Invasion U.S.A. (50th Anniversary Special Edition) DVD Review
Written by Peter West
DVD released by Synapse Films
Directed by Alfred E. Green
Written by Franz Schulz
1952, Region 1 (NTSC), 74 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on May 7th, 2002
Gerald Mohr as Newscaster Vince Potter
Peggie Castle as Carla Sanford
Erik Blythe as Ed Mulfory
Robert Bice as George Sylvester
Tom Kennedy as Tim, the bartender
Wade Crosby as Congressman Arthur V. Harroway
Dan O'Herlihy as Mr. Ohman
Knox Manning as Newscaster Knox Manning
Aram Katcher as Factory Window Washer - Spy
Noel Neill as Second Airline Ticket Agent
Phyllis Coates as Mrs. Mulfory
Newscaster Vince Potter (Gerald Mohr) visits a local bar and starts interviewing patrons about their views on the country starting a universal draft. Options then drift into subjects that we even complain about today, such as taxes & government controls. A patron who happens to be a congressman changes the subject to communism and at the end of the bar, Mr. Ohman (Dan O'Herlihy) mesmerizes the rest of them as he talks about what kind of will it takes to win the war against communism. Ohman slips out of the bar (skipping his tab) and the patrons snap back into reality as the television announces the United States is being attacked on the West coast!
The movie continues as the unfolding events effect each patron. The unnamed enemy (strongly hinted at being Russian, but looking and sounding more like Nazi officers) plot their further attacks and foreign troop and A-bombs rain on the U.S.A. Is America prepared enough to fight off these invaders? Or, will the U.S.A. be overrun by the attackers? Major cities and notable landmarks like Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam) are destroyed as the enemy attacks relentlessly!
A neatly written plot, interweaved with stock footage from W.W. II and nuclear testing keep this movie fast paced as the worse case scenario of the '50s come to life!
The cast of this movie are a 'who's who' of actors and actresses. Gerald Mohr (The Angry Red Planet and many more) who plays a "poor man's Humphrey Bogart" (or is that a rich man's Peter West?) has all the witty lines and gets the girl Peggie Castle (Beginning of the End). William Schallert ("The Patty Duke Show") has a small role as a newscaster, and Dan O'Herlihy's (Robocop, Halloween III) brief appearance as Mr. Ohman steals the show. In bit roles are Phyllis Coates and Noel Neill who both played Lois Lane in the Superman TV series.
Some younger people a year ago would have found the premise of this movie implausible! I myself grew up with "Duck and Cover", civil defense plans, and the Cuban missle crisis. September 11th we found out that America can be attacked at home. This movie, although a cautionary fable of the '50s, can make us think twice. Nuclear attack could happen!
I really enjoyed the package Synapse Films put together on this DVD. I give it the "Peter West Seal of Approval." Not just for nostalgia, but now for relevance!
Video and Audio:
Synapse has done a wonderful windowboxed transfer of this film! The scenes shot for the film itself are spectacular, some of the stock footage intermingled looks to have been damaged even when Invasion U.S.A. first ran in 1952. However, the drawbacks of the stock footage do not detract from the overall viewing enjoyment of the movie. The short feature "Red Nightmare" is full frame and absolutely gorgeous! It is almost entirely free from defects. I'll preface this rating by saying with what was used this is the best it will ever be.
The film is presented in Dobly Digital Mono, excellent for it's time, though not as spectacular by today's standards. It is crisp and clear, free of distortion or pops. It does the job!
- SPECIAL ATOMIC AUDIO FEATURE: Two Amazing Original Civil Defense Department Audio Recordings on the Alternate DVD Audio Tracks: THE COMPLACENT AMERICANS & IF THE BOMB FALLS - A Recorded Guide to Survival. Listen Closely to Learn HOW TO SURVIVE A NUCLEAR ATTACK!
- 1956 Re-Issue Theatrical Trailer
- The Original Controversial "Red Scare" Short Film, RED NIGHTMARE, Starring Jack Webb!
- CONELRAD 100: Film Encyclopedia of the Top 100 Best Atomic Films Ever Made
- New Video Interviews with Stars Dan O'Herlihy, William Schallert and Noel Neill, Made Specifically for this DVD Release.
This is where this Synapse Film's DVD shines! The short "Red Nightmare" is about a man who takes his liberties for granted and wakes up one day with most of them gone! Controversial then and now (it was done under the personal supervision of Jack Warner and narrated by Jack Webb.) This will make you think twice!
There are interviews with three of the surviving cast members recounting memories of the filming and comments on it's impact.
Something really special that's thrown in is on the alternate audio tracks. These are the real thing, warnings to America to keep alert and instructions on surviving a nuclear atack!
My rating on the extras 5/5.