Sunday Night Movie: The Day The Earth Stood Still

Yesterday I got the news that award winning actress Patricia Neal has passed away and I resolved to make my Sunday Night Movie The Day The Earth Stood Still.

I have not seen very many films with Patricia Neal, but from what I have seen she was a talented actress of diverse skill and range. The films I know her best from are, of course, The Day The Earth Stood Still, and  A Face In The Crowd.

The first film clearly SF and the second very nearly SF. If you have never seen A Face In The Crowd this is a must see movie. A great, absolutely stellar cast, a pitch-perfect scrip and just as relevant today as when it was made.

Back to last night’s movie.

The Day The Earth Stood Still is a classic of SF films, and is a classic of films in general. Made in 1951 it was ahead of the curve for SF films, leading, along with Destination Moon, the charge into SF films of the 50s. Sadly, most of the films that followed were heavy on ray guns, monsters, and adventure and light in the thought and ideas that science-fiction can explore so well.

Very loosely inspired by the Harry Bates short story, Farewell the Master,  the movie is about the arrival of an alien, Klaatu, and his robot, Gort, to the planet Earth. Klaatu is greeted with gunfire and suspicion. The alien has a mission and message, but refuses to share it with any one nation or people, insisting that it must be heard by representatives of all the peoples and nations of the Earth.

This of course is impossible in a world divided between the United States and the USSR. Frustrated by terran stupidity, Klaatu eascape his captivity to learn more about humans and their fears firsthand.

What follows is in part a message film, in part a lovely look at the Earth through alien eyes, and in part a manhunt. (Or an alien-hunt if you prefer.)

I have problems with the specific message delivered in the film, but that’s okay. It’s a wonderful story, wonderfully told. I am not as allergic to ‘smug aliens’ as some of my friends are.

Of course if you have never seen this movie, I urge you to rent it. I own it on Blu-ray and the effects hold up very well for a film nearly 60 years old.

DO NOT see the remake. There is no remake. I refuse to acknowledge it.