The Secret Invasion (1964) Poster

User Reviews

Add a Review
27 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
7/10
Good Little War Movie
SgtSlaughter15 August 2003
Cheapie director Roger Corman brings us this low-budget, high-octane thriller. THE SECRET INVASION was shot in Yugoslavia and released by United Artists in 1964.

In 1943, British intelligence sends five convicted criminals into Yugoslavia to rescue an Italian General and convince him to turn his troops against the occupying Nazi forces. This story was essentially copied a few years later by director Richard Conte in OPERATION CROSS EAGLES, which has a similar look and feel but doesn't hold a candle to this film's characters or action scenes.

Corman's ensemble cast is made up of several familiar veteran actors. Raf Vallone is the leading criminal, who actually wants to earn his amnesty. Mickey Rooney (AMBUSH BAY) is great fun as an Irish demolition expert who can blow up just about anything. The ever-annoying Edd Byrnes doesn't give too hoots about the mission and even attempts to escape to a German PT boat almost immediately, but has come to his senses near the end. Master of disguise William Campbell doesn't trust silent killer Henry Silva (PROBABILITY ZERO), who he thinks is trying to botch the mission. An older Peter Coe (TOBURK) also appears as the Partisan leader, Marko.

Working with a low budget, Corman is surprisingly able to create a high number of suspense scenes and well-done action sequences. One plot aspect has the team keeping time by snapping their fingers when their enemy captors lift their watches. This allows them to time escapes perfectly, springing surprises on the Nazis. During the final battle, the old cliché of killers disguised as hooded monks comes up but is defied as one rips off his disguise; and Granger leads a pack of German attack dogs astray by ripping off his own bandage and allowing them to track his blood as he bleeds to death. The action scenes are excellently filmed, too, making great use of location photography to heighten the suspense. One long, drawn out sequence set in the hills of Dubrovnik involves hundreds of extras, lots of very loud gunfire, excellent explosions and some fine quick cutting. All of this makes the action even more nail-biting, as you never know who will live to the end and who won't.

The film boasts a great Hugo Friedhofer score which adds the perfect mournful touch to a scene involving a dead baby; and just the right rousing action theme for the combat portions. Cinematography is top-notch, with fine camera angles capturing emotions and action perfectly. Even on the small screen, the film has been pan-and-scanned with utmost care so you don't lose as much as you usually do.

I saw this movie on the Encore! Network. It has been excellently cared for, with accurate flesh tones, sharp images all around (Vallone's eyes are a clear blue even from far away). MGM has done a good job recently, digitally remastering a number of their old films (perhaps for future DVD releases?) such as ATTACK ON THE IRON COAST.

This is one of those rare war films which packs the most material possible into its' low budget. The characters are strong, the action spectacular and the suspense truly nail-biting. Corman's unorthodox twists make the far-fetched plot a little more acceptable. This is a 2-hour, no-intelligence-required action fest you'll not want to miss.

7/10
19 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A shorter, cheaper, better version of THE DIRTY DOZEN
Bob-454 August 1999
An army major leads a rag-tag band of convicts on a daring mission behind enemy lines. THE DIRTY DOZEN, you ask? No, THE SECRET INVASION, a solid Roger Corman programmer released two years earlier, with a talented cast led by Stewart Granger, Mickey Rooney, Raf Vallone, Ed Byrnes, William Campbell and Henry Silva. Far less predictable than DOZEN, this film has some dynamite performances (Byrnes, Rooney and Silva are especially good), great action, and some surprising plot twists. See it!
18 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Better than you'd think
frankfob14 March 2002
Although producer/director Roger Corman is known for his "economical" pictures, this World War II actioner belies its $600,000 budget (small by conventional Hollywood standards, but an epic for Corman) and is a well-acted, tightly directed, enjoyable not-quite-so-little picture. The story of a group of misfit Allied soldiers sent to rescue an important Italian general who has been imprisoned by the Nazis, Corman makes good use of the Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia, locations and a cast consisting of much better actors then he usually got, especially Mickey Rooney, Stewart Granger and Henry Silva (in an outstanding performance as a taciturn, deadly killer who isn't quite as cold-blooded as he seems). Even Edd Byrnes is far less annoying than usual, and turns in a good job. The action scenes are very well handled, the picture looks much more expensive than its budget would indicate, and it actually garnered some of the best reviews of Corman's career up to that time, and deservedly so. It's a good one (and compares favorably to "The Dirty Dozen," which it preceded). Check it out.
12 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
5/10
Rugged WWII actioner concerning about an experienced Major and his misfit commando
ma-cortes24 August 2010
This exciting and so-so war movie produced by Gene Corman packs thrills, suspense , plot twists , lots of action sequences and climatic ending , but doesn't quite hang together. Passable warfare film follows a group of convicts soldiers played by all star cast who undergoes assignment against the promise of free pardons. It deals with Major Mace (Stewart Granger) , a tough commandant , he assigns a motley team(Mickey Rooney ,Raf Vallone , Edd Byrnes, Henry Silva, William Campbell) for a dangerous mission whose aim is to free an Italian General (Enzo Fiermonte) . As Stewart Granger training an outfit of rebels and misfits soldiers for a risked assault in Yugoslavia where they contact partisans. The commando must participate in a suicidal mission, the first to wipe a Yugoslavian little town and after an assault over a strong position located on Dubrovnik , Croacia, where is imprisoned the Italian General. Each member of the squad keeps time by rhythmically snapping his fingers so the kidnap can be coordinated . They wreak havoc and kill Nazis to earn the respect of military higher-ups in an exciting final .

