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THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951)

Set in the 1950s, and alien and his super robot, Gort, land on the D.C. Mall to bring a message that the world must aspire to peace, or else face destruction on behalf of a race of super-robot aliens in charge of maintaining the order of the galaxy. Seen as a menace by U.S. government officials, the alien and his robot go in hiding while contemplating giving humans time to change their ways, or else face their extinction once and for all. 

This film could be compared to "ET." THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL features action and FX. Michael Rennie is regal as the alien humanoid Klaatu. Patricia Neal brings her classy spin to the required role of a brunette semi-love object. The phrase "Klaatu barada nikto", first used in this movie, has become a favorite among Sci-Fi fans.

The cast includes: Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe, and Billy Gray.

Directed by Robert Wise.

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SYNOPSIS...

A flying saucer lands in Washington, DC A humanoid alien and a robot emerge.

The humanoid interacts with some locals, including an Einstein-like scientist, as well as a suburban mother and child. The military kills the humanoid.

With the help of his robot Gort, as well as the Earth mother, the man-like alien is brought back to life. The alien gives an anti-nuclear speech to the gathered Washingtonians, then exits in the saucer with his robot.

 

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Review:

Director Robert Wise's THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL is a lean, poetic, Sci-Fi classic.

A large silver saucer lands in Washington, DC A humanoid alien and a larger robot emerge, preaching peace.

The humanoid has some mixed adventures amongst Washington's population. While a family treats him well, the same can not be said for the military.

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL is based on the short story, "Farewell to the Master", by Harry Bates. Interestingly, in Bates source story the robot turned out to be the one in control, with the alien humanoid in a support position.

Michael Rennie (Hotel) as the regal alien humanoid alien Klaatu, still impresses. With his wonderful speaking voice, and soulful manner, Rennie makes a uniquely compelling alien ambassador.

Patricia Neal (Hud) brings her own, classy spin to the required brunette semi-love object. Under Wise's even direction, she comes across genuinely terrified in her robot encounters.

Gort, the robot with the laser eyes, was played by Lock Martin. One of the tallest actors in the business at the time, his extreme height makes the robot rather scary and threatening, a boogie man for the atomic age.

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL has many Christ allegories. Michael Rennie's human-like alien is named "John Carpenter". He is killed and brought back to life. I didn't pick up on this religious stuff as a kid. It's fairly subtle, not at all heavy handed.

The verbal message that Rennie asks Patricia Neal to tell the robot, to deactivate him, is "Gort, Klaatu barada nikto" Of course, Sci-Fi trivia buffs know this already.

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL will be highly watchable for most Sci-Fi viewers. Alien visitor/robot fans will dig this one. THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL is worth sitting still for! 

BEST BETS: ET and STARMAN.