The Beast with Metal Teeth

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a) Metal teeth of Phantom of Paradise
In 1974, The Phantom of Paradise was released featuring a phantom played by William Finlay with an owl like helmet, and teeth made from metal made by movie make up artist Tom Burman. His next door neighbour was a dental technician who specialised in making metal plates that went between teeth and this made Tom think "Metal teeth would be kind of cool."

b) Steel teeth of Jaws
And so Tom Burman went on to supply metal teeth for Richard Kiel, an actor whose body height was 7 foot 2 inches appeared as the character named Jaws in the movie "The Spy Who Loved Me" in 1977, and the character's teeth were made from steel and he could bite through cable.

The idea of the character Jaws came from film producer Albert Broccoli, and he described the character as having teeth like pliers, like tools, or like a shark – they weren’t sure and so they hired a friend of Keel's, a special effects make-up guy named John Chambers, to come up with what he thought would be what they would like but  Mr Broccoli didn’t like it. So they had a dental technician out near Pinewood try out and he liked it, and they remain in a museum in the UK.

c) Metal jaws of Giger's Alien
In the Alien production, they also opted to give the Alien inner and outer sets of teeth that were supposed to be steel, although in the end were chrome plated polyester. For Giger is showed that the monster was both human and mechanical, although still the creature for him was more human than mechanical. However,  giving him steel teeth was a way of conveying this two-fold nature.

Quote sources
  1. Tom Burman: I did the phantom's teeth, the guy next door was a dental technician who specialized in making metal plates to go between teeth, and that made me think, "Metal teeth would be kind of cool." I also did the metal teeth for Richard Keel as Jaws in James Bond movies, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, although I believe that John Chambers was given credit (Fangoria 335,p21)
  2. Cinefantastique: What about the metal jaws? What inspired those?
    Giger: I did that myself. Those teeth are also in polyester. They were chrome-plated, so as to give them a metallic shine. I imagined them that was because for me the monster is both human and mechanical - more human than mechanical, though. So giving him steel teeth was a way to convey this two-fold nature (Cinefantastique vol 9: no.1)
  3. Detroit-born Kiel appeared as the metal-mouthed henchman with a killer bite in two James Bond films – the 1977  film The Spy Who Loved Me and the 1979 movie Moonraker.He was cast in the role of Jaws by American film  producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli.
    He said he would only wear the metal teeth that sealed his place in Bond history for a few minutes because they hurt his mouth and were “nauseating”.
    Kiel, famed for his 7ft 1.5ins stature, said: “[Jaws] It was Mr Broccoli’s idea, he described the character as having teeth like pliers, like tools, or like a shark – they weren’t sure and they hired a friend of mine, a special effects make-up guy named John Chambers, to come up with what he thought would be what they would like and Mr Broccoli didn’t like it. So they had a dental technician out near Pinewood try out and he liked it. They are now in a museum here in the UK."
    They weren’t painful to wear but they were nauseating to wear, chrome, heavy in the roof of your mouth – they were gagging. It was all I could do to keep them in for more than two minutes at a time.
    Commenting on his on-screen adversary Roger Moore he said of the actor: “Roger Moore was a real gentlemen, a real nice guy. His heart was bigger than his ego. He let Jaws steal scenes and he helped me do it – he couldn’t care less as long as people were entertained and the movie was fun.(

Obvious kit sprue

Leading from

  1. Bill Pearson: A lot of insert shots were shot at the end where everyone says," Hey! Isn't that a load of kit bits and sprues?" This is the scene where Ripley ejects the Alien from the Narcissus, and there is a closeup of buttons being pushed on a control panel.

