The Day The Earth Stood Still–part 6

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Klaatu and Professor Barnhardt agree the “demonstration” should take place at noon the following day. As Klaatu departs the Professor is uneasy, and almost wishes the “demonstration” would not take place.

When Klaatu gets back to the boarding house he finds resumes the character of Mr. Carpenter. Once inside he finds everybody ill at ease. Some people are trying to play cards, Helen Benson, mother of Bobby, is leafing through a magazine. Tom Stephens has asked to marry her so she already has a lot on her mind. Mrs. Crockett almost collides with Mr. Carpenter while passing through the dining room.  He sits beside Helen and tries to ask a question. When words fail him he shakes his hand nervously. Helen supplies the word he’s searching for. “Jittery is the word. She adds “Bobby’s the only person I know who isn’t – Jittery”.

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The space man still has not been caught, Gort is still standing by the space ship, and the space ship alone is a rather uncomfortable reminder that all is far from normal in Washington D.C. Helen asks about the gov’t agent, and Mr. Carpenter barely launches into his answer only to have the doorbell ring. Tom Stephens has come to collect Helen. They’re going on another date. Tonight Tom’s in a bad mood, He’s annoyed that Helen isn’t ready and waiting for him, plus he admits to being tired of hearing about “Mr. Carpenter”.

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Helen quietly files that little piece of information in her head for future reference. Mr. Carpenter hears Toms complaints, says good evening to Tom, and slips upstairs. Helen quietly admonishes Tom for acidic behavior. Before leaving she goes upstairs to check on Bobby. Mr. Carpenter is helping him with his math homework. When Helen appears she goes into his room and asks that Bobby stop doing his homework and get ready for bed. Bobby sits on the bed, undoes one shoe, and lets it fall to the floor before there’s a knock at the door. It’s Mr. Carpenter with a question. “Bobby — have you a flashlight?”. Bobby goes to get his, and informs Mr. Carpenter “It’s a real Boy Scout flashlight. Not quite sure why anyone would need a flashlight inside a house he asks Mr. Carpenter why he needs it. “Why — the light in my room went out. Thank you, Bobby. Goodnight.”. To Bobby that seemed like a good answer – until he noticed the light in Mr. Carpenter’s room still worked.

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Then Mr. Carpenter appeared, and Bobby ducked inside his own room. His mind was on fire with thoughts. Why did Mr. Carpenter lie to me, why is the light is his room still working, and what does he need my real Boy Scout flashlight for ? Before Mr. Carpenter moved he checked that nobody was watching him. Satisfied that nobody was he turned off lights in his room, closed the door, and went downstairs. Quietly Bobby watched as Mr. Carpenter went through the front door. As Mr. Carpenter reached for the door Bobby darted into his room, put the shoe he had taken off back on, and put on his jacket.  Mr. Carpenter was like a man on a mission. looking this way and that, going up and down side streets.  Bobby wanted to know where he was going, but more than anything he wanted his real Boy Scout flashlight back ! Before he knew it he was back at the same park that housed the spaceship and Gort.

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Bobby remembered the Army had built some sort of temporary structure for the space ship and Gort. Mr. Carpenter moved quietly towards the wall that had a small window in it. He moved quietly like a cat. When he was in position he used the flashlight to shine light in front of Gort. Using a code Gort knew, was instructed to dispose of the guards. Slowly Gort walked towards the soldiers who watched in bewilderment.

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Gort reaches out, grabs them, and violently pushes them together. They aren’t killed, but just knocked out. Seeing this Bobby is terrified, but screws up the courage to follow along the wall to the tiny window.

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Not quite believing his own eyes, he watches as Mr. Carpenter speaks to Gort, then enters the space ship. Not quite sure what to do next he runs as fast as his legs will go back to the boarding house in sheer terror and fright.

Mr. Carpenter walks through the ship, eventually arriving at an area covered

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with dials, and seemingly ordinary lights. He contacts someone and outlines his plan, yet he does this in language we cannot understand.

Bobby is back at the boarding house. He’s confused, terrified, and angry. A person he thought was his friend has disappointed him in the worst way imaginable. His mother Helen, and Tom return from their date. Helen is more than surprised to discover her son still up, sitting in a chair, with a foul look on his face.