This low-budgeted and appropriate runtime warfare film concerns about an incredible lesson of courage set in WWII . This flag-waving film packs frantic thrills, perilous adventures, relentless feats , and buck-loads of explosive action and violence . The noisy action is uniformly well-made, especially deserving of mention the rip-roaring final scenes on the mountains and battle at Dubrovnik city . Fine location cinematography by Arthur Arling and powerful musical score by Hugo Friedhofer . Serious and rough Stewart Granger is good as leader of the motley pack together thwart the the Nazi schemes, as well as the largely secondary cast with particular mention to Henry Silva and Raf Vallone who finish developing a sincere friendship . The film belongs to Commandos sub-genre operating beyond enemy lines whose maximum examples result to be the classics as ¨Dirty dozen¨(Robert Aldrich) , ¨Guns of Navarone¨ (J.L. Thompson) , ¨When eagles dare ¨ (Brian G Hutton), ¨ and ¨Kelly's heroes¨ (Hutton) and other movies that were made during the 60s and 70s regarding wartime adventures about special forces in risked missions .

The motion picture is professionally directed by Roger Corman . After his period realizing poverty-budget horror movies as ¨Swamp woman, The beast with a million of eyes, Attack of the crab monsters , Undead¨, then came the cycle of tales of terror based on Poe as ¨ House of Usher, Pit and pendulum, The raven , Tales of terror, The masque of the red death ¨ , and meanwhile Corman made this passable war film that achieved limited success.
11 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Good war drama
blanche-223 July 2009
Stewart Granger, Raf Vallone, Mickey Rooney, William Campbell,Edd Byrnes, and Henry Silva are part of "The Secret Invasion," directed by Roger Corman. Vallone, Rooney, Campbell and Silva are prisoners who are brought in as part of a mission to free an Italian general, who was about to turn on the Nazis and turn his army over to the allies and is now being held by the Nazis. Granger, as Major Mace, is put in charge of them. If they don't die, they will win their amnesty.

The levels of commitment vary among the men. The organizer, Rocca (Vallone) is a brilliant man who is dedicated to the mission, while Simon Fell (Byrnes), a forger, is not and tries to escape. Mickey Rooney plays the munitions expert, a cheerful Irishman, and Henry Silva plays an assassin, Durrell, who, although quiet, has feelings that run very deep. Saval (Campbell) doesn't trust him.

While this is a derivative movie, it's filled with action, some good characters, sadness, and violence. Corman paces it well. On a side note, because I know German, the German spoken was perfect and, unlike Das Boot, easy to understand.

Corman made this on a low budget, and the actors' performances vary as a result of not being able to fill this movie with an all-star cast. Edd Byrnes leaves a lot to be desired. I remember William Campbell from my childhood in a TV series called "Canonball" - actually, his big claim to fame is that he was married to JFK-Sam Giancana girlfriend Judith Exner. Granger, Vallone, Rooney and Silva are excellent as are the members of the German cast.

Good drama, good war story.
8 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
A few notches above the average adventure.
beatlesfavband6 June 2001
This film is well directed by Roger Corman and has a great plot with some good twists. The Yugoslavian location filming adds to the enjoyment, there's plenty of action and the pace is fast. The top notch cast is what really puts it over. Mickey Rooney is excellent as Scanlon and provides much of the humor. Edd Byrnes, Stewart Granger, William Campbell and Henry Silva give solid performances and Raf Vallone adds an introspective quality that raises this film a few notches above the average adventure. My favorite quote is from his character, "Who will free it from us and who will free us from ourselves."

