Invasion of the Body Snatchers
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Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Carolyn Jones. The sci-fi classic about small-town residents slowly being replaced by aliens hatched in pods. 1956/b&w/80 min/NR/fullscreen & widescreen.
Something's wrong in the town of Santa Mira, California. At first, Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) is unconcerned when the townsfolk accuse their loved ones of acting like emotionless imposters. But soon the evidence is overwhelming--Santa Mira has been invaded by alien "pods" that are capable of replicating humans and taking possession of their identities. It's up to McCarthy to spread the word of warning, battling the alien invasion at the risk of his own life. Considered one of the best science fiction films of the 1950s and '60s, this classic paranoid thriller was widely interpreted as a criticism of the McCarthy era (that's Senator Joseph, not actor Kevin), which was characterized by anticommunist witch-hunts and fear of the dreaded blacklist. Some hailed it as an attack on the oppressive power of government as Big Brother. However viewers interpret it, this original 1956 version of Invaders of the Body Snatchers (based on Jack Finney's serialized novel The Body Snatchers) remains a milestone movie in its genre, directed by Don Siegel with an inventive intensity that continues to pack an entertaining wallop. Look closely and you'll find future director Sam Peckinpah (an uncredited cowriter of this film) making a cameo appearance as a meter reader! --Jeff Shannon
- Special interview with 'Kevin McCarthy'
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Small town doctor Miles (Kevin McCarthy who is marvelous)returns to his hometown after a medical meeting to find that a little boy claims his mother isn't his mother. This isn't an isolated case as his former girlfriend Becky (the stunning Dana Wynter)returns to town to visit her father and tells Miles that her cousin is claiming the same thing about her father. It's almost like a mass delusion is gripping the town (although not identified there is a condition called folie à plusieurs i.e.,"madness of many" a shared delusion that takes root and is passed on). Miles goes along with that explanation until his writer friend (King Donovan)and his wife (Carolyn Jones) FIND a body without finger prints and, while not dead, he isn't alive either. Miles begins to suspect something darker is going on when he begins to notice the change in behavior of his friends.
Olive Films which has adopted lesser known and older Paramount titles for release has done an exceptionally good tranfer for the film. Presented in black & white on a 25g disc in the original Superscope widescreen presentation (which the producer was against...something you might find out IF there was a commentary track by a film scholar or fan of the film), there is some inherent softness to some shots that can't be avoided (it's partially due to the post-production conversion process to the widescreen anamorphic process), but, on the whole, the film looks pretty darn good with nice sharpness and clarity. The encoding here is quite good.I didn't note any problems with flickering.
There is some minor print damage noticeable but the print used for the transfer looks very good aside from those few moments. Even with the minor print damage, "Invasion" has never looked quite so good. Blacks are very good throughout in this presentation and the Blu-ray improves on the previous DVD release.
Audio sounds quite nice with dialogue very clear. I didn't detect any overuse of noise reduction or at the least there's no noise reduction artifacts that I noted.
There aren't any subtitles which is a surprise in this day and age.
The one area that "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" is very disappointing is the lack of special features. "Invasion" is a classic film and deserves a commentary track that focuses on the making of the film, the political meaning of the film (as interpreted by various groups over the years). The Republic Pictures DVD included an interview with the late actor Kevin McCarthy (it might have been nice if Olive Films had licensed the interview for this set) and the original theatrical trailer. We get nothing not even the theatrical trailer which is a missed opportunity.
I am happy that Olive Films has taken up many of these films that the major studios have neglected or forgotten about for Blu-ray but I would like to see a greater effort to include some special features either produced for their Blu-ray editions or licensed from other sources. Don't get me wrong without Olive Films I doubt it would have been likely that this film was releasesd on Blu-ray so soon (or at all)but it would be nice to see a bit of extra effort put into these releases.
Recommended for a very nice high def transfer and for the film itself but if you have the previous DVD (which this blows away in terms of image quality)you may want to hold on to it if you're attached to the extras for that edition.
Here's the scoop. Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) returns to to his practice in Santa Mira after being away at a conference. Something is afoot. People are saying that close friends and family they've known forever are not their friends and family. A backlog of patient appointments dries up and he's left scratching his head. He runs into an old flame (Dana Wynter) and, as the two try to rekindle their relationships, other odd things begin to happen that get them to realize something very serious is going on.
This film sports a very efficient script by Daniel Mainwaring as well as direction from veteran Don Siegel. The questions are laid out very early on and the clues build to a startling conclusion which then segues into the pair trying to figure out how to both escape the problem as well as raise the warning. This all builds to a frightening and feverish pitch. What starts out slow and easy on soft sunny days speeds up and turns dark with sharp, ugly shadows.
Some say this was made as a warning against Communism. Some say it's a warning to any society to not become to homogeneous. I suppose arguments can be made either way. But, social commentary aside, this is a wild ride. It is also said that the end was shot after the fact to calm people and let them know that our government has our best interests in mind. I don't know if that's true but, given the opening scene, I'm not buying it. It works too well.
This is right up there with the best science fiction films of that era. If you're a fan, have at it.