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The Day the Earth Stood Still
Der Tag an dem die Erde stillstand

USA 1951
produced by
Julian Blaustein for 20th Century Fox
directed by Robert Wise
starring Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe, Billy Gray, Frances Bavier, Lock Martin, H.V.Kaltenborn, Elmer Davis, Drew Pearson, Gabriel Heatter, Frank Conroy, John Brown, Wheaton Chambers, Marjorie Crossland, Edith Evanson, Dorothy Neumann, Tyler McVey, Freeman Lusk, George Lynn, Harlan Warde, Olan Soule
screenplay by Edmund H. North, based on the story Farewell to the Master by Harry Bates, music by Bernard Herrmann

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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An UFO lands in Washington and from it exits an alien in a spacesuit, Klaatu (Michael Rennie) - who beneath his spacesuit looks very human indeed - and his mighty, all-powerful robot Gort (Lock Martin). Klaatu's mission however is peaceful and all he unlitmately wants is to stop war on earth for good lest earth will be blown up by some outer space council. And therefore, he wants to speak to all world leaders.

However, soon enough Klaatu is taken into custody by gouovernment agents who are not all that interested in making peace but all the more interested in getting their hands on Klaatu's advanced technology. Somehow though, Klaatu escapes, goes into hiding, and under the name Carpenter, he takes up residence in Mrs Crockett's (Edith Evanson) boarding house, where he soon makes friends with his neighbour, sinble mum Helen Benson (Patricia Neal) and her young son Bobby (Billy Gray). And with the help of Bobby, Klaatu/Carpenter makes the acquaintance of world renowned scientist Professor Barnhardt (Sam Jaffe), who proves to be more sympatheitic to Klaatu's cause and agrees to gather all world-renonwned scientists at Klaatu's UFO within two days, but first Klaatu has to give a demonstration of his power - and thus Klaatu turns off all the world's electricity - safe for where it's really needed like hospitals and stuff - off for half an hour (the half hour the earth stood still) ... and while the power is off, Klaatu manages to convince Helen - who has since found out that he really is the alien - of the righteousness of his cause.

Helen's boyfriend Tom (Hugh Marlowe) however is not so easily convinced about Klaatu's righteousness, and partly out of pure jealousy, he betrays Klatu to the authorities ... and before long, Klaatu is shot dead, which makes his robot go berserk - but luckily, Klaatu has given Helen the magic formula to turn off the robot's destructive drive and instead make him return his dead master to the UFO and bring him back to life.

Once alive again, Klaatu delivers a compassionate, pacifist speech to the scientists' panel that has meanwhile gathered in front of the UFO, then he flies off and ... the end.

 

By many considered a sci-fi-classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still is really well-directed, well played, it features well-made special effects and the pacifist message it delivers is nothing short of commendable - but underneath it all, one can't help but notice that the film is pure kitsch - and not the fun, campy sort of kitsch everybody tends to love: In The Day the Earth Stood Still everybody is either too good to be true or too bad to be true, the character about the quick-witted little boy who helps Klaatu is simply annoying, and his doubting but ultimately understanding mother is an overused cliché if there ever was one, as is her jealous boyfriend who puts personal fame over world peace.

It's not that the movie is all bad, it has its moments, and, as I said, it's very well directed, however I take a bug-eyed-monster-drive-in-movie over the exploits of Klaatu every day.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD