Not to be confused with Invasion USA featuring Chuck Norris, this is Invasion USA 1952 not featuring Chuck Norris. It’s streaming on Amazon Prime Video, my gold mine of old and bad movies. This is from 1952, and it’s a Cold War special. Wikipedia has the details.
- Gerald Mohr as Vince Potter
- Peggie Castle as Carla Sanford
- Dan O’Herlihy as Mr. Ohman
- Robert Bice as George Sylvester
- Tom Kennedy as Tim the Bartender
- Wade Crosby as Illinois Congressman Arthur V. Harroway
- Erik Blythe as Ed Mulfory
- Phyllis Coates as Mrs. Mulfory
- Aram Katcher as Factory Window Washer
- Knox Manning as Himself
- Edward G. Robinson Jr. as Radio Dispatcher
- Noel Neill as Second Airline Ticket Agent
- Clarence A. Shoop as Army Major
- Joseph Granby as President of the United States
This comes off as a one-hour episode of Twilight Zone, as you will see. What you first see is a bunch of people sitting around in a bar discussing what’s been on the TV news. War clouds are on the horizon, and this is seven years after a disastrous world war and during the time of a disastrous “police action.” There is discussion of whether the nation needs to gear up for conflict. A Mr. Ohman sits quietly at the end of the bar, swirling the brandy in his glass.
Ed Mulfory is a rancher from Arizona. Vince Potter is the news anchor the patrons had just been watching on TV. He comes in for a beer after his shift, and he interviews the patrons. Should the United States implement a draft of workers to gear the country up for war?
George Sylvester is an industrialist. He has a tractor factory in San Francisco. He objects to the government’s interference with his business. He tells of showing an Army major the door after the major attempts to coerce him into working on tanks instead of tractors.
Sylvester is with New York City glamour girl Carla Sanford. There is also a congressman from Illinois.
The tone grows quiet when Ohman begins to speak. He swirls his brandy, and everybody stares at the liquid going around in the glass.
Then the bartender switches the TV back on, and the news comes flooding in. War is eminent. Planes from a foreign nation are approaching American airspace in Alaska. The name of the foreign aggressor is never mentioned, but it is presumed by the audience to be the Soviet Union. Besides, they all speak with Slavic accents, and their fighter planes are Mig-15s.
Cutting out a lot of detail, the enemy first attacks civilian fields in Alaska. A woman at one field is reporting on the landing of troops at the field when soldiers burst in through the door and shoot her in the back. These are some ruthless characters.
Next the enemy attacks West Coast Air Force bases with nuclear bombs.
Here is archival video from an atomic bomb attack.
We see B-36 bombers returning fire, dropping nukes and conventional bombs on the enemy’s home territory. I grew up near the factory where they made these and where my father drew a paycheck. We saw lots of them in the sky, but one thing is curious about this image. Although this plane was capable of carrying conventional bombs, it was designed for and was only useful for carrying nukes.
The bar patrons decide to spring into action. The party breaks up.
Meanwhile, fifth columnists in Alaska have prepared for the invasion. We see enemy soldiers making plans at a command center.
The rancher and the industrialist make it to San Francisco, where a cab driver takes the industrialist to his office. The enemy bombs San Francisco, so the driver is eager to ferry the rancher to Arizona.
Meanwhile Vince and Carla make use of the dwindling situation by getting better acquainted.
While the industrialist makes plans to switch to tank production, armed soldiers burst in. The window washer turns out to be a fifth columnists, and he announces the factory will continue to make tractors, not tanks, and the profits will go to the workers, not the capitalists. Meeting resistance, the soldiers shoot everybody but the window washer.
The cab driver and the rancher reach Arizona about the time enemy bombers crack the Boulder Dam. They rush to the rancher’s home to collect his wife and children before the flood from the dam gets there. The rush of water overtakes the cab, and everybody dies.
The congressman is giving a speech when enemy soldiers attack the capitol complex. They machine gun congressmen as they try to flee.
A nuclear bomb attack on New York City kills thousands, but Vince and Carla survive. She is watching Vince do his news show, when enemy soldiers storm the studio and open fire. She fears for his life, but he soon comes to the door, escorted by two enemy soldiers. The two resist, and Vince is shot. When one of the soldiers makes a go for Carla she flings herself out the window.
As she spirals to the concrete below the scene dissolves into the brandy glass in the barroom from the opening scene. It’s all been a trance induced by Ohman. It’s been a lesson in our need for preparedness. All leave with a new sense of duty.
Yes, straight out of Twilight Zone.
The film’s message is the need for a resurgent patriotism to overtake the complacency that befell the country after the Allies’ victories over tyrannous governments. Presenting the message in the manner done employs egregious shortcuts. Much is oversimplified, which additionally earns this a BMotW rating.
The progress of the war has been overly simplified to fit the narrative into 74 minutes. Scare of looming conflict morphs into a full-scale invasion while people are having drinks at a bar.
The invasion of the Alaska Territory (this was 1952) is unbelievably swift. The writers were perhaps thinking of the German invasion of Denmark twelve years before. Then Wehrmacht troops hid in cargo ships and sailed into Copenhagen undetected. A month later German paratroops jumped into Holland and seized vital bridges and airfields, and Hermann Göring threatened to obliterate Rotterdam and other Dutch cities unless the government capitulated. These were small countries, and the Germans could do this in 1940. Even then these operations required several days, not hours.
The war scenes are more realistic than most from modern Hollywood. That’s because director Alfred E. Green made good use or archival film from the World War II and the ongoing Korean “police action.” We see enemy pilots flying Mig-15s. But we also see them flying B-29s. We see Americans putting up F-86s and what I presume to be F-80 fighters. We see aircraft carrier operations, but we see Mig-15s involved. The Mig-15 was not a carrier-based fighter, so you wonder what they were doing out there in the middle of the Pacific. Much of the naval action is depicted using film from Japanese Kamikaze attacks. There are air combat scenes, somewhat overdone. I am dead sure I twice saw the same film clip showing an aircraft losing half of a wing.
But good news. You don’t have to subscribe to Amazon Prime to watch the movie. It’s free on YouTube.