If you're not initially nuts about this flick like I was, be patient. I went to see this in 1964 with my cousin. It was my second time seeing it but her first. About twenty minutes into it I said to myself, "Boy, this is a good movie." "It is," she questioned in an unconvinced tone, but fifteen minutes later she nudged me and said very enthusiastically, "You're right! This is a good movie!"

It is also one of the first films I remember from the 60's that dabbled in graphic violence. Although there are only a few, the scenes were shocking and tense in 1964 and still strike a chord now.

The Dirty Dozen(1967), which I also like very much, may be the best known of the two but the Secret Invasion was a forerunner of the genre and in my estimation is the better film.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Led the way for future films??
johnboy1260-131 May 2010
I saw this one today and I was very surprised by the film. Not only does it have a theme reminiscent of the later Dirty Dozen, but there's a scene towards the beginning that smacks of the Guns of Naverone. The casting is surprisingly top notch and I was overall pleased with the entire film. Stewart Granger is Good as the troubled British officer out for revenge. I loved Mickey Rooney, who seemed to be having the time of his life as an IRA demolition expert. The other members of the cast rounded out an almost perfect ensemble with notable mention to William Campbell & Edd Byrne. The only thing I found odd about this film was the speed at which the actors found themselves on their secret mission. It seemed within 20 minutes they were introduced, trained, and already in enemy waters. Other than that, it was a solid WW2 movie with plenty of action! I HIGHLY recommend it.
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Better than a dozen
mrskywalker22 September 2002
This film cut out much of the extra stuff that was in the Dirty Dozen. It also did not have a maggot character like Savalas played in the dozen. The film had a few unexpected turns and did not turn to the revolting conclusion of the Dirty Dozen. Secret Invasion had a better premise than Dozen.

In Dozen the mission was to kill as many German officers as possible at a castle which also would include their their wives and girlfriends. In Secret Invasion the mission was to rescue a popular Italian general from German captivity so that he could return to lead Italian forces. At that time many Italians wavered between German and Allied forces so a strong leader could turn the tide so Italians would join the Allied cause.

The film demands some understanding of the war to fully understand the plot. It also shows glimpses into the Yugoslavian underground which supported the U.S. There are plenty of convincing battle scenes and Corman does a fine job of directing with good acting. Great to see on cable instead of the usual more talky Second World War films.
7 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
Before the Dirty Dozen....there was Secret Invasion
nomoons1129 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Now Secret Invasion isn't in the same league as The Dirty Dozen in terms of Production, but for its low budget, it's worth a watch. 3 years before the Dirty Dozen, Secret Invasion was first in the "Prisoners who get a 2nd chance so they hand pick 5 to carry out a secret mission" fighting the Nazi's storyline. Of course in here there are only 5 but for what you get, it's an entertaining yarn.

Whats great about this little war movie is the actual settings in Yugoslavia and Croatia and not some Hollywood sound stage. Real landscapes and authentic people from the area make a decent watch. If you happen upon this little title, grab it and watch, you'll probably like it.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
Knocking The Axe Out Of The Axis
bkoganbing25 May 2011
Roger Corman got his largest budget to date and distribution through United Artists for The Secret Invasion. Even though the story is a combination of The Dirty Dozen and The Guns Of Navarone, it's all delivered in nice style.

Heading the mission is Major Stewart Granger and the time is during those days just before the Allies invaded Italy proper having already landed and occupied Sicily. He gets himself a choice team of criminals of varying kind all with certain specialties. His team includes Raf Vallone, Edd Byrnes, William Campbell, Mickey Rooney, and Henry Silva. With Granger that makes it a half a dozen.

These six are to go into occupied Yugoslavia and kidnap a popular Italian general. Remember at this point in time Mussolini had already been overthrown and the Allies were conducting negotiations with Field Marshal Badoglio to take Italy out of the Axis orbit. Command broke down in the Italian Army and Badoglio dragged his feet somewhat. So this was a move in Yugoslavia where the Italians had considerable troops.

Things didn't quite work out for Granger and the rest of his half dozen no more than they did for the Allies and Badoglio. Still the mission is completed kind of and a few actually survive to tell the tale.

Best in the cast is Mickey Rooney who adopts a nice Irish brogue as he plays an IRA man who's good with explosives. Like the rest he's fighting for a pardon if he gets back from Yugoslavia. He looks like he's having a great old time in the part. Given his last name you'd think the Mick would have played more Irish types in films. But remember he was born Joe Yule, Jr. quite Jewish.

