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Day the Earth Stood Still

The Day the Earth Stood Still

4.7 32
Director: Robert Wise

Cast: Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe


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All of Washington, D.C., is thrown into a panic when an extraterrestrial spacecraft lands near the White House. Out steps Klaatu (Michael Rennie, in a role intended for Claude Rains), a handsome and soft-spoken interplanetary traveler, whose "bodyguard" is Gort (Lock Martin), a huge robot who spews forth laser-like death rays when danger threatens. After being wounded


All of Washington, D.C., is thrown into a panic when an extraterrestrial spacecraft lands near the White House. Out steps Klaatu (Michael Rennie, in a role intended for Claude Rains), a handsome and soft-spoken interplanetary traveler, whose "bodyguard" is Gort (Lock Martin), a huge robot who spews forth laser-like death rays when danger threatens. After being wounded by an overzealous soldier, Klaatu announces that he has a message of the gravest importance for all humankind, which he will deliver only when all the leaders of all nations will agree to meet with him. World politics being what they are in 1951, Klaatu's demands are turned down and he is ordered to remain in the hospital, where his wounds are being tended. Klaatu escapes, taking refuge in a boarding house, where he poses as one "Mr. Carpenter" (one of the film's many parallels between Klaatu and Christ). There the benign alien gains the confidence of a lovely widow (Patricia Neal) and her son, Bobby (Billy Gray), neither of whom tumble to his other-worldly origins, and seeks out the gentleman whom Bobby regards as "the smartest man in the world" -- an Einstein-like scientist, Dr. Barnhardt (Sam Jaffe). The next day, at precisely 12 o'clock, Klaatu arranges for the world to "stand still" -- he shuts down all electrical power in the world, with the exception of essentials like hospitals and planes in flight. Directed by Robert Wise, who edited Citizen Kane (1941) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) for director Orson Welles before going on to direct such major 1960s musicals as West Side Story (1961) and The Sound of Music (1965), The Day the Earth Stood Still was based on the story Farewell to the Master by Harry Bates.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Greg Kalleres
"Klaatu, Barada, Nikto." This phrase rings bells for all fans of American science fiction, as it is so crucial to salvation in the 1951 classic The Day the Earth Stood Still. A landmark in 20th-century sci-fi, the film follows an alien named Klaatu (Michael Rennie) who travels millions of miles to earth to deliver a message of universal peace. Paranoia breeds irony, however, and the ignorant humans are so frightened by the alien that they aim to capture him, that is until Klaatu arranges for a worldwide shutdown of electricity, or a "stand still." Costarring Sam Jaffe (Ben-Hur) and Patricia Neal (Hud) as Klaatu's benevolent human conspirators, the film benefits from intelligent direction by Oscar-winner Robert Wise (The Sound of Music), who helped to establish the social mores of '50s sci-fi -- atomic consciousness, cold war anxiety, and theremin music. The Day is still a thoroughly influential film 50 years later, and prime evidence is Sam Rami's Army of Darkness, which features Bruce Campbell's hilarious send-up, "Klaatu, Barada, Nikkhuharshenhar."
All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
At a time when science fiction on film had yet to work itself out of its bug-eyed monsters period, The Day the Earth Stood Still was a dramatic step forward for the genre. Intelligently written and directed, well-crafted, and boasting a top-notch cast in good form, it was a class act all the way, as well as one of the first Hollywood films to take the idea of extraterrestrial visitors seriously (if not as a practical reality, at least as an interesting metaphor). Klaatu, as played by Michael Rennie, was that rare alien invader who wanted to save us from ourselves, and Rennie gives the character an intelligence, compassion, and strength that make him seem a lot more human than many of the earthlings he encounters, while Sam Jaffe, Patricia Neal, and Billy Gray manage to prove that not all the Earth people are violent, brain-dead slobs. Director Robert Wise and his crew create an admirable sense of tension and awestruck wonder in the wake of Klaatu's arrival (many later films with higher budgets failed to capture the magic of the spaceship landing in Washington, D.C., or the towering mystery of Klaatu's robot assistant Gort), and, at a time when Cold War paranoia was at its height, The Day the Earth Stood Still carried a strong pro-disarmament message that was quite brave for its day. The film's message remains pertinent today, and, as entertainment, its intelligence, warmth, and solid filmcraft make it an enduring classic of its kind.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:

