The Day the Earth Stood Still

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Synopsis of Movie

“Klaatu… Barada… Nikto.”

One of the most influential science fiction films of all time, 1951’s The Day the Earth Stood Still was a parable for the nuclear age, a warning to earthlings everywhere. Harry Bates’ story “Farewell to the Master” served as a basis for the film, which introduced the world to an alien named Klaatu, a robot named Gort and a sleek flying saucer from beyond the stars.

What starts out like any other day on planet Earth turns into an international frenzy when a metallic UFO lands in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. Newscasters, military units and curious citizens surround the landed craft, and once the drama has sufficiently built up, the human-looking Klaatu and his large robot Gort emerge. Despite Klaatu’s promise that, “We have come to visit you in peace and with good will,” a panicky soldier shoots the visitor, wounding him. Gort responds with force, disintegrating the army’s weapons.

After calming his robotic protector, Klaatu is taken to a military hospital, where he announces that he has a message to deliver to the combined leaders of every nation on Earth. When politics get in the way of Klaatu’s delivery, the alien escapes, hiding out as average human Mr. Carpenter at a boarding house run by kindly young widow Helen Benson. Helen and her son Bobby convince “Mr. Carpenter” that humans do have a bit of kindness and good sense left in them, but Klaatu still has a message to deliver.

With the help of scientist Dr. Barnhardt, Klaatu arranges a demonstration of his abilities, shutting down all electrical power in the world (except for hospitals and airplanes in flight) for a full hour. This only makes the government more worried, and after a betrayal by one of his supposed earthling friends, Klaatu’s message—and even the fate of the Earth itself—hangs in a precarious balance.

Directed by Robert Wise—a former editor (Citizen Kane) who would later helm West Side Story and The Sound of Music — The Day the Earth Stood Still brought science fiction into the mainstream, elevating it above B-movie status with a timely, grave warning for humanity. The movie was also good entertainment, featuring a memorable score by Bernard Herrmann that helped make the electronic Theremin the instrument of choice in sci-fi music for years to come.

The influence of The Day the Earth Stood Still continues today in every flying saucer movie produced, and a gracious nod to the phrase “Klaatu Barada Nikto” can be found in several sci-fi flicks of subsequent years.

Movie Release History

1951 - The Day the Earth Stood Still

Movie Sub Categories


Movie Studio

20th Century Fox


Klaatu   Michael Rennie
Helen Benson  Patricia Neal
Tom Stevens  Hugh Marlowe
Professor Jacob Barnhardt  Sam Jaffe
Bobby Benson  Billy Gray
Mrs. Barley  Frances Bavier
Gort  Lock Martin
Mr. George Barley   John Brown
British Radio Announcer  John Burton
Mr. Bleeker  Wheaton Chambers
Mr. Harley  Frank Conroy
Businessman  James Craven
Hilda, Barnhardt's Secretary  Marjorie Crossland
Elmer Davis   Himself
Army Physician  Lawrence Dobkin
Mrs. Crockett  Edith Evanson
Interviewer  Glenn Hardy
Taxi Driver  Harry Harvey
Gabriel Heatter   Himself
H.V. Kaltenborn   Himself
Platoon Leader  Harry Lauter
General Cutler  Freeman Lusk
Colonel Ryder  George Lynn
Brady   Tyler McVey
Margaret, Tom's Secretary  Dorothy Neumann
Army Physician  Robert Osterloh
Drew Pearson   Himself
MP Captain  House Peters Jr.
Major General  Fay Roope
Government Man  James Seay
Mr. Krull  Olan Soule
Army Orderly  Kim Spalding
Carson  Harlan Warde
Unknown Stuart Whitman
Army Physician  Adam Williams
MP Sergeant  Rush Williams
Colonel  Carleton Young

Other Movie Links