The Secret Invasion will not be one of Roger Corman's cult classics, it had too big a budget for that. Still it's an enjoyable film, war film fans will like it.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
An almost forgotten Roger Corman project.
Michael O'Keefe16 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Producer/director Roger Corman actually comes up with a very commendable war movie on his typical "B" budget. This is a pared down preview of THE DIRTY DOZEN. Five criminals, all with a special skill, are given the chance at a pardon on the condition they participate in a near suicide mission. British Intelligence smuggle the five into Yugoslavia to make a commando raid on a Nazi headquarters, where an Italian officer is being imprisoned. The British feel rescuing the general will influence him to have his army fight with the Allied forces.

Interesting and diverse cast featuring: Stewart Granger, Henry Silva, Raf Vallone, Edd (Kookie) Brynes, Mickey Rooney, Spela Rozin and Peter Coe. Filmed in Yugoslavia and Croatia.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Hell in the Balkans
zardoz-1330 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
When British Major Richard Mace (Stewart Granger of "North to Alaska") with his stiff upper lip meets the five convicts from all parts of the globe who are going to help him carry out his difficult but important mission, he informs them from the start: "You men were not my choice for this mission. Intelligence seems to think that your peculiar talents could be of some value but don't for a moment imagine that serving under me will be easier than the prisons you came from. You've all been offered pardons to undertake this mission. You've given your word to cooperate and I expect you to keep it." Roberto Rocca (Raf Vallone of "Nevada Smith") is the most literate with a college degree in psychology and he becomes the organizer of the bunch. Mickey Rooney of the famous MGM "Andy Hardy" movies is an Irishman named Terry Scanlon; his specialties including picking locks and demolitions unless he can find a good bottle of corn whiskey to distract him. Edd Byrnes of TV's "77 Sunset Strip" is the forger Simon Fell. Tough guy actor Henry Silva of "Ocean's 11" is the cold-blooded assassin John Durrell, a man of few words whose actions speak far more eloquently than his language. Finally, William Campbell is pretty boy Jean Saval who can impersonate anybody. Mace and these men are part of an overall Allied invasion of the southern Europe, principally the Balkans. Their mission is to distract the Nazis from the actual invasion by liberating a high-ranking officer General Quadri (Enzo Fiermonte of "A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die") from a Nazi prison stronghold who can unite the partisans and keep the German Army busy.

Producer & director Roger Corman earned a reputation cranking out low budget, drive-in movie creature features, but "The Secret Invasion" represents a drastic departure of his usual nonsense. This above-average World War II epic is bolstered by a strong cast headed by English actor Stewart Granger and scenic locations in both Croatia and Yugoslavia that lend a sense of authenticity to this impossible mission epic. Furthermore, produced as it was in 1964, "The Secret Invasion" beat director Robert Aldritch's superior pardon the convicts for a top secret classified mission "The Dirty Dozen" (1967) by three years. Mind you, "The Secret Invasion" wasn't the top box office draw of 1964 that "The Dirty Dozen" proved it was in 1967, but this offbeat World War II movie is still pretty damned good in and of itself.

Our heroes enter the Balkans by way of a fishing boat, rather like Gregory Peck and his companions in "The Guns of Navarone," but things go awry when Simon tries to escape and the others have to dive over the side and swim around behind a Nazi patrol boat to kill the enemy. Once they enter the country, they start to work on a plan, but their plans are short-lived because the Nazis capture a resistance leader and he cracks under torture. Eventually, after a running roof-top gun battle between our heroes and the Nazis, the Germans are able to capture the good guys. As Roberto observes when the Nazis demand their surrender, they had planned all along to get into the prison one way or another. Once they are prisoners, they have to put up with the former commandant's eternal interrogations, but our heroes fool him long enough for Scanlon to pick the lock of their cell with a tool devised from dinner ware while Saval impersonates him. They manage to escape with General Quadri. The first convict to bite the dust is Simon Fell. Scanlon manages to blow up a machine gun nest in a fortified battlement but Major Mace receives a nasty leg wound and opts to lead their pursuers in the wrong direction. When the remainder of the convicts reach the resistance holed up in a monastery, they are surprised to learn that General Quadri is not General Quadri but instead an imposter! Now, how do they get out of this tight spot? "The Secret Invasion" qualifies as one of the few times that director Roger Corman proved that he could make a bigger budget picture. There's nothing really outlandish in R. Wright Campbell's formulaic screenplay. One of the most memorable scenes has one of the convicts smothering an infant to keep it from crying out and alerting the Nazis about their whereabouts. The irony is that the character that smothers the child while its mother stood beside him had no idea what he was doing when he did it.