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Bobby–! What are you doing up at this hour?”. Bobby proceeds to tell his mother just what has transpired. Helen thinks her son has been dreaming of the space man, the space ship, and Gort. “I like Mr. Carpenter — but I’m scared, Mom”.

Mustn’t be frightened, darling — It was just a bad dream. Here – we’ll prove it to you”. Surprised at his degree of insistence she asks Tom Stephens to go upstairs to fetch Mr. Carpenter. She tries her best to convince her son it was all a bad dream. Bobby is very disappointed with Mr. Carpenter, and now his mother is making a truly horrifying night a great deal worse. He gives her a really dirty look than says “I’d never call you a liar. While Helen tries to push the “bad dream” theory Tom does some unauthorized snooping. He knocks softly at Mr. Carpenter’s door. Getting no answer, he tries the door, pushes it open and peers in. Then he steps into the darkened room. Tom snaps on the light and looks around the empty room. Glancing around, Tom’s eye is caught by a flash of something bright on the floor below the dresser. He stoops down and picks up a fair-sized diamond. He studies the stone curiously from various angles, and holds it up to the light. Thoroughly puzzled, he keeps the stone in his hand, switches off the light and goes out. Like any good Retriever he goes back down stairs to show off his discovery. “He’s not there. But look what I found in his room”. Helen asks if it’s real. Tom’s expression says he doesn’t have a clue. Then Bobby pipes up that Mr. Carpenter has a lot of diamonds, then digs into his pocket to show them two more. Tom offers up the simplest theory available. “I think he’s a crook”. Not knowing what to believe Helen has Bobby sleep in her room. As Bobby starts up the stairs she notices his shoes are soaked. Bobby has the last laugh. “Yeah — the grass was kind of wet.

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The Day The Earth Stood Still–Part 4

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The Tour

Just watching this segment was tiring. Bobby has so much pent up energy. That kid is really something. It’s also in this segment that we encounter one the first instances of product placement. You will notice Bobby’s hat has the logo of the New York Yankees (I think that’s the team). Also you’ll notice people all over Washington D.C. are drinking Coca-Cola. And if they aren’t drinking it you’ll see signs displaying the word “Coca-Cola”.

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One thing you should know is that the actors Billy Gray and Michael Rennie never left the state of California. The city of Washington D.C. was filmed in part on the 20th Century external sound stages and on its studio back lot (now located in Century City California). A second unit did go to Washington to shoot background scenes. Film of the actors in the studio and of the Lincoln Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery were blended together to create the effect they were in Washington.

Bobby takes Mr. Carpenter on a tour of the city that would make a tour guide blush. First stop was the Lincoln Memorial. Tourists are walking about as Mr. Carpenter reads the words of the Gettysburg Address. When Mr. Carpenter says “those were great words, spoken by a great man” Bobby looks at him like he had just heard of Abraham Lincoln. To add to Bobby’s confusion Mr. Carpenter says “That’s the kind of man I’d like to talk to”.

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While Bobby is busy demolishing an ice cream cone Mr. Carpenter asks him some very important questions. When he asks who is the greatest man in America is Bobby responds “Gee — I don’t know… The space man, I guess”. The man from outer space smiles, then he rephrases the question. “I was speaking of earth men. I meant the greatest philosopher – the greatest thinker” Bobby still isn’t sure what Mr. Carpenter means. So he asks him “You mean the smartest man in the whole world?”. Mr. Carpenter knows he is finally near answer he seeks.”Well — Professor Barnhardt, I guess. He’s the greatest scientist in the world”. After a little more probing Mr. Carpenter learns Professor Barnhardt lives nearby, near where Bobby’s mother works. But the next stop on the agenda is the spaceship, and Bobby can barely contain himself.

