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The Sophisticated Creature Feature
on 19 July 2005
Based on a Collier's Magazine serial by Jack Finney, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" is an intelligent, superb example of its era and genre, with excellent direction and cast. Director Don Siegel said that this was probably his best film, though he deplored that the film studio (United Artists) made him add a prologue and epilogue, and tell the story with narration as a flashback. Though this format would weaken the chilling effect of the story somewhat, it is nevertheless riveting and quite frightening. When Doctor Miles Bennell returns from a business trip, he finds his small town changed, with people saying that their loved ones are "no longer the same." Miles also finds that his sweetheart of many years ago, Becky Driscoll, has come home after a 5 year absence, and a divorce, and they make a marvelous duo, quoting Shakespeare to each other, and with some dialogue that in the mid 1950s would have been quite racy.
Kevin McCarthy is marvelous as Miles, who runs a race against time and sleep to fight the pod people, and Dana Wynter is beautiful as Becky. There are others in the above average cast that will be familiar to old time TV viewers, like Carolyn Jones (Morticia of "The Adams Family"), Virginia Christine (Mrs. Olsen of the Folger's Coffee commercials), and Richard Deacon (Mel Cooley of "The Dick Van Dyke Show"). Among the credits, the great Carmen Dragon did the soundtrack, Ellsworth Fredericks the cinematography, and Daniel Mainwaring the bright and clever script.
The premise as I see it (and I think every viewer will bring his own interpretation to this film depending on his viewpoint) is still valid, as conformity is still king, and pod people are ever present. The 1978 remake is one of the few that lives up to the original, and is also highly recommended. Total running time is 80 minutes.