Trailer Tuesday: The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

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.


Editor at Retroist
Searching through the alleys for useful knowledge in the city of Nostalgia. Huge cinema fanatic and sometimes carrier of the flame for the weirding ways of 80s gaming, toys, and television. When his wife lets him he is quite happy sitting in the corner eating buckets of beef jerky.

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3 thoughts on “Trailer Tuesday: The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

  1. This movie is one of the greats. I have watched it so many times. Best viewing was an outdoor screen in a park I went to in the 1990s. Warm summer night near the Hudson River — sound was awful, but the food was great and the breeze was amazing.

  2. Atari Adventure Square says:

    This sci-fi movie is the seminal Earth meets Aliens movie.
    Story-wise, it addresses all aspects of first contact in a very realistic way.

    The story, music and actors are outstanding. But Gort is just about the best thing to ever have landed on Earth.
    We’d have a much more peaceful planet with him around.

  3. Richard says:

    Very LOOSELY based on a story by Harry Bates called “His Master’s Voice.”

    I agree that casting Michael Rennie was a very lucky stroke by the producer.
    Claude Rains and Spencer Tracy were both too well known and established for this type of roll. You needed a new face with an air of style.

    Unfortunately they forgot all about that in the “remake” and paid the price.

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