Army engineers have erected a temporary structure to house Gort and the space ship. Mr. Carpenter can barely contain his amusement. Bobby is fascinated by Gort. “Boy, I’ll bet he’s strong. I bet he could knock down a whole building”. There is mild agreement from Mr. Carpenter, and amusement at the fact that the army hasn’t figured that out. Bobby turns his attention to the ship. He asks about its method of propulsion. Mr. Carpenter hazards a guess making sure it sounds like he’s not sure. Bobby wonders about its speed. Mr. Carpenter lowers his voice when he notices two men listening intently, and slowly getting closer. Mr. Carpenter loosely opens the subject of celestial mechanics when he notices the two men have come closer still. He stops talking altogether and glowers at the two men.Keep goin’, Mister. He was fallin’ for it” they say. Irritated Mr. Carpenter take Bobby’s hand and leads him away from the two men who are now laughing out loud. As they walk away newspaper boys hawk the latest edition by shouting out the headlines. Army put in charge!”. “Space man still at large!” In a few moments its a mob scene as people clamour to get the very latest edition. Bobby wonders aloud if anybody will ever catch the space man. Mr. Carpenter can’t help but offer his opinion. “I don’t know, Bobby. I’m inclined to doubt it”.

As they walk away Bobby asks a question related to one of Mr. Carpenters earlier answers. “Mr. Carpenter — what does velocity mean?”. The answer goes so far over Bobby’s head his eyes glaze over. Then he remarks “I’ll bet that’s the way Professor Barnhardt talks”. Mr. Carpenter then suggests that Bobby and he pay Professor Barnhardt a visit. Bobby pays Mr. Carpenter the ultimate compliment. “I like you, Mr. Carpenter. You’re a real screwball”.Image0011

When they arrive at Professor Barnhart’s house they walk right up to the front door and ring the doorbell. When nobody answers Bobby goes to the window and looks in. In an important looking room the is a blackboard with all sorts of equations on it. Bobby hasn’t a clue what its all about, but Mr. Carpenter says it’s a problem in celestial mechanics. He adds that he won’t solve it that way.Image0012

Bobby moves to another window for a better vantage point. Bobby comes to the conclusion that he wouldn’t have been able to see the Professor even if he was home. Dejected he turns away from the house and the locked French doors they’d been peering through. “If he’s that difficult to see, perhaps we ought to leave a calling card”says Mr. Carpenter. Bobby turns around and finds the French doors, which were locked, now open. Mr. Carpenter holds a piece of chalk and leaves large checkmarks on the board. Bobby then watches Mr. Carpenter write an equation just as mysterious as all the others. When the Professors secretary returns, she finds a tall man with a small boy in the Professors study. She announces herself by firing questions at the two at an almost break neck pace. “What are you doing in here? How dare you write on that blackboard! Don’t you realize the Professor has been working on that problem for weeks?”. Mr. Carpenter says that he and the boy simply came to visit the Professor. He points to the blackboard, and adds the Professor will soon have the solution. He write his name on a scrap of paper and hands to the secretary. “You might want to keep this.I think the professor will want to get in touch with me”. The secretary looks at the blackboard, and debates whether she should erase what the stranger has written. She picks up the eraser, glares at the blackboard, when Mr. Carpenter suddenly says “I wouldn’t erase that. The Professor needs it very badly”. He points at the blackboard.

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The Day The Earth Stood Still–Part 2

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The Plot

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The film begins with radar crews all over the globe tracking an unidentified flying object – a UFO. American and British crews track the UFO. Excitement grows as the UFO goes deeper and deeper into our atmosphere. As it descends it slows, eventually flying over Washington. It eventually slows enough to where it can land. People in the area where it appears to be landing stampede to get out its way. It eventually lands an area reserved for games of

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baseball. After it lands nothing happens prompting television and radio commentators to simply speculate as to why the UFO is here. Commentators of the day such as Drew Pearson, H.V. Kaltenborn, and Elmer Davis are either shown or heard. As Drew Pearson recounts events for the umpteenth time the UFO begins to open, and a human looking person wearing some sort of helmet emerges. The Army (it’s actually the National Guard) is by now pointing every weapon in their arsenal at the mysterious visitor from outer space. He

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extends his arm in peace to show he doesn’t carry any kind of offensive weapon. As he reaches into his spacesuit he slowly pulls out  a strange looking device. It suddenly expands, and he’s shot by some mildly terrified military type. He collapses. It’s now that a robot named Gort appears. Everybody is astounded as Gort is 8 feet tall.

