The Day the Earth Stood Still (review by Doug Smith)
When one thinks of science fiction, the first thing that springs to mind is nerdy, pimply-faced, thick-glasses-wearing, greasy losers who have no chance whatsoever with members of the opposite sex. Or, they think of this little movie. “The Day the Earth Stood Still” is arguably the film which pretty much kicked off the whole cheesy science fiction invasion of the fifties. The plot is simple enough. An alien lands on earth and gives them a warning to stop using nukes. I think this is what ALF tried to do, but then he got sidetracked by all the yummy cats.
The movie starts right off with the military picking up a UFO with their economy size DSS mini-dish, and they promptly inform the news outlets. News reporters almost immediately start feeding the latest dish to the public, all the way from Calcutta, with a long faced, hand-gesturing (even though he’s on the radio) guy, to England to America, where Orville Redenbacher has apparently given up his massive popcorn empire to do radio news.
It isn’t too long before the UFO appears in the skies of Washington and lands in a nearby baseball field, just as you’re beginning to think it’s actually a giant condom for the Washington Monument. Hey, it has a reservoir tip, so it’s easy to be mistaken. The masses gather around it instantaneously, while a pudgy guy in suspenders acts as Paul Revere and runs … well, more like waddles quickly … through the streets, alerting everyone that it landed. He must be important, ’cause even the army listens to him. Eventually, television crews arrive, and some guy in a Dick Tracy hat gets on the television with a live report.
Once the alien inside the vessel is aware he’s on TV, he comes out and takes out some kind of shiny thing and promptly gets shot. Ah, the nature of man. If we don’t understand it, kill it! Luckily for the alien, it’s just a flesh wound. Unluckily for mankind, the alien’s pet robot comes out all menacing-like and zaps the army’s guns and tanks with a ray that sounds like something from a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. Listen … you can hear an entire nation wetting itself. Thankfully, the wounded alien brings the robot under control.
Klaatu (the alien … duh) gets taken to the hospital, where he tells a representative of the president that he wants to gather all the representatives from all the countries in the world to tell them to stop using nuclear weapons. Remember? I told you about that in the first paragraph. The representative pretty much laughs at him.
After a few days of being poked and prodded by doctors, he gets a little tired of being locked up in the hospital and escapes. Sure, they can anal probe us, but the minute we start giving ’em a dose of their own medicine, they turn tail and run. Anyway, only the army wets itself this time, and that’s really not too unusual for them. Klaatu becomes a wanderer, like Big Stupid and Danny (only a few people will get that one), and happens across a nice family and invites himself in. Aunt Bea lives there, too! At any rate, they give him a room and he promptly makes himself to home and, like pretty much all movies from the fifties, our hero turns into an annoying young boy’s role model.
I guess I’ll have to give in and agree with most everyone else and say that this truly is a fine example of science fiction. Obviously, there’s some cheesy moments and it’s rather easy to make fun of, but it generally doesn’t give you that, “What the hell were they thinking?!” thought. 4 ½ yaks.