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.