Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel, 1956, USA)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) is one of the most iconic sci-fi films of the 1950s, and for good reason. The film has such a seemingly simple plot that it has been replicated and parodied countless times. The notion of "pod people" has entered the popular vernacular and become a common expression. The film is based on Jack Finney's The Body Snatchers, serialized for the magazine Collier's in 1954. The film was brought to the screen by director Don Siegel and represents perhaps his most famous film outside of Dirty Harry. Up until this point, Siegel had primarily made film noirs, and this sensibility shines through in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

The film succeeds even today because of the great performances at its core - namely, Kevin McCarthy as Dr. Miles Bennell and Dana Wynter as Becky Driscoll, his former love interest. While McCarthy had an incredibly long and extensive career, he is still probably best known for his role in Body Snatchers. Dana Wynter is also best known for this film. The ensemble cast is also excellent. The sunny Californian setting of the fictional town of "Santa Mira" gives that classic suburban feel, and has often been replicated in similar films about something deeply wrong embedded in the heart of suburbia.

The briskly paced film escalates, and while it does leave certain questions (what happens to the human bodies of the people who have been taken over by their pod people?), the film moves too fast to pick apart. Much has been discussed about how Body Snatchers is the quintessential film of the Red Scare, though the filmmakers claim there was no such messaging intended. The premise is so broad in its metaphorical potential that it can be applied to a variety of scenarios, not only Communism during the 1950s.



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