Invasion USA (1952)

Article #602 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 11-7-2002
Posting date: 4-3-2003

The lives of several patrons of a bar are affected by the invasion of the United States by the communists.

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN opens with a couple of shots to establish the setting of London. When I was watching the DVD recently with the commentary track on, I was informed that these two shots were stock footage. Oddly enough, I found myself surprised; it had never even occurred to wonder whether they might be stock footage or not. Then it occurred to me just how efficient and effective stock footage could be if used with taste and care, as it was in those two shots, which do nothing more than establish a setting.

This movie also uses stock footage; in fact, I’m tempted to sit down some day and time out just how much stock footage there is in this movie, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that from thirty to forty percent of the movie consists of such footage. This will delight fans of military stock footage, I am sure, but it bores me to tears. The sheer bulk of it makes me suspect that the movie was made primarily to take advantage of the footage, rather than the footage being added to augment the movie; in fact, when it is established that the invaders are wearing American uniforms, I suspect this plot point exists solely so that they can use stock footage of American soldiers.

You know, in some way, I can’t help but admire the audacity of building a whole movie about stock footage, but it really doesn’t make for what I would call a compelling story, especially when the surrounding footage shot especially for the movie is listless, tired, static and dull. This is not to say that the movie doesn’t make certain points; an early observation in the opening scenes about the hypocrisy of those who expect government to do all these things for them without raising taxes to do those things is a fairly strong and unexpected point. Unfortunately, that’s the only time the movie really catches my interest. And though I understand the concept of stock footage making the movie more realistic, that realism has to carry over to the new footage, and it doesn’t; the characters and the situations are shallow and unconvincing, and certain scenes are shot without a hint of common sense; for example, when the president is giving his speeches over the television, the camera should be positioned to catch his face, not the back of his head. It’s moments like this which destroy any illusion of reality that the stock footage is supposed to enhance.

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