Tag Archives: Al Capone

Blood and Robots

1 Jun

Our local Red Cross chapter called recently to ask if we’d donate some blood platelets.  Since we had some left over, we said “sure.” To get the platelets, a machine whirls the blood around in a centrifuge, as a tube in one arm sends blood to the machine and one in the other arm receives blood back from the machine (sans some of the platelets, we assume.)  The whole process takes about two hours or so.  As the arms must remain still during the process, reading a book is out; there’s no one to turn the pages. The procedure is, however, tailor-made for watching movies, which our local chapter thoughtfully provides on DVD.  We steered clear of the Adam Sandler section – we wanted a pleasant movie-watching experience, not the Ludvico technique from  A Clockwork Orange. We got hooked up to the machine and with the centrifuge whirling, the nurse started the film we’d chosen to re-watch, “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, directed by Robert Wise (the original one, starring Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal.)



We think this 1951 film is one of the better sci-fi films of its era, but thematically, it’s a bit muddled. At the opening, a huge flying saucer touches down in Washington, D.C.  Out steps Klaatu (Michael Rennie) and his laser-eyed robot friend, Gort. Klaatu, as we come to learn, is an odd mixture of Jesus of Nazareth and Al Capone.

Here’s the Jesus part. Klaatu is wounded when he reveals a gift for the President that a soldier mistakes for a weapon. Taken to Walter Reed hospital, he doesn’t spend much time on the mend. Klaatu swipes a suit from the hospital cleaners (?) and soon he’s out to explore D.C. on his own. Examining the tag on the purloined suit (which just happens to fit perfectly), he sees it belongs to a man named Carpenter. Later in the picture, Klaatu is killed by the military, who shoot first and ask questions later. It’s Gort to the rescue as Patricia Neal awakens the behemoth with the words Klaatu has given her: “Klaatu barada nikto.” (Memorize these words in case you’re ever on a quiz show, and with a million dollars on the line, they ask what the words are.) Back aboard ship, Gort hooks his humanoid master up to a gizmo, and in short order, raises him from the dead.

Here’s the Al Capone part.  Klaatu has come to give the people of Earth a message.  Sure, he comes in peace, but he’s backin’ up his peaceful words with muscle.  Earthlings have developed atomic weapons and them atomic weapons make Klaatu’s people and those on other worlds a mite nervous. (The fact that Earth people have no interstellar delivery systems for those weapons, and until he showed up, didn’t even know there were other inhabited worlds seems to have escaped Klaatu’s notice.)  He doesn’t give a fig about how Earth governs its own affairs, but if Earthlings start waving those atom bombs around on his world, well, they just might have to reduce Earth to a burned-out cinder. The Luka Brasis of Earth are gonna sleep with the fishes. With that, he and Gort hightail it out of there at warp speed.

As the credits rolled up the screen, the centrifuge ceased its whirling, the platelets were collected, and we gorged ourselves on juice and cookies.