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
- Major Richard Mace (Stewart Granger, Scaramouche). The military man who has to assemble, train, and lead the team of criminals.
- Roberto Rocca (Raf Vallone, El Cid). Organizer and chief strategist of the team.
- Terence Scanlon (Mickey Rooney, Requiem for a Heavyweight, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World). Irish demolition expert.
- Simon Fell (Edd Byrnes, 77 Sunset Strip). Expert forger – somewhat reminiscent of Face from The A-Team.
- John Durrell (Henry Silva, The Manchurian Candidate). Assassin. Not the most pleasant of people.
Editorial review of The Secret Invasion courtesy of Amazon.com
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.