“Godless Commies”

         The 1950s were a time of fear in America. The second Red Scare occurred during this decade, leaving Americans suspecting everyone around them of being a Communist. The Hollywood Blacklist was at its height during the late 1940s and 1950s, with big-name entertainers being attacked and summoned to court by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. This lead to both a heightened sense of fear within the country and tighter standards within the film industry itself. The 1956 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, directed by Don Siegel, attempts to capture and parallel the fear and paranoia of the time.

         Invasion of the Body Snatchers is set in a small town, where giant alien pods have begun replacing its residence. A person simply falls asleep and gets replaced by a pod that a friend or family member has placed nearby. These new “people” look and act like those they replace, and even have the same memories. They do not, however, show emotion. This is very representative of the thoughts of the people in this decade in regards to Communists. They began to suspect anyone and everyone, even family members. The fact that the pod people show no emotion and cannot love may be a reflection of the “godless” or “soulless” Communists as well.

         Our main character, Dr. Miles J. Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) is skeptical at first, believing there must be a rational explanation for the strange-acting people. This skepticism comes back to bite him as his friends and ex-girlfriend, Becky Driscoll (Dana Wynter), are all replaced by the pods. He is hunted down in an attempt to turn him as well. This acts as a warning of sorts: keep and eye out, suspect everyone, and get them before they get you!

         The ending, though, gives hope. Dr. Bennell has convinced the doctors that his story is true! Perhaps they can defeat the pods--and the Communists---after all.

Kortney Bullock

Table of Contents