Cast & Crew
Alfred E. Green
In a New York City bar, television news reporter Vince Potter asks several patrons if they are for or against a universal military draft for businesses and individuals. Wealthy cattle baron Ed Mulvory complains about excessive government restrictions and high taxes, while manufacturer George Sylvester calls the universal draft Communism. Sylvester adds that he refused the government's request to construct tanks rather than tractors, as it would interfere with his profit earnings. After former model Carla Sanford laments that war work ruined her hands, Illinois congressman Arthur V. Harroway tells Vince that the public is anti-Communist but reluctant to consider war. At the far end of the bar, Mr. Ohman listens to the various discussions and remarks ominously that America is in need of fresh leadership and has little inclination to look after itself. After Ohman departs, the patrons' attention turns to the television over the bar as a news alert announces that an unidentified air squadron is attacking Alaska. The live broadcast shows paratroopers dropping into an Alaskan harbor, before transmission is cut off. Meanwhile, at an unnamed military base, enemy officers stand before a map of the North American continent and discuss their invasion plans. Back at the bar, Vince rushes to his news station while the rest of the group speculate about the attack. Soon television reports confirm that an atomic bomb has been dropped on Alaska. As the group watches anxiously, the president makes a televised speech promising to retaliate against the enemy and firmly defend the Pacific coast. A little later Vince returns to the bar and informs the group that Washington state has been virtually overrun and that U.S. troops are struggling to contain the invasion. Hearing that the enemy is advancing down the Pacific coast, George decides to return to his home in San Francisco, and Ed leaves with him to return to Arizona. Carla and Vince, who are attracted to each other, remain in the bar following the reports. At the travel center, George and Ed discover tense crowds and learn that most flights have been booked solid. When Ed is unable to get a flight to Arizona, he takes George's flight to California. As their plane lands in San Francisco, enemy aircraft fly over the Golden Gate bridge. George and Ed take a cab to George's apartment, and while bombs rain down upon the city, Ed convinces the cab driver to drive him to Arizona. George returns to his factory and begins switching the works over to tank production. An undercover spy at George's factory, however, foments dissension among the workers, which allows an enemy attack to proceed smoothly. George refuses to assist the enemy and is shot. Back in New York City, Vince reports that the U.S. forces are taking a severe beating, despite England and France's pledge to come to their aid. Carla volunteers for the Red Cross and later Vince comes by to tell her that he has been rejected from each branch of the military service because there is not enough equipment for the number of men wanting to enlist. Meanwhile, Ed and the cab driver anxiously head across the desert. Ed grows alarmed upon hearing radio reports that air squadrons have been spotted over Boulder Dam. The dam is bombed and Ed and the cabbie race to pick up Ed's family, but as they speed away, the flood waters overtake them and all are drowned. In New York, Vince and Carla exit the bar, just as the first enemy planes are sighted over the city and the Empire State building is bombed. The bartender, Tim, dies but Vince and Carla escape serious injury. In Washington, D.C., as Harroway delivers a speech, enemy troops descend upon the Senate and kill the occupants. Back in New York, Carla waits anxiously at Vince's apartment, listening to his news broadcast, which is abruptly cut off as the enemy takes over the station and begins delivering Communist propaganda. Shortly afterward, Vince is brought to his apartment by armed enemy guard, who demand he broadcast for their new order. Vince refuses and is killed. Hysterical, Carla throws herself from the window. Back at the bar, George, Ed, Vince and Carla are startled to find themselves uninjured, but possessing the same recollections of the invasion. Tim tells them that Ohman is a hypnotist and fortune-teller and may have caused their joint hallucination. Ohman returns to pay for his drink and tells the group that they just experienced what will happen if they do not change. Each of the group leaves the bar, committed to working for war preparedness.
Alfred E. Green
Clarence A. Shoop
Ralph E. Black
Einar H. Bourman
W. Donn Hayes
De De Johnson
John L. Russell Jr.
Invasion, U.S.A. (1952) - Invasion, U.S.A.
Synapse Films has now released an "Atomic Special Edition" of Invasion, U.S.A. on DVD. A group of Manhattanites and tourists sip beer and swap chit-chat, feeling safe and secure in their postwar, American-made comfort zone. But a mysterious stranger named Mr. Ohman (Dan O'Herlihy) pokes holes into the barroom patrons' illusory sense of security by questioning America's readiness for true Communist aggression, physical or ideological. We know there's something a little odd about Mr. Ohman because of his elusive, otherworld accent, not to mention his curious habit of swirling red wine in a decanter. He is as suspect as Robert Cornthwaite's Russian-looking hat in The Thing From Another World (1951). But the beer-swilling regular guys in the bar are so taken with Ohman's eccentric rhetoric, they fall into a kind of spell, literally hypnotized by Ohman's red wine going round and round in that nice and shiny decanter. Suddenly, the patrons wake up to unconfirmed reports of a mysterious invasion on the west coast, as well as to Mr. Ohman's inexplicable disappearance, which no one seems to question. Faced with the invasion of a faceless enemy (the invading army is never identified directly as Soviet) and the free-for-all destruction of American cities by atomic bombs, each average Joe and Josephine in the watering hole is put to their own sink-or-swim patriotic test.
