Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Walter Wanger Pictures/Allied Artists
directed by Don Siegel
starring Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Larry Gates, King Donovan, Carolyn Jones, Jean Willes, Ralph Dumke, Virginia Christine, Tom Fadden, Kenneth Patterson, Guy Way, Eileen Stevens, Beatrice Maude, Jean Andren, Bobby Clark, Everett Glass, Dabbs Greer, Pat O'Malley, Guy Rennie, Marie Selland, Sam Peckinpah, Harry J.Vejar, Whit Bisell, Richard Deacon
screenplay by Daniel Mainwaring, based on the story by Jack Finney, published by Collier's Magazine, music by Carmen Dragon
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When country doctor Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) returns from a convention,
he finds his village struck by a case of mass hysteria where people
believe their relatives are not their relative anymore - even though quite
obviously they are. Bennell and his girlfriend Becky (Dana Wynter) don't
know what to make of it, until they find a probably dead body in their
friend's Jack (King Donovan) house that seems to be sort of half-finished
and that seems to develop Jack's features. Of course, that makes no sense,
but Bennell soon figures that a new bred of humans is grown to substitute
the villagers. He, Becky, Jack and Jack's wife Teddy (Carolyn Jones) soon
discover some big pods in Bennell's greenhouse from which half-finished
humanoid bodies emerge upon opening - bodies that seem to develop their
Bennell sends Jack and Teddy out of town to get help while he
and Becky stay in the village to try and figure out what's going on, and
at the same time try to stay awake and not be replaced by their
pod-duplicates, which take over humans in their sleep. Problem is, the
villagers or rather their duplicates have long found out that Bennell and
Becky are not of their kind, and they are hell-bent on turning them. It's
only luck that Bennell and Becky remain alive, and more importantly remain
Eventually, Jack and Teddy return - but they have by now
been turned as well, and it's only by sheer luck that Bennell and Becky
manage to escape and leave town via an abandoned mine - where Becky falls
to sleep for a moment and is turned as well. Now all on his own, Bennell
makes it to the nearest highway - where he finds out the pods are already
delivered to neighbouring cities in large quantities.
Bennell makes it
to the authorities, but nobody is willing to believe him ...
all else, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is 1950's paranoia cinema
at its finest: It doesn't take much imagination to figure out that the
pod-people stand for the Commies, and when Kevin McCarthy fights for his
life, he actually fights for the American way of life, and hen his typical
1950's small town is turned into a threat, it's not the fault of the small
town but of those who perverted it. In essence, the film never questions
the status quo, rather re-afirms it - which makes it kind of weird that
some critics and film historians see the film as a biting commentary of
senator McCarthy's witchhunts.
Anyways, while the film is almost
ridiculously old-fashioned and anything but timeless in its basic set of
values and the like, it's also a nice suspense piece that features quite a
number of memorable scenes, is well-told, tightly directed and decently
It's a film you might not be in the mood for everyday, but it's a
great addition to any 1950's/Cold War cinema night.