The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Like the Transformers movies, The Day the Earth Stood Still involves alien visitors arriving on Earth, but Klaatu (Michael Rennie) and his robotic companion Gort have more in mind than just finding other alien robots and exchanging punches with each other while American flags billow majestically in the background. No, Klaatu has come to warn mankind that they’ve caught the attention of the larger interstellar community, and the extraterrestrials are frankly in no mood for our shit. Furthermore, if we attempt to export our violent savagery into the cosmos, they’re going to have to come back down here and spank us. And by spank us I mean reduce the Earth to “a burned-out cinder.” That might seem kind of a harsh judgment, but given that we greet their alien messenger Klaatu by shooting him right as he’s trying to show off his gift for the President, it’s hard to deny that they might have a point.
The stoic robot Gort is single-handedly a more memorable and threatening presence than any of the ‘bots seen in the Transformers movies, and all director Robert Wise needed to pull that off was a nondescript silver robot suit and a Daft Punk helmet with a snazzy sliding visor.
Fun Robot Fact
Early in production, 20th Century Fox studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck suggested Jack Palance to fill out the Gort suit. Instead, Gort was eventually played by Lock Martin, a non-actor who was the doorman for Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Martin, who was 7’7, was picked for his height.
Where Can I See It?
It’s available for rental or purchase on Amazon.