Robert Wise's THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
Some movies from the 1950's don't age well. This one does. That's partly because of its high production values and intelligence, partly because of its evocative music, and partly because I can still remember seeing it as a kid at the neighborhood theater in Columbus Ohio where my dad worked on weekends.
Viewed today I still get the chills when the door of that flying saucer opens and Klaatu walks out for the first time. Viewed even today everything about the production design is superb, starting with how the rampway slides out of that saucer. And the interior of that spacecraft -- really alien!
Of course, the idea of a humanoid alien coming to live among us in secret to learn our ways is and always has been silly. But somehow -- and I attribute this to the influence of Robert Wise and his decision to play things straight -- it works as lessons in humanity go hand in hand with questions of earth's self-destructive ways.
It's also an example of how beautiful a black and white film can be. Every scene is well lit with perfectly framed action. Finally, there is Bernard Herrmann's amazing theremin-tinged music. Perfect!
Review copyright (c) 2018 by Dennis D. McDonald