Newest Reviews
Bird Island
Devil to Pay, The
Lost in London
Divorce Italian Style
Salon Kitty
Charles, Dead or Alive
Gretel and Hansel
Tunnel, The
India Song
Last Rhino, The
Made in Hong Kong
Ring of Spies
Rom Boys: 40 Years of Rad
Pocketful of Miracles
The Tomb: Devil's Revenge
Sidecar Racers
Space Dogs
Safety Last!
Bride Who Has Returned from Hell, The
Show Boat
City Called Dragon, A
I Used to Go Here
Six Suspects
Still the Water
Not Now, Comrade
I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Wives of the Skies
Two Heads Creek
Next Stop, Greenwich Village
Captain, The
Great Wall, A
Trout, The
Zorba the Greek
Newest Articles
A Knock on the Door at 4 O'clock in the Morning: The Strangers on Blu-ray
Wives of the Skies: Honey Lauren Interview
To Catch a Thief: After the Fox on Blu-ray
Tackling the Football Film: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery on Blu-ray
Film Noir's Golden Couple: This Gun for Hire on Blu-ray
The Doctor Who Connection: Invasion on Blu-ray
Hill's Angles: Benny Hill and Who Done It? on Blu-ray
Big Willie Style: Keep It Up Downstairs on Blu-ray
Walt's Vault: 5 Cult Movies on Disney+
Paradise Lost: Walkabout on Blu-ray
Buster Makes Us Feel Good: Buster Keaton - 3 Films (Volume 3) on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 3 - Don't Go Away - I Could Do with a Bit of Cheer Now!
What Use is Grief to a Horse? Equus on Blu-ray
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
  Day the Earth Stood Still, The Message From Space
Year: 1951
Director: Robert Wise
Stars: Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe, Billy Gray, Frances Bavier, Lock Martin
Genre: Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: From outer space it comes, something in the skies and the world's military are tracking it as it moves with tremendous speed towards the capital city of the United States of America. As it nears the seat of government, it can be witnessed from the ground and people are beginning to panic as it draws closer. It lands in a park near the Washington Monument, a huge disc that glows, and before long the army have surrounded it, waiting for its next move. They wait for hours until suddenly a door opens in the side of the metallic craft, and a figure emerges. What does he want? And how dangerous is he?

Not half as dangerous as we are to him, it turns out, as the first act of humanity to greet this alien visitor is to shoot him when he offers us a gift. All right, we were not to know that's what he was holding, but we could have given him the benefit of the doubt, though in Edmund H. North's literate script this scene neatly encapsulates the whole philosophy of this now-classic science fiction film: mankind cannot be trusted with weaponry. Give a man a weapon and he's sure to use it eventually, and when those armaments include nuclear missiles, we have the Cold War paranoia to reckon with, a fear that has lasted in one form or another to this day.

It was in 1947 that Kenneth Arnold reported his sighting of unidentified flying objects, and from then on the idea that planet Earth could be visited from outer space really took hold in the public imagination. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the fiction of the day, and by the fifties there was a proliferation of science fiction movies that saw the alien presence as either potentially destructive or, more rarely, benign. Funnily enough, The Day the Earth Stood Still takes both stances at once, because although the man from another world, Klaatu (Michael Rennie), has a message of peace, he also has a warning.

The strangely distant Rennie never found a better role, a case of the part fitting him as if it were what he was born to play, but he had excellent support too in Patricia Neal. She plays Helen Benson, a strong personality for a genre which, at the time, did not offer many great female roles. Helen knows all too well the cost of war, having been widowed in the Second World War and left with a young son, Bobby (Billy Gray) to look after, so when Klaatu escapes the authorities and winds up at an unassuming boarding house to get to know the people better, she proves the ideal ambassador for what is decent and moral in humanity.

In fact, there's a definite "power to the people" slant to the theme, with Earth's leaders treated with great suspicion. Another interesting aspect is the film's faith in intellectuals, as the great thinkers of the world are appealed to by Klaatu to make the governments see sense. These eggheads (some of whom must have been responsible for designing the weaponry, but never mind) are led by an Albert Einstein character in Professor Barnhard (Sam Jaffe, also perfectly cast - and about to be blacklisted for the rest of the decade). It is Barnhard who Klaatu puts his faith in - along with his towering, indestructible robot Gort (Lock Martin), who has the ability to wipe us all out if we don't behave. When the alien is brought down, only the real heroine Helen can save us with those famous words, "Klaatu barada nikto!", but the point is we cannot trust ourselves with the rationality needed to cope with such dangerous forces, and in this surprisingly subdued and meditative work, you may get lectured - a lot - but you cannot doubt the sincerity. Magnificent music by Bernard Herrmann, one of the great scores of the fifties.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 5694 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Robert Wise  (1914 - 2005)

Versatile American director, a former editor (he worked on Citizen Kane) who began with some great B-movies (Curse of the Cat People, The Body Snatcher, Born to Kill) and progressed to blockbusters (West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Star Trek: The Motion Picture). He won Oscars for the two musical successes.

Along the way, there were classics like The Day the Earth Stood Still, exposes like I Want to Live! and spooky gems like The Haunting. Other films include Somebody Up There Likes Me, The Sand Pebbles, Star!, The Andromeda Strain and Audrey Rose. His last film was Rooftops, another musical.

Review Comments (2)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg


Last Updated: