|The seeds of "IOTBS" were planted in November, 1954 when Producer Walter Wanger read the first part of author Jack Finney's serial "The Body Snatchers" in Colliers magazine. Before the other two parts were published, Wanger had begun negotiations to buy the film rights.Wanger turned to Director and friend Don Siegel to helm the Directoring chores. Siegel, in turn, went to friend Daniel Mainwaring to write the screenplay. The trio went to Mill Valley, California to meet with Jack Finney and to scout possible shooting locations. Before the screenplay was finished, the other two parts were out and a paperback version was in stores.
The studio releasing the film was Allied Artists, and the budget was set at a "B" movie-level $454,864 for a 24 day shoot. The "Poverty-Row" studio cut the budget and time to $350,000/20 day shoot. For the lead role of Dr. Miles Bennell, numerous actors were considered, including: Gig Young, Macdonald Carey, Dick Powell, Joseph Cotten, Steve Cochran, John Hodiak, and Phil Carey. For the leading female role of Becky Driscoll, Nancy Olsen, Anne Bancroft, Mona Freeman, Donna Reed, Kim Hunter, Joanne Dru, Barbara Hale, Vera Miles and Diane Lynn were considered. Richard Kiley was officially offered the role of Miles but declined. When the studio cut the budget, most of the considered actors were dropped, and they went with relataive unknown, but strong acting choices. The idea was to get good actors who could act like normal people against incredible situations, instead of "hammy" actors who would over-act too much.
Stage and screen star Kevin McCarthy was signed for the role of Miles Bennell, and British beauty Dana Wynter was cast as Becky Driscoll. For the fellow couple, Jack and Theodore "Teddy" Belicec, King Donovan and Caroline Jones were brought in. As "Voice-Of-Reason" town psychiatrist Danny Kaufman, McCarthys fellow Broadway actor Larry Gates joined.
Allied refused to relocate the cast and crew to San Francisco to shoot in Mill Valley, so the movie was shot in nearby Sierra Madre, and in various neigborhoods around L.A. About $15,000(or $30,000 depending on source) was spent on special effects. The effects were small, as the movie's fear is based more on whats NOT seen. The seed pods were made out of plastic. The four main leads were cast in plaster to have laytex casts made for the greenhouse scene. The studio was nervous about possible nudity, but all concerns were avoided by using copious amounts of detergent bubbles.Kevin McCarthy was paid $2,500 for his role, Dana Wynter was paid $2,250 for her role, and Siegel was paid $21,668 for Directing. The movie was three days over schedule and was brought in at $382,190. The films outstanding score was provided by famed composer Carmen Dragon.
Post-Production was begun immediately. The film was previewed in Long Beach, and the studio freaked out at the(intentional) laughter certain scenes and dialogue brought on. They ordered drastic cuts to the film. They felt that laughter had no place in a science fiction horror film. They also demanded a prologue and epilogue making a happy ending to the movie. Siegel directed the new scenes and McCarthy added a voice-over narration. Everyone connected with the film hated the title, and McCarthy suggested "Sleep No More" The studio demanded the title "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" to keep up with current Sci-Fi film titles like "It Came From Outer Space"
Despite the heavy editing to remove any humor,and to tack on a "happy ending" the movie went on to become a Science Fiction classic. It was released February 5th, 1956 and grossed $1,200,000 in its initial release.
Much has been made of its double meaning of Mccarthy-ism and what-not. But whatever or however it is interpreted, the film stands as a great example of movie making and story telling.
|"Planting The Seeds......."|