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INVASION, U.S.A. ($25) is an example of how the cold war paranoia of the 1950s was turned into a highly entertaining exploitation/propaganda flick. Making ingenious use of stock footage, INVASION, U.S.A. shows what might happen if an unnamed, but decidedly communist, enemy invaded the United States and unleashed its atomic arsenal on America. The film follows the plight of a group of complacent Americans who are sitting in a New York City bar when the invasion begins. Each returns home to different parts of the country, but each discovers the same thing- the life they have known has been brought to an end by an oppressive enemy determined to destroy capitalist America. The cast of INVASION, U.S.A. features Gerald Mohr, Peggie Castle, Erik Blythe, Robert Bice, Tom Kennedy, Wade Crosby, William Schallert and Dan O'Herlihy. It should be noted that INVASION, U.S.A. features appearances by Noel Neill and Phyllis Coates, the two actresses who portrayed Lois Lane in THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN television series of the 1950s.

Synapse Films has made INVASION, U.S.A. available on DVD in a windowboxed presentation that allows one to see the entire frame of the filmís 1.33:1 theatrical aspect ratio. The black and white transfer is really super, producing a sharp and nicely defined image. However, INVASION, U.S.A. the film element used for the transfer does show its age in the form of a few blemish- primarily at the reel changes. Also, I should note that the stock footage used in the movie is of varying quality and tends to look more worn than the principal photography featuring the filmís actors. There is a bit of noticeable film grain throughout the presentation, but it is never excessive. Black appear accurate, whites are stable and contrast looks just fine throughout. Dual layer authoring keeps digital compression artifacts well concealed.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is relatively good for a low budget film that hasnít been carefully preserved by a major studio. There is a bit of noise and hiss on the track, but it doesnít become particularly bothersome at modest amplification levels. Dialogue is well rendered and always completely understandable. Music and sound effects can be a bit harsh sounding, but it is never objectionable. There are no alternate language tracks or subtitles included on the DVD.

The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a goodly amount of supplemental materials. Starting things off is RED NIGHTMARE, a thirty-minute propaganda film made by Warner Bros. for the department of defense in 1962. Produced under the supervision of Jack L. Warner, RED NIGHTMARE stars Jack Kelly, Jeanne Cooper and Jack Webb in this tale of the communist takeover of small town America.

Two "atomic" audio programs are included on the DVD, which were taken from two spoken word LP recordings from the cold war period. If The Bomb Falls offers instructions on how to stock and live in a fallout shelter for up to two weeks, while The Complacent Americans offers a dramatization of an A-Bomb attack on a fictional city. Newly produced for the DVD is on camera interviews with actors Dan O'Herlihy, William Schallert and Noel Neill. While none of the participant have any significant memories of INVASION, U.S.A., itís nice to see and hear these three well-known performers once again. Another cool feature is the Conelrad 100, which lists the 100 top Atomic films of all time, along with a brief synopsis for each. A theatrical trailer for INVASION, U.S.A. closes out the supplemental section.

If you like cold war films from the 1950s, then INVASION, U.S.A. is a movie you will have to check out on DVD. The movie is an absolute hoot and Synapse Films has produced a great DVD with a solid transfer an excellent supplemental material.


Invasion USA (1952)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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