Mars Needs Women
|Mars Needs Women|
|Directed by||Larry Buchanan|
|Produced by||Larry Buchanan|
|Written by||Larry Buchanan|
|Narrated by||Larry Buchanan|
|Music by||Ronald Stein|
|Editing by||Larry Buchanan|
|Distributed by||American International Television|
|Running time||80 minutes|
Mars Needs Women is an American International Pictures science fiction film made for TV by schlock artist/auteur Larry Buchanan, was filmed in 1966 and released in 1967. The film features Tommy Kirk, Yvonne Craig and Byron Lord. It was shot during a two-week period in Richardson and Dallas, Texas but portrayed as Houston, Texas. The film was directed by Larry Buchanan and produced by his company, Azalea Pictures.
Kirk later called the film "undoubtedly one of the stupidest motion pictures ever made. How I got talked into it, I don't know."
In 1966, a U.S. military station, the United States Decoding Service, (U.S.D.S.) NASA Wing, in Houston, has intercepted a message, and after decoding, the message contains only the cryptic statement, "Mars Needs Women". Apparently, Martians have a genetic deficiency that produces only male babies. A mission to Earth is launched, consisting of five Martians, led by Dop (Tommy Kirk). The team intends to recruit women to come to Mars, and select five prospective candidates. Using their sophisticated transponder, the leader attempts to make contact with the military who have tracked their arrival on Earth.
When the U.S. military see the Martians as invaders, the team takes on the guise of Earthlings, and acquire human clothes, money, maps and transportation. They set their sights on a number of women including a Homecoming Queen, stewardess, stripper and, especially, a Pulitzer Prize winning scientist, Dr. Bolen (Yvonne Craig), an expert in space genetics. Resorting to hypnosis, the women are captured. Dop becomes enamored with Dr. Bolen, and is ready to sabotage the mission. After the military forces discover their hideout, the Martians are eventually forced to go back to Mars without their captives.
As appearing in Mars Needs Women, (main roles and screen credits identified):
- Tommy Kirk as Dop – Martian Fellow #1 / Mr. Fast, Seattle Sun reporter
- Yvonne Craig as Dr. Marjorie Bolen
- Warren Hammack as Martian Doctor / Fellow #2
- Tony Huston as Martian Fellow #3 (as Anthony Huston)
- Larry Tanner as Martian Fellow #4
- Cal Duggan as Martian Fellow #5
- Pat Delaney as an artist abducted by Martians (as Pat Delany)
- Sherry Roberts as Brenda Knowlan, abductee
- Donna Lindberg as Stewardess abducted by Martians
- "Bubbles" Cash as Stripper abducted by Martians [N 1]
- Byron Lord as Col. Bob Page, U.S.D.S.
- Roger Ready as Stimmons
- Barnett Shaw as Man at military conference
- Neil Fletcher as Secretary of Defense
- Chet Davis as network news reporter
Using their transponder, Dop, the Martian leader, in a poor-fitting wet suit, "materialized" in the "Space Center", attempting to explain his mission on Earth. John Ashley, who had just made The Eye Creatures (1965) for Buchanan, says he was meant to play the lead role but got busy on another project and Tommy Kirk stepped in instead.
Kirk had previously played a Martian seeking Earth women in AIP's Pajama Party (1964). He had made his mark as a Disney child star, but after being fired, was hoping to revive his career with Mars Needs Women treating it as a serious project, to the extent of rewriting some of his dialogue. Reportedly, Buchanan allowed Kirk to create his own soliloquy for his scene in a planetarium (at Dallas Fair Park) as he explains that his world is dying.[N 2]
The other notable lead, Yvonne Craig, had starred in several films,[N 3] and numerous television roles.
Over a short, two-week shooting schedule, Buchanan filmed the entire movie for Mars Needs Women in his hometown, Dallas, pretending to be Houston. Faced with the inevitable meager budget, he resorted to using available spaces, including office buildings to serve as NASA headquarters. The typical shoddy production values of a B film were evident, with the Southland Life Insurance Building visible as the Martians drive among the humans; other prominent local landmarks including the Southern Methodist University were also featured. Footage from the SMU Homecoming game was used and the Homecoming Queen was one of the abductees. Additional footage was shot at Dallas Fair Park (Planetarium, Lagoon, and Science Building). Additional footage included Dallas Love Field (where a man was reading the Houston Chronicle) and the Gypsy Room on Harry Hines Blvd. The scene at the NASA "Space Center" was filmed in Richardson (north of Dallas) in the Antenna Building belonging to Collins Radio.
Mars Needs Women is padded with long sequences taken from stock footage (the North American X-15 spacecraft being launched from its Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress mother ship and General Dynamics F-111 fighter-bomber in particular). Due to poor lighting, parts of the film were made by undercranking the camera and having the actors move more slowly, sometimes shooting at 18 or 12 frames per second instead of the usual 24. Actors also stretched out scenes with long sequences with no dialogue, either walking or doing menial tasks. A lengthy scene also involves the camera focused on a loudspeaker.
Although originally intended for theatrical release, Mars Needs Women was distributed directly to television by American International. The film was subsequently universally panned by critics but met a receptive late night audience as a curious example of a cult film where all the unintended hilarity came from the overly serious approach, "cheesy" production values and ludicrous plot.
In the early 1990s, Buchanan announced a sequel was in development at Universal Pictures with John Avnet and Jordan Kerner. It was intended to be a "sophisticated romantic comedy based on the ideas first set forth in the original." However, the film was not made.
- Although an amateur actress, "Bubbles" Cash was a well known stripper in the Dallas area.
- On the laserdisc commentary, Kirk elaborated that his speech was an homage to the address to Earth by Michael Rennie in the earlier classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).
- Craig's resume included starring with Elvis Presley, as well as being featured in many television roles.
- Nixon, Rob. "Article: Mars Needs Women." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: June 22, 2012.
- Ray 1991, p. 53.
- "Mars Needs Women (1967)." IMDb. Retrieved: June 21, 2012.
- Minton, Kevin, "Sex, Lies, and Disney Tape: Walt’s Fallen Star", Filmfax Issue 38, April 1993 p 70
- "Credits: Mars Needs Women." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: June 22, 2012.
- Mark McGee, Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures, McFarland, 1996 p238
- "Bio: Tommy Kirk." Disney, 2012. Retrieved: June 22, 2012.
- Dietrich, Christopher. "Review: Mars Needs Women." dvddrive-in.com. Retrieved: June 22, 2012.
- "Yvonne Craig Movies, Yvonne Craig Films, Yvonne Craig TV Shows." Tv.com, December 31, 1969. Retrieved: June 22, 2012.
- Scheib, Richard. "Mars Needs Women, Rating: One Star." moria.co, 2012. Retrieved: June 22, 2012.
- Goodsell, Greg. "The Weird and Wacky World of Larry Buchanan". Filmfax, No. 38, April/May 1993, p. 60.
- Ray, Fred Olen. The New Poverty Row: Independent Filmmakers as Distributors. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Publishers, 1991. ISBN 978-0-8995-0628-9.
- Mars Needs Women at allmovie
- Mars Needs Women at the Internet Movie Database
- Mars Needs Women at the TCM Movie Database