Wednesday, January 27, 2010

#36 The Day The Earth Stood Still: Klaatu Barada Nikto

1951. dir Robert Wise, starring Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe, Billy Gray.

Seen it before? No.

Another day, another robot movie... well, this one is more of an alien robot movie. A flying saucer lands in the middle of the Mall in Washington DC. Out comes Klaatu (Michael Rennie), one of the most half-assed movie aliens of all time. He looks exactly like a human. The only "alien" thing about him is the way he talks, sort of a monotone. Not surprisingly he was played by Keanu Reeves in the 2008 remake. Also in the flying saucer is Gort, an 8-foot tall silver robot. Gort has an amusingly cheesy rubber costume and heat vision that can vaporize things.

Gort and Klaatu bring a message that Earth must get rid of its weapons of mass destruction and submit to weapons inspections or face destruction. Hmm, sounds familiar. Actually it's a fairly obvious Cold War analogy - nobody will listen to Klaatu because the Soviets won't cooperate with the American, hurr hurr.

What we have here is what Roger Ebert calls an Idiot Plot:
A plot which is kept in motion solely by virtue of the fact that everybody involved is an idiot.
For example, the army assigns a bunch of people to watch the flying saucer after it lands to see if anything happens. And by "a bunch" I mean two. Gort knocks them both out. The army figures out that Gort had moved, so they assign... another two guys to watch him. Needless to say this is not more successful. Later, Klaatu knocks out all of the electricity in the world. Oh, and Gort vaporizes all of the army's weapons. Clearly the aliens are powerful and dangerous, so what does the Army do? Shoot Klaatu? Klaatu's body is in jail, but once again nobody is watching him, so Gort breaks into the prison and steals him, and carries him from the jail back to the spaceship. Nobody notices, despite the fact that Gort is an 8 foot robot who walks about 2 miles an hour. Oh, and how does Klaatu get caught? Well, only three people know who he is, one of whom wants to turn him in. That person knows where the house is that Klaatu was staying at. Klaatu, wishing to evade capture, goes and hides out. Oh no, wait, he doesn't. He goes back to the house. Morons!

Anyway, it's a fun movie. Cheesy 50's sci-fi goodness with a great Bernard Herrmann score.

Position on the list: Oh shit! It's not there anymore!
Appears to have been bumped by: Trufant's The 400 Blows. Doesn't matter, we're doing the list as it was on Dec. 15 of last year.

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