The Day the Earth Stood Still / The Next Voice You Hear

Sun 7/23/2023 • 7PM PDT

Billy Wilder Theater

Admission is free. No advance reservations. Your seat will be assigned to you when you pick up your ticket at the box office. Seats are assigned on a first come, first served basis. The box office opens one hour before the event.

The Day the Earth Stood Still
U.S., 1951

Simultaneously sober and deeply out there, Robert Wise’s classic science fiction parable is virtually synonymous with 1950s Cold War anxiety and kitsch. After one of the era’s most iconic effects sequences, an outer space emissary disembarks from a flying saucer in Washington, D.C., with a simple message: Start getting along or humanity is headed for a permanent timeout. Backed up by Gort, a gargantuan, planet-killing robotic body guard, the alien (Michael Rennie) appeals to our better nature with mixed results until a child (Billy Gray) takes him on a surreptitious tour of both our problems and our promise. Wise wraps his nuclear-age fantasy in documentary realism that lifts and drags on the proceedings but never feels false.

35mm, b&w, 92 min. Director: Robert Wise. Screenwriter: Edmund H. North. With: Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe.

The Next Voice You Hear…
U.S., 1950

The whole world tunes in when God launches a daily radio show with the divine impact registered through the experiences of a suburban, blue collar family lead by James Whitmore and Nancy Davis (later Reagan). Made for less than $600,000 in 18 days by director William A. Wellman under a new MGM “experiment” in low-budget production, The Next Voice You Hear… still represented a risk for producer Dore Schary. A vocal advocate for Hollywood’s responsibility to “provoke thought” as well as to entertain, Schary acknowledged in his book, Case History of a Movie, that “message pictures” and “religion” rarely made for box office success. With Voice, he wrote, “We would have both.” Schary and Wellman nevertheless persisted because “a lot of people needed the assurance and comfort.” The result is as sincere a bit of oddballery as a major studio has ever produced.

35mm, b&w, 82 min. Director: William Wellman. Screenwriter: Charles Schnee. With: James Whitmore, Nancy Davis, Gary Gray.

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