    One of the model makers who will remain nameless to save his blushed was standing by on the stage that evening when it was being shot. He was asked to dress around the buttons to apply some interesting detail on the panel

    Unfortunately the guy was not a wiggeter, but he didn't want to say no. He picked up some very obvious kit sprue, sprayed it silver and stuck it on. When I walked in the next day, I said, "what the hell is that?" I was told it was a case of you wouldn't see it on the screen, I still cringe about it now.
    (Sci-Fi  Fantasy Models #48, p28)

Inspired by Moebius for refinery platform


a. ) A major inspiration for Ridley Scott were drawings by Moebius as featured in the comic book Metal Hurlant (and it's American counterpart Heavy Metal) that Ivor Powell introduced him to while while filming The Duellists in Dordoigne.
  1. The writer of this blog recalls from memory of the Memories of Alien interview at the Empire Big Screen, 2011.

b. ) When Ridley made the sudden jump to having Nostromo's refinery platform as a large squarish shape we might ask where Ridley took the inspiration and we can see it clearly enough in this comicbook story a likely answer.

In Moebius' story "It's a small universe" a couple of star travellers travel in a smallish space craft that appears to be a squarish platform with a support pylone extending beneath to connect with the lower horizontal tube which has the cockpit bubble situated at the front of it

The first image from the comicbook story shown here reveals the vessel approaching a planet somewhere out in space and the others of it landing on the planet. This craft comes to rest with the upper rectangle floating in the water with the rest submerged.

sideview of space ship

early Ridleygram of the refinery

c. Ridley's early storyboard known as a "Ridleygram" of the refinery before the planet appears to show a wide straight platform with similar sized attachments beneath the structure held by slanted support pylon
The original Starship Enterprise
d. i. Moebius' spacecraft is most likely a general parody of the original Star Trek's Starship Enterprise, but as a small space ship and with a rectangular top instead.

ii. Star Trek art Director Matt Jefferies designed the original Enterprise, which in series creator Gene Roddenberry's first series outline drafts was named Yorktown. Jeffries' experience with aviation led to his Enterprise designs being imbued with what he called "aircraft logic". (source: wikipedia)

Possible Robert McCall inspiration for refinery platform

leading from
The Nostromo

McCall's work for Kubrick's 2001
a) Robert McCall December 23, 1919 – February 26, 2010) the artist a science fiction artist was well known for his paintings of space crafts and also his floating cities. In 1971 Robert McCall created a painting floating city featuring a floating platform with towers and spheres, (featured on the right) it's a structure bearing some similarities to the Nostromo's refinery platform, and one can ask the question if this was a possible inspiration for Ridley's refinery platform. Ridley's then first assistant director for his company Ivor Powell who became associate producer for the Alien movie is known to have been a publicist for Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" and was very much a science fiction fan so we can postulate that he would have been in a position to be someone able to introduce Ridley Scott to Robert McCall's work.
"Floating city" by Robert McCall 1971
b) The name became evident to me from reading an interview from the publicity for Prometheus in 2012, Arthur Max, chief designer for Ridley Scott talked to L'Ecran Fantastique magazine about how Ridley Scott inspired the artist Robert McCall, who produced designs for the films design work for The Black Hole, Star Trek:The Motion Picture and 2001: A Space Odyssey. But of course this doesn't say that Ridley had any actual interest in the work of Robert McCall during Alien.
  1. a.) Arthur Max: "Et Ridley s'est inspiré aussi du travail d'un autre artiste tres talenteux, Bob McCall."(L'Ecran Fantastique Hors Serie no16, p24)                                                                                                                                               Googletranslater translated this as "And Ridley has also inspired the work of another artist very talented, Bob McCall" but years later would translate it as "And Ridley was also inspired by the work of another very talented artist Bob McCall"
    Ridley's Nostromo storyboard

    Chris Foss inspiration for the Nostromo

    leading from

    The Nostromo

    a) Ron Cobb borrowed from Chris Foss
    Chris Foss, before Ridley Scott dropped him from the production, had been creating many concept drawings for the design of the Nostromo, and so it went that when they needed to design the final thing.

    Although Chris Foss was not directly involved with the design of the final Nostromo, Brian Johnson went away with Chris Foss's amd Ron Cobb's designs to build the final spaceship and while Ron Cobb's exterior design loosely inspired by Foss' work was used for the Nostromo,  one can find that features from Chris Foss' other designs found their way into the ship.

