Daena Brown Week 4 Three Actors in the Film

There are different types of actors, some who are famous stars, like Marilyn Monroe and some who have such a strong personality that it carries both on and off the screen, like Sylvester Stallone. Then there are character actors, those actors who can become whoever the Director needs them to become. The character actors can play many different types of roles, and most of them are minor, supporting roles. Character actors tend to stay in the background, supporting other lead actors in film. “Average moviegoers may be only vaguely aware of them because each of their roles is so different from the other that they see only the characters rather than the actors” (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, Chapter 3, Section 4, paragraph 6). Their versatility makes them invaluable as character actors. They may not be grand stars, however their performance is as important as the lead in that they are a part of the mise en scene and are there to further the plot of the story.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) was directed by Robert Wise, and starred Michael Rennie as Klaatu, Patricia Neal as Mrs. Benson and also Frances Bavier as Mrs. Barley.

Michael Rennie was not well known as a Hollywood actor, he was from England and his background was in theater. He is best known for his role as Klaatu, and he is a character actor. Character “actors are able to fit invisibly into a wide variety of disparate characters, adapting to the needs of each script and director they work with” (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, Chapter 3, Section 4, paragraph 6). Rennie actually appeared in over 50 films and several television shows.











There are times during the film that Michael seems stiff and rehearsed, almost unemotional. Of course, part of Klaatu’s characterization is that of an alien being of higher intelligence and  his purpose for coming to Earth was to give a grave warning, stop the violence, or else! This is a serious matter indeed!


Mrs. Benson



Googlesearch.com worried eyes


googlesearch.com “Worried Eyes”

Mrs. Benson, played by Patricia Neal was a supporting role to Klaatu. Neal also has a strong background in stage acting, and it shows in her performance. Neal is also a character actor who makes an attempt at realism in her performance, but appears overly dramatic, or over acting throughout the film.


In many of her shots, (as seen in the photo above) she has worried eyes and this adds to the feel of paranoia, even though she befriends and even helps the alien. Neal spent her career moving back and forth from Broadway to film, playing many different roles. Neal was even cast to play Olivia Walton in the TV series The Waltons (1971), however she was not healthy enough to fulfill the role (IMDb.com).







In this You Tube clip she must speak the key phrase which will prevent the robot from attacking the Earth and will order the robot to save Klaatu.

Frances Bavier is Mrs. Barley, one of the boarders in the boarding house where Klaatu has decided to stay. Francis Bavier has a very long history of stage acting both on and off Broadway, she then acted in a few films and found her calling in TV sitcom on the Andy Griffith Show as Aunt Bea.

Bavier is also a character actor in this film, although she eventually became a personality actor who always played the role as an Aunt or a housekeeper. “Films with strong personality actors can make it difficult for audiences to differentiate between the actor and the character” (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, Chapter 3, Section 4, paragraph 3). Bavier was never able to shake that persona and she talked about that in her one and only interview after she retired.

Bravier retires


Bavier’s role in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) was important to further the Cold War theme of the film. Her big scene takes place where all of the boarders are sitting around the dinner table listening to the radio broadcast about the dangerous alien running loose in the city. She proclaims in her boisterous voice that the alien is really from the Soviet Union, alluding to the fears of Communist invasion during the 1950’s.

This is a You Tube clip of Bavier telling her husband to turn off the radio. It is the beginning of the scene, before she says the alien is from the Soviet Union. Notice that her husband says that Democrats are not people!



Francis Bravier retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0062592/

Gort Klaatu Barada Nikto (1951) The Day the Earth Stood Still. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqSIA2ISTvA

Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2011). Film: From watching to seeing. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

IMDb (n. d.) Patricia Neal Biography.  Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0623658/bio

Images retrieved from Google Search https://www.google.com/search?q=michael+rennie&client=firefox&hs=Kgw&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:unofficial&channel=sb&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=R_S0U_mgM8WDqgaxr4HICQ&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAg&biw=1366&bih=649

Klaatu’s warning (1951) The Day the Earth Stood Still Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_seKyGYlTHY


Daena Brown Week 3 Sound

To begin this weeks blog I found a short You Tube clip which gives examples of diegetic and non-diegetic sound in movies.

