1954 Oscar nominee Dan O'Herlihy, as pivotal IUSA character Mr Ohman - foresees a correction in the newspaper of record...
New York Times - December 15, 2002 - Ten notable DVD releases of 2002 - click to enlarge

INVASION USA: Tour de Force of Atomic Filmmaking
INVASION USA: Ephemera & Reviews
RED NIGHTMARE: Soviet America Cinema Classic

The Redemption of INVASION USA - fifty years later

On April 30, 1953 a New York Times film reviewer dismissed INVASION USA (hereafter IUSA) as an "atomic-war" "message" picture with "dismal" acting. It took nearly fifty years and an ambitious DVD re-issue co-produced by Synapse Films and CONELRAD for the paper of record to finally give IUSA its due. In its December 15, 2002 edition, the Times chose IUSA as one of the ten most notable DVD releases of the year Vigilant youth attend the 1953 New York City premiere of INVASION USA - click to enlarge(alongside such films as SUNSET BOULEVARD and NEAR DARK). Granted, in the article, IUSA itself (it is the totality of the re-issue package that enabled IUSA to make the cut) is still referred to as "no classic," but compared to the original pan, this new honor is practically a front-page, above-the-fold, 72-point-type headline retraction.

So what transpired over the fifty years to make the Times relent and see the value of the Cold War picture? Too much to recount here, but suffice it to say that Synapse and CONELRAD recognized that IUSA was one of the best symbols of this period's hysteria committed to film and that it cried out for a proper re-issue. Using the lurid "B" masterwork as a centerpiece, Synapse and CONELRAD added special features around it to create a document that both celebrates the era and places IUSA in its true pop cultural context. The completed product apparently elevated what was once just a genre cheapie to a level worthy of the Old Grey Lady's respect.

What went into the actual production of the IUSA special edition DVD? There were essentially two parallel efforts underway over the course of 18-months that ultimately resulted in the finished DVD: While Synapse Films labored on the best possible digital transfer of the movie and the arduous nuts and bolts assembly of the final "master," CONELRAD worked on the special features. During this period CONELRAD assiduously researched the production history of IUSA. This research included obtaining every available artifact (reviews, promotional material, art work, etc.) on the movie, interviewing the surviving actors and watching the film repeatedly so that a thorough analysis could be included in the liner notes of the DVD package. CONELRAD also tracked down a 1956 theatrical re-issue trailer for the movie, a pristine print of the 1962 Red Scare short RED NIGHTMARE with Jack Webb and provided two Civil Defense "scare" LPs "If the Bomb Falls" and "The Complacent Americans." Lastly, CONELRAD included on the disc its "100" list of the greatest Atomic films ever made.

Most importantly, CONELRAD provided important historical information on all of the above. It wasn't enough to simply offer these extra features in the hopes that the viewer would get a cheap laugh. In the age of DVD, there is just no excuse to err on the side of "less."

It was an honor and a privilege for CONELRAD to have co-produced the IUSA DVD with Synapse Films because Synapse was a committed partner in seeing that the film received the "deluxe" treatment it so richly deserves. CONELRAD hopes to issue similar high quality media projects in the near future. In the meantime, though, we are delighted to be witnesses to the redemption of IUSA in the pages of the New York Times. Somewhere in B-movie heaven IUSA co-producer Albert Zugsmith is smoking a big, fat celebratory stogie in honor of this vindication. Star Dan O'Herlihy, however, is still awaiting an apology from the Times for misspelling his name back in '53.

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