The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951): Do You Remember the Three Words to Save the World?

The Day the Earth Stood Still: Three Words to Save the WorldGuest blogger Rick 29 writes:

If there were a Hall of Fame for Timeless Movies, then one of its founding members would be The Day the Earth Stood Still. I’ve probably watched it at least once every decade since I first saw it on NBC’s Saturday Night at the Movies in the 1960s. When I was a youngster, the film’s fantastic elements–and Gort, the coolest robot on celluloid–appealed to me. When I was a teen, its stern warning about the perils of nuclear war resonated with me. With each subsequent viewing, The Day the Earth Stood Still has revealed something new: presenting itself as a Biblical analogy, an editorial on the influence of media on public opinion, a portrait of fear of the unknown, etc.

The films opens with Klaatu (Michael Rennie), a visitor from another planet, and his robot Gort making an unannounced spaceship landing in Washington, DC. When Klaatu exits from his ship and reaches into his space suit, a nervous soldier shoots him. While recovering in Walter Reed Army Hospital, Klaatu meets with the President’s secretary, Harley. The alien explains he must deliver a critical message to all the leaders of the world. Harley explains that’s impossible because of global political tensions. Klaatu confesses that he does not understand human conflict. He decides he needs to learn more about Earthlings from living among them. He escapes discreetly from the hospital and, as “Mr. Carpenter,” takes a room in a boarding house.

The success of The Day the Earth Stood Still hinges, in large part, on the casting of Klaatu. Producer Julian Blaustein and director Robert Wise originally considered Claude Rains, but his stage schedule made him unavailable. 20th Century-Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck suggested Spencer Tracy, but Blaustein worried that a well-known star would be a distraction (interestingly, that concern didn’t apply to Rains). It was Zanuck who eventually “discovered” Michael Rennie, who was performing in the British theatre. The tall, low-key Rennie brought conviction to the role, but his greatest accomplishment was making the alien visitor seem human. This is no small feat, as evidenced by a scene in which Klaatu reads the words of Lincoln and wants to meet him. This sequence could easily have come across as hokey, but Rennie makes it quietly effective and even heartfelt (since Klaatu has finally found someone who gives him hope about the human race).

With a human-like alien, it was left to the robot Gort to bring an eerie, other-worldly quality to the film. To make the robot as physically imposing as possible, the producers hired Lock Martin, a 7′ 7″ doorman at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. To make Gort even taller, Martin wore 4-6″ platform shoes. Walking in the heavy rubber suit in high heels was physically exhausting. There were two suits, one that laced on the front and the other in back. Martin changed suits depending on the camera angle, so that it looked like Gort had no “seams.” In some shots, a static model of the robot was used. That Gort model was later bought by Larry Harmon, overhauled so it didn’t look much like Gort, and used in Harmon’s Bozo the Clown television show.

In addition to its visual impact, The Day the Earth Still even sounds other-worldly thanks to composer Bernard Herrmann’s innovative use of a theremin. One of the first electronic instruments, the theremin is “played” by moving one’s hands in front of it to change sound frequencies. Its distinctive sound became almost a cliché through repeated use in other sci fi films of the 1950s. Still, Herrmann’ score remains an impressive achievement today.

Loosely based on the Harry Bates story “Farewell to the Master,” The Day the Earth Stood Still features strong religious undercurrents. Klaatu becomes a Carpenter (if in name only). He performs a “miracle” of global proportions. He brings a message of peace, but is largely misunderstood. And, of course, he is murdered and resurrected. Producer Blaustein credits screenwriter Edmund H. North for adding these provocative layers on top of a traditional science fiction tale.

The cast, music, and richness of themes contribute mightily to the film’s timeless quality. But it’s the story–along with that awesome robot Gort–that makes The Day the Earth Stood Still popular with viewers of all ages. I love to watch it with young people and tell them that they will need to memorize the film’s classic phrase and repeat it at the appropriate point in the film…or the Earth will be destroyed. You’d be amazed at how many different variations I’ve heard of: “Klaatu barada nikto!”

Rick29 is a film reference book author and a regular contributor at the Classic Film & TV Café (http://classic-film-tv.blogspot.com/ and on Facebook). He’s a big fan of MovieFanFare, too, of course!

  • tony payne

    I wholeheartedly agree with Rick. I went to see this film with my Dad in the 50′s and was completely spellbound. With the marvels of DVD I can enjoy a revisit whenever I choose, and never get tired of seeing it. Whenever you see an original film as good as this, it proves time and time again why do people bother to produce a re-make – like the dreadful version of this classic made recently.

  • Cappy

    I agree with tony payne. This is one of my favorite movies of all time. The movie was far ahead of it’s time. The remake with all of Hollywood’s tecmo-gismo just can’t grow up.

