Sixty-nine years ago tonight the air raid sirens wailed across Los Angeles as frightened residents looked to the western skies.

It was nearly three months after Pearl Harbor and the start of World War II for the United States so, needless to say, people on the left coast were rightly scared.

Anti-aircraft artillery filled the skies and those who had bomb shelters went below. But what triggered the wave of fear known as the Battle of Los Angeles?

People widely believed the loathed Japanese Zero airplanes had finally come to attack the mainland.

What could cause such panic today? An iPhone shortage?

What could cause such panic today? An iPhone shortage?

But the aircraft never materialized. And the U.S. officially declared the evening on-edge was the result of a false alarm. The military would later say it was a case of “war nerves” triggered by an errant weather balloon.

And then there were the conspiracy theories. UFO theories.

As part of its press barrage for the forthcoming sci-fi invasion film Battle: Los Angeles, Columbia Pictures is doing its part to keep the theories alive:

“What was this event – just a sighting? Or could it have been something else – a scouting mission, reconnaissance for a coming invasion? For years, there have been documented cases of UFO sightings around the world, like the one in Los Angeles in 1942, but in Columbia Pictures' Battle: Los Angeles, what were once just sightings will become a terrifying reality when Earth is attacked by unknown forces.”

So look to the skies, tonight, Angelenos, at least in reflection of more innocent times (and maybe in anticipation of a crap movie).

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