I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when looking through BearManor Media’s back catalogue. Mark Thomas McGee’s name kept coming up against books based on particular films and your mind tend to think they must be roll-offs. That is, quickly written, drawing from sources that the author had to rely on because he was too young to have seen the film when it came out. After a little natter with their publisher, I thought I’d give one a read.
Half-way through the copy of ‘Invasion Of The Body Snatchers: The Making Of A Classic’, I made a mental note to ask to review the rest of the series. From his introduction, McGee reveals he’s an Los Angeles inhabitant in his 60s and was there when the film was released, although watching under-age and a heavy geek researcher, meeting or contacting actors and key production people. gathering everything he could on his favourite movie. That put to rest any misgivings. What does that come into play here as he wanders through the Hollywood hype dismissing claims by pointing out contrary evidence, as with publicity. There are also stacks of black and white film stills that should keep many of you happy to read on.
McGee builds up profiles and histories from producer Walter Wanger, scriptwriter Daniel Mainwaring and director Don Siegel before going onto the film itself. He even has a list of the names of all the actors who were up for the roles. About the only thing he didn’t comment on was Carolyn Jones wasn’t noted for the Theodora Belicec role but got the part anyway. Some of the choices were wishful thinking but it does give insight into who they were considering.
The script treatment, as McGee points out, is a combination of what was used and what Don Siegel saw edited out of what he wanted or had to include, like the opening and ending scenes where Bennell relates what has happened in Santa Mira. It also explains how Siegel moved on to only film what he needed than too much.
I have to admit to being a little apprehensive on McGee admitting that the script itself isn’t the screenplay but a transcription – ie writing down from watching the film. Considering the amount of paraphernalia McGee says he has from the film, I would have thought he would have picked up a copy of the script and used it as a comparison but that might have added to the page count.
The best chuckle has to be Don Siegel leaving a pod outside of actress Dana Wynter’s house one morning.
Although McGee has little regard to the remakes, whereas I thought the 1978 version was a good progression, he doesn’t skip over them. It’s a tribute to the success and memory of the film that if you discuss pods replacing people that people know about the film, ‘Invasion Of The Body Snatchers’. Reading here, you’ll know a lot more.
(pub: BearManor Media. 204 page illustrated indexed enlarged paperback. Price: $19.95 (US), £15.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-59393-288-6)
check out website: www.bearmanormedia.com