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Richard E. Cunha
Victor Sen Yung
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 <email@example.com>
They kept referring to Hoover Dam as Boulder Dam in that sequence of the movie. The fact is that it was Boulder Dam from 1933 to 1947 and then it was called Hoover Dam from that point on. See more »
In the little time we have left I want to tell you how proud you can be of the average citizen of New York. It seems every man and boy today has become a guerrilla fighter. I saw taxi drivers use their cabs as weapons to mow down enemy troops. I saw high school boys attack enemy tanks with pop bottles full of gasoline. I saw mounted policemen become a fighting cavalry.
We take over now.
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To begin with, I had expected to be more engaged by this one which I also was under the wrong impression would be a talk-fest: instead, about sixty per cent of its trim 74-minute duration is compiled of wartime stock footage (representing the potential decimation of the U.S. by invading Communist forces) scenes of the London blitz from the celebrated Humphrey Jennings documentary FIRES WERE STARTED (1943) are supposed to stand in for the burning of New York! I wonder how Americans look at the film nowadays vis-a'-vis the events of 9/11 which is perhaps the only reason why it ever saw the light of day on DVD in the first place!
As it stands, INVASION USA is both hysterical and unintentionally hilarious never more so than when a car is caught in the flooding of Hoover Dam (hit by a nuclear bomb!) and a cowboy hat is seen floating on a branch as the sole remnant of its Texan owner!; Also worth mentioning are the fact that when the U.S. Senate is besieged, it's seen to be peopled merely by doddering statesmen, while the intermittent 'appearances' by the American President addressing the nation are taken from a vague solitary angle! Equally queasy is the fact that handsome leads Gerard Mohr (a cynical TV reporter) and Peggie Castle are drawn together at such a precarious time, while the middle-aged bartender keeps mixing drinks as if his life depended on it apparently oblivious to the ongoing calamities! Needless to say, the unnamed Soviets are depicted throughout as unemotional slogan-spouting caricatures.
The best thing about the film is the brief but typically riveting performance by Dan O'Herlihy (incidentally, years later he'd appear in a genuine Cold War classic i.e FAIL SAFE ) not least in view of the twist ending brought about by his particular line of work. In the DVD supplements, much is made of the fact that the film features the two actresses who played "Superman"'s Lois Lane on TV Noel Neill and Phyllis Coates but their contribution is, at best, negligible!; also on hand as a newscaster is character actor William Schallert, who's said to have made more Atomic-related titles than anyone else (the top 100 such efforts compiled by "Conelrad" are listed, with a brief synopsis for each one, on the Synapse DVD itself); in an interview included on the disc, Schallert speaks of his brush with Orson Welles' TOUCH OF EVIL (1958) where he was proposed for the role later played by Maltese actor Joseph Calleia whom Schallert mistakenly thinks was an Italian! Oh, well, it's near enough I suppose
As can be gathered, therefore, the extras are quite nice, being pretty comprehensive about the whole Cold War aura which pervaded the first two decades or so of the post-war era (though I've only very briefly sampled the two radio programs which play back-to-back as an Audio Commentary to the film). One of the most telling comments in the extras comes from O'Herlihy himself when he went to Russia in the late 1960s to film WATERLOO (1970), he was met by such an inefficient people that he couldn't fathom how their threat was ever taken seriously!; Noel Neill, then, overhypes the film's impact I mean saying it blows PEARL HARBOR (2001) out of the water is not much of a feat, is it? In the end, I have to admit that when the Communist ideology (or critique thereof) was presented as a sci-fi allegory, the results were generally that much more fun
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