  • JUanita Curtis

    I saw the remake recently with Keanu Reeves and it wasn’t a patch on the original. Michael Rennie was perfectly cast and thats why it remains a timeless classic.

  • sheila smith

    this is a great movie we were at a 25, cent dance party and every one was in a small bed room watching this movie in black & white what a great movie!! I need to buy this and share with family and friend’s.

  • mike jaral

    when I was growing up people were saying that the best sience fiction movies ever made were, invasion of the body snatchers, them, the day the earth stood still, war of the worlds. there were 3 more but can’t remember there names. hollywood said they used all 7 of these movies in there schools for showing on how to make films. I do not know how true this is but it sounds good. I remember the other 3, but just forgot there names.

  • Rick29

    Mike, I suspect one of the other sci fi films is FORBIDDEN PLANET, a nifty reimagining of Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST. An unsung, awesome sci fi pic is QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (aka FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH). Its theme lacks the mass appeal of DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, but it’s still a thinking person’s sci fi film.

  • Nudge

    This is one of my all time favorites. As a kid I first saw it at “The Regent” theater some time in the 50,s. I memorized the three words so I could help save the world. This is the first time I’ve seen them written. My version after all the years would be “Platu varada nikto” I think Gort would have understood.

  • Debbie

    This movie is fabulous and I never tire of watching it. It does convey message that the world better straighten up or else suffer the consequences. A good lesson for today with so much strife in the world.

  • Blair Kramer

    Global governmant? We should all get along? No thanks. I love THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, but Robert Wise was wrong. It’s one thing to say we should all get along. However, back in 1950 just as today, the world was filled with tyrants, dictators, and theocratic madmen who control entire nations! Did Wise and his colleagues believe we should find a way to get along with the likes of THEM? Uh,uh. Nope. THEY should find a way to get along with US! If they don’t believe in absolute political, civil, and equal rights for all men and women, they must be forced to change. Here’s the REAL message of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL: the people who made it were naive dreamers with their heads in the clouds! But that’s O.K. After all is said and done, if you simply ignore the pretentious underlying message of the film, it’s a very well made, tremendously entertaining science fiction thriller. And certainly, as robots go, nothing can beat Gort! He’s the coolest!

  • Jerry LaFavor

    I can’t even count how times I have seen this excellent movie. I saw it when it came out and own it today. Sam Jaffe was excellent as Professor Barnhardt and Billy Grey did a fine job as Patricia Neal’s son, Bobby. A few years later he became Bud Anderson, the son on Father Knows Best. I felt the relationship the Director established between Rennie, Neal, and Grey was the true basis of making this powerful film so believable.

  • JIM

    RICK IS RIGHT. I THINK I SAW IT EARLIER THAN HE. I AM A BIG MICHAEL RENNIE FAN, GREAT ACTOR AND A VERY NICE GUY – CAME OUT LOUD AND CLEAR HERE. DO NOT NECESSARILY AGREE WITH THE THOUGHT OF SOME OFF WORLD BODY WATCHING OVER US (UNLESS THAT WERE GOD) AS THAT WOULD BE SCARY. STILL A GREAT FILM. BONUS WAS PATRICIA NEAL & JAFFE.

  • Stephen Maynard

    It’s strangely comforting to read that there are people with the same opinion as mine about The Day The Earth Stood Still. This provocative and unsettling film resonates so strongly on many levels – many of them noted in Tony’s review – and I absolutely love to suggest this film to those who’ve not seen it. I think the only thing that’s missing are kudos to director Robert Wise for a light, deft touch with such a potentially difficult film to bring to the screen. It could have been much more “preachy” in its direction. Thankfully, Wise was wise.

  • Geoffrey Wynkoop

    My favorite quote about this timeless classic come many years ago from a reviewer talking about the scene where GORT’s Visor lifts for the first time, and we see the jewled light.

    He said, “It was like looking into the face of MEDUSA and living to tale the tale.” — now that is film history.

    My only other favorite film from the same time Period, is “The Thing from Another World.” Scared the Cr*p out of me as a shild until I was Nine and I could acutally sit through the entire film without screaming and running away.

  • Rick Hirsch

    When I was growing up, the three words were lika a code expression between riends, much like “live long and propsper” from Vulcan lore. By the way, the remake was horrible.

