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The Day the Earth Stood Still
Alternate Title: Farewell to the Master
Director: Robert Wise (Dir)
Release Date:   Sep 1951
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 18 Sep 1951; Los Angeles opening: 28 Sep 1951
Production Date:   9 Apr--23 May 1951
Duration (in mins):   89 or 92
Duration (in feet):   8,285
Duration (in reels):   9
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Cast:   Michael Rennie (Klaatu)  
    Patricia Neal (Helen Benson)  
    Hugh Marlowe (Tom Stevens)  
    Sam Jaffe (Dr. Jacob Barnhardt)  
    Billy Gray (Bobby Benson)  
    Frances Bavier (Mrs. Barley)  
    Lock Martin (Gort)  
    Frank Conroy (Harley)  
    Carleton Young (Colonel)  
    Howard Negley (Colonel)  
    Ted Pearson (Colonel)  
    Bob Simpson (Colonel)  
    Edith Evanson (Mrs. Crockett)  
    Robert Osterloh (Maj. White)  
    John Brown (Mr. George Barley)  
    Marjorie Crossland (Hilda)  
    Olan Soule (Mr. Krull)  
    Drew Pearson (Commentator)  
    Gabriel Heater (Commentator)  
    H. V. Kaltenborn (Commentator)  
    Elmer Davis (Commentator)  
    Fay Roope (Major general)  
    Charles Evans (Major general)  
    Tyler McVey (Brady)  
    James Seay (Governmnent man)  
    Ralph Montgomery (Government man)  
    Wilson Wood (Government man)  
    Gil Warren (Government man)  
    Marc Snow (Government man)  
    Bruce Morgan (Goverment man)  
    Roy Engel (Government man)  
    Charles Sherlock (Government man)  
    Marshall Bradford (Government man)  
    Glenn Hardy (Interviewer)  
    House Peters Jr. (M.P. captain)  
    Rush Williams (M.P. sergeant)  
    Gil Herman (Government agent)  
    Herbert Lytton (Brigadier general)  
    Freeman Lusk (Gen. Cutler)  
    George Lynn (Col. Ryder)  
    John Burton (British radio announcer)  
    Harry Harvey, Sr. (Taxi driver)  
    Harry Lauter (Platoon leader)  
    Harlan Warde (Mr. Carlson)  
    Wheaton Chambers (Jeweler)  
    Elizabeth Flournoy (Customer)  
    Dorothy Neumann (Secretary)  
    Beulah Christian (Secretary)  
    Kim Spalding (Medical corps captain)  
    Larry Dobkin (Medical corps captain)  
    James Doyle (Medical corps major)  
    Bill Gentry (Sentry)  
    Kip Whitman (Sentry)  
    Michael Capanna (Sentry)  
    Michael Mahoney (Sentry)  
    Michael Ragan (Army captain)  
    John M. Reed (Tank driver)  
    John Close (Captain)  
    Gayle Pace (Captain)  
    David McMahon (British sergeant)  
    Sammy Ogg (Boy)  
    Ricky Regan (Boy)  
    Grady Galloway (American radar operator)  
    John Costello (Cockney)  
    Eric Corrie (British soldier)  
    Michael Ferris (British soldier)  
    Hassan Khayyam (Indian radio announcer)  
    James Craven (Businessman)  
    Ronald Dodds (Newsboy)  
    Victor Newell (Newsboy)  
    Jean Charney (Mother)  
    Murray Steckler (Soldier)  
    Jack Geerlings (Soldier)  
    Kenneth Kendall (Soldier)  
    Louise Colombet (Frenchwoman)  
    Pola Russ (Russian woman)  
    Oscar Blank (Peddler)  
    Peter Similuk (Russian pilot)  
    John Hiestand (TV announcer and narrator)  
    Jack Daly    
    Harmon Stevens    
    Paul Gerrits    
    Barry Regan    
    Sandee Marriott    

