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The Day The Earth Stood Still  (25 ratings)

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Movie Information
TitleThe Day The Earth Stood Still
DirectorRobert Wise
Production Company20th Century-Fox
GenreScience Fiction
Movie Reviews
Submitted by filmfactsman 
(Dec 06, 2005)

In Memory of Robert Wise (1914-2005)

If the stream of science-fiction features which bleeped and oozed their way into the world's cinemas in the 1950s produced one true classic, it was Fox's THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951). Directed by master craftsman Robert Wise, with a screenplay by Edmund H. North based on Harry Bates' story, "Farewell To The Master", and with music by Bernard Herrmann, it tells of a tall, thin extraterrestrial called Klaatu (played by tall, thin Englishman Michael Rennie) who brings his flying saucer and accompanying massive robot to Washington to halt the world on the brink of its nuclear madness. The world at large is unwilling to listen, but Klaatu does get through to Patricia Neal and Billy Gray, a mother and son, in whose house, (disguised as a Mr. Carpenter), he takes a room to learn about the ways of earthlings. He also recruits a brilliant scientist (Sam Jaffe) to his cause, by the simple device of effortlessly solving the problem on which Jaffe has spent his life working. To make the world's leaders take note, Klaatu stops the planet's electrical power for 30 minutes (hence the title). The film has a you-are-there documentary flavor that makes it surprisingly convincing and goes a long way toward normalizing some of the loonier aspects of the script (such as Klaatu's Christ-like return from the dead--as Mr. 'Carpenter'). Klaatu's spaceship is a marvel of design (by Lyle Wheeler and Addison Hehr), and the scene of its landing—an overhead shot complete with shadow—is well ahead of most contemporary special effects, serving as a prototype for spaceships to come, particularly Steven Spielberg's razzle-dazzle, rhinestone version in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Look for vintage howlers: Army medical doctors smoking, and '50s newscasters casting with their hats on. The code words, should the occasion ever arise, are 'Klaatu barada nikto', which will make robots do your bidding. [filmfactsman]



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