  • Fred Buschbaum

    Having grown up in the 50′s, I saw the film in the theater. I remember the general feelings of most people at the time. We had just witnessed Atomic warfare to end a world war, more fighting in Korea, technology starting to race ahead. UFO sightings reported everywhere. I think we all tied into the need to “get along”, even though we knew it was, (and is), mostly impossible. For what it’s worth, Gort, an “actor”, without a speaking part personified unstopable power without recourse. “a way to force us to behave or have dad spank us”. And, yes, I own, this film and “Them, the orginal KingKong, The Thing,”the orginal version, and the remake, (which were based on a scifi story called “Who Gos There”,and both major remakes of war of the worlds. (a good example of of creative changes mostly wasted on a story written in the late 1800′s by a writer with more talent than modern screenwriters). Most new films try to get our attention with special effects and lots of gore without substance. Has anyone noticed AVATAR, (which has great special effects) is just cowboys and indians where the indians win?

    • pepo

      “TDTESS” was remade in 1954 as “Stranger from Venus” with a few tweaks to the plot and Helmut Dantine in the pseudo-Klaatu role. Patricia Neal is even in it! It’s very low budget and not up to snuff with the original but it is far better than the 21st Century remake. I’ve seen it in shops on DVD from time to time.

      I believe it’s also available under the title “Immediate Disaster”. Worth watching.

  • Joyce Weber

    Ditto to Blair Kramers statement….I had a huge crush on Gort.. He was one of my favorites , along with Mighty Joe Young!!!

  • duvyp

    There is more than the three words as the robot’s attention has to be achieved by the Patricia Neal character… thus “Gort, Klaatu verada nikto”.

  • Ed

    Here Here! Yes indeed, The Day The Earth Stood Still was and always be mesmorizing. It is timeless. That combined with excellent direction, casting, acting, etc, not too many films today can hold a candle to it. Dear Robert Wise, may you rest in peace and thank you for this film, not to mention West Side Story and The Sound of Music etc.

  • Ted E. Limpert

    Michael Rennie was the perfect choice to play the alien. He always projected quiet authority in his parts. “The Day the Earth Stood Still” remains one of the greatest science fiction films. The flying saucer was perfectly designed and must have been the prototype for the space ship used in “Forbidden Planet,” an equally great SF movie. I have always wondered how Robert Wise or the producer persuaded real radio and print newsmen to read lines that depicted them as panicky pundits ready to condemn an extraterrestrial without a fair hearing. I was 15 when I saw it, but I didn’t think real newsmen would be so intolerant.

  • Marjorie

    I’m really tired of the modern notion that old movies with the anti-war sentiment of the 50′s, or the anti-nuke sentiment of the 80′s can be turned into environmentally themed movies because that’s today’s P.C. issue. What makes simple scifi like this effective is the fact that somewhere in the back of your mind you can agree with whoever sent Klaatu that it’s reasonable to ponder the existential question of whether it’s “right” execute sentient beings who will willfully cause the death of other peaceful sentient beings if they don’t change their course. But to execute sentient beings for endangering a boggy marsh out in the woods that ET needs so he can call home? Not existential, cheesy. All the best scifi poses an existential question. (Invasion of the body snatchers – is it living to live without a soul?, Forbidden Planet – can absolute power be exercised without risk of corruption by an altruistic man? Star Wars – can the forces of good (or evil) in people manifest itself and move worlds?) This is why this remake sucks big booty, just like Tom Cruise’s version of war of the worlds. A closer fit to the original TDTESS theme-wise, would be that awful movie he made where they used the three psychics to predict crime and arrest people in advance… but I’m drawing a blank on the name…

  • MXD

    Fantastic movie. It became such a part of my sub-concious that I created a cartoon stripp a few years ago with Gort as one of the main characters. He does’t say much, but when he does, boy, LOOK OUT!

  • Rapini

    I saw this film on television when I was about ten. What a great movie, the actors, the direction and especially the lighting and film angles. A true classic 50′s scifi film. What is most annoying to me is the feeble attempts to remake great films with all the political correctness deemed necessary by today’s studios. The recent Keanu Reeves remake was terrible!!!

  • ardithq

    This film represents one of those occasions where the writing, casting and directing all come together to make a film that people remember their entire lives. I first saw the movie on TV in the late 60′s and I was mesmerized by the story and fascinated by Gort. This is not a movie that you can remake without serious thought. The remake was terrible and very poorly written. I’ll stick with the original, which I watch every chance I get. I agree that you get something a little bit different every time you watch it.

  • Ian Gordon

    I definitely remember the movie and yes, Michael Rennie was an excellent choice!

    Actually, the message of the film was essentially fascistic; “If you don’t behave, then we will destroy you!”