Summary: One morning, in Jul 1951, people around the world are astonished by the appearance of an unidentified, fast-moving object circling the globe. The object, a large, metallic saucer, lands on the Mall in Washington, D.C., where a crowd quickly gathers. Soldiers surround the saucer, and tension grows until a helmeted man emerges, telling the crowd that he has come in peace. A nervous soldier shoots the man when he brandishes a small object, and people run in terror as an enormous robot lumbers out of the saucer. The robot, Gort, emits a mysterious ray that melts the soldiers' weapons until the wounded alien, Klaatu, orders him to desist and informs the soldiers that the object was a gift for their president. Klaatu is then rushed to Walter Reed Hospital, where presidential secretary Harley learns that he has traveled over 250,000,000 miles in five months. Klaatu reveals that he must talk to all of Earth's leaders, but Harley explains that due to the unstable political climate, not all of the leaders will consent to meet with one another. Klaatu insists that his mission is too important to be derailed by petty squabbles, and warns Harley that the future of the planet is at stake. The next day, doctors find that Klaatu has recovered from his wound, after which Harley returns with news that although the president has invited the world's leaders to meet, many have refused unless they can host the gathering. Bemused by their childish jealousies, Klaatu decides to learn more about the species he is visiting, and escapes from the hospital. Radio and television broadcasts announce Klaatu's escape, but no pictures of him are available. Using the name Carpenter, Klaatu obtains a room in the boardinghouse of Mrs. Crockett, which is also inhabited by Mr. and Mrs. George Barley, Mr. Krull and an attractive widow, Helen Benson, and her young son Bobby. The next day, Helen and her beau, Tom Stevens, go on a picnic, and Klaatu babysits Bobby, who takes him on a tour of the city. Klaatu is impressed with the Lincoln Memorial, and when he asks Bobby who the greatest man alive is, the boy replies that famed scientist Jacob Barnhardt is the one Klaatu seeks. After taking Bobby to visit the saucer, Klaatu goes with him to Barnhardt's house, where he easily solves a math problem begun by the absent Barnhardt. That night, Helen watches as a government agent picks up Klaatu at the boardinghouse. Klaatu is taken to see Barnhardt, who is thrilled to learn that he is the alien. Klaatu explains that because Earth's people are reaching a technological level at which they could be a danger to other planets, he has been sent to warn them of the consequences of their violence. Barnhardt speculates that no one will take his message seriously unless he can prove his superior capabilities, so Klaatu promises to arrange a demonstration in two days. The next evening, Tom belittles Klaatu's involvement with Helen and Bobby, although Bobby states that Klaatu is his best friend. After Helen and Tom leave, Bobby follows Klaatu as he goes to the saucer, where he signals to Gort and obtains entrance to the vessel. Inside, Klaatu arranges his demonstration, while Bobby runs home. When Helen and Tom return, Bobby tells them of his adventure, but they dismiss it as a bad dream. Tom grows worried though, when he snoops in Klaatu's room and finds one of the diamonds that Klaatu trades for currency. The following day, Klaatu gets Helen from her office, and when they enter the building's elevator, the power suddenly dies, and Klaatu reveals his identity to Helen. As he discusses his mission with her, people around the world are confused by the loss of all electricity, except to critical locations such as hospitals. Barnhardt is gleeful about the nonviolent demonstration, which he believes will ensure full attendance for his meeting that night of scientists and social leaders. Half an hour later, when the power is restored, Helen is convinced of Klaatu's sincerity, and is determined to help him. She is concerned about Tom, however, as he has taken the diamond to a jeweler for appraisal. Helen rushes to Tom's office, where she is dismayed to learn that he is more interested in the fame and fortune that will result from betraying Klaatu than in the reason for his visit. While Tom alerts the Pentagon, Helen storms out and whisks Klaatu away from the boardinghouse just before the military arrives. During their ride to Barnhardt's meeting, Klaatu tells Helen that if anything happens to him, she is to find Gort immediately and tell him "Klaatu Barada Nikto" to prevent him from destroying the Earth. Before they can reach the ship, however, Helen and Klaatu are stopped by soldiers, and Klaatu is fatally shot. Helen escapes and goes to Gort, who responds to her repetition of Klaatu's orders by carrying her inside the saucer, then stealing Klaatu's body and returning it to the ship. There, Gort revives Klaatu, although Klaatu tells Helen that his re-animation will last for an uncertain duration. Klaatu then appears before Barnhardt's colleagues and warns them that because the universe grows smaller every day, threats of aggression cannot be tolerated. Klaatu assures them that they will not lose any freedoms, but that they will be under the watchful eye of a robot such as Gort, who was invented by an organization of planets determined to stamp out violence. Each planet is guarded by a robot that impartially acts against aggression, and the inhabitants live in peace, Klaatu states, with their energies turned toward higher goals. Klaatu informs the crowd, "Your choice is simple: join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration." With a final smile for Helen, Klaatu then leaves with Gort. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Robert Wise (Dir)
  Art Lueker (Asst dir)
  Bert Leeds (2d unit dir)
  Stanley Hough (2d unit asst dir)
  Anthony Jowitt (Dial dir)
Producer: Julian Blaustein (Prod)
Writer: Edmund H. North (Scr)
Photography: Leo Tover (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Lyle Wheeler (Art dir)
  Addison Hehr (Art dir)
Film Editor: William Reynolds (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Thomas Little (Set dec)
  Claude Carpenter (Set dec)
Costumes: Charles LeMaire (Ward dir)
  Perkins Bailey (Klaatu's cost des)
  Travilla (Cost des)
  Clinton Sandeen (Cost des)
Music: Bernard Herrmann (Mus)
Sound: Arthur L. Kirbach (Sd)
  Harry M. Leonard (Sd)
Special Effects: Fred Sersen (Spec photog eff)
Make Up: Ben Nye (Makeup artist)
Production Misc: Gene Bryant (Unit mgr)
  Dr. Samuel Herrick (Tech adv)
Stand In: Steve Pritko (Stand-in for Michael Rennie)
  Clifford Sales (Double for Billy Gray)
Country: United States
Language: English

Source Text: Based on the short story "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates in Astounding Science-Fiction Magazine (Oct 1940).
Authors: Harry Bates

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 18/9/1951 dd/mm/yyyy LP1263

PCA NO: 15271
Physical Properties: Sd: Western Electric Recording
  b&w:

 
Genre: Science fiction
 
Subjects (Major): Aliens, Extraterrestrial
  Fear
  Peace
  Robots
  Washington (D.C.)
 
