INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) was completed on a budget of only $300,000.
Producer Walter Wanger was behind some of the most prestigious pictures in Hollywood, including Queen Christina (1933) with Greta Garbo, John Ford's Stagecoach (1939), and Fritz Lang's Scarlet Street (1945), which starred Wanger's wife, Joan Bennett. By the time of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, his stock in Hollywood had fallen somewhat due to a scandal. Believing his wife to be having an affair with her agent, Jennings Lang, Wanger confronted Lang in a parking lot in 1951 and shot him. Lang was not killed, but Wanger did spend some time in jail. He and Bennett stayed married until 1965, by which time he had recovered some of his prestige with movies like I Want to Live! (1958) and Cleopatra (1963).
Director Don Siegel began his film career in the late 1930s creating montage sequences for a number of Warner Brothers pictures. He wanted to move to directing as early as 1942, but studio executives valued his skills so much, they refused to bend his contract to allow it. So he labored for a few more years, contributing impressive montage work to such films as Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), Now, Voyager (1942) and Casablanca (1942) before getting his first directing break. In the 1950s, Siegel made a career of stylish action movies, generally dismissed by American critics but highly praised by the French proponents of auteur theory, who valued Hollywood genre films. His biggest success, however, came in the 1960s beginning with a series of tough cop thrillers (Madigan, Coogan's Bluff, both 1968) that lead to his 1971 smash hit, Dirty Harry.
Siegel did a great deal to establish Clint Eastwood's career. They made five films together in a short span of time (1968-1971) huge successes. One of these, Dirty Harry, is indelibly associated with Eastwood's screen image. During filming of that picture, Siegel became ill with the flu, and Eastwood temporarily took over as director for one crucial scene. It was his first unbilled turn as director. Eastwood later dedicated his Oscar®-winning film Unforgiven (1992) to Siegel, who had died the previous year.
Don Siegel and his first wife, Swedish actress Viveca Lindfors, were the parents of actor-director Kristoffer Tabori, who was christened Christopher Donald Siegel but took the name of his stepfather, Hungarian-born playwright-actor George Tabori.
Siegel once claimed to have broken into Dana Wynter's house and hidden a pod under her bed, causing her to get hysterical when she discovered it. According to Wynter, Siegel merely left the prop on her doorstep and she almost broke her neck stumbling over it while leaving her house at dawn.
Dana Wynter once told a TV Guide interviewer, apparently without any intention of irony, "I hate the idea of a double." Wynter was, of course, referring to an aversion to using stunt doubles or stand-ins during a production, but the comment has a certain humor when related to the fate her character suffers in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Kevin McCarthy comes from an illustrious family. His sister was distinguished author, critic and political essayist Mary McCarthy, whose novel The Group was filmed in 1966. His cousin was former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy. Kevin McCarthy was also a close friend of actor Montgomery Clift.
McCarthy's roots were in the theater, and he received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar® nomination for his second film, a screen adaptation of Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman (1951). He also won a Golden Globe as Most Promising Newcomer for that film.
At 90 years old, McCarthy is still working regularly and is currently in production on The Ghastly Love of Johnny X, scheduled for a 2006 release.
Carolyn Jones had a fairly successful career in the late 50s and early 60s, playing mostly second female leads in a number of hit pictures. But she is probably most famous as Morticia in The Addams Family TV series. She was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar® in The Bachelor Party (1957).
Larry Gates made a number of films for both TV and the big screen before settling into work as H.B. Lewis on the long-running TV soap The Guiding Light from 1983 until his death in 1996.
Sam Peckinpah, who worked as dialogue director on this film, for many years claimed to have contributed to the screenplay, but that story has been denied by people involved in the making of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. When Mainwaring threatened to sue, Peckinpah decided to stop telling that story.
Kevin McCarthy was never sure if he was the first choice for the role, but he reasoned he must have been cast because the picture was a physically demanding one. He had worked on Siegel's previous film An Annapolis Story (1955) and proved he could handle a variety of tough, strenuous tasks.
Future film director Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch, 1969, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, 1973) served as the dialogue director on this film and makes a brief appearance as Charlie the meter reader.
In addition to several versions of his novel The Body Snatchers, Jack Finney's other writings have been adapted a number of times to the screen, including Good Neighbor Sam (1964), with Jack Lemmon, Assault on a Queen (1966), with Frank Sinatra, and Maxie (1985), with Glenn Close
Screenwriter Daniel Mainwaring worked with Siegel twice before this picture and on two others after it: Baby Face Nelson (1957) and The Gun Runners (1958). Under the pen name Geoffrey Homes, Mainwaring was responsible for some notably atmospheric crime dramas, including Out of the Past (1947), The Hitch-Hiker (1953), and (under his own name) The Phenix City Story (1955).
"I suppose it will appeal to the science fiction kids." - Dana Wynter, around the time of the film's release
"I was boring in it. There was no edge. If you're lucky, you develop a bit of that as you get older. And you develop a bit of humor. In your first picture, you're so terrified that you're going to do everything wrong that you just play everything straight. So it's nothing I'm proud of. Now, I was happy to be in it, especially because of Kevin and because of Don, and it was a fun thing to do. But I'd just as soon forget it." - Dana Wynter, years after the film's release
"It's got some masterful things in it. It's undeniably a classic, that's for sure. Here we are still talking about it forty years later." - Kevin McCarthy.
"This is probably my best film." - Don Siegel, 1968.
by Rob Nixon
Famous Quotes from INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
MILES (Kevin McCarthy): At first glance, everything looked the same.
WILMA (Virginia Christine): There's something missing. Always when he talked to me there was a certain look in his eyes. Now it's gone. There's no emotion. The words are the same, but there's no feeling.
BECKY (Dana Wynter): I knew something was wrong, but I thought it was me.
MILES: (seeing the pod replica of his friend Jack in its early stage) It's like the first impression stamped on a coin.
DR. KAUFFMAN (Larry Gates): There is no need for love or emotion. Love, ambition, desire, faith - without them, life is so simple.
SALLY (Jean Willes): (lowering a pod into her baby's playpen) There'll be no more tears.
MILES: Don't fall asleep!
MILES: A moment's sleep and the girl I loved was an inhuman enemy bent on my destruction.
MILES: They're here already! You're next! You're next, You're next...
Compiled by Rob Nixon