Hardcore World War II movie fanatics shouldn't miss this landmark pardon the convicts spectacle.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
5/10
Not Very Good
Gunn8 June 2008
This film was a big disappointment. It lacked energy, a good cast, involvement and enthusiasm. I blame most of this on the director and an equal amount on the editor. It was chock full of bad cuts and continuity errors, e.g. the key scene where Henry Silva quiets the crying infant. Silva, Raf Vallone and a few others were the only assets to the cast. It was Stewart Granger, Mickey Rooney and above all Edd "Kookie" Byrnes whose acting was really bad. The script was very badly written and formulaic. The film might've worked with better casting, directing, and a better script, but I doubt it very much as this type of story has been told before and with more energy. Its only pluses were a decent score and excellent cinematography. All in all this was a 'bust'!
5 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
5/10
The Dirty Half-Dozen
wes-connors7 June 2010
In Cairo, Egypt, during World War II, British Major Stewart Granger (as Richard Mace) pardons five criminals from prison - "master of disguise" William Campbell (as Jean Saval), boozy Irish revolutionary Mickey Rooney (as Terence Scanlon), well-coiffed forger Edd Byrnes (as Simon Fell), close-mouthed assassin Henry Silva (as John Durrell), and educated crime lord Raf Vallone (as Roberto Rocca). The quintet agreed to cooperate in a potentially suicidal mission. They are to infiltrate a German prison, and free a general. But, the Nazis have other plans. "The Secret Invasion" is relatively bloody for its time, with good action and locations.

***** The Secret Invasion (9/16/63) Roger Corman ~ Stewart Granger, Raf Vallone, Mickey Rooney, Edd Byrnes
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Been there, done that
jaykay-101 July 2003
A compendium of cliches, culled from many years of war dramas, and action pictures of other types: there was little that was fresh or original when this film was made, and absolutely nothing of the sort left for a viewer now. The assortment of superficial characters have turned up, singly or jointly, in Westerns, crime stories, prison picture and the like for many decades. Conflict and tension are nowhere in evidence. Battle scenes are noisy and lengthy, if you go for that sort of thing. Where else will you find characters struggling through rugged terrain, wounded, surrounded by explosions and other violence, yet emerging (dead or alive) with every hair in place (see Stewart Granger and Edd Byrnes, in particular)? The scenery is beautiful, in keeping with the astonishingly clean look of a picture about unsavory characters on a grubby mission. Here is a movie that deservedly has been all-but-forgotten.
4 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
5/10
Am I Allowed To Mention Other And Better War Films ?
Theo Robertson22 June 2013
British officer Major Richard Mace recruits a bunch of convicted criminals in to a carrying out a secret mission that involves rescuing an Italian General being held hostage by the Nazis in Yugoslavia . If they succeed they'll be granted a pardon . If they fail they won't have to worry about living long enough to be sent back to jail because this is a literal suicide mission

The above premise is very similar to THE DIRTY DOZEN a fact reflected that everyone on this page has brought up the 1967 film directed by Robert Aldrich . Of course there's only so many ways you can deal a pack of cards so sooner or later premises are going to meet one another and the 1960s were full of movies where desperate men were conscripted in to carrying out suicide missions behind enemy lines . THE SECRET INVASION probably didn't have much or any influence over THE DIRTY DOZEN and perhaps this 1964 movie owes more to the 1961 big budget release THE GUNS OF NAVERONE ?

Where THE DIRTY DOZEN succeeds is that the group of soldiers turned criminals turned back in to soldiers again are far more convincing than the ones seen here . You want a demolition expert then who better than Mickey Rooney who shockingly was only 44 when this movie was released but looks like a man at least 20 years older . You do get the impression that his character would have a problem running up a flight of stairs never mind taking part in a physically draining mission against the Nazis

THE SECRET INVASION is directed by Roger Corman and that alone tells you what the production values are going to be like . The action scenes aren't handled well with three or four actors squeezed in to frame as bullets whizz past explosions take place out of shot that fails to convince the audience that an epic battle scene is taking place . That said the resolution to the mission is somewhat surprising and unexpected which means if the film had a bigger budget then it might have been held in higher regard than it actually is
2 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
3/10
Dubious Patriots
Warning: Spoilers
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Nothing makes sense in The Secret Invasion (1964). Director Roger Corman is out to lunch with the script, but the scenes are shot rather well. He's managed to scrounge up some decent actors and highly ambitious locale (the city of Dubrovnik, a Croatian city on the Adriatic Sea) but does nothing with them. He was probably filming five other movies to save money. Most of the actors are so annoying that you'd wish for their death early on. They are cardboard thugs, not emphasizing any emotion at all. Mickey Rooney as Terence Scanlon, Henry Silva as John Durrell and Stewart Granger as Major Richard Mace are just a few found in this stinker.