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The extra-terrestrial stranger, now lying on the ground, struggles to stay conscious. Gort comes closer to the soldiers, and when he does his visor rises up to to reveal a roving, deadly eye. A beam of light shoots out of his helmet and destroys all offensive weapons. The rifles, machine guns, tanks,

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and other methods of destruction are quickly enveloped in Gorts beam, and quickly vanish to be replaced by smoldering heaps of molten metal. The alien sees what he has done and says “Gort! Deglet ovrosco!”. Gort ceases firing his deadly ray of death, while the alien struggles to stand. He informs the army platoon leader that the object that was shot and destroyed “It was a gift. For your President. With this he could have studied life on other planets.”.

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As the alien stands a jeep comes roaring onto the scene where a colonel asks how badly the alien is hit. When he’s informed by the platoon leader about the shoulder wound he barks that the alien should be taken to Walter Reed Hospital.

Klaatu gets an education in Earth politics

The next section shows just how child-like the human race still is. The head honcho of the hospital and an unnamed General are discussing the aliens  physical and metal state. Nothing of great import is exchanged except this one line. Most of it is pretty boring small talk, or chit-chat.

General to the major – “How is he?”. “He’s all right, General… Blood pressure’s a little high, but it could be aggravation”. General “Can’t blame him. I always get mad when somebody shoots me”.

Apparently he has been requesting to see the president rather insistently. Hoping to avoid an interplanetary incident the White House sends a secretary to the president over to the hospital. They send a Mr. Harley played by Frank Conroy. Frank Conroy does a splendid job of portraying someone who is nothing but a high priced courier in wing tipped shoes. It is in this sequence we get our first good look at the man from outer space.


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After entering the room Mr. Harley looks right at the man from outer space, and says “My name is Harley — Secretary to the President. I’ve been told that you speak our language — that your name is Mr. Klaatu.” Before Mr. Harley can continue the person in the hospital bed corrects him. “Just Klaatu”. At this point Mr. Harley looks decidedly uneasy. No doubt he’s been informed about Gort, and is wondering if the metal behemoth will come lumbering into the room. Gripping his hat he apologises to Klaatu. “The President asked me to convey his deepest apologies for what has happened. We all feel—”. Klaatu asks him to sit down. Mr. Harley does his best to engage Klaatu in small talk, and to a certain degree Klaatu reciprocates. At the same time the army is trying to gain entry into the saucer with spectacularly dismal results. Back in the hospital Klaatu is growing visibly impatient with Mr. Harleys endless questions. Finally lays his request in Mr. Harleys lap. “I want to meet with representatives from all the nations of the Earth.”. Mr. Harley gets flustered, and gives Klaatu a boatload of excuses, to which Klaatu says “My mission here is not to solve your petty squabbles. It concerns the existence of every last creature who lives on Earth.”. His candor piques Mr. Harleys interest and asks him to elaborate. “ I intend to explain. To all the nations — simultaneously. How do we proceed, Mr. Harley?”. Mr. Harley suggests calling a special meeting of the United Nations, but adds that not all nations are members. Klaatu counters with a meeting for all chiefs of state. Mr. Harley shoots that idea down by stating some nations won’t even sit at the same table. Growing more than a little impatient at the child-like attitude of some nations Klaatu states very matter of factly “I don’t want to resort to threats, Mr. Harley. I simply tell you bluntly that the future of your planet is at stake… I suggest you transmit that message to the nations of the Earth”. Mr. Harley gathers up his hat and briefcase and says he’ll let the president know what has been said, but that he’s very pessimistic about a positive outcome. Klaatu expresses a certain degree of optimism, and yet must wonder about this planet.

After Mr. Harley leaves the hospital floor some hospital personnel are discussing Klaatu. The major points to an x-ray and says that most of the skeletal system is the same as the human system and most of his internal organs are basically the same too. He asks the captain for an estimate of his age. The captain responds that he thinks Klaatu is about forty-five. The major says Klaatu says he’s seventy-eight. The major continues “He says their medicine is that much more advanced. He was very nice about it. But he made me feel like a third-class witch doctor”.

A Major White approaches the pair shaking is head. “I just examined the wound and it’s all healed.” When asked to explain Major White says “Said he put some salve on it — some stuff he had with him. Asked what he going to do with the small tube contain the salve he says Take it downstairs and have it analyzed. Then I don’t know whether I’ll just get drunk or give up the practice of medicine”. Major White goes through some doors and continues to shake his head.

           Stay Tuned for part 3 !

