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

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

It's been 15 years since Vin Diesel walked away from his XXX role, killing off...

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Advertisement
Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

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.