Cast: Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Larry Gates, King Donovan, Carolyn Jones, Jean Willes, Ralph Dumke, Virginia Christine, Tom Fadden, Kenneth Patterson, Guy Way, Eileen Stevens, Beatrice Maude, Jean Andren, Bobby Clark, Everett Glass, Dabbs Greer, Pat O’Malley, Guy Rennie, Marie Selland, Sam Peckinpah, Harry J. Vejar, Whit Bissell, Richard Deacon
Dr. Miles Bennell (McCarthy), disheveled and distraught, is detained at a hospital, raving about a terrible threat. He tells a strange story to two physicians, Dr. Hill (Bissell) and Dr. Bassett (Deacon). A few days earlier, Dr. Bennell tells them, he hurried home from a medical convention he had been attending in response to an urgent message from his nurse, Sally... Dr. Bennell steps off a train in Santa Mira, a small town in California. He is met by Sally Withers (Willes), who tells him many of his patients showed up during his absence, would not discuss their symptoms with her, and refused referrals to other doctors. Back at his office, Dr. Bennell finds out that most of the patients that had been so insistent on seeing him have cancelled their appointments. Dr. Bennell meets Becky Driscoll (Wynter), a former girlfriend who has just returned to Santa Mira after her recent divorce. Becky is concerned about a problem her cousin Wilma is having, a sort of delusion, and asks Miles to see her. Miles, who also divorced not long ago, is still attracted to Becky. Young Jimmy Grimaldi (Clark) has run away to his grandmother’s house and she brings him to Miles’ office. Jimmy seems in good health, but is very anxious and insists that his mother is not really his mother. Miles arranges for Jimmy to stay overnight with his grandmother so that he can calm down, and has Sally notify Jimmy’s mother of the situation. Miles accompanies Becky to her cousin’s home. Wilma Lentz (Christine) tells Miles that her uncle Ira (Fadden) is not her uncle, but an impostor. Miles thinks Ira seems the same as always. He tells Wilma that it is all in her mind. Although the man has her uncle’s memories, looks and manner, Wilma insists that he’s not really her uncle. There’s something missing, a special look in his eye. There’s no emotion, she says, just the pretense of it, no feeling. Miles sees Ira’s familiar figure, mowing the lawn, and arranges for Wilma to see a psychiatrist he knows, Dr. Kauffman. Miles asks Becky if she’d like to go out to dinner, and she accepts. They arrive at the Sky Terrace lounge as Dr. Dan Kauffman (Gates) is driving out. Miles tells Dan about Wilma’s delusion and finds Dan already has several patients with similar complaints. Dan thinks there’s some strange neurosis going on, an epidemic of mass hysteria. Miles and Becky enter the club and find the place nearly deserted. The Maitre’D tells them business has dropped off recently. He’s had to let the band go. Miles and Becky are placing their orders when Miles gets an urgent call from Sally. Miles must respond to an emergency, and Becky decides to accompany him. They arrive at the country house of Jack Belicec (Donovan) and find Jack and his wife Teddy (Jones) very upset. Jack asks Miles to look at the thing he just found lying on his pool table. Miles and Becky are astonished at what they see: a human body, but unfinished, with vague features, without character. Miles examines the body. He finds it in perfect condition: no cause of death. No blemishes, no fingerprints. Not a dead man. Miles begins to think of a possible connection with the epidemic Dan mentioned. They soon find the connection is real. The thing on the pool table is slowly transforming into a duplicate of Jack. The people of Santa Mira are being systematically replaced. While they sleep, their duplicates are created. The originals are killed and the emotionless duplicates assume their places, to work implacably with others like them to spread their kind. Miles and Becky must risk everything to get away and warn others of the alien terror loose in Santa Mira, because they do not want to live in a world without love or grief or beauty. Director of Photography Ellsworth Fredericks. Special effects by Milt Rice. Music by Carmen Dragon. Screenplay by Daniel Mainwaring, based on Walter (Jack) Finney’s novel and Collier’s Magazine serial The Body Snatchers.