Friday, August 15, 2008

Wake Up Wichita! Before It's Too Late!

Cold War paranoia could also be fun and entertaining! Employees of the Orpheum Theater in Wichita, Kansas, pose in costume to promote the release of the 1953 movie Invasion U.S.A.

Invasion U.S.A. opened at the Orpheum on February 26, 1953.
The theater borrowed one of Wichita's air raid sirens to display in the lobby. The accompanying display warned "Wake Up Wichita! Before It's Too Late!" The theater's management took the advice of exhibitor's promotional material which encouraged them to "Work out if possible, a 'siren' opening of your film--a test 'alert' for civilian defense workers." They also arranged for a Civil Defense Rescue Service truck to be parked in front of the theater's entrance. An exterior promotional display indicated that Invasion U.S.A. was shown at the Orpheum on the same bill with Walt Disney's Color Cartoon Revue. Just imagine, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck followed by the atomic annihilation of the United States.

As for the movie itself, according to the web site CONELRAD--

Shot in seven days in April of 1952 on a budget of $127,000.00, veteran director Alfred E. Green (THE JOLSON STORY) managed to combine a number of wildly disparate elements into this 74-minute tour de force of "atomic" filmmaking. The formula for Invasion U.S.A as accurately as can be determined is 30% stock footage, 20% staged newscasts to explain the stock footage, 30% intense and mostly nonsensical propaganda and 20% inappropriate romantic melodrama. Blended together the movie plays like a Joseph McCarthy fever dream.

Photos courtesy of Wichita Photo Archives.


Anonymous said...

Mystery Science Theater did a great send-up of Invasion USA. They made this movie not so horrible. Check it out.

Nice blog!

Anonymous said...

Jeff, as someone who lives in Wichita, just curious where your sudden interest (if it's anything more than this blog post and the one on 2719) in our town came from? The Orpheum theater is actually a cool little piece of history here in town and there's a very small movement happening to restore it. I saw a Beatles cover band there about two years ago and crammed seating aside, it was one of my favorite concert experiences ever.

Jeff Pepper said...

I've been doing extensive online research for a number of projects I've been working on. Wichita Photos Online happened to be one of the archives I was digging in and hence found the photos I featured here and on 2719.

Paul Duca said...

The most unusual thing about this movie is that it features both actresses who would play Lois Lane opposite George Reeves' Clark Kent/Superman on TV...Phyllis Coates and Noel Neill.