Cat Women of the Moon (1953)

Rating:

USA. 1953.

Crew

Director – Arthur Hilton, Screenplay – Roy Hamilton, Story/Producers – Jack Rabin & Al Zimbalist, Photography (b&w) – William Whitley, Music – Elmer Bernstein, Special Effects – Rabin, Zimbalist, Irving Block & Wah Chang, Makeup – Harry Thomas, Art Direction – William Glasgow. Production Company – 2-M Productions/Astor

Cast

Sonny Tufts (Laird Grainger), Marie Windsor (Helen Salenger), Victor Jory (Kip Reisner), Douglas Fowley (Walter Wallace), Bill Phipps (Doug Smith), Susan Morrow (Lambda), Carol Brewster (Alpha), Susan Alexander (Zeta)


Plot

Under the command of Laird Granger, a rocket expedition makes a landing on the dark side of the Moon. Navigator Helen Salenger guides them to a cave. There they find a world inhabited by cat women who have eliminated all the men of their species. The cat women reveal that they sent telepathic messages to Helen to draw the expedition to them so that they can commander the spaceship and return to Earth to liberate women there. In order to do so, the cat women must seduce the secrets of how to operate the rocket away from the men.


Cat Women of the Moon is regarded as one of the classic bad science-fiction films of the 1950s and is frequently mentioned in the same breath as other turkeys like Robot Monster (1953), Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) and Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959).

That said, in eventually seeing Cat Women of the Moon, it seems more dull than it ever does awful. Its effects are cheap but mostly passable – the Moon’s surface consists of several limited but adequately convincing painted backdrops and the model rocket shots are okay. On the other hand, the wires can be seen on the giant spider and there is one hilarious shot where the Moon outside the rocketship window is seen as a topographical map of the Moon replete with meridian lines. The sets are not much better – most amusingly, the Cat Women’s temple on the Moon appears to be a set rehashed from a higher-budgeted historical feature, even down to the lace curtains. The film contains some of the least convincing fights ever conducted on screen – you can clearly see the punches not even connecting. The film’s 70 minutes prove a stretch to get through.

Perhaps the worst thing about Cat Women of the Moon is not necessarily any of the effects but Sonny Tufts. Sonny Tufts, a non-star of 1940s wartime romances and Westerns, looks exactly like someone has taken a Western actor and placed them in a science-fiction film. He moves through with the macho stolidity of a John Wayne, even the same bowlegged stance. One expects that at any moment he is likely to pull out a six-gun and sort the Cat Women out.

Cat Women of the Moon falls into a peculiar 1950s brand of outer space sex fantasies, which also include the likes of Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953), Devil Girl from Mars (1954), Fire Maidens of Outer Space (1956), Queen of Outer Space (1958), Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, The Astounding She-Monster (1958) and Invasion of the Star Creatures (1962). These films have a fascinating dual edge to them. On one hand, Cat Women of the Moon is about finding a world of ethereal, mysterious, alluring virgin queens tame for the conquering; on the other hand, these films embody the fragile fears of the era’s male chauvinism – the fear of women gaining freedom and independence. In almost all cases, these films equate the women having dispensed with men with their having become coldly superior. One must remember that these films were made just after World War II during which women had found themselves inadvertently forced to take over jobs in traditional male service industries and in so doing gaining a good deal more freedom than they were previously accustomed to. These films operate as lessons for men to teach women the value of traditional subservience, of letting them recover their emotions by turning away from this cold-hearted superiority that lets them think they can run things on their own, while those who do not learn the lesson are simply killed off.

Cat Women of the Moon was remade as Missile to the Moon (1959).


Full film available online here:-


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