Saturday, January 18, 2014

245 of 1001 Movies: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Robert Wise brought quite the classics like The Sound of Music, and the motion picture of Star Trek, and even earlier on he brought to the screen some creative CGI use in The Day the Earth Stood Still. Really, I was impressed with how the movie looked. The plot though is very stretched in a lot of ways, and since it's a B movie I don't think thoroughly thought through in some ways. The story is entertaining, and Michael Rennie makes for a very compelling alien that is just trying to save earth!

Summary: A spaceship causes quite a disruption in Washington D.C. when it lands in the middle of the city. Klaatu, an alien, has landed to give earth a warning, but he won't reveal what he is there to warn of until he can get the attention of the people he knows will listen. With the help of a boy, Bobby, he leans about the city he is in, and the people there that is informative to him in how he will get his point across. After World War II has just ended, and with the Cold War era just beginning Klaatu's message is more urgent than ever.

Acting: Michael Rennie is the lead as Klaatu, and I think he works for the role. The guy is attractive, but he does have this unearthly presence to him that does rock the perception you garner when he enters a room of people. Patricia Neal is probably the only other cast member who was that known and appears consistently throughout the movie as Helen. Neal portrays Helen well as she is trying to make sense of the news that Klaatu is delivering. Billy Gray was the kid, Bobby, and honestly it feels like all child actors from this time were given a certain direction and they all took, so most lack any personality and that is what happens with Gray. Hugh Marlowe is Tom, who is Helen's boyfriend, and the other face that most of us might notice is from Andy Griffith fame, Frances Bavier, as Mrs Barley.

Filming: The movie does have what I think would be very edgy special effects for the time. With the black and white coloring Wire is able to make the graphics work better in the movie as well. You have plenty of scenes though where the backdrops look a bit fake, and you can tell the studio lighting from the back, but that is something common with anything made this early in film, and it doesn't distract me from the story.

Plot: The plot is a bit stretched in some parts. I know the alien part might be what everyone thinks would be out there, but I think it's the way it's handled that makes the idea seem less plausible. The news seems to be able to repeat every step the military is taking toward preventing the problems that might arise from this, when honestly I assume something like this would be handled more delicately through the press, and a man is able to wonder around for quite a while on earth without being noticed as being a bit peculiar. I assume the whole alien approach from the government would be much more along the lines of Close Encounters, but to be honest I liked this alien movie better. The main thing about this movie is that it is entertaining, and probably a whole lot more entertaining if you were alive in 1951 as nothing like this was shown or at least frequently, in theaters. I would have enjoyed seeing this had I been a cinema goer in the 1950's.

The Day the Earth Stood Still might make you think of the 2008 one, which I haven't seen, and make you want to pick it up instead since it's more recent, and with modern technology comes a lot more development for movies. I highly recommend that if you're interested or if you're a sci-fi fan to check out the 1951 one though. Some of my biggest regrets are seeing the remakes before the originals.

Rating 7.5 of 10.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) on IMDb

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