Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS 1950'S VERSION
Have you ever woken up in the morning only to find that your spouse and loved ones have been replaced by exact duplicates who are impersonating the members of your family, and even though these people appear to be physically the same in every subtle respect, somehow you just know that these people are really not your loved ones? Well I don't know about you, but personally, I hate when that happens to me.
All kidding aside, what I have just described above is actually a bona fide psychiatric condition known as "Capgras Syndrome." As a young psychologist right out of school, I met and treated the one and only patient that I ever met who had this condition, and I have never run into another person who had this disorder again. Capgras Syndrome, although obviously a very rare condition, most typically is found in patients suffering from a delusional state during a Schizophrenic episode, and potentially some other psychotic conditions, although it can also occur in certain organic conditions as well. But enough background on Capgras Syndrome, lets get on to the review of the 1956 science fiction masterpiece, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."
The plot involves a small town Doctor named Miles Bennell, as played wonderfully by Kevin McCarthy. The movie opens with Dr. Bennell being in the custody of the police, and he is recounting to the medical staff, in an emergency room type of setting in San Francisco, the disturbing series of unbelievable events that resulted in his being there. In a lengthy sequence of flashbacks, Dr. Bennell describes how he was called back to his small town medical office by his nurse because of a number of unusually related emergency calls. It seems that Dr. Bennell is being told by a number of his patients that their loved ones have been replaced by duplicates who look just like their loved ones, but that they are somehow "different" in a subtle emotional way that only they can see. After some consultation, the town psychiatrist assures Dr. Bennell that this is nothing but a little mass hysteria, and there is nothing to worry about, and that it will all blow over in time. Firstly, how come none of the medical professionals consider the diagnosis of "mass hysteria" as being a serious problem, and secondly, how come none of the trained medical professionals entertain the diagnosis of Capgras Syndrome? This syndrome was clearly known to the medical community at this time. However, this flaw does not diminish the spellbinding nature of this movie for me.
Shortly thereafter, and with the help of his friend Jack Belicec (as played by King Donovan), and his old girlfriend Becky Driscoll (as played by Dana Wynter), Dr. Bennell discovers the astonishing and shocking truth. Belicec shows Dr. Bennell a partially formed body that he discovered in his home. After a brief examination of the body, they quickly deduce the truth, which is that when people fall asleep, a seed pod from outer space begins the process of replicating their body, including their mind, exactly down to every minute memory, and the humans are replaced by Pod People who resemble the originals in every way. That is except for one thing, namely the Pod People are emotionless. Can anyone tell me, how is it that the alien pods are so good at perfectly replicating every aspect of their original intended targets down to every last memory, but for some strange reason they can't replicate their emotions as well? The Pod People work tirelessly to spread pods everywhere so that the townspeople are all quickly being replaced.
Dr. Bennell and his girlfriend Becky attempt to flee from the town to warn the rest of humanity, and save the human race. Unfortunately, Becky takes a cat nap that turns into a dirt nap, and she becomes "Podish" as well. Dr. Bennell then runs onto the local highway and tries to warn passing drivers of the expanding crisis. This was actually the way the movie was originally intended to end, but thankfully, an epilogue was added which depicts a truckload of pods in a traffic accident and the FBI is notified of the danger and the threat to humanity. Fortunately, Pod People are no better at driving a truck than the all too human driver who plowed into my own car a while back.
In sum, this is one of the greatest science fiction movies of all time, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Some pseudo-intellectuals who viewed this movie over the years have become convinced that the writer and director were taking a stab at attacking the fear that swept the U.S. during the 1950's that the Communists, posing as Americans, were trying to infiltrate America and bring down the free world. In every interview that was given by the writer and director, as well as the actors involved, they all unanimously have claimed that their only goal was to make a good science fiction thriller, and no political statement was intended. Personally, I believe them.
Well, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my review, but now if you will please excuse me, I must get back to my practicing.
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older