Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Communists versus Anti-Communist McCarthyism

††††††††††† †††††††† The film The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, starring Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, King Donovan, and Carolyn Jones, been read as both an allegory for the supposed loss of personal autonomy in the Soviet Union and as an indictment of McCarthyism paranoia (which also affected the Hollywood industry being forever named as the Hollywood Ten) about Communism during the early stages of the Cold War. This film is about Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) returning to his small town practice to find several of his patients suffering the paranoid delusion that their friends or relatives are impostors. He is initially skeptical, especially when the alleged patients are able to answer detailed questions about their victim's lives, but he is eventually persuaded that something odd has happened and determines to find out what is causing this phenomenon. Dr. Miles ends up finding out that people were being converted into pods, which what was turning the people into the imposters.

††††††††††† †††††††† Along with, Becky Driscoll (Dana Wynter), Dr. Miles tries to escape the mass hysteria, but barely makes it alive to the city where no one had been affected yet.† He tells the police of his experiences, and naturally at first they do not believe him. But they do end up believing him when there is a vehicle accident, with the vehicle covered in pods. The officials eventually seal off access to the city, and Dr. Miles is proven correct and honest in their eyes of the doctors

††††††††††† †††††††† The relation with McCarthyism is very apparent throughout the story line of the film, mostly because the theme reflects (and is based on) McCarthyism. To further examine and understand the theme of the film, the term McCarthyism has to be defined. McCarthyism is a term describing the intense anti-communist suspicion in the United States in a period that lasted roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s. This period is also referred to as the Second Red Scare, and coincided with increased fears about Communist influence on American institutions and espionage by Soviet agents. Since, in the film, there were aliens (the pods) taking over peopleís bodies, and making them into the totally opposite individualís from what they had been before, it reflects the fear that the government (and some of the populace) to have for Communism. Senator McCarthy, a Republican from Wisconsin, really pushed this notion on the people so much that it causes some innocent people to be accused and ridiculed.

††††††††††† †††††††† An example of this ridicule and craziness happened when the Hollywood Blacklist came about over a few screenwriters, actors, and directors in Hollywood. There were investigations and hearings conducted by Joseph McCarthy. It was a widespread social and cultural phenomenon that affected all levels of society and was the source of a great deal of debate and conflict in the United States.

††††††††††† †††††††† †This example really relates to the part of the film where Dr. Miles was trying to the police the truth as to what had happened to him and the police not believing him until the car accident scene. The film best represents the fear of Communism and what Senator McCarthy was trying to do.

††††††††††† †††††††† No one really knows for a fact that this film was made to show audiences (in an entertaining way) what could happen to the country if Communism was to break out. So, in a favored Sci-Fi way, the film depicts pods as the Communist trying to take over you, the audience sitting in the theater.

Sarah Hurley Austin

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