Describe each of the three basic categories of sound (dialogue, sound effects, and music).

Dialogue –is basically “Characters talking to one another in films” (Goodykoontz, & Jacobs 2011, Sec. 6.4, para 2). When the first dialog scenes were filmed, the actors could not move around because they had to be close to the microphone and they had to be recorded in a soundproof room to mask the sound of the recording device (Goodykoontz, 2011). This must have affected the way the film was viewed, and without some very creative cinematography, it would have seemed very boring. Eventually, script dialog improved so much that many phrases spoken in movies have become popular sayings, such as “make my day” or “we’re not in Kansas anymore” (Goodykoontz, & Jacobs 2011, Sec. 6.4).

Explain how the different categories of sound are being used in your chosen film


According to Goodykoontz and Jacobs (2011) “There are three basic reasons to use dialogue; to further the development of the plot, to enhance characterizations, and to establish very quickly important information the audience needs to know to understand the action (e.g., names, locations, dates, motivations, backstory)” (Sec. 6.4, para 7).

An important scene where Klaatu and Bobby are visiting the grave of Bobby's father who died in war. It is Arlington National Cemetery. This scene helps to develop Klaatu's character and show his "human side." google.com/search

An important scene where Klaatu and Bobby are visiting the grave of Bobby’s father who died in war. It is Arlington National Cemetery. This scene helps to develop Klaatu’s character and show his “human side.”



Sound Effects – Sound effects were first used in radio, before the television was even around. Families would hover around the radio to listen to their favorite program, and the sound effects made everything seem more realistic and set the environment for the program. “Jack Foley developed a studio for creating appropriate sounds while watching the film projected on a screen. People who make these everyday sound effects are now called Foley artists” (Goodykoontz, & Jacobs 2011, Sec. 6.4). Most sound effects are added post production during the editing process this is because most acting is done on a set in a warehouse and also because the actor’s voice must have a solid recording with no background noise.

Explain how the different categories of sound are being used in your chosen film

Sound Effects

Here is a sound bite from the movie. It is a man on the street speaking in the background of the movie (a voice over).

They've landedhttp://movie-sounds.org/download#L3F1b3Rlcy9lYXJ0aHN0aWxsL1RoZXl2ZS1sYW5kZWQhLU92ZXItb24tdGhlLU1hbGwhLVRoZXl2ZS1sYW5kZWQhLm1wMw==

The most memorable sound bit was when Klaatu was laying in the machine with Gort standing over him. The sound effect for the machine gradually got louder and louder until you just can’t take it, and then it just stops. I found the sound effect in two separate files from movie-sound.org




Music – The music in the movie has become as important as the lighting and the cinematography, and it helps to set the mise en scene. The music used in some movies is so popular, that a separate sound track is made to sell to the audience.

Explain how the different categories of sound are being used in your chosen film.

MUSIC– I found an excellent article online that described in-depth some of the musical scores in the movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). I found it difficult to paraphrase, but the example was so good that I wanted to include it here; therefore, I will quote the whole paragraph.

“The next cue is significant for its complete dissimilarity with previous musical  materials. In “Arlington,” we find Klaatu and Bobby (the boy) together in Arlington National Cemetery to visit the burial site of Bobby’s father. To accompany this touching scene in a cemetery that honors fallen military heroes, Herrmann composed a fanfare reminiscent of “Taps. This is the first scene in which Klaatu understands the tragic history of war in the United States before atomic power and emboldens him to preach his message to the masses.The ascending trumpet melody enhances Klaatu’s idealistic notions of galactic peace. In the newly-formed relationship between Bobby and Klaatu, Wise (the Director) suggests that if a child is safe within Klaatu’s custody, why is everyone so afraid of him? In the pleasant melody and diatonic harmonies, lacking in any dissonant clashes, Herrmann seems to echo that sentiment. Since the theremin has been used to highlight Klaatu’s alien origins thus far, the omission of the instrument speaks to Klaatu’s sense of humanity” (Bushard, 2009, Example 4)

The most excellent thing about this article is that it goes into detail about why the composer chose chords that clash to show disharmony and impose a feel of paranoia and fear. It also explains how the composer arranged certain pieces according to the camera shots and even has the Herrmann’s original notes within the article.