Subjects (Minor): Boardinghouses
  Chases
  Children
  Diamonds
  Electricity
  Elevators
  Escapes
  Flying saucers
  Lincoln Memorial
  Mothers and sons
  Politics
  Ray guns
  Radio broadcasting
  Scientists
  Soldiers
  Television news and information
  Walter Reed Hospital (Washington, D.C.)
  Widows

Note: The working titles of this film were Farewell to the Master and Journey to the World . Harry Bates's short story also appeared in a 1946 anthology of science fiction stories entitled Adventures in Time and Space . According to a May 1950 NYT news item, Anne Baxter was originally cast in the role of "Helen Benson." Modern sources note that first Spencer Tracy and then Claude Rains were considered for the role of "Klaatu" before director Robert Wise saw British actor Michael Rennie perform in a Broadway play and cast him as the alien. Although HR news items include Richard Allan and Duke Watson in the cast, their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed. A late Apr 1951 HR news item speculated that Lowell Thomas would be appearing as himself in the film, along with noted journalists Drew Pearson, Gabriel Heater, H. V. Kaltenborn and Elmer Davis, but Thomas does not appear in the released film. Other HR news items note that second unit "action" and backgrounds were filmed on location in Washington, D.C.
       Although Perkins Bailey, the fashion and design editor of Look magazine, receives an onscreen credit for designing "Klaatu's" costume, information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, indicates that Bailey's credit was "a kind of publicity stunt." The costume was most likely designed by one of the studio's regular wardrobe personnel. A 31 Aug 1951 HR news item reported that the picture would be screened in New Orleans in early Sep 1951 at the annual convention of the Science-Fiction Writers of America.
       In a modern interview, Wise claimed that the Department of Defense would not cooperate with the filming of the picture and provide needed equipment because it disagreed with the picture's theme. Wise instead obtained equipment and military extras from the Washington branch of the National Guard. According to a modern source, the film's musical score included parts for two theremins, which were played by Dr. Samuel Hoffman. Modern sources also include Major Sam Harris ( Delegate ) and Snub Pollard in the cast, and report that Lock Martin, who played "Gort," was over seven feet tall and worked as a doorman at Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Modern sources also state that a free-standing model of Gort was used for long sequences in which the robot was to stand still, as the costume was too heavy for Martin to wear for protracted periods of time. A model of Gort's head was also used for close-ups.
       The Day the Earth Stood Still received a Golden Globe Award as the "Best Film Promoting International Understanding." The picture, which is regarded by many film historians as one of the most influential and noteworthy of the 1950s cycle of science fiction films, received very positive reviews. The Time reviewer judged the picture to be "by far the best of Hollywood's recent flights into science-fiction." Gort is regarded by science fiction aficionados as one of the most best-loved and well-known of motion picture robots, and the command "Gort! Klaatu Barada Nikto" has become a part of the American film lexicon.
       The film marked the feature film debut of Stuart Whitman, here credited as "Kip Whitman." Rennie co-starred with Jean Peters in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story on 4 Jan 1954. In 1954, Patricia Neal starred in Stranger from Venus , an English remake of the film that was released in the U.S. as Immediate Disaster . The remake was directed by Burt Balaban and co-starred Helmut Dantine as the alien. Although Rennie had appeared in three previous Twentieth Century-Fox films, two shot in England and one filmed on location in Canada, The Day The Earth Stood Still was his first feature film made in the U.S. Rennie, who was under contract to the studio, appeared in many more films for Fox.
       A new version of The Day the Earth Stood Still , directed by Scott Derrickson and starring Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly was scheduled to be released by Fox on 12 Dec 2008. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   8 Sep 1951.   
Daily Variety   4 Sep 51   p. 3.
Film Daily   7 Sep 51   p. 10.
Hollywood Citizen-News   29 Sep 1951.   
Hollywood Citizen-News   2 Oct 1951.   
Hollywood Reporter   11 Dec 50   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Mar 51   p. 1, 8
Hollywood Reporter   20 Mar 51   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Apr 51   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Apr 51   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Apr 51   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Apr 51   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Apr 51   p. 6, 9
Hollywood Reporter   18 May 51   p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter   23 May 51   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   31 Aug 51   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Sep 51   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Sep 51   p. 8.
Los Angeles Examiner   28 Sep 1951.   
Los Angeles Times   20 May 1951.   
Motion Picture Daily   5 Sep 1951.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   8 Sep 51   p. 1005.
Newsweek   1 Oct 1951.   
New York Times   21 May 1950.   
New York Times   19 Sep 51   p. 37.
Time   1-Oct-51   
Variety   11 Dec 1950.   
Variety   5 Sep 51   p. 6.

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