    During the cold-war era, that was understandable…

    It implies a police-state of the universe where robots guard over the affairs of people…

    Don’t get me wrong, I still liked the movie and consider it a classic…

    The whole “Carpenter” thing is a reference to Jesus, who was thought, at one time, to have been a carpenter…

    Both Gort and the saucer were designed to be as clean and unadorned as possible so as to reflect the otherworldly and antiseptic future that they represented…

    If you remember, most “futurist” homes of that era also had this “squeaky-clean” look…

    The music was distinctive not only because of the theremin, which did provide a spooky, outer-space atmosphere, but also by by Bernard Hermann’s exciting piano score, which ran throughout the film, while the theremin was used as a counterpoint…

    By the way, “Klaatu barada nikto” does have a meaning… It is in an Esperanto-like dialect and the meaning is quite clear:
    Klaatu = his name
    barada = to prepare to or is going to
    nikto = clearly, this is a word for death, from the Greek

    So, it means, idiomatically, “Klaatu is dying.” Simple enough, but frought with meaning for Gort, who reacts accordingly…

    I agree with most of the comments about classic Science Fiction films (notice I said Science Fiction and NOT Sci-Fi)…

    Certainly Forbidden Planet and the others mentioned were classics in their own way…

    The sad thing is, most people who put together “Sci-Fi” films don’t understand the genre…

    They use hack writers, or completely slash up classic stories to fit budgets or the Producer/Director’s whims…

    There are many really classic stories out there, written by truly great writers, such as Henry Kuttner, Fritz Lieber, or many others too numerous to really cover here…

    Why doesn’t “Hollywood” try using the wealth of material that has been done, rather than poorly written hacked scripts?

    Rod Serling had the right idea when he used classic SF material…

    Even “Avatar” has some of Cameron’s boyhood influences… I distinctly saw six-legged, Barsoomian beasts from Edgar Rice Burrough’s “John Carter of Mars” in that film as well as similar elements in “Total Recall…”

    There are so many good films waiting to be made, now if just someone with half of Wise’s wisdom could see that…

    Ian Gordon

  • Ian

    Superb movie and a timeless message. But I’m surprised there’s no mention of the phrase re-appearing in “Army of Darkness,” as the magical phrase Ash insists he can remember and use – but muffs!

  • Jim

    To Ed re Robert Wise-
    Run Silent, Run Deep is another excellent Wise movie!!

  • ROBERT

    All of the above comments and critiques covered the many reasons this film remans a classic, e.g. the excellence of the plot, casting, direction, etc. I would simply like to add one more idea possibly contributing to this film’s long and meaningful life. It is simply that the film provided superb entertainment which could be understood and appreciated on many different levels ranging from early adolescence to mature adulthood.

  • ROBERT

    I really enjoy Movie Fanfare and the readers’ comments.

  • zrdb

    This is easily one of my favorite science fiction classiscs from the 50′s-my others would have to be Forbidden Planet, This Island Earth, The Conquest Of Space, Rocketship XM, War Of The Worlds.

  • uncle gibby

    “The Day the Earth Stood Still” is absolutely one of the best sci-fi movies ever made. I was sooooooooo… disappointed in the remake. What was up with what occurred with Gort in the most recent version. It’s almost like they had an idea in the first 15 minutes and then, they completely lost their minds. I was really looking forward to the remake but I should have realized after the “War of the Worlds” and “Invaders from Mars” remakes, they’d mess this one up as well. “The Thing” remake may have been the only one to rival the original.

  • David in LA

    The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) is simply one of the best films ever made. Excellent cast, script, direction and production values. Bernard Hermann’s score adds incredible impact. When I watch this movie, I can still remember the excitment I experienced when I first saw it as a kid. Watch for Francis Bavier (aka “Aunt Bea” from The Andy Griffith Show) in the scenes at the boarding house. And Klaatu’s saucer flew into a couple of episodes of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (the remake of this movie was not quite as good as an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea).

  • Andrew

    Have to agree. Bernard Hermann’s score adds to the suspense of “The Day the Earth Stood Still”.
    He went on to do the haunting scores for Hitchcock’s “Psycho” and “Vertigo”.

  • Dave Manning

    A brief story for you movie buffs. My wfe is a green card Russian who also loves movies but is quite selective in what she likes. Guess which is is in the top five for her? Yep! The simple but effective story line, the solid performances of the principals and just a well done film have won her over so that this is one of the few films she likes to see over again. From the day it ame out until now I have seen it at least 20 times and always enjoy it. Why not watch it tonight!

  • Jim

    Does anyone have the Blu-ray of TDTESS? If so, it is worth replacing our standard DVD for?

