The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

"Very Good"

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) Review


A true 1950s drive-in classic (along with War of the Worlds and Forbidden Planet), The Day the Earth Stood Still anticipated the earnest, melodramatic artiness and social commentary of sci-fi TV series such as The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone. From the opening sequence, in which a flying saucer lands in front of the Washington Monument and a giant robot comes out, you will not be disappointed. The robot looks like a tall guy wrapped in packing tape and the flying saucer looks so fake you will look for Ed Wood's name in the credits. From then on, suspension of disbelief is a non-issue.

As guns and tanks surround the saucer, an alien humanoid named Klaatu (Michael Rennie) comes out and announces that he comes in peace. Klaatu is taken by the U.S. government and demands to "deliver a message to all nations." The U.S. reluctantly agrees to set a meeting but the Russians refuse to come to the table. Impatiently, Klaatu escapes and boards with a divorcee (Patricia Neal), befriending her well-scrubbed American boy (Billy Gray), who shows him around Washington. Meanwhile, he tries to contact eminent scientists to persuade them to meet and hear his message.

The film is a little talky and slow-paced at first, a Robert Wise trademark. But by the time you get to the suspenseful conclusion (which I won't give away), you'll be hooked.

Like many Cold War sci-fi movies, The Day the Earth Stood Still succeeds as anti-nuclear allegory even as the music, costumes, and dialogue ratchet up the cheese factor ("Deploy all Zone 5 units according to Plan B! Immediately!"). Audiences in the 1950s didn't care if it was cheesy. The irony and cynicism of the '70s and '80s killed movies like this. It's a shame.

Perhaps the most unbelievable element of the script is that some of the politicians and scientists in the movie behave with politeness and intelligence. At least, it would be unbelievable now. Another noteworthy aspect of this film is that Klaatu speaks several lines of dialogue in his own language to his robot doppelganger, Gort. One phrase, "Gort, Klaatu barada nikto" was a catchphrase through the late '60s. Like a lot of things in the '60s, I guess you had to be there.



Facts and Figures

Budget: $1.2M

Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Klaatu/Carpenter, as Helen Benson, as Tom Stevens, as Prof. Jacob Barnhardt, as Bobby Benson, Frances Bavier as Mrs. Barley, Lock Martin as Gort, Elmer Davis as Himself, H.V. Kaltenborn as Himself, Drew Pearson as Himself, Bess Flowers as Lady Outside Jewelry Store

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.