The Front Row View: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

The Front Row View is a regular column by Great Stories contributor Jim Cannizzaro.  He is a veteran community theater leading man, seasoned blogger, movie enthusiast, and family man.

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With all of the salutes to the beloved late actor Leonard Nimoy, I’d like to pay tribute to what I think is Nimoy’s best movie role. It’s in Philip Kaufman’s 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. As Dr. David Kibner, a San Francisco self-help guru, Nimoy radiates Dr. Feelgood “warmth.” He uses his great voice and wide smile to pull us in to his confidence. Later in the movie he…..well, if you’ve seen it, you know what happens. If not, what are you waiting for?! The film critic Pauline Kael said “it may be the best film of it’s kind ever made.” My wife doesn’t care for horror movies, but she’ll always sit and watch this one. Hats off to the 1956 original, a low-budget winner, but the larger cash flow inspired the remake’s team to take the story and situations even further, creating memorable characters (not often seen in a horror/sci-fi film), horrific special effects (another rarity, those that serve the story and don’t overwhelm it) and some of the most suspenseful and frightening sequences in movie history. Stylishly photographed, scored and directed, the film also boasts a first-rate cast: in addition to Nimoy, there’s Donald Sutherland (a strange choice for a “hero”, but effective nonetheless), the appealing Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum in one of his best early roles and the wonderfully eccentric Veronica Cartwright. Also, effective cameos by Kevin McCarthy and Don Siegel (respectively, the star and director of the orginal) and a blink-and-you’ll miss him shot of Robert Duvall (as a priest on a swing!). It’s a classic. And hoo boy, that ending!

-Jim

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