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|
|Edited by||Larry Buchanan|
|Distributed by||American International Television|
Mars Needs Women is a 1967 American science fiction film independently made by Azalea Pictures that was then directly syndicated to television by American International Pictures. It was produced, written, and directed by schlock artist/auteur Larry Buchanan, and stars Tommy Kirk, Yvonne Craig, and Byron Lord.
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 developed a genetic deficiency that now produces only male children. A mission to Earth is launched, consisting of five Martian males, led by Dop (Tommy Kirk). The team intends to recruit Earth women to come to Mars to mate and produce female offspring, saving their civilization from extinction; the team finally selects their prospective candidates. Using their sophisticated transponder, Dop attempts to make contact with the military, who have now tracked their arrival on Earth.
The U. S. military eventually views the Martians as invaders, so the team takes on the guise of Earth men, acquiring human clothes, money, maps, and transportation. They quickly set their sights on five women: a Homecoming Queen, a stewardess, a stripper and, most especially, a Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist, Dr. Bolen (Yvonne Craig), an expert in "space genetics." Resorting to hypnosis, the women are captured, but Dop quickly becomes enamored with Dr. Bolen; soon he is ready to sabotage their mission to Earth for her. After the military discover their hideout, the Martians are forced to return home without their female captives.
Mars still needs women.
Main roles and screen credits:
- 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
Kirk called the film "undoubtedly one of the stupidest motion pictures ever made. How I got talked into it, I don't know."
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]
Over a short, two-week shooting schedule, Buchanan filmed Mars Needs Women in his hometown, Dallas, pretending it 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 Southern Methodist University, were also featured. Footage from the SMU Homecoming game was used, and the Homecoming Queen was one of the Martian's "recruits." Footage was shot at Dallas Fair Park (Planetarium, Lagoon, and Science Building). Additional footage was shot at Dallas Love Field, where a man is shown reading the Houston Chronicle, and at 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 aviation 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. One lengthy scene 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 subsequently met a receptive late night viewing audience, becoming a curious example of the cult film, where all the unintended hilarity comes from the film's 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." The film was never 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.
- "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
- Minton, Kevin, "Sex, Lies, and Disney Tape: Walt’s Fallen Star", Filmfax Issue 38, April 1993 p 70
- "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.
- Video on YouTube
- 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