Invasion, U.S.A. (1952).

Directed by Alfred E. Green
Produced by Robert Smith & Albert Zugsmith
Written by Robert Smith & Franz Shulz
Director Of Photography: John L. Russell
Supervising Editor: W. Donn Hayes
Music by Albert Glasser

Cast: Gerald Mohr (Vince Potter), Peggie Castle (Carla Sanford), Dan O’Herlihy (Mr. Ohman), Robert Bice (George Sylvester), Tom Kennedy (Tim), Wade Crosby (Arthur V. Harroway), Erik Blythe (Ed Mulfory), Phyllis Coates (Mrs. Mulfory), Aram Katcher, Knox Manning, Edward G. Robinson Jr., Noel Neill, William Schallert


After the news about I, The Jury (1953), I decided to finish up a half-done post on Invasion, U.S.A. (1952). You can’t have too much Peggie Castle.

Invasion U.S.A. is a rather odd Cold War anti-commie picture, the second release from Albert Zugsmith’s American Pictures Corporation. Distributed by Columbia, it grossed over a million dollars, not bad for about a week and budget of $127,000. The liberal use of stock footage no doubt helped keep costs down.

A group of strangers in a New York City bar — including beautiful socialite Peggie Castle, TV newsman Gerald Mohr and the mysterious Mr. Ohman (Dan O’Herlihy) — get to discussing the growing communist threat and the idea of an international draft. Soon, along come reports of “The Enemy” attacking Alaska, Washington state and Oregon. (You don’t have to be an expert on foreign affairs to figure out who “The Enemy” is supposed to be.)

As the invasion plays out largely in stock footage (much of it seen on the bar’s Admiral TV set, “a remote-control view from our portable equipment”), we follow our once-complacent elbow-benders as they leave the bar and head out into the now war-torn New York — where they each learn the hard way that freedom isn’t free.

If you’ve seen the film you know, and after this synopsis, you’ve probably guessed, that Invasion U.S.A. is a cheesy, over-the-top B movie with a pretty whacked-out “Red Scare” message — and plenty of unintentional humor. It certainly means well.

Invasion USA was later re-released with 1000 Years From Now.

But what’s remarkable about it is how effective it is. How watchable it is. Of course, many of us have experienced this before: a junk movie put together by a group of real pros that ends up much better than it has any right to be. This was one of the last pictures from director Alfred E. Green, who’d given us things like Shooting High (1940), Four Faces West (1948) and Sierra (1950). The acting from folks like Mr. Mohr and Ms. Castle comes real close to overcoming the terrible dialogue, while the enemy soldiers often sound like Boris Badenov from The Bullwinkle Show. Phyllis Coates and Noel Neill, TV’s first two Lois Lanes, have tiny parts. The cinematography from John L. Russell looks great, especially if you consider the week-long shoot. (Russell would go on to shoot Psycho.) The special effects are pretty good. And the editing, supervised by W. Donn Hayes, brings together the stock footage and studio stuff surprisingly seamlessly.

Peggie Castle, Noel Neill and a miniature for scenes of bombed-out NYC.

Albert Zugsmith said this is where he learned how movies were made. He went on to give us Star In The Dust, Written On The Wind (both 1956), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) and High School Confidential (1958). Onward and upward!

10 Comments

Filed under 1952, Albert Zugsmith, Columbia, Peggie Castle, Phyllis Coates, William Schallert

10 responses to “Invasion, U.S.A. (1952).

  1. Barry Lane

    Wasn’t or isn’t an anti-communist agenda a good thing?

    Like

    • Absolutely it’s a good thing. That’s why I stuck “over the top” in front of it, to help separate it from a more “common sense” approach. Revised that section a bit to clear things up.

      Guess you’d called it a “Red Scare” movie. As a cheap B movie, I think it’s a hoot.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the red poster (no pun intended) Did Chuck Norris remake this film based on this original?

    Like

    • Chuck’s picture is not a remake, just boosted the title.
      In his movie, terrorists are running around in the US (mostly Florida and Georgia) — and Chuck makes them all dead.

      Like

  3. Toby,yes you’re right .I have THE GIRL CAN’T HELP IT on order.I’ve never seen it before but the trailer looks a hoot.Edmond O’Brien will be good in this.Cant wait.

    Like

  4. I just found out that Kino have unfortunately cancelled the release of THE CHRISTMAS TREE with William Holden.

    Like

    • Walter

      Graham, THE GIRL CAN’T HELP IT(1956) is a delightfully entertaining movie, in my opinion. I think that you will like it. I’m not going to say much about it, but Edmond O’Brian is surprising and I got a real kick out of what he did in the movie. Also, I think Jayne Mansfield is perfect for this role. A good rock and rollin’ movie.

      Did Kino Lorber give any reason for cancelling THE CHRISTMAS TREE(1969)? I’ve only viewed this movie once and that was on tv’s CBS THURSDAY NIGHT MOVIE in 1974. I think it is a really good movie, but it is a real wrenching tearjerker. William Holden, Virna Lisi, and Brook Fuller are good in their roles.

      I don’t want to get political here, but Barry Lane will understand what I mean. Alger Hiss was wrong and Richard Nixon was right.

      Like

      • Walter,Kino did not say why THE CHRISTMAS TREE was cancelled .It would be hard for me to watch because we lost our son 15 years ago.
        I also requested about 2 70s TV films getting a release ,THE LAST DAY 1975 and BIRDS OF PREY 1973,but no answer.

        Like

  5. john k

    That old press ad shows a sensational double bill and certainly a grand
    night at the movies.
    I’m very interested in the main feature (Aka, 3000 AD or CAPTIVE WOMEN)
    I’.m also interested in the fact that not only Zugsmith was involved in this
    film but also Pollexfen & Wisberg an awesome trio of schlockmeisters.
    I’m also interested that this film demonstrates the tail end of Stuart
    Gilmore’s short directing career-even actor Robert Clarke stated that Gilmore
    had no idea what he was doing.
    All of this begs the question who actually directed THE VIRGINIAN (1946)
    this Paramount Technicolor Western was a smash hit in it’s day but the
    offers certainly never came flooding in for Gilmore.
    Perhaps producer Paul Jones let Gilmore be credited as director as a
    favour-he was a noted editor before and returned to editing after directing
    a few poverty row flicks.
    THE VIRGINIAN is too slow for a Raoul Walsh picture….George Marshall
    perhaps?

    Like

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