June 21, 2017

Invasion, U.S.A.

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Jake couldn't make it to record this week, so Derek and Larry decided to put the planned movie on hold and watch something else. And that something else is 1952's jingoist anti-Communist propaganda film, Invasion USA. They also invited their pal @redtache to offer his comments via text, which Derek reads as they discuss the movie.

Now, do not confuse this with the 1985 Invasion, U.S.A., which features Chuck Norris kicking people in the head a lot, probably. No, this one has very little head-kicking, but it does feature two Lois Lanes! (Phyllis Coates and Noel Neill!)

Also not in the 1985 movie: A guy who looks like a blind carpenter's thumb.
It's a regular 1950s late afternoon in New York City, where groups of random people hang out at a hotel bar, taking their twelve-martini lunches and listening to Tim the bartender (Tom Kennedy) tell terrible jokes to decidedly Southern "cattle raiser" Ed Mulfory (Erik Blythe), and another man, Mr. Ohman (Dan O'Herlihy), sits quietly at the end of the bar, reading.

Enter George (Robert Bice) and his potential mate, Carla (Peggie Castle). They order drinks and sit down to be lulled to sleep by Tim's jackhammer-like laughter at his own jokes. And then another man enters--local news reporter Vince Potter (Gerald Mohr), who is taking a sort of unofficial poll during his liquid lunch to see what everybody thinks about the draft, including the military taking over businesses to help build tanks, bombs, etc.

Excuse me, miss, but could you move so I can speak to a man?
George, who owns a tractor-building factory, is not a fan, and he relays a story about how the military came to him the week before about building tanks, and he basically tossed them out the door. Another member to the crew enters, Illinois congressman Arthur Harroway (Wade Crosby), and passes out cigars while he tries to take over the conversation by giving a stump speech about how every American is obligated to help "our boys", regardless of the cost, and a fight is imminent when George calls this Communism.

But it all comes to a screeching halt when Mr. Ohman speaks. In a monotone voice, he explains that he thinks everyone should do their part, and then asks them all to consider what could happen if everyone said they wouldn't help. The whole time, he is swirling his gigantic brandy snifter and rambling on and on...

Except Tim, who tried to hide his shame over the spots on his daiquiri glasses.
.And then, while everyone is captivated by staring at his glass, Mr. Ohman gets up and leaves. The others snap out of whatever trance they are in just in time to see the newscaster on the bar's big television having twitchy spasms and reporting that foreign fighter jets were attacking an airfield in Alaska, taking it over in order to using it as a staging ground for further attacks against the United States.

Vince has to leave to see what's going on, but the rest of them hang out in the bar and watch the news, none of them even thinking for a second that maybe they should ought to get out of there and maybe find somewhere safe.

Comrade Squiggy...Do you know what it mean, "eat a bag of dicks"?
The Communists, on the other hand, continue to launch attacks, using atomic bombs to blow up cities and make their way across the country.

It's right about this point that some of the folks in the bar think that it is a good time to go home. George and Ed share a taxi to the airport so they can get back to San Francisco and Boulder, respectively. Unfortunately, Lois Lane (Neill) tells them that they all the seats are filled for the California flights, and all the flights to Colorado are cancelled. However, they might be able to get on the next California flight if they fill out a form showing they need to get there. Ed decides to give it a shot and try to find a way home from there.

They manage a flight, and when they get to San Francisco, they hire a taxi driver (who looks like Kevin Pollack) to take them to George's factory. When they get there, the Communist jets are attacking, so Ed hires the taxi driver to drive him to Boulder to get Ed's wife (Coates) and his kids.

Meanwhile, the bad guys have invaded Washington, attacking Congress and killing Harroway. Others are roaming around Washington, D.C. and shooting American soldiers in the dick.

Seriously. This guy with the rifle is gonna get, like, three bullets in the junk.
Back in Colorado, rather suddenly, Ed and his new driver show up at Ed's ranch to pick up the family. Unfortunately, they are in a race against time, as the invaders have dropped an atomic bomb on Boulder Dam, causing flood waters to rush through the streets, potentially killing thousands of people, including Ed and his family.

In San Francisco, George has his factory taken over by the invaders, and when he tries to escape, he is gunned down in a hail of bullets.

In New York, Vince and Carla have a nice breakfast of coffee and cigarettes (it is the 1950s, after all) before she goes off to collect blood for the Red Cross, and he goes off to read the news on television. They agree to meet later at the bar.

Hopefully to beat the holy hell out of this guy, Mr. Ohman.
When they meet outside the bar to watch the evening's air raid, the building is struck by artillery, causing parts of it to collapse on them. Will they survive? What about Tim? And, seriously, what the hell is the deal with Mr. Ohman?


Larry was surprised at how good this movie actually was, especially given the kinds of movies Derek usually picks. And while he thinks some of the specific scenes are kind of silly, the whole thing works pretty well. He also liked all the stock footage of airplane dogfights.

Derek also enjoyed it and thought that the "special effects", such as they were, worked pretty well, for the most part. His favorite scene, however, involved probably the greatest walk-on ever. Seriously, it has to be seen to be appreciated.

@redtache didn't much care for the movie, although he pretty much nailed it when he said that it was nothing more than straight-up propaganda. That's exactly what it is. He did offer up a few funny comments concerning some of the characters' activities during the attacks.