Special Features

Closed Caption; Disc One: ; Commentary by director Robert Wise and Nicholas Meyer (director, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan); All-new commentary by Film & Music historians John Morgan, Steven Smith William Stromberg and Nick Redman; Isolated score track; All-new featurettes:; The Mysterious, Melodius Theremin; Main Title Live Performance by Peter Pringle; The Making of the Day the Earth Stood Still; Farewell to the Master: A reading by Jamieson K. Price of the original Harry Bates short story; Fox Movietonews (1951); Trailers; ; Disc Two: ; All-new featurettes: Decoding "Klaatu Barada Nikto": Science Fiction as Metaphor; A Brief History of Flying Saucers; The Astounding Harry Bates; Edmund North: The Man Who Made the Earth Stand Still; Race to Oblivion documentary short; Interactive pressbook and still galleries

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Michael Rennie Klaatu
Patricia Neal Helen Benson
Hugh Marlowe Tom Stevens
Sam Jaffe Dr. Barnhardt
Billy Gray Bobby Benson
Frances Bavier Mrs. Barley
Lock Martin Gort
Drew Pearson Himself
H.V. Kaltenborn Himself
Bobby Gray Actor
Harry Harvey Taxi Driver
Marshall Bradford Newscaster
Stuart Whitman Actor
Frank Conroy Harley
Carleton Young Colonel
Fay Roope Major General
Edith Evanson Mrs. Crockett
Robert Osterloh Major White
Tyler McVey Brady
James Seay Government Man
John Brown Mr. Bradley
Marjorie Crossland Hilda
House Peters MP Captain
Rush Williams MP Sergeant
Olan Soule Mr. Krull
Gil Herman Government Agent
James Craven Businessman
Harry Lauter Platoon Leader
Wheaton Chambers Jeweler
Dorothy Neumann Barnhardt's Secretary
George Lynn Col. Ryder
Freeman Lusk Gen. Cutler
John Burton British Radio MC

Technical Credits
Robert Wise Director
Julian Blaustein Producer
Claude E. Carpenter Set Decoration/Design
Addison Hehr Art Director
Bernard Herrmann Score Composer
Arthur L. Kirbach Sound/Sound Designer
Harry M. Leonard Sound/Sound Designer
Thomas K. Little Set Decoration/Design
Edmund H. North Screenwriter
Ben Nye Makeup
William H. Reynolds Editor
Fred Sersen Special Effects
Leo Tover Cinematographer
William Travilla Costumes/Costume Designer
Lyle Wheeler Art Director
Darryl F. Zanuck Executive Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Day the Earth Stood Still: Feature Film
1. Main Titles [2:00]
2. Something Real [3:24]
3. They've Landed! [2:31]
4. Peace and Good Will [4:36]
5. The Future of the Planet [5:15]
6. Impatient With Stupidity [3:41]
7. Mr. Carpenter [4:04]
8. In Grave Danger [3:32]
9. Sightseeing [3:12]
10. A Real Screwball [2:30]
11. Calling Card [3:00]
12. A Fun Day [2:49]
13. There Is No Alternative [5:06]
14. Jittery [6:13]
15. Learning the Truth [4:46]
16. Waiting Up [2:50]
17. What a Brilliant Idea [5:29]
18. Dead or Alive [3:03]
19. Turning a Deaf Ear [4:28]
20. Remember Those Words [4:24]
21. A Message for Goat [3:29]
22. Unimaginable Power [3:35]
23. Resurrected [2:52]
24. A Simple Choice [5:02]


