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Fred F. Sears
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Five people are sitting in a New York bar with a mysterious Mr. Ohman, when they hear the news that the godless Communists are invading the good ol' U.S. of A. The five rush off to various sections of the country to do their part to stop the invasion, when an A-bomb crashes down upon Manhattan. Written by
Marty McKee <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film shows Boulder City Nevada as a flatland farm community downriver from Hoover Dam being flooded by water after the dam is bombed. Boulder City is on a hilltop seven miles from the dam and some 1300 additional feet in elevation. See more »
It was the early 1950s. J. Parnell Thomas of The House Unamerican Activities Committee was accusing everyone in sight who had any measure of public visibility with Communist allegiance. He went after Hollywood in a series of highly publicized hearings, resulting in the arrests and convictions of the Hollywood Ten for invoking their Fifth Amendment rights against self incrimination... just before Thomas himself was hauled before a Grand Jury to answer fraud charges. In a moment of high irony Thomas himself invoked the Fifth Amendment before he was convicted and imprisoned.
It was the time of "Tail Gunner Joe" McCarthy, who charged that Communist influence in the State Department and Army had caused us to "give away" China. He recklessly charged that Communists had infiltrated nearly every aspect of American life... strictly in the name of enhancing his own political power base. In the Army hearings McCarthy was finally unmasked as an unprincipled charlatan by Army counsel Joseph Welch, and he was subsequently censured by the Senate for unethical conduct. Joe McCarthy subsequently died of alcoholism.
Besides these men... Richard Nixon, J. Edgar Hoover, Roy Cohn, and many others in positions of power shrieked the gospel of anticommunism, demanding that Americans surrender Constitutional rights in the name of defeating this new enemy.
It was a time of fear where American opinion could be easily manipulated. Partly for financial gain, and partly to spare itself from further attacks by the Thomases and McCarthys, Hollywood became a willing tool for the use of politicians, a propaganda machine that produced a number of sensational films that capitalized on the anti Red hysteria.
Some of the more notable Hollywood efforts were the major studio film BIG JIM MACLAIN, starring John Wayne and James Arness, and a B-movie effort, THE RED MENACE, whose opening credits graphic showed an octopus wearing a hammer and sickle logo using it's tentacles to embrace the entire world.
Pretty heavy handed stuff, but it was effective for the political manipulation of a frightened American populace. It kept McCarthy off of the studio's backs... as well as made a few B-movie bucks.
Along with these heavy, ideological films came INVASION USA, a mythical war and adventure movie. Of the whole lot, THIS is the most interesting of the Red Scare films, and it's the ONLY one that's ANY fun at all! Ed Wood must have LOVED this film; it clearly taught him the cinematic techniques he was to later make famous. As a cost cutting measure the film makes GENEROUS use of stock footage, mostly Public Domain stuff from military sources.
To make American planes into enemy ones, they just printed the stock footage BACKWARDS, so that UNITED STATES AIR FORCE on the planes came out REVERSED, and it looked sort of like Russian Cyrillic lettering.
In newly shot scenes where stock footage couldn't be used, set decoration relied heavily on the local Army-Navy store! There are literally TONS of military surplus equipment on the sets.
The fact that enemy troops were dressed in American military surplus uniforms was explained neatly by saying that they were infiltrating in disguise! As another cost cutting measure, the cast is ENTIRELY made up of B list "talent" who would work for Actor's Equity scale. The amount of over the top, hammy acting has to be seen to be believed! To throw in a touch of sex, a drunken enemy soldier tries to ravage a blonde American beauty, who chooses instead to kill herself by diving out of a window!
The script is absurd, but for frightened audiences of the time it was plausible... it bore out all of the dire threats that politicians had been making. Hedda Hopper's review of the film said "It will scare the pants off you!", and so it did. Bombing raids on San Francisco, the Hoover Dam destroyed by a missile attack, and New York City hit with an atomic bomb were enough to scare the pants off of ANYBODY.
For sheer kitsch value I give it a ten.
As a warning of what propaganda feeding the political hysteria stirred up by unethical politicians can accomplish, it ALSO gets a ten.
As movie-making, it gets a four.
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