  • Wes R

    I don’t know what’s up with Larry Harmon buying the Gort motionless robot, but I do know that any fan of the movie could see the figure up-close and personal if they lived in Hollywood or the Valley. The stand-alone “statue” of Gort stood for many years in the entrance to Harry’s Camera in Studio City in the San Fernando Valley, LA. My partners and I bought Harry’s in 1985 and wanted to keep the figure but the owner (Gort was on loan for storage purposes) decided to put him in more traditional storage. The owner, a film director and writer, had other science fiction props, such as Robbie the Robot. All and all a great picture with lots of significant details. Let’s face-it, some of the special effects are pretty corny but we were not so sophisticated back in 1951. A film you look at again and again.

  • tony payne

    A message to Mike. Was one of the films The Incredible Shrinking Man? The trick photography is ingenious for its age and the scene where the minute Grant Williams fights the giant spider with a needle is awesome.

  • Bob Van

    Hi,

    Without telling you how or why I know this, I’ve been informed by someone “important” that the CIA backed this 1951 film financially, just to see if the public “got the message” of the parallel (life)story of Jesus within its plot. They didn’t ‘get it’ but loved the movie nonetheless..it ranks right up there, still, with “Close Encounters” for truth.
    Bob Van
    UFO researcher, 1993-

  • stuart

    No one has mentioned Klaatu’s closing speech (delivered from the dais of the spaceship) to the “greatest minds” on the planet. It is comparable in eloquence to the Gettysburg Address and Edmund North should be commended for this excellent piece of writing

    • hypatiab7

      It was patterned on Jesus’ speech on the mountain or whatever it was called. The
      whole movie was based on the JC myth. I just ignore that when I watch it.

      • Tom K.

        @ hypatiab7 : Jesus Christ is not a myth. Jesus is the savior of this evil world. Christ has died – Christ is risen – Christ will come again.

        • hypatiab7

          I was giving my opinion, not yours. I stand by mine.

  • Jay Stephens

    A small bit of Sci-Fi TV/movie trvia, the theme music for this movie was also used in the never aired pilot for Lost In Space, while the well known theme song was added by the time the show aired and Dr Smith had been added.

    • hypatiab7

      I think the music was also used in the sf movie “From the Earth to the Moon”.

  • Blair Kramer

    The CIA financially backed THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL? What nonsense! Some people will believe anything! If you read the CIA charter you will find that it was and is not involved in private enterprise in any way, domestic or foreign. Moreover, despite the beliefs of current novelists and Hollywood screenwriters, the CIA does not try to kill its own active or inactive agents, nor does the army try to kill AWOL defectors (as was once alleged by CNN). I know that a lot of people take that kind of idiocy seriously, but it’s just plain stupid! Here are the facts: In an effort to counter rampant communist activity in Hollywood during the 1950′s, the government funded a front group of conservative writers who published a politically conservative magazine. However, when the mainstream press discovered the group’s source of funding, the magazine folded and the group disbanded. That’s it. End of story. THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL was just one of the 20th Century Fox studio productions among the many of its day.

  • Elizabeth Parker

    I Love this movie. The remake was terribe. Nothing like the orignal. No remake is going to ever be better than the first!!!!

  • Laurie

    I remember The Day The Earth Stood Still with Michael Rennie, War of the Worlds with Gene Barry, Them with James Arness, and The Blob with Steve McQueen. All were great Sci-fi movies. I still enjoy watching them even now. My kids grew up with these movies and now with The Day the Earth Stood Still, War of the Worlds, and The Blob all having been remade with great special effects, my kids still prefer the original movies.

  • don snyder

    I have been in the movie business for 60 years and the firsy major sci-fi I played was “Destination Moon” produced by George Pal. It made a great impression on me and a big fan of Mr. Pal. Then in 1951 RKO and Howard Hawks released “The Thing.” From then on it was one great sci-fi after another. “War Of The Worlds,” “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” When Worlds Collide,” “Conquest Of Space,” “Them.” Now
    Hollywood is remaking all of these masterpieces
    except “Destination Moon” and none of them come even close to the originals. Now they are remaking “When Worlds Collide.” When will it stop?

    • Tom K.

      @ don snyder: The re-makes will stop when people don’t go to the theater and lay down their hard earned money for those ” counterfeit ” (sp) attempts at movie making. Search out and buy the Original !

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  • Frank Guerrasio

    I am currently playing “The Brain From Planet X” in a stage show, and I have to say: “Klaatu nikto barada”, and another character says” “That’s klaatu barada nikto !!!”

  • frank

    One of my all time favorites. I’m 58 and have seen it about 20 times since i was scared to death by Gort when i was a child.
    Another classic that I can watch over and over is the original The Thing, with its cheezy effects it’s far superior than the excellent remake with Kurt Russell

  • frank

    some more pretty good ones are Target Earth and Earth vs the Flying Saucers.

    Does anyone remember Terror From The Year 5000?
    I saw in the theater when I was pretty young.
    It may have been a crappy movie.. I don’t know but it scared the hell out of me !

    • Bruce Reber

      I have the DVD of TFTY5K, and yes it’s not that good (as are most 50′s B sci-fi movies), but it has a few frights to it.

  • Eddie Stair

    I agree with all the postings saying that this movie was exceptional. And yes, Michael Rennie was perfectly cast as Klaatu. Film makers could use this incredible film as a training aid. Everything from soundtrack to visuals was fantastic. One of the things that I think added a sort of realism to the film was the use of real and nationally known TV and radio personalities doing what they did every day. A timeless sci-fi film that I never tire of watching.

  • GAYLE

    What fascinated me was the explanation of how the sound effects were done on this movie: who would’ve thought that opening a mayonnaise jar in a toilet bowl would be such a spooky sound when the saucer opened to let the aliens out of it?? Ingenious!!

  • Ron Jameson

    Re: “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. I’ve always regarded “Silent Running” as another classic with a message.

  • Richard Lind

    I first saw the movie (with Michael Rennie) many years ago when it appeared on NBC’s “Saturday Night At The Movies”. Back then it was traditional to go to the movies on that night. Perhaps it was indigative of my “inquiring” mind that I enjoyed Science Fiction. My ex-wife thought “Science Fiction” was all like the Sunday morning movie “The Giant Worm that Ate Chicago.” I’m happy to say while we were together, she came to appreciate “good ” Science Fiction” like “Star Trek” and others…many we enjoyed together. The movie “Day the Earth Stood Still” was just that…enjoyable..good science fiction with its share of cliches..yes, but still enjoyable. Like some people say..too bad that they “don’t make them like that anymore.”

  • Jpastore

    I love this movie. To think I did actually see part of the film at the movies back in 1951. My cousin was babysitting and took me with her to the neighbohood movie house. It was just as Gort was coming out of the ship that my mother stormed down the aisle and not being a happy camper for my being out so late ( I was 3) picked me up and left the movie. It took me 10 years before I got to see the whole thing on TV!

  • E. Murray

    I love this movie so much I own two copies of it! It is the best Sci Fi movie made and watching it never gets old. I also enjoyed the movie score I was glad I found it on I Tunes.The film studio that produce the “new version” could have save themselves some $$$ because the orginal will never get old!

  • Marko

    AMC had a 60th anniversary showing of The Day the Earth Stood Still on Friday, January 7th. My partner and I watched with the same fascination as when we were kids, still mesmerized by the story, cast, music and message. It ranks with Close Encounters as one of the greatest sci-fi films ever made.

  • SONNY LACHNER

    I FEEL I NEED TO COMMENT ON ONE OF THE GREATEST SCI-FI MOVIES EVER MADE OF COURSE THAT BEING ” THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL” MICHAEL RENNIE WAS A GREAT CHOICE TO PLAY KLATU THE ALIEN FROM ANOTHER PLANET…HIS VERY DISTINQUISED VOICE AS NARRATOR ON MANY 20TH CENTURY FOX MOVIES WERE A REAL ASSET TO MANY OF THE CLASSIC FILMS OF THEIR DAY….ANOTHER MOVIE THAT WAS GREAT WAS “CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND” OF WHICH IN 2008 I HAD THE GREAT PLEASURE OF MEETING ITS STAR AND TALKING TO HIM FOR OVER HALF AN HOUR HE BEING RICHARD DREYFUS…HE SIGNED HIS NAME TO A DVD OF THAT MOVIE FOR ME AND ALSO MY COPY OF ANOTHER GREAT CLASSIC “JAWS”… THAT HE APPEARED IN…HE ALSO AGREED WITH ME ABOUT THE ORIGINAL QUOTE “WATCH THE SKIES …KEEP LOOKING ETC. THAT OF COURSE BEING THE ORIGINAL “THE THING” THAT GAVE US A GREAT ACTOR WHO BECAME MARSHAL MATT DILLON OF GUN SMOKE FAME…HE BEING JAMES ARNESS…JIM IS 87 YEARS OLD NOW… RICHARD POSED WITH ME FOR A FEW PHOTOS THAT I HAVE, IT WAS A GREAT PLEASURE MEETING HIM…AND I CONGRATULATED HIM FOR HIS OSCAR FOR “THE GOODBYE GIRL ” THAT HE RECEIVED IN 1977…. OVER THE YEARS ESPECIALLY DURING MY MILITARY YEARS I HAVE MET MANY GREAT STARS OF THE SILVER SCREEN…SO MANY ARE GONE NOW, BUT THE WORK THEY LEFT BEHIND THEM ARE GREAT TO LOOK AT IF YOU HAVE A HUGE DVD COLLECTION THAT YOU CAN WATCH AT YOUR LEISURE…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000096018904 Sparrowlord01

    The original DTESS is among my top 5 movie favorites. I almost cried when I saw what they did to it in the remake. Someone needs to get these idiot producers to stop ruining these classic flicks by “re-imagining” them. So far DTESS and War of the Worlds have been hammered into some ridiculous flick to give a has been actor a break. I am afraid to see what they have planned for Forbidden Planet…

  • Kae Upton

    I remember still when I was small and this movie was being shown on TV. My mother was afraid it would be to scary for me and sent me upstairs to watch the other tv so that she and my older sister could watch it. Of course, I watched the movie and would turn the channel over if I heard one of them coming up the steps. Of course back then had to “turn” channel manually and I became quite good at mastering doing it so that the ‘clicking’ was almost nonexistant! As I got older, the true message became clearer and when he Klaatu said he would like to meet Lincoln and that he gave him hope that Earth could be saved as well as his speech at the end had me almost in tears.

    The remake made the mistake (as many remakes do) of trying to change events and important dialogue and in this movie particularly, the message that Peace can not be found by wielding War. In the loss of that profound messge, the movie did not have a chance and was a major flop.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Dunbar/100002480358318 John Dunbar

      Right on ! And typically the remake is a trashy bit of movie special effects that omits all the merits of the original; great story, great acting. thought provoking plot, mood, music etc. Oh, for the good old days of movie making.

    • Tom K.

      I refuse to watch remake movies from today’s corrupt Hollywood. They remake movies because they can not come up with any great writing or original ideas; plus they embrace Political Correctness, which is a complete lie and is Anti-Freedom. Thank goodness for T.C.M. and Movie Fanfare, where we can freely watch what we wish.

  • JohnCougar’sMelonCamp

    “Save the Cheerleader”??

  • Doriano Pulpito

    Yes this is a good film and Michael Rennie is good too.
    But I prefer the Earth vs Flying Saucers.

    thank you

  • Michelle Malkin

    Doriano Pulpito: Then you totally missed the message in TDtESS and are going for the violence in EVtFS.

  • http://www.facebook.com/whatever41 Cynthia LaRochelle

    OK, I GIVE UP,,WHAT DOES “Klaatu nikto barada”, TRANSLATE TO????? I LOVED THAT FILM.

  • http://www.moviesunlimited.com Gary Cahall

    It’s never specified what “Klaatu barada nikto” means in English, Cynthia. I’ve always thought it was a command along the lines of “You (Gort) retrieve and revive Klaatu”. This, of course, assumes that the grammar of Klaatu’s homeworld’s language is arranged like Latin.

  • Pingback: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) | Old Old Films

  • jhagen1022

    GORT MARIADA NICKTO(not sure of the spelling) but you get the idea. This movie is one of my all time favorits even better than the remake. Today may have better special effects but All I know when this move came out i was scared. This movie is in my collection 1 of 350 DVDs from mostly the 1950 60s and 70s

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Dunbar/100002480358318 John Dunbar

    This incredible film reminds us of what American Culture was like then. It made an intelligent film with a `seat gripping’ story line; it did it with a great cast – who else but Michael Rennie could portray a man from a vastly advanced culture to our own; Gort is absolutely the most perfect robot in history – look at the logic of his design compared to the silly human like robots in modern movies; and the special effects are still credible even after 60 years. The `message’ of the movie could not help but stimulate thinking about the logic of the time of nuclear deterrent. If there’s one film to take to a dessert island it’s this one.

  • Rocco

    Even though this film was made a year before I was born, as a lifelong science fiction aficionado, (especially of 1950′s films), it is tied with Forbidden Planet as my favorite movie of all time.

  • cinemadad

    One of the greatest sci-fi movie ever made. I know some individuals who won’t dare watch it because it was made in black/white. Their lost!

    • Tom K.

      @ cinemadad: The ” snobs ” that won’t watch B&W movies are clueless. There are many great movie productions in B&W: ” It Happened One Night “- 1958; the British made movie about the Titanic disaster which is far better than the latest Hollywood attempt. My friend’s two young daughters didn’t want to watch ” The Wizard of Oz ” – 1939; because it starts off in Black and White. He made them sit still and hush. Once they got to ” Oz “, they sat still and just loved it.

  • FreddyK

    I’ve always been puzzled that everyone says Klaatu’s message is about global peace. It’s not. It is simply a warning not to carry Earth conflicts into the cosmic community and disrupt their peace, or the Earth will be destroyed by the robot police force, represented here by by Gort. Earth is then offered a chance to join this community. We will be waiting for your reply.
    The famous phrase ” Gort, Klaatu barada nikto” translates roughly as: the doorman will give you a cigarette. An “in” joke on the fact Gort was played by the doorman of the Chinese theatre

  • van42

    When I bought ny first VCR (that was a long time ago, it was an RCA VCR-01) I had a chance to get two “free” movies with it (it costs $1200) … Guess what one of the movies was… That’s right, “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” it was a classic SF film as far as I was concerned.. and the other one? “Modern Times” with Charles Chaplin, the first movie to use synchronized sound, where they sent a record along with the silent film, which the theatre played while showing the movie… Both black and white films! When I had the choices of many colour ones… Oh, and “Klaatu Barata Nikto?” It was in a variation of Esperanto, which was one of those experimental “invented” languages that the SF crowd was interested in at the time… It simply means, “Klaatu is Dying” (preparing for death – Barata = prepare or get ready, nikto=death).

  • JD

    “The Day the Earth Stood Still” is by far the most intelligent and literate Science-Fiction film ever made and I’m certain it will remain so forever. The only fault I can find with it is that it isn’t a true story. If it were we would very likely have everlasting world peace within 24 hours. In 1963 on the original “The Outer Limits” TV series there was an episode (one of their best) entitled “The Architects of Fear” starring Robert Culp and Geraldine Brooks. The premise was similar to Earth Stood Still,” The government attempts to bring world peace by creating a common enemy (an alien) to unite the world. Predictably, it fails but is very much worth seeing. How I wish they would try for real and succeed. Then we could all sit back, relax and live the good life. The recent remake of “Still.” is not even worth a discussion. apparently (according to one of the comments) some feeble-minded persons won’t watch the original because it’s not in color. How very sad and indicative of our diminishing intellect. This is the type of thinking Gort was sent to fix.

    The only other Sci-Fi film I can think of that has an intelligent and literate premise is Forbidden Planet but despite the glitz and production values it’s not in the same league. It’s just too Hollywood with sappy comedy-relied and just too gooey in spots to be taken seriously but it is still a must-see.” . The basic premise is brilliant, very Freudian and certainly original for the genre and was totally over the heads of my colleagues when we saw it in 1955 while on the road in Cincinnati.

    I’ve neglected to mention the other greatest Sci-Fi film of all-time which is right up there with the original “Earth stood Still” and may even be superior in some respects-the original “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1955, Kevin McCarthy & Dana Wynter). It too is in b & w and is a must-see if ever there was one. Originally intended as a “B” picture it turned out to be a true classic. Miss it at your own risk.

  • frogsitter

    By far “The Day the Earth Stood Still” is one of a couple of my very favorite movies, along with “The Lost World”, with Michael Rennie and David ‘Al’ Hedison. Love those guys. I belonged to their fan clubs, way back when…

  • Ingauto

    Absolutely the best sci fi ever in spite of some slightly less than perfect acting. The plot, the message, the effects (like Gort’s “laser” beam and that disappearing door and ramp on the space ship), the consummately stoic Gort himself, Sam Gaffe’s flawless professor, not to mention the genius of casting tall and gaunt Michael Rennie: altogether an assemblage of elements of a caliber and visionary quality not likely to be repeated. “Classic” does not do it justice; it is a benchmark that any aspiring filmmaker would do well to study with reverence.

    • Frank

      Would be interested to hear your candidates for the “slightly less than perfect” actors. Certainly not Patrica Neal, or Hugh Marlowe as her creepy boyfriend. Sam Jaffe is, indeed, flawless as usual (see: “The Asphalt Jungle”).

  • oldcowpoke

    It is virtually perfect in every sense, casting, pacing, effects, score, a timeless message and yet very entertaining. One of only a few movies that that can be said for. As many others here, I cherish this movie.

  • Cougar

    I never thought of thr religious undercurrents,very good. I just enjoyed the movie for what it was, now there’s something new to be reconize the next time I watch it!!

  • Croonerman

    This is one of my all time favorite movies!-When I first saw Gort walking down the ramp from
    that space ship, I got goose bumps all over, wow!–And when Mr. Carpenter tells the Professor that
    Gort could destroy the whole world, boy that’ll make you jump and think twice. –Ha!

  • classicsforever

    I believe this to be the best sci-fi movie of all time. Black and white. Very simple story. Not a lot of action. A rather plain robot. No monsters. Yet, this film holds the interest of the viewer because everything is done so well and it has just the right amount of suspense. Excellent.

  • Les

    Forbidden planet and The Day the Earth Stood Still One of the best two sci-fi movie of all time. I watch them two to three times a year.