Monstervision's Joe Bob Briggs Looks At

Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

(From Joe Bob's Ultimate B Movie Guide)


Probably the most popular classic sci-fi flick of the "common man," about a strangely emotionless visitor from outer space named Klaatu who dresses in dull tailored suits, like corporate America, and is guarded by Gort the robot policeman. He comes to warn Earthlings that, if they don't stop fighting and choose to live in peace, the rulers from other planets will be forced to incinerate the planet with an army of Gorts. Klaatu is constantly attacked and mistrusted by a people who don't believe his intentions are peaceful, but he befriends a young boy (Billy Gray) and corrects a genius scientist's equations before cutting off all Earth's machines. When he's assassinated, Gort restores him to life, but not before he almost murders Patricia Neal. Fortunately she has been given the code that will stop him: "Klaatu barada nikto." Famous for many things, including cinematography and Bernard Herrmann's eerie score, the film is open-ended--is the visitor a totalitarian menace or the messiah sent to indict and then save the wicked Earth? Since he visits the Lincoln Memorial and weeps in Arlington National Cemetery, most think he's benign, but in this first of the Cold War scare movies, no one could be certain. The Army took one look at the script and decided it was a war-protest movie, leaving the movie makers without any troops or tanks for their movie. So then they went to the local National Guard. Good move, cause the National Guard said they'd send all the troops and tanks and jeeps and trucks they wanted for the price of fuel and day wages for the guys in that big scene where the saucer lands in Washington.

With Michael Rennie as the visitor, Sam Jaffe as the scientist.
Directed by Robert Wise. Based on the story "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates.
4 stars

 

2000 Joe Bob Briggs. All Rights Reserved. Not an AOL Time-Warner Company in this lifetime.
"Day The Earth Stood Still" is available on video and on DVD
As well as aSoundtrack album

For this and other movie reviews by the artist formerly known as the host of MonsterVision, go to Joe Bob Briggs.com

Day The Earth Stood Still is seen from time to time on American Movie Classics
Here's a bit of AMC trivia about the film:
DID YOU KNOW?
Bernard Herrmann's influential score to the science fiction film "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951) was his first studio assignment after moving to California. Previously, he lived in New York and divided his career between the concert hall and movie sound stages.
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Fun Fact:
Michael Rennie played the doomed ship Titanic's Capt. Smith in the first episode of Time Tunnel

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