The Day the Earth Stood Still

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Robert Wise (1951)

U Certificate


Our Score
The sight of a flying saucer hovering over Washington in 1951 would have confirmed the fears of many Americans that the end was nigh. But, coming just four months after Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks had unleashed The Thing from Another World upon a petrified Cold War public, director Robert Wise's sci-fi classic was actually a welcome sign of hope that we might not be going up in flames after all. Based on Harry Bates's short story Farewell to the Master, this was also a bold attempt to increase the genre's credibility. From Bernard Herrmann's otherworldly score to Lyle Wheeler and Addison Hehr's deceptively simple designs, The Day the Earth Stood Still has had an incalculable influence on big-screen science-fiction. For all its philosophical solemnity and heavy-handed religious symbolism, Edmund H North's script deftly pokes fun at the Red-baiters who had done so much to foster the nuclear scare, while his notion that children accept without question what grown-ups are too cynical to see has continued to resurface throughout the blockbuster era, notably in those Spielberg landmarks Close Encounters of the Third Kind and ET. Wise slickly blends the docudramatic and the melodramatic without ever lapsing into pomposity or hysteria. Michael Rennie is a revelation as Klaatu, exuding dignity, sympathy and authority in a role that was originally intended for Spencer Tracy. Less successful, however, is Lock Martin, who plays giant robot Gort. He couldn't help the fact that his "solid metal suit" creased when he walked, but he might have made a better job of remaining stationary - especially bearing in mind the film's title.


An alien ambassador lands his spaceship in America and warns humanity that Earth risks imminent destruction by an interplanetary alliance unless it abandons its warlike ways - and is promptly shot by the military. The wounded visitor is forced to live among humans, but his powerful robot servant is poised to punish mankind for its aggression. Sci-fi drama, with Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal and Hugh Marlowe.

Cast & Crew

Klaatu Michael Rennie
Helen Benson Patricia Neal
Tom Stevens Hugh Marlowe
Dr Barnhardt Sam Jaffe
Bobby Benson Billy Gray
Mrs Barley Frances Bavier
Gort Lock Martin
Drew Pearson Drew Pearson
Harley Frank Conroy
Colonel Carleton Young
Director Robert Wise
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Other Information

Language: EnglishBlack and whiteTheatrical distributor: 20th Century Fox Film Co. LtdAvailable on: video, DVD and Blu-ray