The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Day the Earth Stood Still1951

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)



Critic Consensus: Socially minded yet entertaining, The Day the Earth Stood Still imparts its moral of peace and understanding without didacticism.

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Movie Info

All of Washington, D.C., is thrown into a panic when an extraterrestrial spacecraft lands near the White House. Out steps Klaatu (Michael Rennie, in a role intended for Claude Rains), a handsome and soft-spoken interplanetary traveler, whose "bodyguard" is Gort (Lock Martin), a huge robot who spews forth laser-like death rays when danger threatens. After being wounded by an overzealous soldier, Klaatu announces that he has a message of the gravest importance for all humankind, which he will deliver only when all the leaders of all nations will agree to meet with him. World politics being what they are in 1951, Klaatu's demands are turned down and he is ordered to remain in the hospital, where his wounds are being tended. Klaatu escapes, taking refuge in a boarding house, where he poses as one "Mr. Carpenter" (one of the film's many parallels between Klaatu and Christ). There the benign alien gains the confidence of a lovely widow (Patricia Neal) and her son, Bobby (Billy Gray), neither of whom tumble to his other-worldly origins, and seeks out the gentleman whom Bobby regards as "the smartest man in the world" -- an Einstein-like scientist, Dr. Barnhardt (Sam Jaffe). The next day, at precisely 12 o'clock, Klaatu arranges for the world to "stand still" -- he shuts down all electrical power in the world, with the exception of essentials like hospitals and planes in flight. Directed by Robert Wise, who edited Citizen Kane (1941) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) for director Orson Welles before going on to direct such major 1960s musicals as West Side Story (1961) and The Sound of Music (1965), The Day the Earth Stood Still was based on the story Farewell to the Master by Harry Bates. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Patricia Neal
as Helen Benson
Hugh Marlowe
as Tom Stevens
Sam Jaffe
as Prof. Barnhardt
Billy Gray
as Bobby Benson
Frances Bavier
as Mrs. Barley
Drew Pearson
as Himself
Fay Roope
as Major General
Edith Evanson
as Mrs. Crockett
Harry Harvey
as Taxi Driver
Robert Osterloh
as Maj. White
James Seay
as Government Man
John Brown
as Mr. Barley
Glenn Hardy
as Interviewer
House Peters Jr.
as MP Captain
Rush Williams
as MP Sergeant
Olan Soule
as Mr. Krull
Gil Herman
as Government Agent
James Craven
as Businessman
Harry Lauter
as Platoon Leader
Charles Evans
as Major General
Harlan Warde
as Mr. Carlson
Dorothy Neumann
as Barnhardt's Secretary
George Lynn
as Col. Ryder
Freeman Lusk
as Gen. Cutler
John Burton
as British Radio MC
George Reeves
as Newscaster
Harry Harvey Sr.
as Taxi Driver
Gabriel Heater
as Commentator
Elmer Davis
as Commentator
H.V. Kaltenborn
as Commentator
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Critic Reviews for The Day the Earth Stood Still

All Critics (57) | Top Critics (10)

More thoughtful and restrained than most sci-fi of the period, The Day the Earth Stood Still has aged better than almost all of its peers.

December 12, 2008 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

Iconic from the get-go.

December 2, 2008 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

The Day the Earth Stood Still may at first look like goofy, outdated science fiction, but its timeless warnings about violence, nuclear confrontation and the difficulties of policing the planet have made it an enduring cultural classic.

October 5, 2007 | Full Review…

Like most of Robert Wise's work, this slickly constructed 1951 science fiction film settles squarely in the middle of its genre, better than some and worse than others.

June 4, 2007

Cast, although secondary to the story, works well.

June 4, 2007 | Full Review…

This is a superbly crafted, landmark film which invested a much-derided -- and frequently ludicrous -- genre with a welcome degree of dignity and respectability.

March 4, 2006 | Rating: 5/5

Audience Reviews for The Day the Earth Stood Still


An intelligent and challenging science-fiction classic that makes elegant allusions to Jesus Christ's life (even in the character's alias, Carpenter) and speaks directly to the audience in the end defending the importance of non-aggression in a time dominated by fear.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

An interplanetary traveler visits Earth to dissuade humans' violence and paranoia. As science fiction classics go, this one is up there among the best. Yes, it's moralistic, and its main character gets a little preachy at the end, but most good science fiction uses an extraordinary event to comment upon the ordinary, and The Day the Earth Stood Still's comment resonates today. The performances are a little choppy and over-rehearsed. Michael Rennie sounds like he's reading his lines out of a phone book, and Patricia Neal went to damsel school and graduated with high honors. But all of it is tempered by that classic movie pace and a strong story. Overall, science fiction when done well looks like this.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

A surprisingly mature 50's sci-fi movie. Manages to get across its social messages without coming across as preachy. The cast does a great job with the material given to them, Michael Rennie is fabulous as Klaatu. The visuals are very good for the time and the film also contains some really gripping suspense scenes. A very touching sci-fi tale that still holds up to this day.

Christopher Heim
Christopher Heim

Super Reviewer

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