Above are two looks at Kevin McCarthy in perhaps his most enduring role — that of a benign physician battling an invasion of demonic pods which reduce human beings into emotionless and distinctly malevolent imposters.
The picture, of course, is Don Siegel’s 1956 sci-fi thriller, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Critics have read all sorts of allegorical angles into the picture — eg. fear of Atomic invasion in the Fifties — but we prefer to regard the film as a straight ahead cliffhanger boasting a bravura performance by McCarthy as the last credible human on earth. (That’s our man on the run above with Dana Wynter, who plays his wife.)
The movie was remade in 1978 with Donald Sutherland in the McCarthy role. Skip it, and enjoy the original.
Now on to the answers to our Kevin McCarthy Quiz:
Question 1): McCarthy shared the same surname with two celebrated relatives active in the literary and politicals worlds. Can you name them?
Answer: Kevin’s older sister was novelist Mary McCarthy, remembered for her caustic tongue and her novel The Group. His cousin was Eugene McCarthy , the U.S. Senator and one-time presidential candidate.
Question 2: McCarthy’s most celebrated movie role is undoubtedly the hero of a Fifties sci-fi outing directed by Don Siegel, which critics hailed as a “gem of allegorical paranoia.” Which film is it? a) The Blob; b) War of the Worlds; c) The Day The Earth Stood Still; or d) Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Answer: As noted above the answer is (d).
Question 3: In addition to his movie and tv work, McCarthy worked a lot in theater and became identified for his portrayal of a U.S. president. Who was this chief exec? a) Franklin D. Roosevelt; b) Ulysses Grant; c) Harry Truman; or d) Jimmy Carter.
Answer: for two decades, McCarthy starred onstage as (c) Harry Truman in a one-man presentation, Give Em Hell, Harry.
Question 4: McCarthy was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar for his performance in which one of these movies? a) The Howling; b) The Misfits; c) An Annapolis Story; or d) Death of a Salesman.
Answer: McCarthy was nominated for his role as Biff in the 1951 big-screen version of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.
Question 5): In the 1960s McCarthy costarred in a tv series with which one of these classic movie queens? a) Hedy Lamarr; b) Joan Crawford; c) Bette Davis; or d) Lana Turner.
Answer: Kevin found himself costarring with (d) Lana Turner in The Survivors, a glossy (sex, glamour, wealth) ABC series produced for the 1969-70 season. George Hamilton, Ralph Bellamy and Rosanno Brazzi were also in the cast. Episodes were shot in expensive locales and no expense was spared. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. The Survivors was cancelled after 15 weeks.