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A Science Fiction Classic
at Friday Night Movies:

The Day The Earth Stood Still
 

Friday the 14th of November

 

Gort! Klaatu barada nikto!
--Helen Benson (Patricia Neal) or Original tagline

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USA: 1951 -- Directed by Robert Wise
Written by Edmund H. North (screenplay)and Harry Bates (story)
Starring Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal
Score by Bernard Hermann
They're here! They're here! They've landed! Over on the mall! They've landed!
--Jack Daly in uncredited bit role


A hallmark of the science fiction genre as well as a wry commentary on the political climate of the 1950s, The Day the Earth Stood Still is a sci-fi movie less concerned with special effects than with a social parable. A spacecraft lands in Washington, D.C., carrying a humanoid messenger from another world (Michael Rennie) imparting a warning to the people of Earth to cease their violent behavior. But panic ensues as the messenger lands and is shot by a nervous soldier. His large robot companion destroys the Capitol as the messenger escapes the confines of the hospital. He moves in with a family as a boarder and blends into society to observe the full range of the human experience. Director Robert Wise (West Side Story) not only provides one of the most recognizable icons of the science fiction world in his depiction of the massive robot loyal to his master, but he avoids the obvious camp elements of the story to create a quiet and observant story highlighting both the good and the bad in human nature. --Robert Lane

Hope to see you there. I'll save you an aisle seat next to my giant robot.


Awards

Won Golden Globe for Best Film Promoting International Understanding

Nominated for Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Score - Bernard Herrmann

inducted to National Film Registry in 1955

Ranks #5 on AFI's Top 10 Science Ficiton Movies

Ranks #207 on the Internet Movie Database's Top 250 Movies

More awards


Memorable Quotes

Klaatu: You have faith, Professor Barnhardt?
Barnhardt: It isn't faith that makes good science, Mr. Klaatu, it's curiosity. Sit down, please. There are several thousand questions I'd like to ask you.

Klaatu: I am fearful when I see people substituting fear for reason.

Klaatu: I'm worried about Gort. I'm afraid of what he might do if anything should happen to me.
Helen: Gort? But he's a robot. Without you, what could he do?
Klaatu: There's no limit to what he could do. He could destroy the Earth.

More quotes


Trivia

The role of Gort was played by Lock Martin, the doorman from Grauman's Chinese Theater, because he was extremely tall. However, he was unable to pick up Helen because he was so weak and had to be aided by wires (in shots from the back where he's carrying her, it's actually a lightweight dummy in his arms). He also had difficulty with the heavy Gort suit and could only stay in it for about a half-hour at a time.

Patricia Neal has admitted in interviews that she was completely unaware during the filming that the film would turn out so well and become one of the great science-fiction classics of all time. She assumed it would be just another one of the then-current and rather trashy flying saucer films that were popular at the time, and she found it difficult to keep a straight face while saying her lines

To give the appearance of seamlessness to the space ship, the crack around the door was filled with putty, then painted over. When the door opened the putty was torn apart, making the door seem to simply appear.

More trivia


Goofs

Continuity: When Klaatu is stuck in the elevator with Miss Benson, explaining that all electricity on planet earth is now neutralized, there is light beaming onto their faces and bodies through apparent grates in the elevator. Being that the elevator is indoors, and that all electricity is non-functional, the inside of the elevator would be pitch black.

Goof

Factual errors: Klaatu mentions he traveled a distance of 250 million miles. That distance would only put him between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars.

Revealing mistakes: When Gort picks up Patricia Neal, and turns back toward the space ship, you can see the zipper on the front of Gort's costume, near the neck. goofs