“Klaatu barada nikto!” How could I not follow up Tuesday’s movie with “The Day The Earth Stood Still”? Not the terrible Keanu Reeves remake, but the classic original starring Michael Rennie and featuring the amazingly scary robot Gort.
When I was a kid I watched all the original Universal monster / horror movies. They used to get shown on TV on a Saturday night. Bela Lugosi’s “Dracula”, Lon Chaney Jr’s “The Wolf Man”, “The Creature From the Black Lagoon”, Boris Karloff’s “Frankenstein”, “The Mummy” etc. I loved all of them. I knew they were just movies.
But this movie gave me nightmares. It definitely had something to do with growing up in the late 70s and early 80s with the threat of nuclear war hanging over everyone. It’s about an alien coming to Earth (protected by a massive, deadly robot) to bring a message of world peace. Of course, the first thing we do is shoot him.
It’s directed by the great Robert Wise (who also did “West Side Story” and “The Sound of Music” – go figure!). The screenplay is by Oscar winner Edmund H. North, based on a pulp fiction short story. And it has a great score by Bernard Herrmann (who was also Hitchcock’s composer of choice). It’s yet another film on this list that’s been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
Unfortunately I can’t find it available for streaming anywhere. But there are clips on YouTube and if you can hunt it out, it’s a classic.