Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

4.8 11
Director: Don Siegel

Cast: Don Siegel, Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Larry Gates

     
 

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Don Siegel's classic exercise in psychological science fiction has often been interpreted as a cautionary fable about the blacklisting hysteria of the McCarthy era. It can be read as a political metaphor or enjoyed as a fine low-budget suspense movie, and it works well either way. Kevin McCarthy stars as Miles Bennel, a doctor in the small California community of… See more details below

Overview

Don Siegel's classic exercise in psychological science fiction has often been interpreted as a cautionary fable about the blacklisting hysteria of the McCarthy era. It can be read as a political metaphor or enjoyed as a fine low-budget suspense movie, and it works well either way. Kevin McCarthy stars as Miles Bennel, a doctor in the small California community of Santa Mira, where several patients begin reporting that their loved ones don't seem to be themselves lately. They look the same but seem cold, emotionally distant, and somehow unfamiliar. The longer Miles looks into these reports, the more stock he places in them, and in time he makes a shocking discovery: aliens from another world are taking over Santa Mira, one citizen at a time. Emissaries from a distant planet have sent massive seed pods containing creatures that can assume the exact physical likeness of anyone they choose. When Santa Mirans go to sleep, the pod creatures take on the shape of their victims and then destroy their bodies. The aliens may look the same, but they possess no human emotions and, like plants, are concerned only with propagating themselves and eventually subsuming the earth. Needless to say, Miles and his friends are terrified, but since it's hard to tell who's a person and who's a pod, they're at a loss for what to do, especially when it seems that there are increasingly more aliens than humans. Invasion of the Body Snatchers builds tension slowly and steadily, dealing not in the shock of bug-eyed monsters common to other 1950s science-fiction movies but in the unnerving possibility that the enemy is among us -- and impossible to tell from our allies. The ultra-paranoid conclusion of Siegel's original cut was softened by Allied Artists, who added a framing device that suggested help was on the way. This coda was as effective in blunting the film's grim conclusion as giving a Band-Aid to a beheading victim; few films of the era make it more painfully clear that for these people (and maybe for ourselves), there's no turning back and no way home. Keep an eye peeled for a bit part by soon-to-be-legendary Western director Sam Peckinpah, who plays a meter reader and also (uncredited) helped write the screenplay. Based on a novel by Jack Finney, Invasion of the Body Snatchers was remade in 1978 by Philip Kaufman and in 1993 by Abel Ferrara (as Body Snatchers); and its influence can be felt from The Stepford Wives (1975) to The X-Files.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Amy Robinson
A film so irresistible that it has been remade twice -- by Philip Kaufman in 1978 and Abel Ferrara in 1993 -- Invasion of the Body Snatchers is intelligent, sincere, witty, terrifying, and ultimately poignant. Small-town doctor Miles Bennel (Kevin McCarthy) returns from a medical conference to find that ordinary citizens are accusing the people closest to them of being impostors. Unfortunately, the accusations are all too real: The entire community is being replaced by duplicates spawned from seed pods. Director Don Siegel skillfully grounds the film just shy of camp, forgoing flashy special effects for a more believable low-key approach. Although in its original release many saw the film as an allegory against McCarthyism, the film's central device -- individuals unwittingly turned into emotionless, brainless automatons by an irresistible force -- lends itself to broad metaphorical interpretations today. Invasion of the Body Snatchers was added to the U.S. National Film Registry in 1994, a nod to its status as one of the few truly transcendent genre pictures.
All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Though it was an inexpensive production for B-movie studio Allied Artists, Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) is a class-A 1950s science fiction allegory about the fragility of inner passion. With Siegel's matter-of-fact approach and "ordinary" small town setting and characters, the story about human possession by unexplained alien pods becomes all the more frightening; though the pods are from elsewhere, the "monsters" assume human faces. While the pods have often been seen as a Cold War sci-fi metaphor for Communist infiltration of American society, they are an equally compelling symbol of soul-deadening 1950s suburban conformity. Siegel himself liked to assert that the Hollywood studios were filled with pods; and when Allied Artists saw Siegel's bleak ending, they demanded a prologue and epilogue that added an element of hope. The "Siegel version" of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, however, was seen in Europe and "underground" American screenings, before the 1979 reissue officially deleted the studio-mandated additions. Though it has been remade twice, in 1978 by Philip Kaufman and 1994 by Abel Ferrara, Siegel's tightly constructed, black-and-white version remains the best adaptation of the Jack Finney story. The movie also features a cameo appearance by Siegel assistant Sam Peckinpah.

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Product Details

Release Date:
07/17/2012
UPC:
0887090039000
Original Release:
1956
Rating:
NR
Source:
Olive Films
Presentation:
[B&W]
Time:
1:20:00
Sales rank:
11,536

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Kevin McCarthy Dr. Miles Bennel
Dana Wynter Becky Driscoll
Larry Gates Dr. Dan Kauffmann
King Donovan Jack
Carolyn Jones Theodore
Whit Bissell Dr. Hill
Jean Willes Sally
Ralph Dumke Nick
Virginia Christine Wilma Lentz
Tom Fadden Uncle Ira Lentz
Kenneth Patterson Driscoll
Guy Way Sam Janzek
Eileen Stevens Mrs. Grimaldi
Beatrice Maude Grandma
Jean Andren Aunt Eleda Lentz
Everett Glass Pursey
Dabbs Greer Mac
Pat O'Malley Man Carrying Baggage
Guy Rennie Proprietor
Don Siegel Actor
Harry Vejar With Man Carrying Baggage
Robert Clark Jimmy Grimaldi
Richard Deacon Dr. Harvey Bassett

Technical Credits
Don Siegel Director
Ralph Butler Sound/Sound Designer
Carmen Dragon Score Composer
Robert S. Eisen Editor
Ellsworth Fredericks Cinematographer
Edward S. Haworth Production Designer
Joseph Kish Production Designer,Set Decoration/Design
Emile LaVigne Makeup
Daniel Mainwaring Screenwriter
Milt Rice Special Effects
Walter Wanger Producer
Allen K. Wood Production Manager

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