Barker was instrumental in popularizing such legendary examples of modern folklore (and folk truth) as the Men in Black, the Philadelphia Experiment, Mothman, and numerous other paranormal enigmas. Barker’s They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers, which introduced the Men in Black to the world, was one of the first full-length books I read about UFOs and stimulated an insatiable thirst for similar information. It’s an essential tool for understanding 1950s Cold War American culture. In my learned estimation, it sits on a very high tier within the Alternate Pantheon of American literature, among the key New Gospels of post-WWII America. Fortunately, reasonably priced copies of the first edition hardcover can still be found with relative ease (via ABEBOOKS, for example).
The recently deceased James Moseley, Barker’s close friend and partner in crime, is featured prominently in this well-rounded documentary, which doesn’t shy away from showing all the various contradictory aspects of Barker’s persona. He was a serious and dedicated journalist, a puckish hoaxster, a wide-eyed dreamer, a bitter skeptic, a frustrated fiction writer, an inventive independent publisher, a successful self-promoter, and a master of self-sabotage all rolled into one. Information about purchasing Shades of Gray on DVD can be found HERE.