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INVASION USA (director: Alfred E. Green; screenwriters: story by Franz Schulz and Robert Smith/Robert Smith; cinematographer: John L. Russell; editor: Donn W. Hayes; music: Albert Glasser; cast: Gerald Mohr (Vince Potter), Peggie Castle (Carla Sanford), Dan O’Herlihy (Mr. Ohman), Robert Bice (George Sylvester), Tom Kennedy (Tim, Bartender), Wade Crosby (Illinois Congressman Arthur V. Harroway), Erik Blythe (Ed Mulfory), Phyllis Coates (Mrs. Mulfory), Knox Manning (Himself), Noel Neill (Second Airline Ticket Agent); Runtime: 74; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Robert Smith/Albert Zugsmith; Columbia Pictures; 1952)
“An ineffectual and humorless Red-scare film made during the height of the Cold War.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An ineffectual and humorless Red-scare film made during the height of the Cold War; it might be the worst film of that genre, if not it’s certainly the most ludicrous. Invasion USA’s only redeeming feature is that both Noel Neill and Phyllis Coates played Lois Lane on TV’s 1950s Superman series.

Set in a high-class Manhattan bar where the well-dressed patrons are watching TV and a news bulletin breaks into the regular programming to announce the rumor that unidentified planes were spotted over Alaska. TV reporter Vince Potter (Gerald Mohr) is conducting an interview of the patrons at the time, asking them to comment if they are for or against the draft. Haughty San Francisco tractor firm owner George Sylvester says he doesn’t want the government telling him to make tanks instead of tractors, Carla Sanford (Peggie Castle) is a good-looking Manhattanite dating Sylvester and is only interested in getting a mink coat, Illinois Congressman Arthur V. Harroway rattles on about being against both the Commies and war, Arizona cattle baron Ed Mulfory is against high taxes, and the brandy drinking mysterious Ohman answers by saying America needs a wizard like Merlin to be its leader and then twirls his stirrer and hypnotizes everyone present.

The TV gets turned back on and we are in the middle of an invasion by unidentified enemy planes from the People’s Army. They bring WWIII to American soil in the form of an A-bomb attack and invading paratroopers dressed in American uniforms. These actions are shown in this cheapie film by using stock newsreel footage for a good part of the film. The results are the wiping out of most of the state of Washington, the bombing of Boulder Dam, a third of NYC quarantined because of radiation while suffering 30,000 fatalities and 50,000 injuries, sporadic attacks throughout various parts of the country, and all the bar patrons but for the bartender and Ohman are killed. During the extended emergency the military fights back and launches its own more powerful A-bomb attack, and predicts success despite getting caught unprepared. Potter attempts to join each branch of the service but is turned down because they don’t have enough equipment to supply the new recruits. The suddenly patriotic reporter is frustrated over how inadequately prepared the country is to defend itself, but gets some pleasure out of romancing the now equally patriotic Red Cross nurse Carla, donating blood for the war effort, and knowing America will defeat these dirty rats (they seem to be Commies who talk like Nazis!).

In its conclusion, the paranoid film returns to the same bar and it turns out that Ohman is a fortune teller who hypnotized the patrons to give them a lesson about patriotism and being responsible citizens, warning if not it could lead to the country’s downfall by a sneaky enemy chomping at the bit to get America if they see that we are weak. This odious film mercifully ends with a misplaced epilogue from George Washington: “To be prepared for war is the best way to have peace.”


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”