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Day the Earth Stood Still, The (1951, Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal)



An intelligent film that rises above the contemporary sci-fi B movie genre despite it beginning with an alien landing on Earth. Director Robert Wise obviously liked the genre but took another 28 years before he made Star Trek: The Motion Picture . In this film, the alien, Klaatu, is brilliantly played by Michael Rennie, who was chosen after Claude Rains and Spencer Tracy were initially considered for the role.

As Klaatu descends from his spaceship he is immediately attacked by state troopers who do not realise that he has come in peace. Klaatu is saved by the intervention of his ten-foot robot, Gort, but not before he is wounded and goes on the run. As a fugitive, Klaatu is helped by Helen Benson (Patricia Neal) and her son Billy (Bobby Benson). Through his relationship with these Earthlings, Klaatu begins to understand the Earth and tries to get his message across in another way. He issues an ultimatum telling Earth that it has one day to decide whether or not to cease its senseless warfare or else face a Gort-like force. To bring the message home Klaatu brings Earth to a standstill for one hour.

Made in the uneasy early years of the Cold War, the message of the world living together, now an accepted message of most sci-fi films, was made in contrast to Hollywood’s early efforts to subliminally portray the Red Menace as aliens intent on changing the all-American way of life.

production details
USA | 92 minutes | 1951

Director: Robert Wise
Script: Edmund H. North, Harry Bates,

Michael Rennie as Klaatu, alias Mr. Carpenter
Patricia Neal as Helen Benson
Billy Gray as Bobby Benson
Hugh Marlowe as Tom Stevens
Sam Jaffe as Prof. Jacob Barnhardt
Lock Martin as Gort
Edith Evanson as Mrs. Crockett, landlady
Freeman Lusk as General Cutler
Frank Conroy as Mr. Harley, Secretary to the President
Frances Bavier as Mrs. Barley, boarder
John Brown as George Barley, boarder
Olan Soule as Mr. Krull, boarder
Glenn Hardy as Radio Interviewer at Landing Site
Marjorie Crossland as Hilda, Barnhart’s secretary
Elmer Davis as Elmer Davis
H.V. Kaltenborn as H. V. Kaltenborn
Drew Pearson as Drew Pearson
Gabriel Heatter as Gabriel Heatter (voice)
Harry Lauter as Lieutenant in Charge of Landing Site
James Doyle as Army Dr. White
Larry Dobkin as Balding Army Doctor
Robert Osterloh as Army Examining Doctor
House Peters Jr. as M.P. Captain at Barnhardt’s
Tyler McVey as Brady
George Lynn as Conference Colonel Ryder
Dorothy Neumann as Margaret, Tom’s secretary
Wheaton Chambers as Mr. Bleeker, jeweller
Carleton Young as Zone Five Lieutenant Colonel
Harry Harvey as The Cab Driver
Sammy Ogg as Sammy, boy witness
Bess Flowers as Lady Outside Jewelry Store
James Seay as Government Man
Stuart Whitman as Sentry (scene deleted)
Grady Galloway as Radar Operator
Hassan Khayyam as Indian Newscaster
John Barton as British Newscaster