The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)


THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951) One of the undisputed greats, and for good reason. Made way before the cheapie, b-movie aesthetic that drove movie-making for the teenage drive-in crowd, The Day The Earth Stood Still was an intelligent look at what might happen if a spaceship landed on earth – and its occupant was hiding among us. Of course, being set in the late 40s/early 50s, it’s all quite quaint these days (only a few thousand people show up to gawk at the spaceship), and there are plenty of plot holes (like a giant robot creeping around the metro at night without notice). But the dialog and interplay, not to mention the tangible suspense, is both smart and engaging – aided immeasurably by the brilliant, groundbreaking score by Bernard Herrmann. All while simultaneously capturing the post-war paranoia with a quiet, fearful intensity (epitomized by the glory hound desires of b-movie great, Hugh Marlow). I personally love the realistic dialog with the State Department go-between when discussing the politics of Earth, and the flummoxed doctors who suddenly feel like, as one says, a “third-class witch doctor.” Then there’s the gorgeous Patricia Neal, whose eyes convey nuanced emotions throughout every scene – especially her priceless expression when she’s trapped in an elevator with the person she begins to deduce is the “alien.” Dialog alert: “Sit down, please. There are several thousand questions I’d like to ask you.” Herrmann’s essential score is available in the archives HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

2 Comments

  • 1
    steVe
    September 28, 2012 - 23:48 | Permalink

    One of my favorite films and better than the remake.
    AND co-starring Aunt Bee before she moved to Mayberry.

  • 2
    Willard
    September 28, 2012 - 23:57 | Permalink

    I’ve never been able to watch the remake a second time. The original, whenever it’s on, I can’t stop watching. Yeah… Bee’s at the table in the file’s freeze frame.

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