A landmark in terms of science-fiction style and influence, The Day the Earth Stood Still boasts a wavering, theremin score (by Hitchcock regular Bernard Herrmann), a shiny, disc-shaped spacecraft and even a robot named Gort. Yet it deals in these sci-fi cliches with an amazing artistry. That score is delicately employed, the special effects still hold up and the black-and-white cinematography is as rich as that in any film noir. The movie dispels any notion you might have about shlocky science fiction. Michael Rennie plays Klaatu, an alien who visits earth to warn all nations to stop their warring ways. He’s promptly shot by a United States soldier, escapes military imprisonment and disguises himself as a normal human in order to further study mankind. While the movie’s thuddingly obvious pro-peace message is delivered with an ironic aggression – director Robert Wise seems to have thought his movie could have single-handedly ended the Korean War – other, subtler, political points still resonate. At one point, a reporter asks the disguised Klaatu if he’s fearful because of the alien “invasion.” When he replies that he’s only afraid when he sees “people substituting fear for reason,” the reporter cuts him off and quickly moves on to interview someone else. Even in 1951, it seems, paranoia was a more valuable media commodity than cool-headed logic.