Robert Wise did a masterful job directing the picture. Given the fact that he was directing a new and somewhat unknown lead actor in Michael Rennie, Wise did a superb job. Could anyone else have played Clatu other than Rennie?
The premise of the story, a visitation from another planetary system to warn us off our reckless advancement into the nuclear age is very timely even in 2004. Clatu, the alien traveler, needs to discuss the ramifications of our behavior with every nation on Earth but learns that such a meeting is impossible given the petty international squabbling and mistrust of the day. Clatu escapes his captivity in the hospital and moves around disguised as a Maj. Carpenter. He meets Helen Benson (Patricia Neal) and her son Bobby (Bill Gray) and learns about many of our human foibles. Also involved is Hugh Marlow's character, Helen Bensons male companion. Sam Jaffe is wonderful as Prof. Barnhardt.
Eventually, Clatu is shot (a second time) and killed. Gort, the robot, with the intervention of Helen revives Clatu and in a final climatic scene Clatu delivers his message. This is a marvelous film even after 53 years.
The DVD is also well worth the small investment. I purchased my copy at a discount store for $5.50....I should be arrested. I agree with an earlier reviewer that the number of extras devoted to this old film is remarkable.
If you get the chance grab this DVD. Even after all these years the movie is fresh and certainly timely. Also, a final observation. Given the paranoia in most modern movies dealing with aliens, The Day the Earth Stood Still is another perspective on the topic of alien visitations. Its amazing how perverted the whole genre has become. This is certainly a reflection of society as a whole.