Invasion of the Body SnatchersDirector: Don Siegel
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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Cast & Crew
|Kevin McCarthy||Dr. Miles Bennel|
|Dana Wynter||Becky Driscoll|
|Larry Gates||Dr. Dan Kauffmann|
|Whit Bissell||Dr. Hill|
|Virginia Christine||Wilma Lentz|
|Tom Fadden||Uncle Ira Lentz|
|Guy Way||Sam Janzek|
|Eileen Stevens||Mrs. Grimaldi|
|Jean Andren||Aunt Eleda Lentz|
|Pat O'Malley||Man Carrying Baggage|
|Harry Vejar||With Man Carrying Baggage|
|Robert Clark||Jimmy Grimaldi|
|Richard Deacon||Dr. Harvey Bassett|
|Ralph Butler||Sound/Sound Designer|
|Carmen Dragon||Score Composer|
|Robert S. Eisen||Editor|
|Edward S. Haworth||Production Designer|
|Joseph Kish||Production Designer,Set Decoration/Design|
|Milt Rice||Special Effects|
|Allen K. Wood||Production Manager|
1. I''m Not Crazy [:12]
2. Strangers Among Us [8:25]
3. The Body [9:57]
4. Seed Pods [21:29]
5. Run For Your Life [10:49]
6. The Chase [14:32]
7. Alone [5:55]
8. No One Believes [:38]
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This one is an original, 1950's-era classic. LOTS of people have tried over the years to imitate movies like this one, and some have done good work, but no one will ever surpass them -- ever.
This was a great movie. It had action and a great plot. It is also very educational. Everyone should know what to do if pods fell out of the sky and transformed into any physical form of life when you fell asleep. It even made some people scream. And SOME PEOPLE even held onto a table leg because they were so scared.
invasion of the body snatchers is one of the best sci-fi movies of the 50s. It has a great cast and a creepy story. It's also really fun to watch this movie at night. Truly underrated.
At or, at least, near the top of the list of the scariest movies I have ever seen, this is the first and by far the best version of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Don Siegel's direction is sparse and pulls no punches. It is aided by a tense score, but it's the story more than anything else that stands out in this film.
Paranoia is rampant throughout this terrifying sci-fi tale. The scariest scene occurs when Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter, who are the only two humans left in Santa Mira, flee the pod people and take refuge in an abandoned mine just outside of town. Hidden under some wooden planks that cover a trench that they are lying in, McCarthy and Wynter successfully evade their pursuers. Later, after the pod people have left the cave, McCarthy relaxes with relief for the first time since his nightmare began, languidly kisses Wynter, and, to his horror, realizes the true nature of his predicament. The look on his face tells it all.
Rife with paranoia and existential alienation, this film is a classic tale of one man's fight against the overwhelming forces of an invading army bent on destroying him, bent on destroying any and all who are different than them. In short, this movie is as good as it gets.
--Bryan Cassiday, author of "Fete of Death"
Great sci-fi almost as good as the day the earth stood still. I think Dana Wynter is the most beautiful female ever to grace this planet.