Published on June 23rd, 2008 | by Chris0
The Secret Invasion (1964)
You might well call The Secret Invasion, "The Filthy Four." Why? It's sort of a similar picture to The Dirty Dozen, except instead of twelve convicted criminals hand-picked for a suicide mission, this time its four.
The mission? To rescue an imprisoned Italian General from the Nazi prison in the Balkans, and return him to his followers who, its hoped, will turn against the Germans.
British Major Mace (Stewart Granger) picks the four miscreants, Rocca (Raf Vallone), Scanlon (Mickey Rooney), Fell (Edd Byrnes), and Durrell (Henry Silva) each for their "unique" talents. And much like the Dirty Dozen, they waffle back and forth between attempting escape, and following through loyally with their mission.
Along the way they join up with a band of Slav resistance fighters, led by Saval (William Campbell) and of course there is the wayward love interest, Mila (Spela Rozin.)
They're captured themselves as they try to execute their plan, and have to improvise an escape on top of the rescue mission. This one section of the film is in fact the only part where it really gets good. Despite the cheesy acting on all fronts, the mechanics of them pulling it off just clicks.
Then there is the twist ending, and the gotcha where its resolved. Actually a breath of fresh air given the more-or-less formula nature of everything else.
What might be a good picture, however, just isn't. The 60s-TV-ish soundtrack is just, well, too 60s TV for its own good. There are a few moments where it actually diverges into some interesting themes, but the typical 'hits' are all there, in spades.
Then you've got the rest of the picture. I'm not sure where the fault really lies here, in the direction, the writing, or the ho-hum-ness of everyone's performances. Even Mickey Rooney takes on a clown-like persona with his stereotypical drunk Irishman. I don't know, I just didn't get involved. I just couldn't bring myself to it. Don't even get me started on the female interest, Mila. That whole role should have just been dropped, as it seemed to serve no purpose other than to provide a brief shocking moment where we all go "Gasp!" and move on again....
And how can we forget the also-typical 50s and 60s war movie mantra of "fire as many bullets into everything as possible" bit. After so many times of hearing the same bleeding rat-tat-tat sound effect it really starts to wear on a guy. *Everybody* takes half a clip it seems, from everybody, and nobody seems to feel the need to reload. I just hate that. Call me a nitpicker but eh. And why is it that the good guys don't seem to get shot at by the friendlies even though they're wearing the SS uniforms they escaped with!?
A mediocre formula effort, that's what I'll call The Secret Invasion. Its not even fun, rather just a way to blow away a couple hours in a semi-mindless machine-gun fest. I just didn't care for it. I know I'll catch hell for it, but hey.
It is somewhat interesting that the concept we'd remember more in "The Dirty Dozen" had already been done, just a mere three years earlier. Thank goodness Lee Marvin and company got it right!
Oh hey look, its a Roger Corman production. Explains a lot.
Secret Invasion '64
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Roger Corman's 1964 The Secret Invasion is a variation on the theme of misfits pooling dark skills to help defeat the Nazi menace in World War II. A fun drama with many of Corman's shoestring-budget trademarks (stock film footage, creative if not always careful use of lighting to match shots), The Secret Invasion stars a number of familiar faces with eclectic star power...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Brand: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX HOME ENT
Manufacturer: United Artists
Original Release Date:
- Stewart Granger
- Raf Vallone
- Mickey Rooney
- Edd Byrnes
- Henry Silva
Summary: It is somewhat interesting that the concept we'd remember more in "The Dirty Dozen" had already been done, just a mere three years earlier. Thank goodness Lee Marvin and company got it right!