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The Day the Earth Stood Still 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
jvolstad More than 1 year ago
A great Blu-Ray DVD with 30% off at the store, 10% off with my member discount, and 15% off with my BN coupon that I received in the mail. I found it amusing watching the docs at Walter Reed smoking away. High def Black and White was very impressive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Still a great movie.  A little too long of a preview, but not a problem.
AlchemystAZ More than 1 year ago
Please watch this one and not the awful Keanu remake (which ruined the whole idea). Maybe the Biblical Carpenter will be pleased.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie was the prototypical 50's film. BUT the ending was ''unsuitable'' for a U.S. audience of the time. The studio then changed the ending to the OPPOSITE of the author's story. Why it continues to be a ''classic'' is a mystery. Maybe in the ''extra material'' they explain, but that doesn't save it. I read the story when it first came out (a long time ago), and when I saw the movie I was shocked to see what they had done. Love it at your own risk, because the author wrote a powerful story that was butchered for ''commercial'' reasons.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Awsome, superior to a lot of other sci-fi films. Not as good as Forbidden Planet, but sooooooooo close.
tito More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best SciFi movies ever made. The idea is excellent, acting was great, special effects were good at that time. It was just a really good movie and I do recommend it. The remake probably sucked major butt, with Keanu Reeves' terrible acting. Watch the old one on cable and save a few bucks, it'll be worth it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best Sci Fi film ever made...other films may have more modern special effects...but this film is solid with a great cast and just the right amount of effects. Worth the watch.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A true original in Sci Fi: good acting for the time, great story with intellect, and an alien that is a mix of ''Father Knows Best'' with ''It's a Wonderful Life''. While it was filmed in the formative years of Sci Fi with its limitations, it truly is one of my favorite movies.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I always found it strange that the military left just two boneheaded men to guard the ship and Gort. Then, when they get knocked out by Gort, guess what? STILL, only two are left to guard the most incredible event in human history. Alas, such was the state of 50's Scif-fi. Does this make it a bad movie? Not really. It gave new sensibilities to the way we looked at fantastic fiction and Sci-Fi. Still, the end result remains one of fascism, albeit for alturistic reasons. This theme has been sung many tunes over the years, but this film remains a cornerstone in forming a more enlightened, yet controversial esthetic. It truly is a classic. Klaatu Barada Nikto!
FRAN1 More than 1 year ago
Cyclestone More than 1 year ago
One of the greatest sci fi movies ever made. A tremendous movie for it's day. The new one starring Keanu Reeves, regardless of how good it is, will never measure up to the original.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first saw this movie back in the 60's and have watched it repeatedly since then and have yet to tire of it. It is truly a movie to see over and over again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This has to be one of the best sci-fi movies ever. I've always loved this movie. I've got it on VHS, and I've watched it so many times, I ''swear'' it's going to wear out....
Guest More than 1 year ago
My father forced me to watch this film when I was younger, and now even in my 20's I still thank him for it. Even when I was a child the graphics were outdated but it forces you to pay attention to the story. If possible have your children watch this film because to this day it still gives me a warm feeling to say to my father with a wink, "Gort, klaatu barrada nikto"
Guest More than 1 year ago
Performance by all actors was terrific! Clearly a Cold War film. I'm in my fifties and, unfortunately, the next youngest generation has NO idea what I mean by, 'Klatu, barrada, nicto!' I find that amusing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Suprisingly, and refreshingly this film avoids all the UFO cliches in exchange for something more important. America's massive hysteria over UFO's is deflated and asked to be replaced with a much more reasonable scenario. The outcome is a movie that is compelling and engrossing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a Sci Fi buff, this is a classic!!! The message Klatu delivered was poignant, and can easily compared to what is transpiring with current world affairs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First of the really good ones, with good acting and a serious moral to the story. A true Must Have for all collectors of ''The Essentials''.
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