Running Time: 92 minutes
MPAA Rating: G
Format: Standard 4:3
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Mono
Languages: English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Region: 1
MSRP: $14.98

Own It!
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Considered to be a hallmark of science fiction cinema, 20th Century Fox's 1951 release The Day the Earth Stood Still led to the great sci-fi boom of the 1950s. An incredibly powerful cautionary tale (isn't all great science fiction just really good moral fables?) warning us about man's agression towards his fellows, it's message is still timely even 53 years after it's initial theatrical run.

When a large spacecraft lands in Washington, DC, a messenger from the stars, Klaatu (Micheal Rennie) and his robot Gort, encounter the most baffling monster of all: Man. Mankind reacts to the strange visitors in his usual fashion- hysteria, confusion, and sadly, violence. After escaping the government and hiding out, Klaatu befriends a young mother and her son (Patricia Neal and Billy Gray), who help the alien emissary begin to understand the noble beast known as "humanity". But the space traveller has a grim warning to announce to that could mean the destruction of our world.

Quite possibly one of the best "anti-war" films of all time. Stunningly heartfelt performances by Micheal Rennie, Patricia Neal, and especially Sam Jaffe as Professor Barnhardt (a truly gutsy casting choice by Fox, Jaffe was blacklisted at the time by Hollywood for his political beliefs as a result of the McCarthy hearings).

Full frame 1:33.1. Crisp, clean picture....a testament to the restoration efforts of the studio. Looks and sounds (it's a THX certified picture) great.

The disc, part of the "Fox Studio Classics" imprint, is loaded to the brim. Only drawback? It's a "flipper"...the majority of the supplementary material is located on the opposite side of the disc than that used for the tracks containing the feature. But, I'm willing to forgive Fox for it.

Side One-
Audio Commentary by director Robert Wise and author/filmaker Nicholas Meyer: A real treat...plays out like Wise's guide to the Studio System circa 1940s/50s. Wise also comments on his earlier collaborations with Orson Welles (he served as editor on Citizen Kane, amongst others), as well as later efforts, such as Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Fox Movietone Newreel, circa 1951: A nice little promotional fluff piece for several stars under contract with Fox at the time, with footage of a promotional event staged for DTESS with an actor in Klaatu gear being awarded at a science fiction society outting.

Original Theatrical Trailer

Side Two-
"Making the Earth Stand Still": 70 minute documentary on the making of this sci-fi classic. Appears to have been shot on video (making it look extremely cheap), but highly informative.

Interviews with director Wise and several people involved in the cast and crew.

Restoration: After a short text piece on the efforts made by the studio to perserve DTESS, what follows is a compare and contrast video section involving footage from the 1993 laser disc master, the 1995 film transfer master, the 2002 Film Restoration, and the 2002 Film Restoration with video restoration. It's nice to see so much hard work is being done by Fox to keep this film vibrant, but after a while it seems like they're beating a dead horse, because I can see very little difference between the 1995 film transfer master and the later efforts.

Still Galleries: Extensive collection of stills and images, broken down into the following categories- Production, Scene and Set Photos, Construction Blue Prints for the Ship, American and British Pressbooks, and Posters, Lobby Cards, Space Ship Models and Gort. The real surprise here is the Shooting Script!

Trailers- Two bonus trailers, on for One Million Years B.C. (yum, yum....cave girl bikini Raquel Welch!) and Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Anthony Conn, aka The Hong Kong Cavalier, 6/23/2004