The Day the
Earth Stood Still

Day The Earth Stood Still

The country was steeped in the Cold War and obsessed with the destructive capabilities of the atomic bomb when THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL , now considered a science fiction classic, hit the theaters. It was Robert Wise's first science fiction film, but certainly not his last. He would go on to make the classic THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, in 1971, and STAR TREK, in 1979.

klaatu barada nikto

Klaatu and Gort

The film presented a very different image of space aliens than the films being churned out of current Hollywood: the friendly, peace-bringing alien. This alien, Klaatu, had a message: If Earth continues its war-like ways in space, it will be destroyed.

Wise has always stressed the importance of his films making a comment about man and society. "However," said Wise, "the comment should be made by the story itself, the development of the plot and the interplay of the characters, without having the actors say it in so many words."* THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL differs from his other films, in that "The whole purpose of it was for Klaatu to deliver that warning at the end. I feel very strongly in favor of what the movie says. It's very much of a forerunner in its warning about atomic warfare, and it shows that we must all learn to get along together."*

Synopsis An alien, Klaatu, lands in Washington, D.C. in a flying saucer, accompanied by a robot, Gort. This handsome and literate intruder Posterinforms the populace that atomic tests must cease or the Earth will be demolished by other planets in the galaxy to save them from certain destruction. The nations of the world then convene to cope with the dilemma. Klaatu, under the watchful eye of the F.B.I., is permitted to associate with the earthlings and he wins many friends, including Helen Benson and her son Bobby. Eventually the world's leaders conclude that the alien must be a hoax. As he returns to his craft, he is shot. Gort removes his body and plans to put in motion the destruction of the Earth. But Helen repeats to Gort words said to her by Klaatu ["Klaatu barada nikto"]. At the finale, Klaatu is resurrected and, before returning to the outer galaxy, he offers a final warning that peace must come to the Earth—or else.

From The Great Science Fiction Pictures

Wise Facts
  • Gort was played by the only man in Hollywood who could fit the suit: the 7'7" tall doorman at the Grauman's Chinese Theater.
  • The Department of Defense did not like the film's message, so they would not let Wise use their equipment. The National Guard obliged with no problem.
  • Credits: 92 min. Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.; Distributed by: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.;  Directed by: Robert Wise;  Produced by: Julian Blaustein;  Screenplay by:Edmund H. North;  Edited by: William Reynolds;  Director of Photography: Leo Tover;  Music by: Bernard Herrmann;  Production Design by: Lyle Wheeler & Addison Hehr;  Sound by: Arthur L. Kirbach & Harry M. Leonard;  Costumes by: Travilla;  Make-up by: Ben Nye.
    Michael Rennie was ill the day the earth stood still Cast  Michael Rennie (Klaatu), Patricia Neal (Helen Benson), Hugh Marlowe (Tom Stevens), Sam Jaffe (Professor Barnhardt), Billy Gray (Bobby Benson), Frances Bavier (Mrs. Barley), Lock Martin (Gort), Drew Pearson (Himself), Carleton Young (Colonel), Frank Conroy (Harley), Fay Roope (Major General), Edith Evanson (Mrs. Crockett), Robert Osterloh (Major White), Tyler McVey (Brady), James Seay (Government Man), John Brown (Mr. Barley), Marjorie Crossland (Hilda), Glenn Hardy (Interviewer), House Peters, Jr. (M.P. Captain), Rush Williams (M.P. Sergeant), Olan Soule (Mr. Kurll), Gil Herman (Government Agent), Gabriel Heater, H. V. Kaltenborn and Elmer Davis (Commentators).

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    1. Robert Wise On His Films, p. 107
    2. Robert Wise On His Films, p. 107

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