Dr Miles Bennell returns his small town practice to find several of his patients suffering the paranoid delusion that their friends or relatives are impostors. He is initially skeptical, especially when the alleged dopplegängers are able to answer detailed questions about their victim's lives, but he is eventually persuaded that something odd has happened and determines to find out what is causing this phenomenon. This film can be seen as a paranoid 1950s warning against those Damn Commies or, conversely, as a metaphor for the tyranny of McCarthyism (or the totalitarian system of Your Choice) and has a pro- and epilogue that was forced upon Siegel by the studio to lighten the tone. Written by
Mark Thompson <email@example.com>
During its original cinema release, paper-mache pods were on display in the lobbies, as well as black & white cutouts of Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter running frantically away from a crowd of pod-people. See more »
As the posse runs through Bronson Cave, after the policeman
stops on the planks, says his lines, and then runs ahead, look closely for the man in the white shirt: it looks like he fell down onto the planks before the shot ended. See more »
Don't let the title fool you. This one is a classic.
This is one of the great movie allegories. Yes, it is an allegory on the McCarthy era. Yes, it is an allegory on conformist America. But it is also an allegory on the evils of communism and fascism. Yes, it is a plea for sanity and individualism, for creativity and artistic freedom. And again yes it is a great directorial achievement for Don Siegel. All that aside it is also an entertaining film that does what any great movie should do, it moves. The dialog is not stilted or full of clichés. It is original and insightful without becoming preachy. Was Kevin McCarthy chosen because his name was McCarthy and the film runs counter to McCarthism? I think he was chosen because he was one of the gifted actors of the 1950's whose talents were not fully realized by the film industry. His fellow actors and actresses in the movie shared the same fate. The movie is also a top notch thriller, as good as any Hitchcock. When you're talking about the films of the 1950's that help define the period only a few come to mind: "The Wild One," "Rebel Without A Cause," and "Bad Day at Black Rock" are often cited. But "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers" is the one to study. It epitomizes the American outlook and cold war hysteria of the era as no other film from the decade does.
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