Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) 4/5 (2)


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Rating: The Good – 82.3
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror
Duration: 80 mins
Director: Don Siegel
Stars: Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Larry Gates

The original adaptation of Jack Finney’s magazine serial is not as masterfully unsettling as Philip Kaufman’s 1978 remake was but it works a treat in its own more modest way. Set in a small Californian town (as opposed to a large city like San Francisco), Kevin McCarthy plays the doctor who comes to believe that the town’s inhabitants are undergoing sinister changes. Dana Wynter is the love interest who works with him to expose the truth before it’s too late. Don Siegel handles the action well and takes his time in the build up of the suspense. As Kaufman did later, he sets up some brilliant shots to imbue the viewer with a sense of creepiness like that of the townspeople silently congregating at the town square under no overtly obvious instruction. Invasion of the Body Snatchers looks fantastic as well with Siegel’s years of experience manipulating light and shadow in film-noir being brought to bear here. There are a couple of minor leaps of logic in the story but nothing that jeopardises the integrity of the plot too much. The two leads acquit themselves admirably and they’re supported by a number of strong actors such as Larry Gates as the shrink, Dr. Kauffman (yep, two F’s though). This earlier version drives home the allegorical aspect to the story a little more explicitly than the remake (understandable given the climate) but it must be said that the ‘squealing’ pointers of that latter film (not featured in this version) caught the act of informing far better as well as scaring the hell out you to boot.

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3 thoughts on “Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)”

  1. I love this movie to no end! I just took it out to watch for later tonight, lol! I rated it at a 100% (which is something I rarely do for a sci fi movie) because it is in my Top 10 favorite sci fi movies list. You are the first (if I can recall) person to mention a noir look in a review that I’ve ever read. Very astute of you. Good job, D!

    1. Thanks again Vic, this is a real favourite of mine too. there’s something about McCarthy in the lead. He was always second or third banana and was great at it but he was a thrilling lead here.

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