I watched the 1951 original last night and marvelled at the fact that, during the height of McCarthyism and the Cold War, that this movie carried such a blatant anti-war and anti-nuclear message.
In reading further about the movie, at Wikipedia, several bits of trivia were also revealed:
[li]That the character Bobby (the young boy) was played by Billy Gray who later starred as Bud Anderson on “Father Knows Best”.[/li][li]That Frank Lloyd Wright helped design the spaceship for the movie set.[/li][/ul]
What say the teeming masses?
Perhaps my favorite of the Big Three (or four) of early-'50s filmed sci-fi, along with Forbidden Planet, War of the Worlds, and The Thing.
Maybe a bit preachy in spots but fine, economical direction, decent performance by most of the cast, and Gort is one of the all-time badass characters. The recent remake doesn’t hold a candle to it, IMHO.
Random idiocy: it occurs to me it would be fun to see Car & Driver do an April-issue performance comparison between Klaatu’s flying saucer and the C57D from Forbidden Planet.
If a flying saucer like that ever did land, there would be no time, day or night, when the area surrounding it wouldn’t be packed with curious spectators. The notion that everyone would go home, just leaving a couple of bored MPs, always struck me as absurd.
One of the movies from the 50’s that still works for me. My brother and I saw it at the local theater at night on a school night when I was 9 or 10 and he was 6 or 7. It scared us so bad we were afraid to walk the three blocks home. We still talk about that night!
I loved Pat Neal from then on, and Michael Rennie remained a favorite as well. I think the other actors’ roles set their appeal factor for me and I couldn’t separate them from those roles until I made a conscious effort to do so.
The next movie to have that sort of impact on me was Dr. Strangelove and, to a lesser extent, Fail Safe, but those were about the fate of humanity. The sci-fi thing never made much difference to me until Star Trek (TOS).
Definitely one of my favorites from that era of sci fi. Klaatu barada nikto! The other two from around the same era that I never get weary of watching are The Incredible Shrinking Man and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
I agree that the film is one of the best science fiction films made, and is a rare case of the film being superior to the story that inspired it. The remake is embarassing. And it starts with the ship landing. One of my pet peeves about Close Encounters is that the damned thing ends at the interesting part.
The special effects still hold up very well – I love Gort’s laser eye effect. The ship’s landing (with the animated shadow) and the way the ship opened are beautifully done.
I’ve read rumors for years that Frank lloyd Wright had a hand in designing the ship, but it hasn’t been corroborated, which makes me doubt it. The Wikpedia article goes to an essay which no longer seems to exist, and, unless that essay cited an authoritative source, I don’t think I’d credit it, either.
I think people are viewing the past through nostalgia if you’re holding it up as some great intellectual sci-fi work. There’s not really anything special about it. You’re essentially giving it extra credit because it’s old - movies with more interesting plots with less stupid stuff get panned here all the time because we’ve grown to expect better.
A trivial point perhaps, and I don’t have a copy of the movie to check this out, but I thought that Klaatu tells Helen that she must tell Gort “Klaatu barada niktu (as in nic-two)” but when Helen tells Gort she says "Klaatu barada nikto (as in nic-toe).
I never have seen the re-make, so could someone answer if Klaatu, ever reveals his true self? Michael Rennie (loved him in The Third Man series, too when I was a little shaver) tells the scientists in the first one that he looks human, so they’d be more comfortable (or something to that effect).
So does one see Brad Pitt change into a spidery-looking alien with all kinds of “flah” dripping out his mandibles??