    Ron Cobb's earlier Nostromo
    final Nostromo sketch on yellow paper by Ron Cobb

      b) Upper Thrusters and main body shape
      Tug with enigmatic upper engines

      Nostromo's upper engine intake openings

      The main M- shape of the Nostromo is similar is near enough borrowed from the vessel below left with "Fountain Line" written along the side of it's "Proton Drive" engine, while the upper engines upon the Nostromo are noticeably very reminiscent of Chris Foss' snake like space ship segmented like a train on the right. However Chris Foss put the M shape of the final Nostromo down to the shape of an aircraft part used rather than something from his own artwork
      The "Fountain Line" tug

      c) The Engine Intakes
      A point about the design for the Nostromo is that maybe it can be said to resemble a gothic tomb. Chris Foss had drawn numerous designs for ships with cavernous intake openings for engines, but one with the most haunting features is his design for a pyramid interior with it's vast rectangular tunnel with sloping ends that taper to the rectangular mouths of these entrances, perhaps here we are seeing the origins of the characteristic engine intakes openings

      detail from pyramid temple interior
      Chris Foss pyramid temple interior

      d. Nostromo's initial colour of yellow
      The Nostromo model initially went through a yellow paint scheme that Jon Sorenson acknowledged was inspired by Chris Foss designs. 

      e. Also read the section Yellow Nostromo

      untitled painting by Chris Foss
      used on the cover of  E.E. 'Doc' Smith's
      novel "Planet of Treacher"

      1. Den Of Geek: So the Nostromo's kind of 'M'-shape was just taken from an aircraft part...?

        Chris Foss:
        That's it. Because I've worked on so many other films where the shots are so important and so on, but on this particular one...
Ridley Scott noticed that the Who were down there making a film, and he was fascinated by all the bits and pieces that were going on with that. The Who, of course, had discovered lasers, and that's why you've got all these smoke-effects and swirl-effects, and [Scott] just couldn't be arsed about the spaceship and all that crap. So the poor sod who had to build it said 'Right, fuck that', got himself a whole load of paper, and bodged something together from the bits and pieces of a wrecked helicopter.
      2. Ron Cobb: The truth of the matter is, as Chris said, we both influenced each other, I think I borrowed from him more than he borrowed from me. .(Ron Cobb, Den Of Interview)
      3. Wmmvrrvrrmm: Also I keep thinking about how the Nostromo model when it went through it's yellow paint scheme reminds me of Chris Foss' paintings, he has been known to paint yellow spacecrafts. I wonder if the paint scheme was inspired by his work (Alien, June 21, 2009)
        Jon Sorenson: Absolutely correct! It was inspired by Chris Foss' designs.(Alien, June 24, 2009)

      Ron Cobb's design philosophy

      leading from

      Dan O'Bannon with Ron Cobb

      a) Cobb the Frustrated engineer
      As a concept designer, Ron Cobb imagined himself to be a frustrated engineer. He had lots of opinions about how certain problems could be solved using present technology or even speculating about near future technology. So when he worked on a film, he liked to take this challenge, pushing to do something interesting but with believable speculations and so design a spacecraft as though it were absolutely real, right down to the fuel tolerances, the centers of gravity, the ways the engine should function, radiation shielding and so on, and after that he would reshape the whole idea into something that would be appropriate for the film.

      b) Working on the Nostromo
      He was very concerned with how Nostromo might really look and how it would function while he knew that Ridley was just concerned with creating a fantastic ship. Ron understood that Ridley liked the idea of the ship being a cross between a tramp steamer and a cathedral. Ron tried to reflect this but also sneak in some little suggestions about how a ship might really work. Creating a realistic space ship was important to Ron because he found that the more realism he put into something, the more original it would look and the sense of realism would suck the audience in. A lot of time, there isn't the chance to do this and instead the work would be about recycling a lot of silly props from every idiotic movie that's ever been made. He did as much as he could and would make sketches of the interiors as seen from the outside.