The Germans aren't much better since they seem to be played by idiotic Slavics and a highly annoying boneheaded commander. They can't seem to shoot very well either, having great difficulty in killing the idiotic "Secret Invasion" force. The last half just deteriorates so badly that it won't do you any good to watch it.

It's hard to tell what Raf Vallone (Italian footballer and international film actor) is saying with his heavy accent, it's even harder to tell why he's snapping his fingers throughout the film. The plot is so convoluted that you have to stop just to scratch your head. These guys take a small boat into German-occupied Yugoslavia and find a graveyard to dig a hole to the big German-occupied castle that has some Italian general. They dig a few hours, and it must be about two miles to the big German-occupied castle. Okay, brilliant guys. Then they get caught and are stuck inside and manage to kill about every German guard inside. Heck, why not send them to the Italian front to defeat the German divisions?

The ending made no sense at all either. But that wasn't really surprising. In all, I guess people who don't appreciate decent war films will love this ridiculous rubbish. Anyone with a brain will probably go get Hell Is for Heroes (1962), directed by Don Siegel and starring Steve McQueen for the tenth time.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Well, This Here Did Come Before 'The Dirty Dozen'
Michael_Elliott13 September 2012
The Secret Invasion (1964)

** (out of 4)

Raf Vallone, Mickey Rooney, Edd Byrnes, Henry Silva and William Campbell play convicts who are given an opportunity for parole but to do so they must cross into enemy territory and rescue an Italian general who is being held hostage during WWII. By that description you'd think this Roger Corman film was nothing more than a rip-off of THE DIRTY DOZEN but it would be important to check the dates because this one here was actually released three years before the more popular film. With that said, if THE DIRTY DOZEN was a reworking or remake of this then it was certainly needed because while this film might look good it offers very little else. I was a little surprised to see how flat this movie was but I think it lacks any real emotion and a lot of this is due to the screenplay. The screenplay gives us five characters that we're supposed to care for yet not one of them grows on the viewer to where you care about their situation or really if they live or die in the end. Going on this mission with five characters that you really don't like pretty much stops this film in its tracks. Even worse is that most of them are pretty annoying and this is especially true of the Rooney character. I'm guessing he was meant to give some comedy relief but it's never funny. Silva comes off the best out of the five convicts but it's too bad he wasn't given more screen time. Stewart Granger plays the man leading them into battle but he can't really bring any added excitement to the material. For such a low budget movie the battle scenes at least look very good with the various gunfights and explosions. I also thought the cinematography was impressive but in the end this here just isn't enough to save the film.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
2/10
More Corman stink
ksneath4 April 2009
I've officially had it with Roger Corman... he always directed films which you think would be entertaining if not exceptional. Without fail, he's disappointed every time. It's not just the low budgets, it's the scripts, the way the story lines are handled, the acting....

This film was so bad, I couldn't make it past about 45 minutes. I can only imagine how much more bad acting, terrible direction, boring action, and stupid dialog ensue after I turned it off. Why this idiot has been so successful in his own way I'll never know.

I had to stop watching when one of the convicts holds his hands over a baby's nose and mouth and (I guess accidentally) smothers a baby while the mother stands right beside him, seemingly in another world. Somehow Corman seems to bring out the worst in the talent he works with. Please avoid this boring, stupid piece of junk.
3 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Misfits on a mission that made sense
SimonJack18 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Although a low-budget film, "The Secret Invasion" earns a high score from me. It's especially good in portraying men on a mission, partisans, and events rather plainly and humanly -- without the glamour. And the filming location and scenes along the eastern Adriatic coast add to the film. This is a precursor of "The Dirty Dozen," and I agree with those reviewers who think this tops the later film considerably. "Dirty Dozen" had more "glamour" and fun with laughs in the beginning. But "Secret Invasion" was more realistic and it was the first film to use a theme with convicts selected for a special, high-risk mission. It gives but a short time to the training and preparation, but then it gets into the action. It has good doses of action interspersed with intrigue and suspense at every major turn.

The plot in "Secret Invasion" is realistic – even for a fictitious war flick. The same can't be said for "The Dirty Dozen" in 1967. The small team of misfits in this film was pulled together from various prisons around the world. That list of noted prisons was interesting in itself; and, these were all men serving as civilian convicts from before the start of the war. In "Dirty Dozen," the misfits were all GIs who were in prison, mostly for brutal killings or other heinous crimes. Now, how realistic was that for the middle of WW II in Europe? Not that movies have to be realistic by any means – fiction is fiction. But a fiction story is all the more entertaining and fun to imagine if the script and plot are at least somewhat likely or possible.