George Sylvester (Robert Bice), a dead ringer for Babe Ruth, is the owner of a tractor factory who tries to retrofit his business to begin making war machines. Sounding like a 1950s-era Hank Hill or, as Synapse's liner notes peg as "John Wayne on sedatives", rancher Ed Mulfory (Erik Blythe) is desperate to get back to his family in Arizona. But it is lothario newscaster Vince Potter (Gerald Mohr) who wants to do the most patriotic deed of them all: earn a paycheck reporting the news and continue to make the moves on the beautiful Carla Sanford (Peggie Castle). Potter heroically spells out in layman terms what it means to be a true American in times of crisis when he says, "War or no war, people have to eat and drink...and make love!" Okay, so it's not exactly Jeffersonian, but Potter is better at putting into perspective his love life and the current war. "The last time I met a girl I like, they bombed Pearl Harbor," Potter muses. In either case, Potter's incongruous pronouncements fit perfectly in this weird, What-If doomsday scenario.
Aside from the implausible dialogue, dead serious performances and a plot that could have been written by a half-mad Rod Serling, Invasion, U.S.A. boasts several delights. Noel Neill, famous for playing Lois Lane on television's The Adventures of Superman, pops up as a TWA airline ticket agent, who has the unpleasant task of informing a customer that Montana has been "A-bombed." As laughably portentous as the news sounds, funnier still is that before the traveler tells Neill his trip to Montana is for pleasure, she asks if his Montana destination is for business, as if his traveling intentions to Montana made any difference, now that it was obliterated.
Veteran character actor William Schallert makes an appearance as a news commentator who lists the newly radioactive American cities. Schallert's lengthy career is an endless dossier of atomic exploitation films, monster flicks, and science fiction tales, and director Joe Dante paid homage to Schallert's illustrious career when he cast Schallert as a mad scientist in the vastly underrated Matinee (1993). Most impressive in Invasion, U.S.A. is the marvelous use of endless stock footage. Not content with just footage of tanks, airplanes and other military hardware, the producers get away with the use of stock footage of American soldiers. The invading army is using American uniforms as disguises, you see.
Synapse's DVD also features a 30-minute cut-down of a 60-minute public information short subject produced in 1962 by Warner Brothers for the Defense Department called Red Nightmare (also known as Freedom and You and The Commies are Coming, The Commies are Coming). Narrated somberly by Jack Webb, Red Nightmare is structured like Invasion, U.S.A., only the nightmarish warning to be on guard is much more personalized. Instead of a cross section of citizens, it's one man who has the cold water of fear thrown on his electric security blanket. It's as if George Bailey got a glimpse of what Bedford Falls would look like with a thick coat of Red. Red Nightmare is directed by George Waggner, famous for directing Universal's The Wolf Man (1941). (For some unaccountable reason, Waggner's on-screen credit is spelled WaGGner.)
The DVD also has other goodies, like two official defense department audio recordings, "The Complacent Americans" and "If the Bomb Falls," both of which you can listen to as a secondary audio track over Invasion, U.S.A.. The excellent liner notes are by Bill Geerhart of the Conelrad website, which has provided a useful, if arguable, list of 100 indispensable "atomic" movies, each accompanied by short comments and a still or lobby card.
Invasion, U.S.A. is one of the weirdest films on DVD, but in a good way. It's an entertaining look at 1950s America and a great introduction to a nearly defunct subgenre, the Atomic-cum-Red Menace film. Instead of dumping the film onto a no-frills, cheap DVD edition, Synapse has put out a superior production of a hilarious and unique film.
For more information about Invasion, U.S.A., visit Synapse Films. To order Invasion, U.S.A., go to TCM Shopping.
by Scott McGee
Invasion, U.S.A. (1952) - Invasion, U.S.A.
Both Noel Neill and Phyllis Coates portrayed "Lois Lane" in the 1950s television series "Superman."
A Hollywood Reporter news item indicates that Invasion U.S.A. was originally slated for release by United Artists. According to modern sources, the extensive stock footage used in the film was provided by the Atomic Energy Commission. World War II battle footage was provided by military sources, according to contemporary reviews. Invasion U.S.A. was reissued in 1956 with Captive Women.
Released in United States March 1975
Released in United States Winter December 1953
Released in United States March 1975 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Science Fiction Movie Marathon - Selection of Trailers) March 13-26, 1975.)
Released in United States Winter December 1953