Tagline: … there was nothing to hold onto – except each other.
Director: Don Siegel (also directed The Beguiled (1971) which is intense).
Actors: Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter
Source: Based on a novel by Jack Finney
Story: A delusion affects the inhabitants of Santa Mira. People are claiming that their family members are not really them. Dr. Miles Bennell pooh-poohs these notions until he starts finding aliens pods in basements.
Trivia: The studio insisted on adding a framing story to keep the movie from being as effective.
I am fond of the novel which my father read to me when I was sick and couldn’t rest or use my eyes. I think Siegel’s Body Snatchers is a fair interpretation of the novel.
The movie is well done in moving the hero through the emotional phases of pleasant normalcy to pity for the deluded to confusion to determination to escape to desperation. Nice job both artistically and technically.
I especially liked that there was no visual evidence of their alien status. The only real indication was that the alien replacements were less emotional than the humans. Even when the alien activity comes into the open, it’s still organized and low-key. I also thought that the idea that all the aliens need is for the humans to sleep to destroy them.
One of the chilling moments has an alien planning with relief the replacement of a human baby. Another moment has a boy protesting to kindly, condescending adults that his mother is different. Maybe these scenes were more disturbing to me because there’s not much an infant or a child could in face of this kind of attack.
A subplot is Miles wooing of Becky, newly divorced and back in town. Miles has been divorced too and they refer to their marital state as “going to Reno.” They obviously are delighted to see each other but they have to be careful not let their feelings discovered by her father and later by the aliens. In the first scene, she’s wearing an inappropriate strapless gown in the daytime. I wonder if this is a hint that she’s a bit ‘fast.’ She and Miles banter a lot in the first part of the movie, notably in the scene in which she claims that having sex would be “madness.” She spends the night chastely.
Unfortunately, they are soon fighting for their lives and have no time for romance. In a rather sad scene, after social protocol is broken down due to the aliens, Becky sobs that she wants to have children. (She was childless in her first marriage.)
Good movie – worth seeing.
Review by feoamante.com
Background on the film by Hollywood Gothique
Insightful review from the Sci-Fi Block.
Review from Moria
Briefly discusses the relationship between Miles and Becky from classic-horror.