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The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

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An alien lands and tells the people of Earth that they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets.


Robert Wise


Edmund H. North (screen play), Harry Bates (based on a story by)
3,544 ( 213)
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Michael Rennie ... Klaatu
Patricia Neal ... Helen Benson
Hugh Marlowe ... Tom Stevens
Sam Jaffe ... Professor Jacob Barnhardt
Billy Gray ... Bobby Benson
Frances Bavier ... Mrs. Barley
Lock Martin Lock Martin ... Gort


An alien (Klaatu) with his mighty robot (Gort) land their spacecraft on Cold War-era Earth just after the end of World War II. They bring an important message to the planet that Klaatu wishes to tell to representatives of all nations. However, communication turns out to be difficult, so, after learning something about the natives, Klaatu decides on an alternative approach. Written by Bruce Janson <bruce@cs.su.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Strange Power From Another Planet Menaces The Earth! See more »


Drama | Sci-Fi


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | French | Hindi | Russian

Release Date:

25 December 1951 (Brazil) See more »

Also Known As:

Journey to the World See more »


Box Office


$1,200,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


To increase the sense of reality, some of the most famous broadcast journalists of the time were hired to do cameos as themselves. These included Gabriel Heatter, H.V. Kaltenborn and Drew Pearson. See more »


When Klaatu returns to the ship at night to contact his people, Gort is shown from the front after he knocks out the two soldiers. There is no cut-away as Gort turns to open the ship's ramp for Klaatu, and the zipper in the back of the rubber suit can plainly be seen as Gort walks towards the ship before he turns around to face front again. See more »


[first lines]
American Radar Operator: Holy Mackerel! Call headquarters. Get the lieutenant.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Elmer Davis, H.V. Kaltenborn, and Drew Pearson identify themselves when they appear on screen. Radio personality Gabriel Heatter is identified by an announcer. See more »


Referenced in The Simpsons: The Springfield Files (1997) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

revolutionary and classic, a product from the age when true motion pictures were made
13 December 2008 | by TheUnknown837-1See all my reviews

Many of the old black-and-white science-fiction classics are often remembered for a particularly grand element they have to them. Sometimes, it's for their groundbreaking special effects, like the original King Kong (1933) or The War of the Worlds (1953). Sometimes it's because they have a particularly interesting character or villain like Frankenstein (1931) and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958). And sometimes it's because they feature a creature that absolutely frightens or haunts you like Count Orlok in Nosferatu (1922). But there's only a handful of classics out there that get their recognition because of a moral message they carry. One such example is the original, Japanese version of Godzilla (1954). Another is the 1951 revolutionary classic The Day the Earth Stood Still.

This memorable motion picture, recently remade with Keanu Reeves, and based on a story by Harry Bates, tells the fictional tale of an event in history when a flying saucer landed in Washington D.C. Two extra terrestrial beings emerged from its mysterious form. A humanlike messenger named Klaatu (Michael Rennie) and an eight-foot-tall, invulnerable robot called Gort (Lock Martin). These two beings arrive upon the era where mankind had began to strongly develop atomic energy and increase the violent and catastrophic potential of its warfare. The extra terrestrials arrive with a warning for all of mankind. By harnessing such horrible power and using it to create weapons, mankind was creating an intergalactic threat as well as endangering its own existence on Earth. Klaatu's warning was simple: cut off the production of nuclear weapons and live in peace, or be destroyed as a threat to other worlds in the universe.

Like many other popular science-fiction films, The Day the Earth Stood Still features impressive visual effects. Even the robot, Gort, which is nothing more than a man in a flexible costume, looks like a machine made from foreign-world material. The scenes where the UFO lands in Washington D.C. and where a death ray sprays into a tank and dissolves it in a flash of white light still spellbind to this day. But its more notable elements were created by the characters and by the screenwriters.

The extra-terrestrial, Klaatu looks remarkably human. He doesn't have antenna, or three eyes, or tentacles, and his physical form is not a disguise. Oddly enough, this is more convincing than the present standards for aliens, which have to look like animals, particularly invertebrates, to be believable. And because he looks human, Klaatu is more relatable as a being instead of a creature. And he has morals, again, relatable and more compelling a buggy-eyed, other-planet nihilist bent on enslavement and destruction. And besides, they way I see it, if there are other beings out in the world, they wouldn't be much different than us. Physically or morally.

Another noteworthy element is its symbolism, which like Godzilla (1954) stands out against nuclear war and the destruction of the environment. While it does not carry its message as vividly and horrifyingly, director Robert Wise wisely influences this message several times to keep it fresh in our minds. And while a movie cannot change the world, it is comforting to know that there were, and still are good people who realize these nightmarish elements of our world and feel compelled enough to communicate a message to us.

The Day the Earth Stood Still has aged a bit since its debut in 1951, but this does in no way, take away from its influence. It has deservedly earned his place in the long list of classics from the age when true motion pictures were made instead of the standard, hackneyed projects that seem to attract audience members today in the 21st century.

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