      c) Coming to design inside and outside
      He wasn't supposed to be designing both since at first Chris Foss was supposed to be designing the exterior of the human's ship , and this was frustrating to him because because he always designed from the skin in. One of the things he would always do is want the interior to appear to fit the exterior and eventually there was a kind of a compromise made. And soon it turned out that Chris Foss would leave and Ron would design the Nostromo. In the art department, they covered the walls with drawings, and slowly but surely, Alien emerged.

      d) Design concerns
      With the Nostromo, he went as far as to wanted a contrast smooth underside for a heat shield on the underside of the vehicle and the details on the upper part but the modeling team had to go a different direction and cover the whole things with details creating surface breakup with wiggeting to make the model more interesting.

      e) Ship on the backstage
      Ron felt that such a thing as a space craft in the movie should take the back stage of the film, he wasn't happy about a movie that should rely entirely on their visual effects in the way that scifi movies are notorious for. A lot of effort should be expended toward rendering the environment of the spaceship or space travel, whatever the fantastic setting of the story should be, as convincing as possible but always in the background. If it were a film dealing with a story set on an ocean liner, one might expect bits of footage to explain what the ship was liked docked or at sea but it should remain in the background of the story and that would be the same with science fiction.

      Quote sources
      1. Ron Cobb: I resent films that are so shallow they rely entirely on their visual effects, and of course science fiction films are notorious for this. I've always felt that there's another way to do it; a lot of effort should be expended toward rendering the environment of the spaceship, or space travel, whatever the fantastic setting of your story should be - as convincing as possible, but always in the background. That way the story and the characters emerge, and they become more real. If you were to set a story on an ocean liner, there would be bits of footage to explain what the ship was like docked or at sea, but it would remain in the background of the story. It should be the same with science fiction. (Book of Alien by Scanlon and Gross)
      2. Ron Cobb: I'm sort of a  frustrated engineer because I have lots of opinions about how certain problems could be solved using present technology or even speculating about near-future technology. So in working on a film I like to take this challenge and design a spaceship as though it was absolutely real, right down to the fuel tolerances, the centers of gravity, the way the engines function, radiation shielding, whatever.  And after I do that, I like to deal with how I can take this idea and hammer, bend and twist it into something that will be appropriate to the film. (Book of Alien by Scanlon and Gross)
      3. Bill Pearson: When I met Ron, he was very adamant that they were very realistic. He wanted a heat shield on the underside of the Nostromo lander. He wanted a contrast between the smooth underside of the heat shield and the detailed upper surface. However this was not to be. Our instructions was to encrust the whole craft. When it came down, we weren't seeing a craft come through an atmosphere; there was no re-entry. Ron was concerned that it should be there if that type of action was present. Ron is very much into the believability of things. He created wonderful background histories about his designs.(Sci-Fi & Fantasy FX  #48, p27)
      4. Spiky Bits: The original Ron Cobb pictures were very streamlined. Cobb had wanted the ship to look 100% feasible, with very smooth underside, like heat shields of NASA technology, but director Ridley Scott insisted on a lot of surface break-up to make the model interesting. He was shooting a horror film, after all. (SFX#6, p34)
      5. Ron Cobb: I had a design for that, but it was a deep space design and they couldn't understand it. It was crazy. The lander is semi-streamlined because it has to land on planets with atmospheres, but even there I couldn't make the distinction between a deep-space ship, and a reentry shell. I had to give up being terribly accurate so the section of the ship that detaches and lands is semi streamlined, but it has got the deep space look that everybody seems to like. It looks a bit like Galactica - it's textured a bit like it. (Fantastic Films, July 1979 p30)
      6. Ron Cobb: The only thing I could do to save it was that I drew the bottom of the shop as a re-entry shield and the top is sort of deep space so that it could come in belly-first. The top would be in a vacuum so it wouldn't have to be too streamlined. I haven't actually seen the model of it. (Fantastic Films, July 1979 p30)
      7. Ron Cobb: So it's pretty much right off my drawings. But the platform behind: I had an idea I thought would have been a lot of fun, big cargo modules with no gravity orientation to them. It was a line of a thrust orientation and they couldn't understand that. They wanted gravity a orientated look because the lander part does - it's got a bottom and a top.
        Fantastic Film: I can see the problems you must have had in relating those concepts to people who had neither exposure to science nor SF. (
        Fantastic Films, July 1979 p30)
      8. Ron Cobb: I was always pushing to do some interesting but believable speculations about how such a ship might might really look and how it would function. And Ridley, of course, he was interested in just producing a fantastic ship. I think he liked the idea of it being a cross between a tramp steamer and a cathedral. And so I was trying to reflect that, but also sneak in some little suggestions about how such a ship might really work. So the idea of a very realistic ship, a very believable spaceship design, was important to me because I thought it would suck the audience in. And I did as much of that as i could, I was always making a little sketch of how these interiors would look from the outside. So I was designing both. I wasn't supposed to be, but I was designing inside and out. (Alien The Archive, p32)
      9. Ron Cobb: This was frustrating to me because I always design from the skin in. One of the things I would always do is want the interior to appear to fit the exterior and eventually there was a kind of a compromise made.  (Alien The Archive, p14)
      10. Ron Cobb: I've always done future designs as though they're real, and I've found the more realism you put into it, the more original they look, and most of the time you don't do that you're just recycling a lot of silly props from every idiotic movie that's ever been made. We just covered the walls with drawings and, slowly but surely, Alien emerged. (Alien The Archive, p16)

