Movie #71 The Secret Invasion
(1964, US, d. Roger Corman)
The so-called King of the B Movies makes a surprisingly lasting mark on the WWII genre in this convicts-forced-to-fight-for-America thriller. It feels a lot like The Guns of Navarone and The Dirty Dozen – and though not as well-received as both of those, it is still a fairly strong film that stands against the test of time. Maybe it was me expecting a very, very cheesy B film and instead being greeted with absolutely beautiful landscapes of the Dalmatian Coast of Italy and a wonderful new visual treat that is Roger Corman that got me. It’s hard to put the right words on the filmmaker, but there is definitely a feeling of a unique visual style in the images portrayed here: the afternoon settings, the wonderful visuals, the subtle but freaking awesome costume designs (hence the picture above) and yes, the more than occasional spurt of ridiculous dialogue. What I really loved about the film, though, was that there was never any backstory to the convicts. I was expecting a slew of monologues to begin around the midpoint establishing respective sympathies for our protagonists but it never came. Instead, the audience merely handed out sympathy based on the actions the characters made. I thought it was really interesting how the “cold-hearted” murderer ended up getting the most of that, while the ones who were in prison for a year or two, though still valiant and brave in their own right, didn’t do as much for the team. It’s a short film and if it weren’t for a couple dragged out war fights, the movie could have been under an hour and ten minutes.