Herrmann used some very unusual instruments and techniques to write the score for this film. The theremin was used throughout the movie to represent the alien presence. Here is an example of the theremin, it is the actual studio recording for the movie, before it was mixed with the other instruments. It is a very creepy sound.

Overall, the special effects were few and far between, most of them were created using light techniques and sound. The dialogue was necessary to move the plot along and build the paranoia. The music score was amazing for 1951 and was the first of it’s kind, with many future movie composers using Herrmann’s techniques in their work.  The movie would not have been the same without the trademark sounds of the theremin, and it set the precedent for many sci fi movies.



Bushard, Antony J. (2009) Waging the Peace: Bernard Herrmann and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Retrieved from http://symposium.music.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=9237:waging-the-peace-bernard-herrmann-and-ithe-day-the-earth-stood-still-i&Itemid=124

The Day The Earth Stood Still 1951 – Theremin studio session. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzRb1OVpat0

Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2011). Film: From watching to seeing. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

How Hollywood Does It – Learn the Film History & Techniques of Sound (F2719) Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_LawtFbX94

Movie Sounds.org Retrieved from http://movie-sounds.org/apocalyptic-film-sounds/the-day-the-earth-stood-still-1951/theyve-landed-over-on-the-mall-theyve-landed

Images retrieved from https://www.google.com/search?q=image+1000+x+288+The+Day+the+Earth+Stood+Still&client=firefox&hs=uGa&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:unofficial&channel=sb&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=mCerU-KoMJOLqAbk44GQAQ&ved=0CDIQsAQ&biw=1366&bih=649#channel=sb&q=+The+Day+the+Earth+Stood+Still+%281951%29&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:unofficial&tbm=isch&imgdii=_

Lighting Week 2

Throughout the film The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), the main lighting effect is low key. This lighting effect uses deep shadows and high contrast and is used for dramatic scenes, horror movies and mystery thrillers. (Goodykoontz, & Jacobs, 2011)

Example of low light casting shadows. There are also three points of light behind Klaatu.

Example of low light casting shadows. There are also three points of light behind Klaatu.

However, the use of light in this movie is profound. The lighting makes the spaceship come to life when Klaatu enters it and begins to press buttons and wave his hand like he is activating something.

Another scene at the end, when the robot puts Klaatu in the machine to bring him back to life, it is simply a bright light shining and blinking with a few sound effects. Gort is backlit and it appears, underlit. It really makes for a creepy picture, Klaatu is dark and dead.

resurrectionThe light effects used during dialog scenes, like in the boarding house are a standard three point variation.

dialog The scene at the landing sight many time uses extremely high lighting to highlight the ship, and yet the same shot later in the movie uses low lighting with long shadows to draw attention to Gort, the robot.

lighting shot

In one of my favorite scenes, Klaatu and the woman are in the elevator, right at the moment that the electricity goes off. The lighting is extremely low key, with the only light peeking in through the slats on the elevator gate. The shadows play on their faces, as Klaatu reveals to her the truth, he is the spaceman, and he tells her everything. This is a turning point in the plot, she is now his greatest advocate in the fight to save the Earth.

It is moments like these in which the lighting sets the tone for the scene, and if it had been done differently, say with a standard three point arrangement the mood would not be quite as dramatic or mysterious.


Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2011). Film: From watching to seeing. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

North, Edmund H. (1951) The Day the Earth Stood Still

Week 1

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)



This is a clip about the making of the movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (1951) I thought it was appropriate since we are learning about the ways movies are made. I love to watch these old cult classics! I do not care for the remake because the remake loses the original cinematography along with the character of the 1950’s movie.


