Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

In Don Siegel's cautionary sci-fi film, a metaphor for the Communist threat in the mid-1950s:

  • the opening prologue (and closing scene - added bookends) of Dr. Miles Bennell's (Kevin McCarthy) paranoic fear and mania about alien takeover in Santa Mira, California - as he shouted to an unbelieving group of nurses, interns, psychiatrists (including Whit Bissel as Dr. Hill), and doctors (including Richard Deacon as Dr. Harvey Bassett) in the emergency room of the city's Emergency Hospital; he warned them about seed pods taking over the planet: "Doctor, will you tell these fools I'm not crazy? Make them listen to me before it's too late"
  • the film's original opening, a flashback voice-over as Dr. Bennell returned home from a medical convention by train: "Well, it started - for me, it started - last Thursday, in response to an urgent message from my nurse. I'd hurried home from a medical convention I'd been attending. At first glance, everything looked the same. It wasn't. Something evil had taken possession of the town. Sick people who couldn't wait to see me, then suddenly were perfectly all right. A boy who said his mother wasn't his mother. A woman who said her uncle wasn't her uncle"
  • the sequence of the town's only psychiatrist, Dr. Dan Kaufman (Larry Gates), who dismissed the cases of delusional paranoia as: "A strange neurosis, evidently contagious, an epidemic mass hysteria. In two weeks, it spread all over town...Worry about what's going on in the world probably"
  • the eerie scene in the home of Jack Belicec (King Donovan), who had discovered a strange, corpse-like cadaver lying on his pool table - with an unfinished, half-formed, mannequin-like humanoid face and no fingerprints: "It's like the first impression that's stamped on a coin. It isn't finished"
  • Dr. Bennell's fearful discovery in the home of his intelligent ex-girlfriend/ sweetheart-fiancee, now recently divorced, Becky Driscoll (Dana Wynter), after he entered through a basement window, and in the darkness discovered a smooth-faced, replica "double" for Becky hidden in a bin - and obviously placed there by her father; frightened, Miles woke her from a drugged sleep state and carried her away to his house
  • also, the famous greenhouse scene during a barbecue at Miles' home with friends Jack and his wife Theodora (Carolyn Jones), when they discovered two giant seed pods that burst and exploded open like rotten cabbages, with a milky fluid bubbling out [a mock birth scene]; in the terrifying scene, the disgorged pods revealed grotesquely duplicate similarities to their human counterparts - replicas covered with a sticky, sappy foam - Miles took a pitchfork and stabbed at the pods' hearts in a vampire-like killing
  • the scenes of Miles and Becky as exhausted fugitives, who ended up cornered in his office where they were forced to hide, fleeing from the police, as Miles pondered: "In my practice, I've seen how people have allowed their humanity to drain away. Only it happened slowly instead of all at once. They didn't seem to mind...All of us - a little bit - we harden our hearts, grow callous. Only when we have to fight to stay human do we realize how precious it is to us, how dear"
Miles and Becky Hiding Out - Their View of Trucks with Seed Pods
  • their window view of the invasion of 'body snatchers' - trucks arrived, loaded with freshly harvested seed pods, to be divided among friends and relatives in other towns, to spread the invasion in other communities - Miles sensed the deadly contagion spreading unchecked in the seemingly normal community, neighboring towns and cities: "It's a malignant disease spreading through the whole country"
  • the scene of Dr. Kaufman's shocking explanation of the alluring benefits and advantages to them of symbiosis with two fresh pods: "Less than a month ago, Santa Mira was like any other town. People with nothing but problems. Then, out of the sky came a solution. Seeds drifting through space for years took root in a farmer's field. From the seeds came pods which had the power to reproduce themselves in the exact likeness of any form of life...Your new bodies are growing in there. They're taking you over cell for cell, atom for atom. There is no pain. Suddenly, while you're asleep, they'll absorb your minds, your memories and you're reborn into an untroubled world...Tomorrow you'll be one of us...There's no need for love...Love. Desire. Ambition. Faith. Without them, life is so simple, believe me"
  • in the gripping and frightening finale, Miles and Becky fled from the town's space pods to try to elude the enemy and get help, while struggling to stay awake; they sought refuge in an old abandoned mine; he left the faint Becky when the aliens departed to discover the source of beautiful singing or music that they hear; when he returned, he took her in his arms to kiss her, and then drew away from her unresponsive lips - in a tight closeup shot of her face, he looked into the blank, dark, expressionless and staring eyes of his fiancée, realizing with a look of utter fright that she was now one of "them" - her body had been invaded, cloned and snatched
Shocking Realization - Becky Was One of "Them"
  • in an instant, Miles knew this was not Becky but a treacherous imposter and victim; she confirmed: "I went to sleep Miles, and it happened...They were right"; he was unbelieving: "Oh, Becky...I should never have left you"; his sweetheart of a moment ago now asserted: "Stop acting like a fool, Miles, and accept us"; she screamed to the pod-people searchers as he fled: "He's in here! He's in here! Get him! Get him!"; in voice-over, Miles explained: "I've been afraid a lot of times in my life, but I didn't know the real meaning of fear until, until I had kissed Becky. A moment's sleep and the girl I loved was an inhuman enemy bent on my destruction. That moment's sleep was death to Becky's soul just as it had been for Jack and Teddy and Dan Kauffman and all the rest. Their bodies were now hosts harboring an alien form of life, a cosmic form which, to survive, must take over every human man. So I ran, I ran. I ran as little Jimmy Grimaldi had run the other day. My only hope was to get away from Santa Mira, to get to the highway to warn the others of what was happening"
  • the final sequence of Miles' flight to a busy highway, filled with heavy traffic, as he attempted to flag down cars; crazed with fear, he rushed into the onrushing traffic, nervously shouting and crying words of warning to the unheeding cars and unconvinced drivers; Miles climbed onto the back of a passing truck with the names of cities on it, horrified to find it loaded with pods to be distributed and spread throughout the nation; he dropped off, jumping back on the highway - feeling completely helpless; as a crazed prophet of doom, he looked directly into the camera, desperately trying to warn others and the audience: "Help, help, wait. Help! Help! Wait! Wait! Wait! Stop! Stop and listen to me! Listen to me!...Those people that are coming after me! They're not human! Listen to me! We're in danger!... They're after all of us! All of us!....Listen to me! There isn't a human being left in Santa Mira!... Stop! Pull over to the side of the road! I need your help! Something terrible's happened!...Look, you fools. You're in danger. Can't you see? They're after you. They're after all of us. Our wives, our children, everyone. They're here already. YOU'RE NEXT!"

(Prologue Scene) Dr. Bennell: "I'm not crazy"

Opening Voice-Over

Mannequin-Like Corpse Discovered on Pool Table: "It isn't finished"

Greenhouse Scene - Miles Stabbed Figure with Pitchfork

Dr. Kaufman's Explanation: "There's no need for love"

Their Flight to Abandoned Mine

Highway Rant: "They're here already. YOU'RE NEXT!"


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