                        

                            

                        



                       

                                

The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)–Part 1

One of the films that holds a treasured place in my heart is the original “The Day The Earth Stood Still”. It was made in 1951 and used the fears of ordinary people of that time period to achieve its goals. And it scared the socks off of me when I first saw it on the TV in the early sixties. For me, the fact that it was science fiction, centered on an alien from outer space, who had his own robot…well I was heaven ( it really didn’t dawn on me that the actor in the robot costume was over seven foot tall. When you’re a little kid everybody’s tall ).

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The story first appeared first appeared in the October 1940 edition of Astounding Stories as the story “Farewell To The Master”. Klaatu is in the story as is the robot (a slight change was made for the movie. The robot was originally called Gnut in the story. This was changed to Gort for the movie). But that’s where any similarity between the story and the film ends.  The producer of the film read over 200 hundred short science fiction stories and books looking a “nugget” of a story that could be used to create a fantastic film. Mankind was fearful and suspicious of the new Atomic Age, the Cold War, and pretty well anything else that could threaten the American way of life. Julian Blaustein, the producer, found the “nugget” he was looking for in the story “Farewell To The Master”. With the blessing of Darryl F. Zanuck, Blaustein commissioned Edmund North to write the screenplay. The final screenplay was ready February. 21, 1951.

The Cast

The word around the 20th Century Fox lot was that this was going to be a very important picture. Claude Rains and Spencer Tracy both expressed great interest in playing the lead role. In the case of Claude Rains it turned he would be doing some work on stage at the same time of the shooting schedule so he was quickly out of the running, but when it came to Spencer Tracy producer Julian Blaustein had to put his foot down, and threaten to leave the project. This was the way he put it: “When Klaatu comes down the ramp, and takes off his helmet, people are not going to see Klaatu. They’re going to see Spencer Tracy”. In the case of Claude Rains it would be very hard to explain an alien with an English accent.  And Spencer Tracy carried similar baggage. Their reputations would precede them making believability in the role of Klaatu near impossible. The solution was rather simple, and in this case, very easy to do. They needed someone completely unknown to the vast majority of the film going public. Darryl Zanuck had just come back from England where he saw an actor that was very, very, good. Always on the lookout for new talent 20th Century Fox signed Michael Rennie to a contract. They now had someone eager to do the film, someone the public was not familiar with, as well as make a name for himself. Michael Rennie was a rather thin fellow. He was described by Julian Blaustein as “being almost skeletal”.

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Patricia Neal portrayed a woman widowed by World War II, with a young boy to raise. And it turned out she was the only person who seems to truly understand Klaatu. Her son, Bobby, understood Klaatu almost as well. Her characters name is Helen Benson and Billy Gray portrays her son Bobby Benson. In the film the love interest of Helen Benson is Tom Stephens and he’s portrayed by Hugh Marlowe. I found him a rather unpleasant person who sells insurance. He seemed more interested in himself, and improving his lot in life, and not caring about what circumstances his actions may bring to others.

A very important component of the film was the appearance of the army. And they totally hated the script. They did not come off looking well. After all, they were of the opinion that aliens and UFOs did not exist. So they decided to withhold any and all assistance with the film. This almost brought the shooting schedule to a hair raising crash. Somebody, nobody has claimed credit for this, suggested using the National Guard in place of the army. After all they looked the same, and they used the same equipment. And the National Guard relished showing off for the cameras. It certainly didn’t hurt recruitment any. So the National Guard were shoehorned into all the spots vacated by the army.

GORT

The robot Gort was portrayed by Lock Martin. His height is in dispute, as his own Wikipedia page lists him as being seven foot seven inches, director Robert Wise says he was seven foot one inch, and the American Film Institute states Lock Martin was 7’7”.

When Lock first came to the directors attention he was working as an usher at Graumann’s Chinese Theater. He wasn’t a very strong man and had to carry dummies of Patricia Neal and Michael Rennie. There were two Gort costumes. One that laced up the front for shots from the rear, and one that laced up from the back for shots of the of the front. A bust of the head of the costume exists in the collection of Bob Burns. Robert Wise was aware of Locks discomfort in the costume, and the two agreed he would only be in the costume in thirty minute segments. He was also in The Incredible Shrinking Man as a giant, but his scenes were deleted. He was nicknamed “the Gentle Giant” as he liked reading stories to children and for a time had a local show devoted to that.

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