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Catching The Cold War: The Culture of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Posted November 28, 2011 to photo album "Catching The Cold War: The Culture of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"

The Cold War paranoia that permeates TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY was a focus of a series of fascinating books and films created in post-war Europe and America.

Taking the Temperature of Cold War Culture
The Moral Quagmire: THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD
Potential Fallout: FAIL SAFE
Paranoia Pulp: KISS ME DEADLY
Sex and the Soviet: From Russia with Love
Peace in a Pod: INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
Cold War Campaign: THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE
At Long Last: POINT OF ORDER
Cold War On The Rocks: TOPAZ
Cold War Meltdown: THE FOURTH PROTOCOL
The Cold War Capsized: THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER
Peace in a Pod: INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS

Peace in a Pod: INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS

Perhaps the most vivid film depicting America in the Cold War was Don Siegel’s 1956 science-fiction classic, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. For Americans, the “Red Scare” — a fear of Communists in our midst, as promoted by Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee — internalized the conflicts of the Cold War, and Siegel’s paranoid parable nailed the Zeitgeist perfectly. That’s because the film’s simple storyline — an alien race of pod people land on Earth and, one by one, take over human bodies — is open to several different interpretations. For many viewers, the pod people were the communists themselves, devoid of individuality and intent on world domination. But for others, and most likely Siegel, the metaphor went the other way. In an essay entitled “INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS: A Tale for Our Times,” John W. Whitehead writes, “But for [screenwriter Daniel] Mainwaring there was no overt anti-Communist message in the film. To Mainwaring, we are the villains. And Communism was a scapegoat, an imaginary villain reflecting the fears and tensions of the Right. 'If the pods in INVASION seem to incarnate the popular image of a communist totalitarian state,' [critic Al] LaValley points out, 'it is only because the government-dominated, bureaucratic, and conformist fifties was itself creating an America like this picture of Soviet Russia.' ”