Michael Rennie was ill the day the earth stood still
But he told us where we stand …
If you have ever seen the movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS) you are probably are familiar with lyric above. One day a friend and I were discussing Rocky Horror and somehow the idea sprang to watch all the movies in the song Science Fiction Double Feature from the RHPS soundtrack. Going through it I realized I had seen some but not all of them; a few I hadn’t even heard of except as a line to the song. So like with most things slightly abnormal, challenge accepted.
So I had seen The Day the Earth Stood Still before, several times, mostly. I would always catch it late night on TV but I’d either miss the beginning or fade out somewhere near the end. It took me several viewings before I made the connection between it Army of Darkness. Here is the scene in that movie to refresh your memory.
But there is more to this movie than some freaky alien words. At the core this picture is a morality play. Klaatu (Michael Rennie) is an alien who has traveled 250 million miles (that’s really far) to Earth, specifically Washington, D.C. , with his robot Gort (Lock Martin) on a mission of introduction and warning. It is post World War II and the cold war is just starting to warm up. Earth apparently has been observed by the rest of the universe for a while. And now with our heightened violence, basically the atomic bomb, we have become potentially dangerous to other worlds. Klaatu is sent to reason with us, and if that is not possible, the earth will be destroyed.
Now 50’s Sci-Fi movies are generally poorly acted b-grade camp. But I think The Day the Earth Stood Still is different. It reminded me of some of the episodes of The Twilight Zone that made it hard for me to sleep as a kid. Sure if you compare it to today’s movie standards, it’s a little cheesy in parts but the overall message and script is good when you compare it to it’s contemporaries.