I have lived a few decades and have seen many changes. When I was a youngster, I lived in a house with locks that could be opened with something called a "skeleton key". This is a key that could be purchased at any 'Five and Dime' (Woolworth's). It would, I suspect open most side or back doors of any house in my little town. Yet we felt safe. Today, every external door of my house has deadbolt locks in addition to the door handle lock. And the town I live in is no bigger than the town I lived in as a child. The crime rate is no worse, I suspect.
A few days ago, I was watching The Day The Earth Stood Still, a classic science fiction movie made in 1951. In it, Michael Rennie, a complete stranger, comes to a boarding house looking for a room on the night that a alien from space goes missing from a hospital. At the house is a single mom, a widow, with a young son. The young widow is being courted and, the next day, is picked up by her boyfriend for a picnic. The young widow has no one to watch young Bobby and ends up turning him over to the stranger for the day.
In any review of the movie, this is overlooked.
Bobby, by the way, is played by Billy Gray. Who later portrays a pesky early teenager on Father Knows Best before his acting career petered out. And who went on to a career as a motorcycle racer of little renown before ending up hawking some kind of exercise device on the internet.
But I digress...
The focus is all on the distrust of others (in this case, primarily space aliens and the Russians) and how we are threatening the peace and safety of the galaxy (or the universe, it's not clear) by our "rudimentary" atomic weapons. The alien from the "wonderful", "peaceful" worlds who live under the threat of annihilation by a race of robots they themselves created is there to warn the earth that we will be annihilated if we venture beyond our atmosphere by developing atomic powered spaceships. The theme is we must learn to live together.
But I would like to get back to the concept I started with. Even in the early 50's, parents were warning their children not to talk to strangers. And, in that classic movie, the mother (presumably a good one) just sends her boy off with an adult who wandered in one night and who volunteers to watch her son so she can spend some time with her (it turns out later) becomes distrustful of the stranger and suspects he is the space alien.
The truly odd thing is that I never noticed this until I watched the movie for the umpteenth time the other day.
And I thought I was perceptive...
A Night Unremembered
7 years ago