In this film, a small group is led by a British Army major, and they are to rescue an Italian general from a prison in Dubrovnik, Croatia (Yugoslavia during WW II and in 1964 when this film was made). It was hoped that he would then rouse the Italian troops to go against the Germans. That would weaken German defenses, stretching them out along the south of Europe, before the Allied landings in the western Mediterranean. This is much more of a realistic and high-minded plan, it seems, than the violence and carnage of "Dirty Dozen" which was just to kill as many top German officers as possible – along with anyone else who might get in the way.

The script, direction and filming are very good. The cast has some wonderfully talented actors. All give very good performances. I don't think Stewart Granger gave his role the best he could, but that didn't hurt the film with all the other good roles and the action and intrigue.

The shooting of the film in and around Dubrovnik also adds a touch of reality, as well as great scenery and interesting history. The port city of Dubrovnik has stood for centuries and was never once destroyed in all that time. I visited present-day Croatia and Dubrovnik in 2005. The scenes in the film of the town, surrounded by its high wall and jutting into the Adriatic, show the beauty of the place. I walked the wall around the city where one of the chase and gunfight scenes takes place. Dubrovnik became a World Heritage Site in 1979. I highly recommend "The Secret Invasion" as a very good World War II film.
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
Fun war movie with dirty dozen theme
drystyx7 March 2007
This is Corman's second best film. His masterpiece is "I Hate Your Guts". This one stands out second best among his other films, which are among the worst ever made. The theme is the same as the Dirty Dozen, with some better writing, and probably better acting. There are some big names in here. The characters are probably not as well drawn as in the Dirty Dozen, but the plot and the turns are better. This group goes through a lot. Henry Silva stands out in this crowd. There is a very goofy character played by Raf Vallone that really makes no sense, and for some reason he plays a large role. It would have been better if Granger had a bigger part. His part is largely understated. It has good action and some character twists, and good plot writing that even Corman can't mess up. I may be generous rating this a 7. It could rate anywhere from 4-7, but it's a fun flick to watch, so I give it the benefit of the doubt.
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
A super-cheap film like "The Dirty Dozen:--though it came out several years earlier.
MartinHafer19 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
It's interesting that this film came out in 1964--several years BEFORE "The Dirty Dozen". In other words, the later big-budget film actually was a knock-off of a cheap film--and this must be a first---usually it's the other way around. However, although this also involves a bunch of prisoners having their sentences commuted in order to get them to participate in a suicide mission, it's still a pretty cheap little film and only a shadow of the later film. A very low budget, cheap sets (which look circa 1964 instead of WWII vintage), one-dimensional characters and acting that can't come close to the stellar cast of "The Dirty Dozen" will make it VERY easy to tell the two films apart! Like 1450342 other Roger Corman films, this one is very economically made. This guy has had an AMAZING record for making films that always, or almost always, made money. His one flop ("The Intruder") was actually one of his best films and his crappiest films (like "Wasp Woman") made a bundle! I am sure that this taught him the lesson to make films entertaining but don't try too hard to make great art!

The film involves this motley international group sneaking into Yugoslavia to rescue an Italian general from a German prison. That's because the man is an anti-Nazi and they want him to lead his troops into battle against the Germans. This is especially important because the Italian soldiers LOVE this guy and are very loyal to him. Once they do sneak the guy out, the film starts to get pretty silly. For every one of the group that is shot in the escape, 100 Germans dies--and the German soldiers just seem to march en masse to their deaths! And, the last 20 minutes of the film is one scene like this after another after another--with lots of mindless scenes of killing. Oh, and by the way, most of the group are killed and you see them die. What about Mickey Rooney? He just disappeared late in the film--what happened to him?! Overall, rather superficial but not terrible--but also only a shadow of the classic "Dirty Dozen".
1 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Cute Few
sculptagain-11 October 2011
There are way too many war movies that are not as embarrassing as this. The acting is Third-rate along with the screenplay. Although the theme is fine - the silliness prevails. Two of the characters have their 1950's hair cuts. And when one deserved a bullet to protect the mission, he is forgiven. That happens several times. M.Rooney is a buffoon as usual. Silva has always been a great actor until this junk. I blame the entire blame on the inept crew that wrote and directed this load of garbage. Even with a "low-budget" production, the story can be made well. But they decided to Glamourize rather than signify and capture the truth of the war. Stupid is as stupid does. The dead baby - what a joke... No mother is going to do this. I can put up with Low-Budget lighting, music, scenery - but this movie seems to be creating a new era of "B" rated stuff to fill television. Now here's the good parts: Italy - a most beautiful country.
1 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
5/10
Should have stayed secret!
sol31 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** Combination "Mission Impossible" & "Dirty Dozen" action movie with some half dozen misfits whipped into shape by their equally misfit commander British Major Richard Mace played by the very suntanned, who must have got his gorgeously striking tan sunbathing in the Sahara Desert, and refined looking Steward Granger. Mace is a man with a shoddy past that involved his kid brother getting killed in a screw up mission he sent him on against the Germans back in 1942.