The Day the Earth Stood Still was released in 1951 and was directed by Robert Wise  and written by Edmund H. North. The main characters in the movie are Klaatu (who later used the alias Mr. Carpenter) played by Michael Rennie; Helen Benson, played by Patricia Neal; Tom Stevens, played by Hugh Marlowe; Dr. Barnhardt, played by Sam Jaffe; and Bobby Benson, played by Billy Gray. The movie takes place in chronological order.
     The movie begins with the radar sighting of an alien space ship and continues with nationwide radio announcements about the spaceship circling the earth. The whole world has stopped to listen to the radio announcements confirming that it is real. Then it comes in for a landing in Washington D.C, passing the National Monument and all of the historic sites and landing right in the middle of a baseball field. All of the emergency vehicles and army troops are deployed to the landing site were the public has gathered to see the ship, and the army has every gun drawn and aimed at the spaceship. After two hours, the door to the ship opens and out walks a space man, Klaatu who announces, “We have come to visit you in peace, and with good will.” Then he walks down the platform and pulls something out of his spacesuit and a soldier shoots him. Then out comes the robot, Gort and everyone backs up and Gort begins to melt the guns and tanks with a beam of light coming from his eyes. Klaatu was only trying to present the President with a gift.

     The army takes Klaatu to Walter Reed Hospital for medical attention. The President’s secretary visits Klaatu in the hospital, and this is where Klaatu announces why he is here. He requests a meeting with all of the nations leaders, and will not speak until all are present. The Secretary informs him that it is just too difficult to get all of the leaders together, and when he reaches out to them, they refuse to come. Even when Klaatu says that the future of the planet is at stake, the nations would not come together.

     Klaatu escapes from the hospital and merges in with society, using the alias Mr. Carpenter. He finds a boarding house where he meets Helen and her son Bobby, and Klaatu and Bobby become friends. The next day Bobby and Klaatu go around town looking at the sights and Klaatu speaks with profound wisdom and shows great patients with Bobby. Later, they visit Dr. Barnhardt were Klaatu correct the Dr.’s scientific problem which he had been working on for years. He later meets with the Dr. were they plan a meeting with the worlds top minds, Doctors and scientists. The Dr. convinces Klaatu to make a show of power to prove that he really could destroy the Earth, but he had to do it in such a way as to do no harm to anyone.  Eventually, Bobby discovers that Mr. Carpenter is really Klaatu, but nobody believes him. Then, Klaatu follows thru with his show of power – he disables everything electronic on earth, except for hospitals and planes in flight.  He just so happened to meet up with Helen right before the electricity is neutralized, and they get stuck in an elevator. Helen is skeptical until Klaatu tells her the truth, and explains why he is here. The other planets believe they are in danger because the earth has discovered how to use atomic energy to make a bomb. If he does not warn them of the dangers of war, the earth could be destroyed.

     Helen becomes his greatest advocate, and he makes her promise that if anything happens to him, that she must go to Gort and tell him, “Klaatu barada nikto.” If she does not do it, the robot will destroy the earth. Soon after their meeting, he is shot in the street and she must go to the robot and say the phrase. Though she is terrified, she does it. Afterward, Gort picks her up and puts her in the spaceship and then he retrieves Klaatu’s body. Gort puts the body in a machine on the spaceship and Klaatu is brought back from the dead. Here is the clip of the scene.

                                                           One of the best scenes of the movie!


     The scientists have all come to meet at the ship and Klaatu comes out of the ship and says, “There must be security for all, or no one is secure.” “If you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned out cinder.” “Join us, and live in peace or pursue your present course and face obliteration. ” And then he leaves and the people flee.

     The story here is simple; man has become a violent race, and they should learn to come together in diplomacy rather than killing each other in war. It is significant in that the movie was made during the Cold War, when nations were mistrusting of each other and the US had developed the atomic bomb.

     The movie takes place in chronological order, with the story unfolding in real-time, as if it is actually happening, This is exactly the way it was meant to play out, to make it more realistic. We would not see the development of Klaatu’s character if the time line would have been non-linear. Having the time line chronological helped to build anticipation as the story unfolded, and we were continuously reminded that the Earth was in danger of destruction. We also had the opportunity to get to know Klaatu, to learn that he truly was an Unitarian, he was striving for the outcome that would cause the greatest good to the greatest number of people, even if that meant destroying the Earth.


Behind the Big Screen, The Day the Earth Stood Still retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zRGgZQJNmY
“Gort, The Day the Earth Stood Still, 1951,  Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXLPFqdLPKY