Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Day the Earth Stood Still

TCM is running a night of science fiction movies about alien visitors tonight. Most of them are decidedly B movies, but there's also The Day the Earth Stood Still, at 11:00 PM.

This is one of those movies that, on the surface, there's not a whole lot to. Michael Rennie plays Klaatu, an alien from another planet. His race is far more advanced than us earthlings, and apparently the denizens of his planet have decided to warn us on Earth that if we keep going the way we're going, we're going to seal our own destruction. So he's come to the planet to do just that.

Of course, the earthlings react in a totally understandable way. They have no idea who the heck he is, and see him as somewhat of a threat, since he landed right in the middle of Washington DC in a spaceship! They try to shoot him, leading him to effect his own escape from a hospital room. He winds up liing in an apartment house next to Helen Benson (Patricia Neal), a widow with a young son (Billy Gray), and a new suitor (Hugh Marlow) pursuing her. Klaatu, going under the alias Carpenter, still wants to warn the earth about the problems they face. But will the governments of earth let him?

That's pretty much all there is to the story, but this is one that rises to a high level. I think it's for the same reasons as I've given regarding Village of the Damned. Both of them have relatively little in the way of special effects; although The Day the Earth Stood Still certainly has more than Village of the Damned, it's still a lot less than the CGI-dominated movies of today. They've even got less than many of the Ray Harryhausen films of the 1950s. Instead, The Day the Earth Stood Still is a movie that relies on that story and presents it very well in a thought-provoking way. Of course, most science fiction even for the rest of the 50s and 60s didn't have the sort of star power that this one does in Patricia Neal. That, too, gives it a serious heft that other scifi of the 50s didn't have at all.

If you haven't seen The Day the Earth Stood Still before, do yourself a favor and watch it.

No comments: