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The Secret Invasion

The Secret Invasion (1964), starring Stewart Granger, Mickey Rooney, Raf Vallone, Henry Silva, Edd Byrnes, directed by Roger Corman

Synopsis of The Secret Invasion

The Secret Invasion is the story of British Intelligence using criminals to work behind enemy lines in Yugoslavia during World War II.

Cast of characters in The Secret Invasion

Editorial review of The Secret Invasion courtesy of Amazon.com

 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 ecleThe Secret Invasion, starring Stewart Granger, Mickey Rooney, Raf Vallone, Henry Silva, Edd Byrnes, directed by Roger Cormanctic star power. Stewart Granger plays a British officer who builds a team out of a handful of skilled criminals freed from various prisons, with the purpose of sending them on a dangerous, undercover mission. (The Secret Invasion was released three years before the similar-sounding The Dirty Dozen.)

Among his shady underlings is an expert forger (Edd Byrnes, never a hair out of place), a demolitions expert (Mickey Rooney in a somewhat annoying, too-sprightly performance as an Irish kook), a moody assassin (Henry Silva), an ace impersonator (William Campbell, brother of the film’s writer, R. Wright Campbell), and the story’s most charismatic figure, a renaissance genius who quickly becomes the team’s chief strategist (Raf Vallone).

The group’s intent is to rescue an Italian general from the Germans in a very charming, coastal town. The effort forces the reluctant good guys to sustain much brutality from the enemy, and watching while psychological pressures turn some of their more self-centered members into heroes while more damaged participants become doomstruck zombies. Corman juggles the particulars of an extended, chaotic fight scene in the film’s final minutes, demonstrating his prowess with no-fuss action shooting and cutting. But it’s the film’s air of tragedy and irony that ultimately lingers, wiping away any self-congratulatory cleverness from the impossible-mission plot. –Tom Keogh

Trivia for The Secret Invasion

  • This movie is considered to have beaten The Dirty Dozen (1967) in having the first film story about World War II prisoners recruited to go on an impossible suicide mission in exchange for pardons. “The Dirty Dozen” had the same plot but didn’t come out until three years later.
  • Filmed in Yugoslavia, with much of the location work done in the Croatian city of Dubrovnik.
  • Director Roger Corman was given the largest budget he ever had to work with up until that time–approximately $600,000.
  • Roger Corman directed this movie in between making Poe films (i.e. filmed adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe horror stories) The Masque of the Red Death (1964) and The Tomb of Ligeia (1964), the latter of which was the last of his Poe adaptions.