INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS

(1956)
With Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, King Donovan, Carolyn Jones, Larry Gates, Whit Bissell, Richard Deacon
Directed by Don Siegel
Black and White
Reviewed by JL and JB

The Greenhouse Effect takes on a whole new meaning     One of the best and best-known of the '50s aliens-from-space sci-fi films, Don Seigel's INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS was also a political cautionary tale for its time that could be interpreted from a conservative or liberal point of view.  (Are the aliens communists who are slowly taking over while no one notices?  Or are they Americans who follow like sheep without questioning injustice?)  The story of alien seed pods gradually replacing the human race one victim at a time is a familiar one, in that the film has been remade twice.  Though both remakes are strong, as remakes go, the Siegel original still packs more of an emotional punch, perhaps because the central romance between the film's two very likable leads (Kevin McCarthy and the gorgeous Dana Wynter) is so heartfelt, rendering its tragic conclusion all the more heartbreaking. ½ - JL


     Kevin McCarthy is a rare figure in movie history.  His is a name any halfway decent movie fan will recall in an instant, with great fondness and admiration.  Yet, ask a movie fan what films Kevin McCarthy was in, and chances are INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS is the only one that will come to mind.  Rack your brain and you may recall him as Biff Loman in the 1951 version of DEATH OF A SALESMAN.  I can still quote one of his evil scientist lines from the fun Martin Short vehicle INNERSPACE ("You know, Jack, sitting here freezing like we are...").  But, in truth, McCarthy's movie career outside of BODY SNATCHERS was about as undistinguished as can be.  Yet he will be remembered by we movie fans as long as we remember Clark Gable, James Cagney or Jimmy Stewart.  Such a waste of a great talent.  BODY SNATCHERS alone proves he had the goods to be a great star.  By the way, McCarthy also appeared (in a cameo) in the 1978 remake of BODY SNATCHERS, a first-class film in its own right, one of the few times that the remake of a classic film was not a complete insult to the memory of the original but instead can stand next to it proudly. ½ - JB

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