      Yellow Nostromo

      leading from

      a.) The rise and fall of the yellow Nostromo
      For about three months the Nostromo had been painted yellow and green. Simon Deering remembered when one day Brian Johnson was looking at the model of the space ship and then the tattered old mostly ignored Ron Cobb sketch on the wall in the studio and then back at the model of the ship.
      Suddenly sparking up Brian said "Hey .. It should be yellow! Go get some paint!".
      So they had to get a couple of crates of small touchup spraypaint cans of signal yellow from Halfords. Originally the yellow was most likely inspired by Chris Foss who had been involved in the preproduction for Alien and some of his well known paintings of spacecrafts featured paint schemes with bright yellows. They covered it in the yellow paint and some parts of it were painted in different shades of the same yellow. Finally the whole thing was matted down with Letraset 103 matte fixative.

      Ron Cobb's first yellow Nostromo

      b) The meaning of Yellow
      For Jon Sorenson the yellow represented the idea that the ship was a decommissioned military vessel that was now used for mining, however Simon Deering was barely able to remember the yellow paint job being used for perhaps more than a day because of the excessive amount of Afghani hashish that he had been smoking at the time and he thought of a yellow colour scheme being related more to the idea of a JCB.
      final Nostromo sketch on yellow paper
      by Ron Cobb

      c) Brian Johnson's famous last word
      Dennis Ayling filmed the shot of the space craft travelling towards the planet, with twin suns in the distance. Brian Johnson was sitting with his arms back in the rushes room at Bray Studios and straight up he said "I think we've cracked it lads", but they were his famous last words. He soon left the Alien project to work on the Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back, and Ridley ordered the change of the Nostromo's colour from yellow to grey.

      untitled painting by Chris Foss
      used on the cover of  E.E. 'Doc' Smith's
      novel "Planet of Treacher"

      d) The change to grey
      Martin Bower remembered orders from Shepperton to change the colour scheme to a dirty grey. They sprayed it ith one sweep of normal primer grey and thought "that's no good", someone had some zinc plate primer, they did a test, it was darker and would polish up and look like metal . So Martin Bower went down to a shop in Maidenhead and buying a massive amount of zinc plate primer and the Nostromo became a dark grey, then it was polished, then shaded and they continued to work on it. When Ridley arrived, he liked the grey but not the numbers done in brilliant orange and so months of hard work of shooting the spaceship in flight had to be redone

      Source Quotes
      1. Jon Sorenson: Yeah Ridley appeared. We'd finished all these models extensively, there were thirty three shots to achieve on the schedule and at that time Nostromo was, was a military yellow and everybody loved that looked. (Alien Makers I documentary by Dennis Lowe, 52:17
      2. Dennis Lowe: "Which version of the Nostromo do you like"

