Lots of talk about the new Invasion of the Body Snatchers disc this week, especially on Facebook. Over at DVD Beaver they confirm that the transfer is new, and has improved contrast. And let’s pull in some other opinions, like Svet Atanasov at Blu-ray.com and Cliff Balcony at In the Balcony.
Steve Haberman wrote that Don Siegel was unhappy that some of Miles Bennell and Becky Driscoll’s light banter was dropped during a fine cut; Gary Teetzel reached out and confirmed this by referencing a “Rutgers Films in Print” publication of the shooting script, with annotations, essays and production paperwork. Gary sent me a list of eleven minor dialogue deletions that indeed might have altered the film’s overall tone. Miles jokes around more with Uncle Ira and Dr. Kaufman, and tries out some more ‘bedside manner’ with Becky at the breakfast table.
One deleted remark seems potentially wrong for 1955 — Miles jokes (nervously) about the pods when they are forming right before his eyes. And Gary notes that another scripted but un-filmed detail specifies that dust is left behind to indicate what happens to the human bodies that have been duplicated and replaced.
I would bet that after Allied Artists and Walter Wanger added Miles Bennell’s past-tense narration, they trimmed these quips and asides because of a conflict in tone. The narration enforces a grim anticipatory mood, which might clash with, or be undercut by additional joking by Miles. That’s my guess. What I was happy to learn is that the new past-tense narration does not replace expository dialogue in the film, it just reinforces things Miles has learned and that are making him increasingly worried. This means that when I eliminate Miles’ narration in my personal no-flashback fan cut of Invasion, I’m not dropping information that the audience was meant to know. The no-flashback fan cut makes the movie a subjective, this-is-happening-right-now experience.
And one last note: Dick Dinman is repeating his audio show done with me six years ago (gulp) on Olive’s first Invasion release, A Salute to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. That’s when I was ‘DVD Savant,’ of course. That’s thoughtful of Dick — his show plugs my Sci-fi essay book.
Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson