Cat-Women of the Moon
|Cat-Women of the Moon|
Theatrical release half-sheet display poster
|Directed by||Arthur Hilton|
|Produced by||Jack Rabin|
|Written by||Roy Hamilton|
|Music by||Elmer Bernstein|
|Cinematography||William P. Whitley|
|Edited by||John A. Bushelman|
|Distributed by||Astor Pictures|
Cat-Women of the Moon is an independently made 1953 American black-and-white 3D science fiction film, produced by Jack Rabin and Al Zimbalist, directed by Arthur Hilton, that stars Sonny Tufts, Victor Jory, and Marie Windsor. The film was released by Astor Pictures.
Using a spaceship furnished with wooden tables and rolling chairs, a "scientific expedition" to the Moon encounters a race of Cat-Women, the last eight survivors of a two-million-year-old civilization. Residing deep within a Moon cave, where they have managed to maintain not only the remnants of a breathable atmosphere and Earth-like gravity but also a pair of gigantic spiders, the Cat-Women sport black unitards, beehive hairstyles, and elaborate cosmetics. Realizing that the remaining air in their cave will soon be gone, the Cat-Women plan to steal the expedition's spaceship, migrate to Earth, and in the words of the Cat-Women's queen, Alpha (Carol Brewster), "We will get their women under our power, and soon we will rule the whole world"!
Through the use of their telepathic ability, the Cat-Women have been subliminally controlling Helen Salinger (Marie Windsor), the mission navigator and only female member of the expedition. Once the expedition arrives on the Moon, the Cat-Women take complete control of Helen's mind, after which she leads the entire crew (clad in heavy spacesuits and equipped with matches, cigarettes, and a gun) to the Cat-Women's cave. Although unable to control the male minds, the Cat-Women are nevertheless able to influence the male crew through the mind-controlled Helen, their own superior intellectual abilities, and feminine wiles. As explained to Helen by the Cat-Woman named Beta (Suzanne Alexander), "Show us their weak points. We'll take care of the rest".
Along with telepathy, the Cat-Women have the ability to transport themselves, unseen and instantly, from place-to-place within their living space. They use this ability to steal the crew's spacesuits from the mouth of the Moon cave, where they had been left unguarded. This forces the crew deeper into the cave and into violent confrontations with two resident Moon spiders and the Cat-Women themselves. Having failed to exterminate them, the Cat-Women approach the men openly, using Helen to help establish friendly relations. Kip (Victor Jory), who has been suspicious throughout the encounter, confronts Alpha about the missing spacesuits, and she promises to return them in the morning. Food and drink are then brought, and private conversations between crew and Cat-Women begin. As the conversations progress ("You're too smart for me, baby. I like 'em stupid") the gun-wielding Kip sits alone, unable to intervene, while the Cat-Women successfully exploit the "weak points" of expedition commander Laird (Sonny Tufts) and the other men.
By that evening, the Cat-Women have learned how to pilot the spaceship. Following a modern dance performance by the Cat-Women, Walt (Douglas Fowley) is stabbed to death by Beta. However, the Cat-Woman named Lambda (Susan Morrow) falls in love with crew member Doug (William Phipps) and tells him of their plot, saying, "I love you Doug, and I must kill you." With this news, the male crew conclude that they are in danger. Carrying three spacesuits, Alpha, Beta, and Helen make a break for the spaceship. Lambda teleports ahead to delay them, and is bludgeoned to death by Beta with a Moon rock. Kip catches up, and fires several shots, killing Alpha and Beta, but leaving Helen uninjured. The surviving expedition members escape the cave, reach their spaceship, and begin their return trip to Earth.
- Sonny Tufts as Laird Grainger
- Victor Jory as Kip Reissner
- Marie Windsor as Helen Salinger
- William Phipps as Doug Smith
- Douglas Fowley as Walt Walters
- Carol Brewster as Alpha
- Suzanne Alexander as Beta
- Susan Morrow as Lambda
- Bette Arlen as Cat-Woman
- Roxann Delman as Cat-Woman
- Ellye Marshall as Cat-Woman
- Judy Walsh as Cat-Woman
Upon the film's release, Variety magazine wrote: "This imaginatively conceived and produced science-fiction yarn [an original story by producers Zimbalist and Rabin] takes the earth-to-moon premise and embellishes it with a civilization of cat-women on the moon ... Cast ably portray their respective roles ... Arthur Hilton makes his direction count in catching the spirit of the theme, and art direction is far above average for a film of this calibre. William Whitley's 3-D photography provides the proper eerie quality".
The New York Times wrote: "They (The Cat-women) try to get their hands on the visitors' rocket ship, hoping to come down here and hypnotize us all. Considering the delegation that went up, it's hard to imagine why".
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction calls the film absurd, but notes that it "qualifies as one of the most influential science fiction films ever made" as it influenced later films "in which astronauts discover decadent, all-female (or almost all-female) civilizations on other planets, including Fire Maidens from Outer Space (1956), Queen of Outer Space (1958), Nude on the Moon (1961), [and] Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968)."
- An original two-projector, polarized 3D-format showing of Cat-Women of the Moon was featured at the first 3D Film Expo at Hollywood's Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in September 2003, and also at the "3-D at the Castro" film festival, at the historic Castro Theatre in San Francisco, on October 17, 2006.
- The 1995 Englewood Entertainment VHS video release was in the red-and-blue anaglyph 3D format.
- The first "flat" version of Cat-Women of the Moon was released on DVD by Image Entertainment.
- Since 2007 The L. A. Connection improvisational comedy troupe regularly screens the film in its live "Dub-a-vision" performances.
- Cat-Women of the Moon was used as the title of two programs about sex in science fiction broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in August and September 2011. They were presented by the writer Sarah Hall, and produced in Manchester by Nicola Swords; they featured a number of British writers including Iain M. Banks, China Miéville, and Nicola Griffith.
- Cat-Women of the Moon was remade five years later as Missile to the Moon (1958), which was also released by Astor Pictures.
- The film was the inspiration for performer Pat Benatar to change her appearance for one Halloween, which assisted in her acquiring a record deal.
- Cat-Women of the Moon inspired several songs on Shakespears Sister's second album Hormonally Yours, among them their UK #1 hit "Stay".
- The opening track of Is It Man or Astroman uses the opening narration from the film prior to the start of the song Taxidermist Surf.
- Cat-Women of the Moon on IMDb
- Variety. Film review, 193. Last accessed: February 7, 2008.
- The New York Times, "Cat Women of the Moon at the Rialto", by H.H.T., March 20, 1954
- "Cat-Women of the Moon". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. March 30, 2015. Retrieved 2016-11-23.
- 3-D Film Expo
- L.A.Connection web site.
- Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies: American Science Fiction Films of the Fifties, 21st Century Edition (a greatly expanded 3rd printing, now a single, large volume). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2009, First Edition 1982. ISBN 0-89950-032-3.
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