With the planned invasion of Italy just days away Mace and his gang of just released convicts are to hit the Germans in the rear in far off Yugoslavia! That's to divert the German dreaded panzer divisions from coming to the aid of the hard pressed German troops in Southern Italy where the main allied invasion is to take place. The real purpose of the "secret invasion" is to rescue Italian General Quadri, Enzo Fiermonte, who's being held captive by the Germans. The plan is to have the very popular Italian general rally his troops to join up with the Yugoslav partisans to fight against the German Army!

laughable war movie until the German Army depicted at first as a German version of the Keyston Kops gets down to business and starts kicking butt on Maj. Mace and is boys who includes a leprechaun looking Mickey Rooney as IRA demolition expert Terances Scanlon. Rooney has so much trouble imitating an Irish brogue until late in the film when he ends up dropping it altogether. That's before he takes out, together with himself, a German Army pillbox that just about wiped out all the members of Maj. Mace's secret invasion force!

There's also secret invasion force members Edd "Cookie" Byrnes as the master forger Simon Fell who from his acting as a master forger I doubt that he could forge is own signature much less top secret German documents. We also have the Tony Curtis looking William Campball as disguise artist Jane Saval and dead eye assassin John Dorrell, Henry Silva, with the always smiling Italian ex-convict and now super patriot Reborto Rocca, Raf Vallone, to round out the members of the secret invasion force.

Boring to the point of putting its audience to sleep the film really start to move in the last twenty or so minutes of its running time. It's then when Maj. Mace's secret invasion force goes into action together with some 1,000 Yugoslav partisans who end up giving the Germans all the hell that they can handle.

***SPOILER ALERT*** Were treated to a big surprise at the end of the movie in just who this hero of the people, the Italian people, General Quadri really is? And as it turns out he isn't who we and Maj. Mace and his men thought he was! That sets us up for an even bigger surprise, if we didn't have enough surprises in the movie already, in that the only survivor, besides Roberto Rocca, contract killer John Dorrell, of the secret invasion force pulls an ace from up his sleeve, or under his clothes! The very alert and forward looking Dorrell, in expecting the unexpected, gets General Quadri's loyal troops, who would gladly give up their lives for him, to rally against the Germans, at the time their allies, by offing him and then giving them a fascist salute after doing it!
1 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
Dubious Patriots.
Spikeopath20 November 2013
The Secret Invasion is directed by Roger Corman and written by R. Wright Campbell. It stars Stewart Granger, Raf Vallone, Mickey Rooney, Edd Byrnes, Henry Silva, Spela Rozin and William Campbell. Music is by Hugo Friedhofer and Eastman Color cinematography is by Arthur E. Arling.

1943 and British Intelligence send Major Richard Mace (Granger) and five convicts into Yugoslavia on a dangerous mission. They are to rescue an Italian General from German captivity in the hope that he will join the fight against the Nazis.

An army based reworking of Corman and Campbell's Five Guns West from 1955, The Secret Invasion is cheap on budget but rich on action. A sort of forerunner to Where Eagles Dare and Operation Cross Eagles, and a definite companion piece for the far superior The Dirty Dozen that followed three years later, it's a film that's hard to dislike. There's such a sense of fun about the whole thing and Corman still manages to create suspense and craft potent action scenes.

The ensemble cast bring to life the roll call of damaged characters who are either looking for redemption, personal gain or just a crack at getting the freedom dangled in front of them. The Eastman Color is very appealing, the pic actually filmed on location in Yugoslavia, and Friedhofer provides a very effective musical score that hits the right beats for the blend of drama and sorrow that fills out the plot.

Corman inevitably has to cut some corners, such as one key character is killed off screen, not all the acting is great and veers close to being second string Spaghetti Western standard, and of course the plot is bonkers. But the flaws never stop it being worth the time of the Action War film fan. 6.5/10
0 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews