Here we have an interesting example of something that had such a positive message, and was timed relatively well with it's underlying message. Even as a very dated-looking sci-fi film, the story is still something that completely holds up today. I know that it was eventually redone, but it's my understanding that it was rather horrible. But we'll hold that thought for now.
Our story begins when an alien named Klaatu (Michael Rennie) comes down to Earth to make contact with us. When he exits the vehicle, he claims to come in peace, and approaches, holding an unidentifiable device. The device is immediately shot from his hand, and Klaatu is injured. At this, a robot named Gort (Lock Martin) emerges from the vehicle and one by one disintegrates everyone's firearms, as well as a couple of military tanks. Klaatu tells the robot to stop using a foreign language, and he obeys so well that he sits perfectly still through most of the rest of the movie. Klaatu proceeds to inform everyone that the device was meant as a gift for the President to study life on other planets. It's probably worth mentioning he's got a helmet/mask on this whole time.
Klaatu is taken to a hospital to treat his wounds, and is kept under guard. However, he manages to speak to the President's secretary, informing him of an important message he must give to Earth. He's denied, and eventually manages to escape his guard and head out into the world to get his message out. By now, he has no more mask, but no photos have been taken of him without it, so he ends up going incognito quite nicely when word spreads of the alien's escape.
Eventually Klaatu finds a boarding house and takes refuge there under the name "Mr. Carpenter". He befriends a woman named Helen Benson (Patricia Neal) and her son, Bobby (Billy Grey). At one point, he babysits Bobby for them and is shown around Washington, giving him a rather dark perspective on Earth's violent habits. Bobby points him in the direction of who he thinks is the "smartest person alive", Professor Barnhardt (Sam Jaffe). It's to him he secretly reveals that he is the alien, and tells of his message needs to be spread.
Earth has advanced to the point of using rockets and atomic power in a weaponized way. The message is to serve as a warning that his race, along with several other neighbouring planets, are concerned about this since Earth will soon enough develop the means for space travel. If the message was ignored, they would be forced to eliminate Earth as a threat. And I'll stop the exposition there, as that's what should really be taken from this movie.
The most interesting thing about this movie is that the aliens are actually fearing us and what we're gonna do. It's a total role reversal from the usual movies that are either about invasion or... actually no, invasion is about it at 1951. This movie dared to say, just a few years after the war, that mankind has become a huge threat. In this world, we are the potential invaders of other planets. Even today, this movie can serve as a consistent reminder of how we can be.
In the end, it's actually kinda funny and dated, but Klaatu mentions that the race of robots is meant to get rid of signs of violence when they come up, hence the disintegrating guns. Because of that, they are a society that lives in peace. But the whole thing they haven't really had a chance to touch on yet is the now popular theme of a robot uprising. I had to giggle to myself at the idea, but I digress.
Being that this was 1951, it was interesting timing. People would have still been talking all about the events of World War II, presumably, so the film did serve as a good message about mankind and how, not only quickly, but violently we develop. And, as mentioned before, it's clearly still a point to get across today. In all honesty, I'd say to expect the pure cheese of an early sci-fi movie, but it's totally worth checking out. If nothing else, you get to see where the phrase "klaatu barada nikto" (which most would know better from 'Army of Darkness') is originally came from.
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