Classic Movie Of The Week 2017

Classic Film Of The Week: The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

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Starring: Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe, Billy Gray

Director: Robert Wise

A flying saucer comes to Earth and lands, setting the world on it’s head. What does it want? Why is it here? From it emerges a humanoid alien in a suit, which the US army shots at. Then a 7ft robot emerges and stands by the ship. A robot that can shoot lazer beams out of it’s eyes. Is this a threat to humanity?

Actually, it’s an anti-war film. Klaatu (Rennie) is the alien. He looks just like a man, but has advanced healing and other powers. He has come to Earth as an emissary with a warning: stop waging war on each other or the planet will be destroyed. He escapes from a military hospital and eventually meets Helen (Neal) and her son (Gray), who personify innocent and intelligence, whilst around them the government search for the missing alien and people talk about destroying him just because they’re afraid (essentially the attitude that got them into trouble in the first place).

But can they help Klaatu reach the world leaders in time? Or is the Earth doomed?

It’s a lovely film, with earnest performances, and message that feels quaint without becoming preachy. The special effects have that slightly dinky 50’s charm, but hold up really well, and Rennie is wonderful as Klaatu, a creature who is kind and wise, and willing to believe in humanity, despite itself. It’s a lovely example of the eras science fiction and horror films that were developing into quite interesting commentaries on social fears, and had great effects.

Gort, the 7 foot tall robot is wonderful, and most people’s favourite thing about this film. His smooth design and lazer beam eye that stops violence in it’s tracks is both impressive and a bit scary. But my favourite part of this film is Helen, who believes in the good in things, is strong and intelligent, and who is the hero of the film. She’s a tough cookie.

It’s a film to look out for.

See It If: you love the 50’s, or science fiction. It’s a true orginal and a classic early sci fi.

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8 thoughts on “Classic Film Of The Week: The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)”

  1. This movie is #2 on my all time list of favorite movies – second only to “Field of Dreams”. Michael Rennie, along with Henry Fonda, are my two all time favorite actors. I lived in Washington DC for awhile back in the ’70’s and once tried to track down the boarding house where Helen and Billy lived (on Harvard street as I remember). There was no such building at that location but that was not a great surprise. I, too, appreciated Patricia Neal’s earnest portrayal of Helen which contrasted nicely with Hugh Marlowe’s slimy, narcissistic character.

    Fun fact: My guess is that there are other statues of him elsewhere as well, but there is a full size (I think) statue of Gort standing guard at the entrance to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in Seattle, not far from the Space Needle.

    Here is my list of Top 10 all time movie favorites …

    1. Field of Dreams (1989)
    2. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
    3. To Catch a Thief (1955)
    4. The Sixth Sense (1999)
    5. Fail Safe (1964)
    6. The Time Machine (1960)
    7. Somewhere in Time (1980)
    8. The Great Escape (1963)
    9. The Best Man (1964)
    10.The Birds (1963)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ofcourse I know about this film, but I have never actually seen it. I did see the remake with Keanu Reeves, an even though that was not a bad movie, I already know that it will probably be horrible when compared to this one. I hope to one day see the original movie, it’s sometimes very hard to find these classic movies here. As always this was a lovely review πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

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