A hallmark of the science fiction genre as well as a wry commentary on the political climate of the 1950s, The Day the Earth Stood Still
is a sci-fi movie less concerned with special effects than with a social parable. A spacecraft lands in Washington, D.C., carrying a humanoid messenger from another world (Michael Rennie) imparting a warning to the people of Earth to cease their violent behavior. But panic ensues as the messenger lands and is shot by a nervous soldier. His large robot companion destroys the Capitol as the messenger escapes the confines of the hospital. He moves in with a family as a boarder and blends into society to observe the full range of the human experience. Director Robert Wise (West Side Story
) not only provides one of the most recognisable icons of the science fiction world in his depiction of the massive robot loyal to his master, but he avoids the obvious camp elements of the story to create a quiet and observant story highlighting both the good and the bad in human nature. --Robert Lane, Amazon.com
A non-threatening alien (Michael Rennie) comes to Earth in 1951 with a message of peace, but he is shot and wounded by nervous troops. His ten-foot robot, Gort, immediately renders all Earth weapons useless while the alien delivers an ultimatum to the world: stop fighting or be destroyed.
Beginning with a documentary style that immediately hooks the viewer, The Day The Earth Stood Still
, based on the Harry Bates short story 'Farewell To The Master', becomes as much a human interest story as it does a sci-fi B-movie classic. The film soberly depicts the arrival of an alien dignitary, Klaatu (Michael Rennie), who has come to earth with his deadly robot, Gort (Lock Martin), to deliver the message that earthlings must stop warring among themselves or else. After being shot at by ignorant, panicky military guards, Klaatu is brought to a Washington, D.C., hospital, where he begs a sympathetic but frank Major White (Robert Osterloh) to gather all the world's leaders so he can tell them more specifically what he has come 250 million miles to warn them about. Losing patience, Klaatu slips into the human world, adapting a false identity and living at a boarding house where he meets a smart woman with a conscience, Helen Benson (Patricia Neal), and her inquisitive son, Bobby (Billy Gray). Both mother and son soon find themselves embroiled in the complex mystery of Klaatu, his message, and the government's witch hunt for the alien. Made during the cold war when Americans were obsessed with the destructive capabilities of the atomic bomb The Day The Earth Stood Still
, thanks to its beautiful pacing, excellent dialogue, and haunting score by Bernard Herrmann, is still a treat for contemporary audiences.