The Day the Earth Stood Still

(A rambling film review for the 3rd day of January because the first week of the year always feels like the earth is standing still. Also, I’m working on new material but it won’t be ready for a few weeks).

1951 black and white Sci-Fi classic. Recollected in 941 words (approx). Musical score: Someone playing a saw.

Point of View: Something in the sky looking down on the glittering ocean through a break in the clouds.

A room. A table. A group of soldiers standing around map with pushie-slidie poles. “Bogie at 400 miles an hour.”

Calcutta radio. French radio. BBC, “large UFO.”

Radio announcer Elmer Davis drawls the news.

Everyone is listening and a sign for 25cent children’s haircuts.

“Anxiety. Concern. No signs of panic.”

Flying Saucer like a hard-boiled egg over the White House. Touchdown in a baseball field.

Army! Tanks! Police! Big. Silver. Spaceship.

News report. “Every eye, every weapon is trained on the ship.”

Spaceship door opens. Here comes Klaatu in size zero spangled spacesuit and helmet.

“We have come to visit in peace with good will.”

Tanks. Soldiers pull weapons. Klaatu holds out device/like spiked outdoor solar light.

One gun shot to Klaatu’s shoulder. Solar light/wrecked.

Chunky robot Gort in ill-fitting silver belted suit. Visor opens where Gort’s eyes should be.

Four disintegration ray blasts. No more guns. No more weapons.

Klaatu says something in spaceman language that sounds like Roscoe.

Then, “this was a gift for your President. With this he could have studied life on other planets.”

Now, Klaatu in hospital. Wants to meet representatives of all nations to impart important message.

Secretary to President Mr. Harley, paranoid about evil forces.

Klaatu disses petty squabbles because the future of the planet is at stake.

Chain smoking doctors baffled by Klaatu’s amazing physical state. They lock Klaatu in his room. However…“Captain, the man from the spaceship got away.”

Klaatu (alias ‘Mr. Carpenter’) finds room for rent.

News has everyone living in the house afraid.

But not Bobby or mom Helen.

Lots of smoking.

Bobby with a bad quiff/high-pitched voice, to ‘Mr. Carpenter’, “are you with the FBI? I’ll bet you’re with the FBI”.

Following morning. Breakfast.

Radio reports, “monster must be tracked down. Menace from another world.”

George. “Why can’t the government do something?”

Nameless guy. “They’re only people.”

George. “People my foot. They’re democrats.”

Implications.

‘Mr. Carpenter’ and Bobby go out for the day. Two diamonds (spaceman currency) for two dollars. Abe Lincoln statue. Patriotic music. ‘Mr Carpenter’ likes Abe. Bobby, “I like you Mr. Carpenter. You’re a real screwball.”

Visit to spaceship. Interviewer with microphone asks Klaatu, “are you afraid”.

Klaatu is afraid of people acting without reason. Interviewer is afraid of someone with an opinion.

Klaatu enters Professor Barnhart’s study while he is not there. One blackboard containing “problem in celestial mechanics” calculations.

Wrong.

Klaatu corrects wrong.

Housekeeper Hilda not happy.

Government agent Mr. Brady takes Klaatu to meet Professor Barnhart with the Einstein hair.

Big trouble for Earth due to threat to peace and security of Universe due to atomic energy and rockets.

Klaatu insists on meeting “leaders from every field and finest minds” or he can level New York City.

Then something about show of power without hurting anyone.

Subplot. Helen’s BF Tom is jealous.

Nighttime. Klaatu leaves house. Bobby follows.

Spaceship. Gort. Flashlight signal. Gort turns.

One disintegration ray. Two pieces of soldier toast.

Klaatu to Gort. “Gort berenga.”

Saw music and inside of ship like art-deco painting.

Klaatu speaks to light on the wall.

Bobby rats on Klaatu. JealousTom finds diamond = Klaatu/crook.

Klaatu and Helen in an elevator as the world stands still for 30 minutes because Klaatu neutralized the electricity (except hospitals and planes in flight).

Professor Barnhart asks Hilda “does all of this frighten you Hilda? Does it make you feel insecure?”

Hilda. “Yes. It does.”

Barnhart. “That’s good Hilda. I’m glad.”

State of National Emergency.

Gort is immobilized in a big hunk of KL93/new plastic stronger than steel.

JealousTom will turn Klaatu in. Helen tries to stop JealousTom. JealousTom thinks this will make him a big man and a hero.

Helen won’t marry him now.

JealousTom tells General.

Here come the soldiers and the cops. Helen rushes home.

Here come more soldiers. “Plan Baker. Further orders.”

Helen and Klaatu. Taxi.

Neighborhood kid rats on them.

“Target vehicle ZONE 5.” Closing in.

Klaatu to Helen. “If anything happens to me say this to Gort. Klaatu Barada Nikto.”

A shot. Klaatu falls. Helen runs.

Gort melts KL93.

Back at the spaceship.

Helen/screams/falls as Gort comes towards her. Two “Klaatu Barada Niktos.”

Gort carries her into ship. Looks at light on the wall. Leaves.

Jail cell. Dead Klaatu? Gort.

Back at the spaceship. Gort fixes Klaatu with loud buzzing light.

Helen/Shock. Klaatu was dead and now he’s alive.

All the fine minds have gathered at the ship. Klaatu comes out. Gort comes out. A speech about a small universe and irresponsibility and aggression no longer being tolerated.

“Join us in peace or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer. The decision rests with you.”

Lots of staring. “Gort berenga.”

Klaatu likes Helen. Helen likes Klaatu.

Klaatu leaves without saying goodbye to Bobby.


TRIVIA

Gort was played by actor Lock Martin who was 7’7” tall.

Patricia Neal/Helen was married to Roald Dahl.

An unknown James Dean played one of the army guys.

The phrase “Klaatu barada nikto” was used in several movies including Army of Darkness. In the movie Bruce Campbell stumbled saying, “Klaatu verata-n-necktie-nectar-nickel-noodle.”

Leave a Reply