Starring Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Larry Gates, King Donovan, Carolyn Jones
Directed by Don Siegel
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)
A small town doctor discovers that people in his community are having their minds taken over by alien beings after duplicates of their bodies are grown in unearthly pods.
Another entertaining sci-fi thriller from the 1950s, the film features a compelling story, adapted by a magazine serial from Jack Finney, noirish photography by Ellsworth Fredericks, and fine performances and direction. The idea of family, friends, and neighbors being taken over without any obvious outward signs makes for a fascinating hook, and although there's not much in the way of special effects to convince us of the invasion, the dark photography and earnestness of the cast really sell us on the threat. McCarthy is perfect as the everyman hero, and Wynter very attractive and compassionate as his love interest, with excellent support from actors like Larry Gates and King Donovan. Siegel, who helmed so many excellent thrillers from The Big Steal to Dirty Harry, layers action and suspense effectively to maintain a tight and exciting pace throughout the film. Future action auteur Sam Peckinpah has a small part in an acting role.