In an acknowledgement of the 20-year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which heralded the end of the extended and aggravated U.S.-Soviet Union tensions generally referred to as the Cold War, L.A. Times critic Betsy Sharkey has listed her favorite films which reflected that era and mindset. But she misdescribes one seminal 1950s-era monster movie, and overlooks the bulls-eye capturing of American fears of Communist invasion and subversion in the finale of another ’50s monster flick.
In other words, Sharkey calls Don Siegel‘s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) a fear-of-aliens movie when the common interpretation is that the film is a metaphor about encroaching 1950s conformity — about the horror of submitting to the bland uniformity of Eisenhower-era values and attitudes.
And no review of Cold War movies is complete without acknowledging how concisely and comprehensively the last ten or twelve seconds of Howard Hawks‘ and Christian Nyby‘s The Thing From Another World (1951) says it all. “Watch the skies…keep looking, keep watching the skies” is a kind of rough haiku that sums up what all middle-class Americans were vaguely thinking or reacting to on a subconscious level during the height of early ’50s paranoia about “them.”
(Apologies for the ghastly visual quality of the clip.)