A Musical Note: Bernard Hermann – Radar: The Day the Earth Stood Still

Two movies in the 1950s changed the way we looked at science fiction.

They were “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in 1951, and “Forbidden Planet” in 1957.  Prior to—and between them as well—science fiction films were cheap and childish.  Plenty of fun for kids on a Saturday afternoon, but not something the whole family would go and see.

These two films had very adult concepts and messages.  I loved them both, but the first one, the black and white “The Day the Earth Stood Still” is my all-time favorite early SciFi movie, not least because of the incredible music by Bernard Hermann… which eventually got me to purchase and attempt to play the theremin an amazing electronic instrument that looks like science fiction itself.

Radar is the theme for the opening credits for The Day the Earth Stood Still.  Yes, Virginia, back in the day the credits came first, not at the end of movies.

I do not expect you all to like this piece.  It is, I assume, an acquired taste.   Still, it is one that flashes me back to a very good movie every time I hear it.

Note that today’s video has dialogue, but that the voices have been removed and added as subtitles.  This is NOT the way the movie was originally shown.

Please enjoy Bernard Hermann and The Day the Earth Stood Still

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3 responses to “A Musical Note: Bernard Hermann – Radar: The Day the Earth Stood Still

  1. Wow. I used to go to the Kingsway movie house with the high school gang, but why didn’t I see this? I was a regular. Great music. The ‘theremin’ sounded like a buzzing fly to me, if my identification is correct. Thank you for posting this. It was a great eye-opener. What was that radio show that set people off. War of the Worlds Gees. It’s so long ago……But thanks for giving me the memory.

    • Orson Wells and the Mercury Theater of the Air presented a modernized version of H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds on October 30, 1938. Despite the commercial interruptions and the assurance that “we return now to our play…” people panicked all over the east coast.

      History has it that it was not intended to scare… but from what I know of Orson Wells… well, maybe it was.

      • Thanks Richard. I just picked up on the possibility that there was a reference to this in the video clip – like they were not ‘taking chances’ or something.

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