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
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
An entertaining B film worth seeing,
This review is from: The Secret Invasion [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
An unusual WWII based film for perennial low budget B film director Roger Corman. This film was entirely shot on location in and around the city of Dubrovnik, Croatia in the former Yugoslavia. This Blu-ray release of the film shows the beautiful scenery and coastal areas used as locations in the film to great effect. This film is very similar in format and plot to the Dirty Dozen but shot in 1964, three years before the Dirty Dozen film was released. Expect some interesting plot twists in this film versus the more linear Dirty Dozen. A few graphic bloody scenes are included so not exactly a G rated film. No language, no sex or nudity. While definitely a “B” film, with a mostly second string cast to match, this film is none-the-less entertaining and worth seeing. My rating would be 3-1/2 stars, if that were allowed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A very surprising good movie.,
This review is from: The Secret Invasion [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Mickey Rooney and Stewart Granger co-star in this action-packed war drama about a group of criminals (think of the Dirty Dozen, with less guys) gathered to rescue an Italian General who wants to defect to the allies but the Nazis capture and imprison him. The information and resources the general could provide, the Allies assemble a rescue team of the only men able to infiltrate the Nazi prison undetected... But it all goes wrong and well I will not spoil it for you. The cast is very good and so is the story and I enjoyed it from start to finish. Many sad bits but that is what makes it more real. The wonderful cast also includes Raf Vallone, Edd Byrnes ( yes, that Edd Byrnes, very good) and Henry Silva. A wonderful cast and a wonderful movie. Absolutely worth seeing for any War movie fan, add this to your collection.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
THE "FILTHY FIVE",
This review is from: Secret Invasion (Amazon Video)
and their fearless leader may not quite measure up to DD standards, but I think the film stands on its own as a great B movie, as well as a prototype for the more lavish production to come in '67. Crisp, clear video and a clean soundtract are definite plusses, as is the surprising plot twist at the end. Glad I found it after all these years. Fine flick.
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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!