For science-fiction celluloid fare it is hard to beat this Robert Wise directed masterpiece from back in 1951, I missed its original theatrical run…by twenty-one years…but after a TBS Sunday afternoon viewing in my youth, I became an absolute fan. Everything about this movie clicks. Michael Rennie has an almost fatherly vibe as Klaatu, the peaceful messenger from the stars. Peaceful he may be but he has arrived to deliver a pretty stern warning as well…one that I used in my monologue test in High-School drama. Of course anyone who has had the pleasure of watching this film will remember the presence of his robotic companion, Gort, and the incredibly tense scene between the automaton and actress Patricia Neal towards the end of the film.
Supposedly Michael Rennie wasn’t the first choice for the intergalactic messenger, Claude Rains and Spencer Tracy both were approached for the role. Each of those actors would have been a fine choice, but I’m glad that the Fates decided to let Rennie have the part.
When speaking of the film, I just cannot heap enough praise on Bernard Herrmann’s excellent score, using two theremin instruments. His work creates an almost instantly recognizable work of art, check out the wordless opening provided below to see what I mean.