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Movie Review – Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 – United States)

Updated on April 25, 2012

"They're coming; you're next!"

It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you.

"Don't just stand there fitting me for a straight jacket, do something!" Kevin McCarthy's character demands near the end of this utterly chilling 1956 masterpiece of (I'd say justified) paranoia. The problem is, there's nothing they CAN do, they or anyone else, because the pods have already taken over—and I don't mean just in this picture! Released soon after the Communist witch-hunt era of Senator Joseph McCarthy (R. Wisconsin, 1908 – 1957), and superior in every way to the 1978 remake, McCarthyism is the most commonly sited reference point for this film, but it has always seemed to me to resonate on much deeper levels than that.

Watch the original trailer:

The scary thing about the people transformed by the pods (they kill and disappear you, then replace you with a creepy doppelganger) is their soulessness. And soulessness is no Cold War anomaly, it is, instead, the current status quo. Pop culture deifies soulessness, for it ultimately resides in that all-powerful Bottom Line.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is therefore the anthem of artists, dissidents, the disenfranchised and oddballs everywhere. Watch this movie understanding that Allied Artists forced the creative team to tack on the softening bookends (It originally ended with the doctor's anguished freeway-side warning) and then ask yourself, how many pods do you know? Your boss? His boss? What about our politicians? Huh? Pods, the lot of 'em! If there is a single cry that echoes down through all of human history, that applies to every era, and that has reached its crescendo in our own times, it is without doubt the doctor's hysterical freeway cry: "They're coming! You're next."

Highly recommended.

Copyright © Roberta Lee 2012. All rights reserved.

(I am an artist and the author of the Suburban Sprawl series of novels as well as two nonfiction books. Find out more about my work at

Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Classics, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Rating: PG

Running time: 1 hr. 20 min.

Directed By: Don Siegel

Written By: Geoffrey Homes

Based on a novel by: Jack Finney


Kevin McCarthy - Dr. Miles Bennel

Dana Wynter - Becky Driscoll

Larry Gates - Dr. Dan Kauffmann

King Donovan - Jack

Whit Bissell - Dr. Hill

Jean Willes - Sally

Ralph Dumke - Nick


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    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 6 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Yes, I know: the Kevin McCarthy, Joe McCarthy thing has always amused me, too! Ah, High Noon...another great classic, for which I have never written a it's on my list....

    • profile image

      thatmovieguy71 6 years ago

      A great movie review! Body Snatchers is perhaps Hollywood's best response to McCarthyism (along with High Noon). I agree that it is better than the 1978 version, although I think the '78 version is pretty good too. Kevin McCarthy (how ironic is that name!) is really good here as well.

    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 6 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Thanks for all the great comments on this wonderful movie! I agree, the original is way, way better than the remakes, which, I will add, is most often the case.

    • Angie497 profile image

      Angie497 6 years ago

      The 'creepiness quotient' of the original 'Body Snatchers' is much higher than the later remake. It's hard to beat classics like this one!

    • MickeySr profile image

      MickeySr 6 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      This is indeed a masterpiece, a classic SciFi thriller. Directed by Don Siegel (who later worked with Clint Eastwood on some of his most memorable films) The gradual uncovering of what's taking place and then the building suspense of the fate of our two protagonists is presented to us flawlessly. And I agree, the implications of the soulless facsimiles represents far more than 1950'2 Soviet Communism - but, apart from all or any subtext or behind the scenes meaning, simply as a told story, the performances, setting, script, etc, this is one of those you want to watch every so often . . . and the kids (mine anyway) will love it as well.