Classic SF based on the Jack Finney story and directed by Don Siegel. Residents of Santa Mira, a small California town, think their relatives aren’t really the real people. Something is missing from them. Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) tries to find out what’s going on.
Miles is in a mental institution. Dr. Harvey Bassett (Richard Deacon) brings in Dr.Hill (Whit Bissell) to hear Miles’ unbelievable story about people being taken over.
Miles’s nurse Sally asks him to leave a medical conference and come back to town. On the way back from the airport he almost runs over little Jimmy Grimalsi. He says his mother isn’t his mother. Things start getting strange as people are canceling appointments with Miles. Then as old girlfriend, Becky Driscoll (Dana Wynter) returns from five years in England.
She wants Miles to see her cousin Wilma who thinks her Uncle Ira really isn’t her Uncle Ira. Everything about him is the same except there’s something wrong emotionally. Miles thinks she needs a psychiatrist and says he’ll make an appointment with Dr.Dan Kauffman. That night Miles and Becky head to a local club and run into Dr.Kauffman who is with another doctor. Kauffman says it appears mass hysteria has hit town with dozens of people feeling that their relatives aren’t really their relatives.
Inside the club the owner is the only one there. He says people have stayed away the last couple of weeks. Just before they can get started Miles gets a call to hurry out to writer Jack Belicec’s (King Donovan) place. When he and Becky get there Jack and his wife Teddy (Carolyn Jones) show him a mysterious body lying on their pool table. It’s not fully formed and doesn’t have any fingerprints. When Teddy says the body is the same height and weight as Jack, Jack cuts his hand with a glass..
Miles takes Becky home and is suspicious of her father’s behavior after he came up from the basement. Jack starts to sleep and all of a sudden Teddy screams. The hand on the body has the same cut on its hand that Jack does. She and Jack speed over to Miles’s house. He gets a weird feeling about Becky and goes back to her place and sneaks into her basement. There’s a body forming that’s a duplicate of Becky. He gets her out of there.
Miles calls Kauffman and they go to Jack’s. The body is gone. Back in Becky’s basement that body is gone. The police chief says a burning body was found in a haystack. It didn’t have any fingerprints. Other people, including little Jimmy, are returning to normal. The next night at Miles’s place four sea pods are found growing in the greenhouse. Jack spots one that looks like Becky and takes care of it with a pitchfork. Miles figures out that the pods replace the person while they sleep.
Miles can’t get in touch with any authority and it looks like the local phone company has been taken over. Miles and Becky hide out in his office. They look out the window and it all starts to come together. They manage to escape but their troubles are far from over.
The classic penultimate scene was recreated by McCarthy in the 1978 remake, The Cold War was in full swing in 1956 and some saw the movie as a warning about a Commie takeover. However you see it the important thing is..see it. It’s one of the real classics of the 50’s.