THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951)

Posted in THE LUNCH MOVIE CHRONICLES: The original e-mail announcements that were sent through our office the evening before we rolled a Lunch Movie on August 19th, 2009 by Jim Delaney


From Wednesday, August 8, 2008 in 8North

Directed by Robert Wise, produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, starring Michael Rennie, Patrica Neal and Lock Martin, and featuring a score by Bernard Herrmann.

A flying saucer lands on the Mall in Washington D.C. and is immediately surrounded by soldiers and heavy artillery.  An alien ambassador named Klaatu emerges, wishing to speak to all the governments of Earth, but refusing to cooperate with any single government.  Klaatu becomes wounded and flees the capitol, hiding out with a suburban family as global paranoia erupts over his whereabouts and intentions.  Who is he?  What does he want?  And what did he leave behind in that flyin’ saucer when he fled?

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL plays a little dry and dated by today’s standards, but it was audacious and profound for its time.  The United Nations had only existed for 5 years.  Man’s ability to annihilate the Earth at the push of a button had been in an escalating race since 1945.  The U.S. War Department, engaged at that moment in the Korean War, refused to cooperate with a movie about peace ’cause it seemed unpatriotic.  Zanuck and Wise had to borrow tanks and other military equipment from the Virginia National Guard.

It’ll finish Thursday.  Love, Jim

AFTER THOUGHT from 8.19.09
We rolled this in anticipation of the December 2008 remake. In hindsight, and at the risk of sounding cliche, I greatly prefer the original. In this quieter story, I believed Klaatu had the power to both destroy and save humanity. The remake does not rely on giving you that faith in Klaatu — it simply shows his race’s strength to you, which sorta undermines his whole mission.

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