        Jon Sorenson: "Oh right, of all the versions of Nostromo that were actually produced, the, there was one done that was military yellow and green, and  everyone, everyone loved that one and that, that was my favourite and I remembered , the first sequence,  we had, er,  a shot which was done by Dennis Ayling, who photographed it, and the yellow Nostromo came in over head and the planet artwork was rotating underneath,  your planet artwork on the dome projection and then the twin suns came up and I remember Brian Johnson , and we were sitting in the rushes, the little Bray studio rushes, Brian was sitting you know with his arms back like this and he's straight up and he said "I think we've cracked it lads", famous last words, you know of course, Ridley changed everything, but everybody loved that model and the look of it, and the idea was to make everything look very dark for the film, everybody understood what he wanted, but I still think in some ways he made a mistake by not keeping that military, because it gave you a sense not that it was a military craft but, but maybe it had been decommissioned and used, and kind of you know, second hand or something, it was a second hand space ship, and er, it didn't go into fights anymore but it was used for that, mining and er, but anyway away it went with everything else as soon as Ridley arrived."  Alien Makers I documentary by Dennis Lowe, 57:08)
        shot from Nostromo Ayrling's test footage
        with twin suns

      3. Simon Deering: Jon, Dennis, whats all this about the yellow Nostromo being Military ? I always thought yellow was for industrial like jCB's ? (Alien, June 24, 2009)
      4. WmmvrrvrrmmAlso I keep thinking about how the Nostromo model when it went through it's yellow paint scheme reminds me of Chris Foss' paintings, he has been known to paint yellow spacecrafts. I wonder if the paint scheme was inspired by his work (Alien, June 21, 2009)

        A JCB Wheeled Loading Shovel
        Jon SorensonAbsolutely correct! It was inspired by Chris Foss' designs. (Alien, June 24, 2009)
      5. Simon Deering: "The Nostromo was originally yellow, and the team filmed shots of the models for six weeks before Johnson left to work on The Empire Strikes Back. Scott then ordered it changed to gray" (quote from Wikipedia)  That's odd tho ..... I only remember the ship being yellow a few days .. Was it ever shot while yellow ? So tempting to make more comments , just deleted a few lines :p hehe( September 24th, 2010)

        wmmvrrvrrmmI still I've got to write my blog entry about the creation of the Nostromo soon for my Alien blog. There are a couple of other blogs for Alien that are probably a lot more enjoyable, but maybe mine attempts be the most extreme in what it aims to do. have said good things about my blog a few months back so maybe I'm going in the right direction with it although my work has been exhausting because of my need to get things from every single recorded perspective . I'm sure  that I'll mention every person who can be remembered to have taken part in the creation of the Nostromo though.  I often wonder if the whole of the making of Alien has a magic spell over it that forces a number of people involved to have conflicting memories about what went on as if some events in the production took place in parallel universes.  ( September 24th, 2010)

        Nostromo being sprayed yellow Neil Swan (top right)
        Brian Johnson arm (far left), Martin Bower (bottom left)
        Photo by Dennis Lowe

      6. Simon Deering: Of course it Was ! All that Afghani hashish made sure of that .. oops .. :P .. or was that also just one afternoon... ? ( September 24th, 2010)
      7. Wmmvrrvrrmm: 
        Hmm, I reading an article by the one and only Martin Bower which he wrote for Scifi and Fantasy Models some years back where he mentions that Brian Johnson had filmed a considerable amount of footage of it in it's yellow state before he left.  And he mentions that footage had been filmed over "the past few months" before the colour change rendered it unusable

        I'm wondering who gave the orders to give it gigantic serial numbers on the side painted in brilliant orange when the orders came over to paint it grey. ( September 29th, 2010)

        Nostromo being sprayed yellow by Jon Sorenson (top),
        Neil Swan (far right) Martin Bower (bottom left)
        Brian Johnson (far right) Photo by Dennis Lowe
        Nostromo being sprayed yellow, Neil Swan (top left) Brian Johnson (bottom left)
        Martin Bower (bottom right) Photo by Dennis Lowe
        Dennis Lowe: We spent ages filming the Yellow Nostromo (approx. 3 months) as that was the colour that was specified, there are some of my shots here in the gallery that shows Brian, Martin Bower and others spraying the model yellow. ( September 29th, 2010)

        Nostromo being sprayed yellow, Neil Swan (centre)  Brian Johnson (bottom right)
        Photo by Dennis Lowe

        WmmvrrvrrmmOkay, thanks , then Simon must have been the one sitting comfortably in Hashish universe at the time. When I come to write my account, I'll have to add a note into it regarding Simon's perception about the time it was yellow for and give a possible explanation.  ( September 29, 2010)

        Simon Deering: Aah yeah .. The mists are clearing ... I was reaally busy on another plane obviously, anyway I bet Riddles could have just lit it with a grey light eh Den ? Another day I do remember was the one when Brian was looking at the ship, then the tattered old mostly ignored Cobb sketch on the wall, then back at the ship ... Then suddenly sparking up with "Hey .. It should be yellow! Go get some paint!" Was a couple of crates of those small yellow car touchup spraypaint cans. Marine blue might have been nice ... ? Or Sherwood green ? Spose it was my sense of humour that imagined Ridley coming in 10 minutes after the yellow dust settled and saying "Why is it yellow ?? Spray it grey again!!" It was never gray anyway I remember that  ( September 29, 2010)

        The yellow Nostromo
        Martin Bower spraying the Nostromo yellow
        Jon Sorenson: The Yellow NOSTROMO. Of course we shot on it for months. The first shot I saw in rushes/dailies was of that version sailing overhead as you see similarly in the footage Dennis salvaged for his film ALIEN MAKERS 2, shot in 1978 by Denys Ayling. The one I talked about so much in my short interview in ALIEN MAKERS 1. The shot was beautiful. Truly stunning. As was all the other of the 33 shots largely completed before Ridley Scott came over to Bray full-time. Brian Johnson was correct in taking that colour from the Ron Cobb drawings. He tried in vain to get more direction from Ridley but could'nt. Even sometimes not even speaking to Brian in the Shepperton canteen. I recall hearing about that. The reason became clear later, when Ridley Scott arrived with his famous hammer and all changed. The yellow version was the version. Hundreds of feet of fibre optic lighting was installed in her to provide lit windows. Lit up, she looked stunning and every inch fitted into the film. Below is a shot of Andrew Kelly, (son of Skeets Kelly, the reknowned aerial cameraman), fitting these fibre optics. This shot is in the gallery here, amongst the stills we donated to this Site, along with many others  of the yellow version. No hallucination, hashish or otherwise. When the NOSTROMO was quickly sprayed over grey, all that work was casually obliterated. 

        The grey version I always felt was even then a tired cliche and not nearly as classy as the yellow and green one we had. Ridley was entitled to flex his directorial prerogatives. We liked him and the film. We would have climbed any obstacle for him and did. But the felling of the yellow NOSTROMO deprived you of not only something you had'nt seen in a movie up to that time, but the best work that wonderful crew could, and did, do.( September 29, 2010)

        Andrew Kelly fitting the fibre optics

        Simon Deering:  Yeah youve cleared more mists Jon :) Praps there was some trauma there, losing all those airbrushed, plasticard - masked shades of yellow grey panelling on top of the real relief card panels.... deary me .. I am absolutely going to sneak in lots of "tribute" detail on the O'Neill colony ship :).. there will be yellow bits.. there will certainly be a weylan yutani logo ..  The one thing I learned from Martin I have already added.. running a piece of perspex through the circular saw with the blade just above the bed to make a few channels ..  From Bill I learned to listen to a 'creative' client and say "I knooow" .. and then carry on with whatever I was doing regardless..
        cheers m' dears  *reaches for the Laphroaig, You are a fisherman as well I suspect Jon .. ?  :P x ( September 29, 2010)

        Martin Bower standing by the yellow Nostromo
      8. Martin Bower: Just before Brian (Johnson) left, we had to change the colour of the Nostromo tug. Up till this time, it has been bright yellow with heavy weathering, and considerable footage had already been shot by Brian with it this colour. However we had orders from Shepperton to change it to a dirty grey and to give it serial numbers on the side. When Ridley arrived, he liked the grey but he did not like the numbers; done in brilliant orange! So off they came for a start. This colour change of course rendered everything Brian had shot over the past dew months unusable . (Scifi and fantasy models, Alien The Models, The Definitive Inside Story: Part One, p30) 
      9. Martin Bower: Essentially he shot the whole thing again because he came to Nostromo and then we started spraying it and one sweep of the normal primer grey, we thought "that's no good" , and I remember going down to a shop in Maidenhead and buying a massive amount of zinc plate primer, we first of all did a test, somebody, I don't know who it was, got, had some zinc plate primer, what it was, you could spray it on, I don't know if you remember, it was darker and it would polish up and look like metal, really look like metal, so Nostromo wasn't grey primer as so many people today are, you know, people are all asking me questions about that, what colour it was, it was actually this dark grey colour, polished up and then obviously we shaded it and worked on it, so its kind of all in model working in Alien, it just, evolution, it was like an evolution, you know, of different ideas, which ended up as some very incredible effects. (Alien Makers I documentary)
      10. Bill Pearson: Brian said "right., paint it" And it seemed to be according to one of the Ron Cobbs drawings had gone down well, it was going to be yellow. So, it was a can of something like signal yellow from Halfords then sprayed it up then picked some bits out in some slightly different shades of that yellow and matted the whole thing down with Letraset 103 matte fixative and that was it, that did the rounds then, that was the discussion model, And it changed, I'm even now not sure, i think it went to white, then grey then, then an off white, and each time it changed colour, it was a case of starting back and shooting from day one again, so for the film, it's the longest I've ever been on a movie. I was one of the first on and I was one of the last off and I was there for an entirety of about one year and two days. At the end , I was asked to stay on. Peter Beale who was the head of Fox in Europe who I had met a few times on the production asked me if I would remain at Bray at the end and refurbish the models, because they were all going over to ah, a screening in the States and the wanted the... the... the Nostromo refinery, the ah... the ah... the Narcissus, and I think it was, yuh and the large Nostromo. They all had to be refurbished to go. So I'd... I had a couple of weeks, the refinery was in a hell of a state and I never really liked a lot of the dressing on it, mostly my own, erm,  my own biggest critic, so when i got the opportunity to redress and money at that point was no object, I just bought loads in and put all this sort of dressing in that I wanted in the first place, when we had like three and six pence to do everything.  So it, the, the model refinery that went over to the states was not accurate to the one in the movie whatsoever. It was a lot better looking I thought. It was a learning curve for me and at the end, going to the crew's screening in Leicester Square, I was very disappointed, but the reason for that disappointment was I didn't know how film really worked. Erm, I expected every detail that I put into the movie to be up there on screen and that's where the disappointment sprung from. I loved the rest of the film, but I was disappointed by my input on the screen. As the years have passed, I have learned that I was damned lucky that you know, so much of my work did make it up there, erm, but I've always been very proud of my involvement in the film, but I think the film was a success, not  so much of my involvement, may.. maybe in spite of, but at the end , I believed I did as good a job as I could the time.
      11. Bill Pearson: It was originally a sort of dirty yellow not unlike a JCB. That looked quite interesting, but then it went to a very dark grey, a dirty white and finally, mid-grey primer, the same colour as the refinery which fitted in with the nautical, hard-working look. After painting, we dirtied it down with black poster paint, then rubbed it off with a cloth, leaving it settled in the nooks and crannies (SFX#6, p36)
      12. Ron Cobb: Ridley thought [yellow] was too odd, so they changed it to grey. (Alien The Archive, p35)