Guess I had this confused with War of the Worlds when I started viewing it, but quickly remembered the story once that 900 tall robot sidled out of the space ship. This was released in 1951 is one of those grainy movies full of causes and sincere individuals. At the time the world was quaking under the umbrella of nuclear threat from our opposing nations, bomb shelters were popping up all over the place, well, all under the place, and although we feared for our lives it was from nations and peoples other than ours, we opened our doors to strangers. Now, quite the opposite is true we fear our neighbors, we dont answer our doors, we would prefer the nuclear attack as opposed to sitting in our living rooms and become a drive-by shooting victim. But that is now
.. this was then!
Sunning in a park in Washington, D.C., picnickers are suddenly threatened by the awesome sight of a huge flying saucer hovering over the city. Running in panic from the spectacle, the ship lands and our interplanetary hero disembarks and utters ..I come in peace .. we shoot him of course. Out of the spaceship glides the mighty Gort, robot to beat all robots! His one eye slides open and shoots out a ray dissolving all those pesky tanks and guns being pointed at Klaatu, the fallen hero, who miraculously rises to his feet and is approached by our governing forces.
Whisked off to the hospital (probably Walter Reed, isnt that the popular movie hospital in DC?), Klaatu undergoes a remarkable recovery. A representative from the President visits him, inquiring his intentions. Well, I thought he pretty much stated that from the beginning, but I guess we werent listening, but after all this is Washington, who listens? Klaatu demands that leaders from the world over meet with him at one time so we can deliver his message.
Now according to Klaatu (by the way, played by Michael Rennie), his planet has been observing our world for centuries. He should realize that this just isnt gonna happen, but he insists he will divulge no information unless he has all concerned together at the same time. Aggravated at the reluctance of world powers to meet with him, he skidattles outta that hospital as soon as he can and wanders the streets, observing Americans in their natural habitat.
Coming across a boarding house, he enters and requests a room. This house is run by Patricia Neal and her precocious son, Billy Gray. A friendship between Gray and Klaatu emerges, although Gray is not aware that Klaatu is Klaatu, thinking he is instead just a nice man staying at mommas house. Gray, in all his young wisdom, takes Klaatu to meet up with one of the leading scientists around, Sam Jaffe. Jaffe is out when they arrive, Klaatu notices a long but unfinished mathematical equation on Jaffes chalkboard, and finishes it for him. Of course, Jaffe is hot to meet up with Klaatu after that, you can bet your bippie!
Jaffe is able to do something that the Washington big wigs couldnt accomplish, he gathers together all the scientific heads of state, world wide, to meet with Klaatu. Of course, Earthlings are dubious of the information Klaatu is giving, saying posh and pfffft and pretending he isnt speaking truths.
sitting on the sidelines
Several things of merit remain, these 50 years later (geez ..50 years!). Earth powers still cannot gather in a room together and make a decision that will better the world and those in it. The quality and message of the film is as relevant as it was when released, and yet we still ignore the message today!
Some of the dialogue may seem over done and outrageous. Everyone is so intensely sincere and serious. The cinematography was fairly decent for such an old release and holds up well even today, and the continuity stayed pretty true from one idea to another. Some of the ideas were a little far-fetched, but that was a whole different time in the world.
Klaatus password, which he gave to Patricia Neal, is one of the most recognized and repeated blurps from moviedom Klaatu barada nikto, but we never find out what it means.
Neals performance was predictable for the times and little Billy Gray was just as cute and sincere as could be. Jaffe (was he always old?) makes a perfect wizened old scientist and Michael Rennie actually looks like a space alien, so there!
Directed by Robert Wise, produced by Julian Blaustein, written by Edmund North based on a story by Harry Bates, cinematographer Leo Tover.
Viewing Format: VHS
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older
What did you think of this review?