Monday, May 22, 2017

Sci Fi Top 100, #26: "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956)

Movie Stats:
Released 1956 (USA)
American, in English
Director - Don Siegel
Stars - Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter

Plot Summary:
Dr. Miles J. Bennell (McCarthy) slowly begins to recognize that an alien invasion is taking over the small town in which he resides. Wynter co-stars as Becky Driscoll, Bennell’s love interest.

Minor violence; very minor gore.

Bad Stuff:
The musical score isn’t exactly subtle.

I wasn’t wowed by any of the acting. McCarthy in particular was pretty weak as a lead.

It does a lot more “telling” than “showing” how the affected act differently. When comparing it with the 1970s version, I appreciated that there was a bit more nuance. Viewing it as a standalone, however, I wish they’d tried harder to show what they meant. I felt like, “I don’t know any of these characters. How am I supposed to just take their word for it?”

Good Stuff:
In this version, it was a lot more clear that the story is an allegory for the fear of Communism. I personally happen to like it when films feature aspects that are indicative of the time in which they were made.

It’s surprisingly non schlock-y. More mind game than horror flick.

It’s a nice, compact 80 minutes that comes at a good pace. I never felt like it dragged.

The Verdict:
I really wish that the two versions of this film weren’t so close together on the list. For one, it was hard to stay interested because I felt like, “Didn’t I just watch this?” even though there are significant differences between the two. For another, it was difficult to watch it without comparing it to the other one. I wanted to give this a review based on its own merits but found myself constantly thinking, “Well, in the 1970s version, they did x and in this version they did y.”  I wrote and deleted several points repeatedly.

Ultimately, I do like the film. If comparisons are all but impossible to avoid, I think it’s the better of the two. The 1970s version features better acting. This version is superior in almost every other way. Even so, I think the differences are slight. What I’m saying is, I appear to agree with the people who assembled this list. Both movies deserve to be on it, and the 1950s version is better, albeit only slightly.

I give it 3.5 stars.


Patricia said...

I guess that's the danger of starting at the end of the list and working your way to the beginning.

I do love a film that is a nice, compact 80 minutes. The film podcast the Next Picture Show recently paired Baywatch with the Brady Bunch Movie. One of the observations was that the BBM was a well-paced 90 minutes, while Baywatch felt bloated at 2 hours.

balyien said...

Baywatch was indeed bloated. But the worst part (for me) was the bad editing. Stuff like, The Rock would say something and Zac Efron would respond and his response wouldn't *really* make sense in context and I would think to myself, "I'm pretty sure they cut out a chunk of conversation there." It was super distracting. I saw it because I wanted to go to the movies by myself and it was the only film playing in a time slot that worked for me. I regretted it.